In memory of WILL EISNER 1918-2005
Date: January 31, 2005
Posted by Rich
Over ten years ago, when the digital lettering revolution was but an unlit Molotov cocktail in the back of my hard drive, Fershid Barucha, from France's COMICS USA, brought Will Eisner over to the Comicraft table at the San Diego Comic-con because Will wanted to know everything about digital lettering and how it might help him in his own work. Even though we did talk about creating an official Eisner font for Will, unbelievably, we never got around to it -- ironically, we created one during the week of Will's passing for a strip drawn in a Will Eisner style for Dark Horse.
In 1993, when everyone who worked on MARVELS received Eisner awards, Alex Ross -- in the days before he had barrage balloons with his name on them -- asked Will to sign the back of his Eisner award. Kurt Busiek and I ran over to Will like puppies and asked for autographs too, which he happily and graciously supplied. I don't think I've ever seen a clearer signature and I'm pretty sure that's the last time I asked anyone for their autograph on something that wasn't a check.
At ProCon in San Francisco the following year, Eisner gave the keynote speech to a collection of about 200 pros who were listening to other pros predicting doom and gloom. Eisner was a voice of light and reason -- "Congratulations," he said, "You are the Survivors." He went on to recount the last three times he'd seen the comic industry in recession, and pointed out that he had worked consistently throughout each slump. It was incredibly reassuring to hear this from THE most Massively Talented elder statesmen of comics. There are only a few creators in comics who retain such a clear head and optimistic point of view well into their sixties, seventies or eighties, and even fewer creating work as worthy of note as Will's output in the last twenty years.
Below are three of our favorite Eisner title pages, and below that three pages of Comicraft lettering clearly inspired by him.