This Christmas I was quite surprised to receive two of Will Eisner's highly respected books on cartooning from my mom: "Comics and Sequential Art" and "Graphic Storytelling & Visual Narrative" All I need now is some time to read them.
My mom said, "You know he's the person who created the comic 'Spirit' right?" I said that I did know that and that he is a very important person in the comic industry and my mom said, "He isn't still alive, is he?" I told her that I was quite sure that he was.
Will Eisner passed away two days ago due to complications from heart surgery at the age of 87. Bob Andleman, author of Eisner's upcoming biography, 'Will Eisner: A Spirited Life' wrote the following that I am taking from his obituary for Will:
"Will Eisner didn't create Superman, Batman, Spider-Man or even Archie and Jughead. Some comic book fans may scratch their heads when asked to describe his work. But every artist and writer in comic books, as well as graphic artists across the entire spectrum of modern illustration, television and film, owes a debt to him."
There is far more about him here and the complete obituary can be found here.
My grandfather, who had collected a huge amount of comic books in his lifetime, was the person who introduce me to Will Eisner's work through 'The Spirit'. I was immediately hooked by the style and the subject matter, and thinking back I'm certain that 'The Spirit' was a key influence in my desire to become an artist*. He was an extraordinary artist and a brilliant man. He'll be missed.
*Although not the sole influence, it was certainly the first. Through the years I've also been inspired by the work of Boris Vallejo, who's style I've actually turned away from in favor of the far superior Frank Frazetta; Richard Corben; Vaughn Bode; Phil Foglio; Bill Watterson; Alphonse Mucha; Gustav Klimpt; Egon Schiele; Alberto Vargas; Olivia De Berardinis; Milo Manara; Hajime Sorayama; Simon Bisley; Brom; and no doubt countless others whose names I never learned or can't recall.