Will Eisner: Comic Creator, Illustrator and Innovator

On view May 2020 - September 2021 

Will Eisner, born in the Bronx in 1917 to Jewish immigrants, was the creator of the comic book The Spirit and the father of the graphic novel. His work spanned a career of seven decades, beginning with working for Jerry Iger at Wow! magazine in the 1930s all the way through inventing the graphic novel in the late 1970s and teaching and illustrating until his death in 2005.

In 1942, Eisner was drafted into the army, where his talents came in handy. He illustrated posters, comic strips and guides to entertain the troops in a language they could all relate to. Following the war, while still making The Spirit series, Eisner formed the American Visuals Corporation and his clients included RCA Records, The Baltimore Colts and New York Telephone.

In the late 1970s, Eisner created his first graphic novel, A Contract with God, which ushered in a new age of the comic book – a short story illustrated book which he called sequential art. Eisner’s creativity and innovation were so well-respected that the prestigious awards given for creative achievement in American comic books are called the Eisner Awards. 

The exhibition will feature original illustrations, first edition comic books from The Spirit series, works from his army days, graphic novels and self-portraits.