Will Eisner was undoubtedly one of the greatest comic book creators of all time. His influence is tremendous and long-lasting. From virtually the moment he first put pencil to paper and began drawing, Eisner was an innovator, a thinker, a man determined to elevate comics into a great art form. But he wasn’t all about just talking a good fight. Instead, Eisner led the way. His Spirit comic, which ran from 1940 to 1952, is one of the most brilliant runs of comic art to ever appear. And his graphic novels, which began appearing in the mid-1970s and continued appearing until his death earlier this year, were genuinely innovative and intelligent. He was such a legend that one of the comic industry’s top awards was named for him. Will Eisner’s name was literally synonomous with greatness. It’s an amazing legacy that Eisner left behind.
It’s that life and legacy that are saluted in this 252-page book. Over 233 people from 15 countries pay tribute to Eisner in this book, creators ranging from Jeff Smith to Spain Rodriguez, Jack Kirby to Trina Robbins, Bernie Wrightson, Darwyn Cooke, and a virtual who’s who of other creators.
It’s really impossible for me to judge a book like this and give it a bullet grade. This is the sort of book that defies ratings. The book is uneven and occasionally seems to have odd choices. But there is also an amazing collection of tribute art and writing, and lots of rare Eisner art and sketches. The book is sprawling, almost overwhelming in its size and its diversity. If you love Eisner’s work, you won’t be able to pass up this book. If you just want to read about the man, either look for Kitchen Sink’s wonderful book The Art of Will Eisner, from the early ’80s, or look for the biography Will Eisner: A Spirited Life.
The nicest thing about the book is something that a reader feels in every page: a sense of Eisner’s great legacy, a sense that Will Eisner’s lifetime dreams are coming though, that his dreams of intelligent and sophisticated comic books are now becoming commonplace. Good comics are easier than ever to find. Will Eisner helped comics to reach that point.