Friday, March 7, 2014

It's Will Eisner's Birthday.

Born on this day in 1917, Will Eisner is someone I'd have missed had my own heroes not informed me of his importance. Singing hosannas of one sort or another to the previous generation of creative pioneers is one of the obligations that writers and artists share, as far as I'm concerned. Ripping techniques alone is hardly homage.

Mark Ellis, the excellent writer of modern pulp fiction and come-back quips, who I've grown fond of, summed it up (and brought the date to my attention) on his Facebook post:

WILL EISNER [was] a man who was just as influential in both the art and business of comics as Jack Kirby. Although he was justly famous as the creator of THE SPIRIT, Will was a a true pioneer...he continued to explore and expand the parameters of comics storytelling. He's credited with creating the term of "graphic novel".

According to Will, he coined the term on the fly, and had no idea he was basically creating a new publishing category.
Me? I touched Will several times. The first occasion was a chance meeting in San Diego, where famed bookseller Bud Plant introduced us. The next time was when Harlan Ellison put us together on the phone because Aardwolf was seeking the perfect cover artist for a project.

I have no anecdotes beyond some very strange things that occurred later at Will's memorial service (which I've detailed in "Four Days at the Races" in my book ComicBook Babylon). I was just grateful to know Will for the the five or six total minutes that I received. You'd have been, too.

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