Craig Fernandez: Professional Typist

Science Hero for the 21st century

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EISNER!

There’s a reason why there are comic book awards given every year with this man’s name.

If there are those of you who only know his signature character, The Spirit, from the horrible movie (which I know was made with the best intentions and mountains of respect) or other artist’s interpretation, well that’s fine…

…but just know that there is something better out there.

William Erwin “Will” Eisner is the artist that all comic creators wish they could be. He took a ridiculous concept, that of a man wearing a mask to fight crime and made it a noir classic; and he did it with great characters, with drama, and with humor, and will love.

Again, for those of you don’t know, Eisner created “The Spirit” to be a five page supplement to the funny pages run in the Sunday Newspapers of the 1940’s. He did a few years work and then the war called him away. He did work for the war department, created some manuals, but when he came back to the series in 1946 something had changed. He had matured. He’d come back with a new way of seeing the world that he HAD to express, and that expression found it’s way into the funny pages…

Yes, crime-fighting adventure, but also autobiographical flourishes of growing up in Brooklyn. Real people started popping up in the stories, real passions, real broken life sadness, and everyday hopes…

And the layouts! No one used the panel the way Eisner did. That he was influenced by cinema is obvious, but his understanding of movement and composition are second to none. You see it with every punch, in how the character’s walk and plead and cry…

When I first started reading comics, I found an article on The Spirit. The author broke down every panel of the five page story and explained how much information was contained within, and how it all flowed relentlessly to the end of the story. Amazing. And he did it every week for years…

And did I mention the women. The female characters that appear in Eisner’s work are some of my favorite Noir heroines of all time. P’Gell, Sand Saref, Ellen Dolan, Silk Satin… These are still the women I dream about…

I could talk about how “The Spirit” became the comic book equivalent of post-war Noir Cinema. I could track Eisner’s influence on the comic boom of the mid-eighties that we’re still recovering from. I could say a lot of things, but mostly I just wanted to say how much I’ve loved his work all of my life.

Filed under Will Eisner The Spirit Comic Strips Things I Love Noir Fiction

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