Yesterday would have been Will Eisner’s 99 birthday and while he may no longer be with us the legacy of his influential story telling continues to inspire and delight readers. He was a true master storyteller that broke new ground in creating the graphic novel format and in 1978 published A Contract With God that showed a new way of looking at the comic book medium with adult stories and themes that were far above the average superhero comics of the time. He went on to be a champion of the comics medium by spreading the word to the world.
Throughout the ’80s and until his untimely death, Eisner travelled as much as he could, giving lectures and attending conventions, spreading the word about the value and potential of comics as an art form as well as an educational tool. He spent many hours speaking with aspiring cartoonists, encouraging them to persist, to develop their own styles and experiment with the different aspects of graphic storytelling.
One of the great things that established his legacy was the Eisner Awards established in 1988 that would become the Oscars of the comic book medium at the San Diego Comic Con. Most awards are named after one has passed but with the formation of the Eisner Awards and was a regular participant in the awards up until his passing. He continued to lecture and create new material up until the end of his life in 2005.
Each year to celebrate his legacy there is Will Eisner Week to encourage and reading along with promoting graphic novel, literacy and free speech awareness and the legacy of Will Eisner. Each year many libraries, universities, museums and local schools have displays and discussions about graphic novels that Eisner would be very proud to see his legacy of teaching continue.
I could go on about how great of an influence he was to myself and many other but the best way to explain it is with a few samples of his vast work below. If you want to find out more about Will Eisner please visit the official website that has much more information about him and his work at WillEsiner.com