Passing of Will Eisner

Guest hosted by Scott Ball:

With the passing of Will Eisner the comics medium loses a giant and a pioneer. Eisner transformed the way comics were read going back to the late 1930’s and particularly the late 1940’s with his renowned strip “The Spirit.” He told stories that had real character and depth, and manipulated the comic page to become the story itself. Eisner used comic panels and gutters to set the tone and impeccable timing to create printed cinematography that would immerse the reader into a world where the pictures told the whole story. If you haven’t read any of The Spirit I encourage you to do so. Frequently, I find myself going back to his stories just for inspiration. If you haven’t read his books on Sequential Art as a medium, you should! They are standard textbooks now in the field just as the Illusion of Life by Frank Thomas (also tragically gone in 2004) and Ollie Johnston are for animation.

I had the pleasure of meeting Will Eisner in person in 1994 in college. At that time, I didn’t understand just how important this man was, but I had a pretty good idea based on how everyone around me was reacting to his arrival. Getting the opportunity to hear him speak in person was a great thrill for me. For Eisner, the story was everything, and it showed through his own work. Sequential Art has lost its great spokesman for many decades, and we’ll have to turn to another, but we’ll never forget what Will Eisner has provided for all the rest of us who have chosen, in part due to him, to get into this wonderful trade so that we can tell our own stories. After all, the pre-eminent awards in comics weren’t named after him for nothing. Rest in Peace!

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