William Erwin Eisner was born on March 6, 1917 in New York City. His father was a Ukranian muralist who fled Vienna to the USA prior to World War I. His father had a hard time finding a footing in the industry, but he was incredibly supportive of Will’s creativity, much to the strife of Will’s mother who resented her husband for his inability to maintain a job, or raise the status of their family.
Will’s interest started with pulp magazines and avant-garde films. With the help of art supplies from his father, he was able to continue his passion into his creative works. In high school, he met and befriended Bob Kane, who would later help create Batman with Bill Finger. When Will was 19, Kane suggested Will sell comics to “Wow, What A Magazine!” By 1935 Will had started to produce and sell comic strips. Some notable strips included “Captain Scott Dalton,” “The Flame,” and “Harry Karry.”
In 1940 though will found fame and note with his comic book series “The Spirit” when he was drafted into the army in 1942 though he had to pass on the creative works of the series to his assistants. When he returned to the states in 1945. While after the war he tried to create other new stories, he is best known for The Spirit, and the strips that didn’t succeed had stories recycled into The Spirit.
The Spirit concluded in 1952 but has been reprinted several times since.
After the Kirby Awards concluded in 1987, Dave Olbrich started the non-profit organization that gave out the Eisner Awards in 1988. They are awards given out to people in comic books and are considered to be on par with the Academy Awards in the comics industry.
Will Eisner also was a regular participant in the award ceremony until his death on January 3, 2005. As of 2021 there are 32 awards presented including “Best Short Story,” “Best Writer,” and “Best Writer/Artist.”
In celebration of the Awards and Will Eisner, here are the past 5 year’s winners of “Best Writer/Artist.”
|2020 Winner – Raina Telgemeier
Guts published by Scholastic Graphix
An autobiographical novel detailing events of Telgemeier’s life. It’s praised for the way it normalizes mental health problems.
|2021 Winner – Junji Ito
Venus in the Blind Spot published by VIZ Media
A collection of chiling tales from Junji Ito’s career including an adaptation of Human Chair and The Enigma of Amigara Fault.
|2022 Winner – Barry Windsor-Smith
Monsters published by Fantagraphics
A 360-page journey of a man who joins the army to find a future, but is subjected to a government experience that turns him into a monster, created by monsters.
What’s your favorite Eisner Award Winner Comic Book?