The first week of March is Will Eisner Week to celebrate comics and graphic novel pioneer Will Eisner in conjunction with his March 6th birthday. While Eisner died in 2005, his influence lives on in the art, content and characters he created. Here are some items to get you started in a deep-dive of Will Eisner.
Start with Eisner’s ground-breaking character The Spirit. Introduced in 1940, masked criminologist Denny Colt — believed by many to be dead — secretly fights crime as The Spirit. From his home in Central City to the far-flung corners of the world and beyond, The Spirit attracts dangerous femmes fatale and wages a never-ending war against streetwise crooks and criminal master-minds with only quick wits, sharp humor and his two gloved fists. The 80th anniversary of The Spirit was celebrated with this all-new collection published in 2020.
A collection of four graphic novels originally published between 1987 and 2000, Will Eisner’s New York: Life in the Big City shows urban vitality through slice-of-life stories. We see boys fishing for treasures in a street grate, lonely shut-ins and nosy housewives, and the building of the subway system. Eisner made observations as he lived and worked in the city — his genius was the transfer of those observations to printed page.
If you’re interested in learning about comics and graphic novels, Will Eisner: Champion of the Graphic Novel is a good bet. Part biography, part analysis of Eisner’s work and its impact, this book traces his evolution as an artist, showcasing both previously unpublished materials and famous work.
Celebrate Will Eisner Week, March 1-7, by indulging in your favorite comics or graphic novels. Bonus points if those materials tie back to Will Eisner himself. It’s the perfect excuse to try some of Eisner’s work and see how it has influenced modern storytelling, comics and graphic novels.