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Will Eisner Comic Book Artist

Updated on April 23, 2015

Born on the 6 th March 1917, William Erwin Eisner was brought up in the Bronx area of New York City. His father, Sam was a stage-set painter at the Vienna Imperial, who encouraged his son to develop his creative flair. His mother, Fannie, tried to discourage Eisner from drawing suggesting he should find himself a proper job instead. At Dewitt Clinton High school, Eisner became friends with Bob Kane.

1936, at the age of nineteen Eisner, was given the opportunity to draw comics for ‘Wow what a magazine’. However, the fiction house closed after just two issues were produced. Jerry Iger was thirty years old proprietor and Eisner was struggling to find work again. Approaching Iger, he persuaded him to form a partnership called Iger-Eisner. Eisner would draw material for comic books and Iger would sell the material to publishers. Setting up offices in a small studio space on East 41 Street, in New York. Their first comic book was ‘Wow, What a Magazine’, with printing finally underway at the newly established company. Artists soon began to flood into the studio. The Jack Kirby co-creator of the X-men and Bob Kane, who later created Batman. In 1938, Eisner drew his first successful comic character Sheena, Queen of the Jungle. Their only regrettable mistake was deciding not to publish the first drafts of Superman. In 1938, Eisner was now financially secure and well-known in the comic book industry, he decided it was time to begin work on his own comic creation. Eisner wanted to own the copyright over his comic creations, so selling his shares to his business partner Iger. Eisner decided to leave his Iger after a publisher offered him his own comic strip. Setting up his own independent business at the age of twenty-one, to market his own comic book. On June 1940, Eisner created ‘The Spirit’ aka Denny Colt is a former detective and criminologist who is murdered by Dr. Cobra and then resurrected in the afterlife. Using an alcove under his burial coffin as an underground lair, although lacking any superhuman powers. Possessing the technical prowess, intellect to fight crime in an American city and protect the innocent. A year later The Spirit was being printed in nineteen newspapers across America.

In 1942, Eisner was drafted into the American Army during the Second World War, leaving his assistants to continue to draw The Spirit. His first task was to draw manuals for soldiers; it wasn’t long before he created his next comic creation ‘Joe Dope’. Dope to educate and relate to other soldiers serving in the Army. In 1946, Eisner returned to civilian life and the comic book he founded. However, in 1952, with the comic books declining in sales. He decided to close the business and move on to new challenges in his life. Eisner started working at the American visual corporation, drawing educational cartoons for companies like General motors.

During the late sixties, ‘underground’ was a new genre of comics, which was becoming popular. Eisner began working using his creative talents once again. A Contract With God and Other Tenement Stories, starring his new character Fimme Hersh, who after being abandoned by God the now anti-hero, of a Bronx slum. He was the first to coin the phrase ‘graphic novel’. Writing further graphic novels, including the re-issue of The Spirit in the new format. Eisner had also started teaching at the school of New York’s visual art. The popularity of graphic novels over a quarter of a century later be given its own book section. In 1987, the Will Eisner Awards was introduced into the comic book industry. Each year, Eisner would present the award at the Comic Book Convention to the winner. 3 January 2005, at the age of eighty-seven Eisner, died from a quadruple bypass operation. In the spring of the same year, The Plot, Eisner’s last graphic novel was published.

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