Saturday, March 5, 2011

[G] Happy birthday Will Eisner

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Official Google Blog: Happy birthday Will Eisner

From time to time we invite guests to post about topics of interest and we’re pleased to have Scott McCloud join us here. Scott is a comics artist with special ties to Google—he illustrated the Chrome comic book and is a 2011 U.S. Doodle 4 Google judge. He also helped in the design of today’s doodle in honor of Will Eisner, which is running in many countries including the U.S. In this post, Scott shares his thoughts on Will Eisner’s legacy. -Ed.

Will Eisner, American comics pioneer and creator of The Spirit, was born on March 6, 1917. He would have been 94 today.

Many of us who knew him still find it hard to believe he’s gone. He died in 2005, but for six decades, Eisner was a participant in, and inspiration for, much of the best in American comics, as well as a friend and mentor to multiple generations of comics artists.

Eisner influenced comics in dozens of ways. In the ‘40s, Eisner’s The Spirit—a seven-page newspaper feature—introduced an arsenal of visual storytelling techniques still used generations later, and provided an early testing ground for future comics stars including Jack Kirby and Jules Feiffer. (The Spirit also began a tradition of pictorially-integrated logos—inspiring today's snazzy rooftop doodle!)

Eisner was one of the first cartoonists to understand the power of visual education, and wrote eloquently about the process of making comics in Comics and Sequential Art (1985) and Graphic Storytelling (1996). As early as 1941, he publicly advocated treating comics as a distinct literary and artistic form, and—nearly four decades later—was instrumental in the rise of the graphic novel in America, beginning with A Contract with God in 1978.

For most of his career, Eisner was years, even decades, ahead of the curve. I saw him debating artists and editors half his age, and there was rarely any question who the youngest man in the room was. It helped that he never stood on ceremony. Everyone was his peer, regardless of age or status. None of us called him “Mr. Eisner.” He was just “Will.”

Eisner lived well into his eighties; long enough to see an industry award named after him. Inevitably, the prospect loomed that Will Eisner himself might win an “Eisner Award” leading to some awkward choices; Hall of Fame, maybe? Lifetime Achievement?

His only suggestion was “Most Promising Young Cartoonist.”

And so he was.

Posted by Scott McCloud


Izodmartin said...

Shame on Google!
Shame on Google!
Shame on Google!
How dare Gogle honor such a racist cartoonist as Will Eisner. This man created create an over the top racist cartoon character named "Ebony White". A supposed young black boy who spoke in extremely broken English or “pidgin dialect”. To add insult to injury he resembled a monkey. Please Google this for yourself and see how rudimentary offensive this character was.
Here is a snippet from a Time magazine interview in 2003:

TIME.comix: As you say in the introduction to "Fagin," you have your own history with stereotype, most particularly in the character Ebony White, a big-lipped, saucer-eyed African-American comedic sidekick to the Spirit. Although Ebony evolved with greater sensitivity in the latter half of the series' life, do you see "Fagin" as a kind of mea culpa?

Eisner: I suppose if I denied it nobody would believe me. But I if you go back and examine how I handled Ebony, I was aware that I was dealing with something that was volatile and had I a responsibility. The only excuse I have for [that portrayal] is that at the time humor consisted in our society of bad English and physical difference in identity. Later I attempted to depart from it by having a black character, a detective, who spoke proper English and I had an airplane pilot that was black.

Eisner remains unremorseful to this day and is quoted in many articles as saying “Those were different times.”

Google you should take better care in the future to honor people who deserve it, not this RACIST who only changed due to social disapproval.

Mike Hobart said...


Too much political correctness on your breakfast cereal, Izodmartin.