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Biographies of the Stars

Will Eisner

William Eisner was born in New York City in March 1917. He studied art at the New York Art Student's League under George Bridgeman, which reportedly led to a staff position at the New York Journal American around 1935. He then illustrated some comic book pages for a comic called "Wow! What A Magazine!" and being a wise businessman took note of the budding field. This led to his teaming with Jerry Iger and creating the first "comic art shop" where comics publishers could contract to have stories done for them.

The Eisner-Iger shop produced hundreds of pages each month employing such historic names as Bob Kane (creator of Batman), Lou Fine, Reed Crandall, Matt Baker and Jack Kirby.

In 1940, Eisner had a new idea; why not put a comic book insert inside the Sunday comics section? The sixteen page comic had three stories in it, one of which was Eisner's own "the Spirit".

The Spirit had been a policeman, killed in a fight trying to save Central City from a mad scientist. However the chemical used on him by the crazed chemist only put him into a temporary state of suspended animation and the revitalized Denny Colt became the vigilante Spirit. Eisner's popular character lasted until 1953 when it was discontinued.

He was drafted into the army in 1942 and while there produced many feature for the armed services, of which his character "Joe Dope" is most remembered. He continued to do work for the armed services after he was demobilized until the 1970's.

Also starting in the forties, his companies produced many giveaway and instructional comics for a variety of clients.

The Spirit was revived for a short time in 1966-67 before being revived permanently in the seventies. Also during the seventies, Eisner began producing a series of graphic novels, many of which echo his experiences living in lower New York as the son of Jewish immigrants in the twenties and thirties. These novels have been hailed over and over as masterpieces.

Eisner himself has also been one of the most recognized and influential creators in the history of comic books. His seminal ideas gave rise to many different forms over the decades.

Since the 1980's his name has been attached to one of the most prestigious trophies of comics, the Eisner Awards, which are awarded each year to dozens of comics artists, writers, colorists and creators. As a seminal influence, master creator or as an artist Will Eisner is among the most important names in the history of comics.

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