Wednesday, September 19, 2007
TOP TEN :: Best Comics Artists Ever :: #6 :: Will Eisner
What can I say about Will Eisner that hasn't already been said by people with college degrees? I'll say one thing--it's pretty shocking that he's this low on the list--this is by no means my only disagreement with what our staff's voting came up with, but I guess that's the nature of the beast. If Jack Kirby represents the creative spirit and fever of American comics, then Will Eisner is surely the brain, the science, the technique. People forget that The Spirit was cranking away in the 40's, with some of the most gorgeous page layouts ever in comics, back when most mainstream comics characters were drawn roughly and crudely. By the time Kirby and Stan Lee created Fantastic Four in 1961, The Spirit was already 20 years old!
You can't understate Jack Kirby's relentlessly creative output, and the incredible brute energy of his art. But for innovation, it's Will Eisner all the way; who besides his more famous achievements--including being credited with the creation of the graphic novel--took comics from the Siegel and Shuster adapted newspaper strip style, and developed them into a language and rhythm altogether unique. His storytelling remains peerless even today; besides his enormous influence over nearly every branch of comics, he's directly inspired many of the graphic novelists and autobiographical cartoonists of the last 30 years. For my money, there may be no more influential cartoonist in the history of the medium--and unlike many of his contemporaries, Will Eisner was not only an incredible draftsman and idea man, but a storyteller first and foremost, a necessity for good comics that is often forgotten.