March 6, 1917 was the birthday of William Erwin Eisner, perhaps the most important comic artist of all time.
His career spanned almost seventy years, and he was still drawing up until his passing in 2005. He helped make comics an art form, pushing the boundaries of the medium through story and design.
His most famous creation was his hero “The Spirit” who, under his domino mask, was Denny Colt.
Presumed dead, he took up his mantle from his lair in the Wildwood Cemetery. With no superpowers, he relied on his wits and his fists to solve crime and help the weak.
The comic ran from 1940-52 as a Sunday supplement.
While the comic started simply, Eisner soon wrote more sophisticated storylines with an O. Henry vibe.
His layout and panel design experimented with lighting and “camera” angles, giving the strip a film noir look. Eisner designed his opening page with the words “The Spirit,” spelled out with buildings, newspapers, or street sign – hence today’s Google Doodle design.
Comic artists and fans today still enjoy and study the comic which has been reprinted many times, most notably in hardcover editions published by DC Comics.
Eisner also created comic book characters such as Lady Luck, Mr. Mystic, Uncle Sam, Blackhawk, and Sheena, Queen of the Jungle. He is also credited with the creation one of the first “graphic novels” – “A Contract With God And Other Tenement Stories” in 1978.
Eisner was so influential that the top awards given out every year at the San Diego Comic Con are named after this legend, “The Eisner Awards.”