Cartoonist Will Eisner’s Newspaper Legacy

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By: Dave Astor

Will Eisner was a legend in the world of comic books and graphic novels. But long before his impact was felt in those genres, his genius was familiar to newspaper readers. Eisner, who died Jan. 3 at age 87, created the character of “The Spirit,” who starred in a 16-page comic insert distributed from 1940 to 1952.

Eisner’s mysterious crimefighter appeared in 20 papers with a total circulation of 5 million. “‘The Spirit’ was great because of the inspiration it offered a couple generations of cartoonists about the maturity comics could achieve in storytelling and subject matter,” cartoonist/ comics historian R.C. Harvey told E&P.

According to an Associated Press obituary, Eisner “addressed subjects considered unthinkable in comic books and rarely seen at the time in newspaper comics: spousal abuse, tax audits, urban blight and graft.”

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