Will Eisner was born William Erwin Eisner on March 6, 1917 in Brooklyn, New York. By the time of his death on January 3, 2005, Will Eisner was recognized internationally as one of the giants in the field of sequential art, a term he coined.
In a career that spanned nearly eight decades—from the dawn of the comic book to the advent of digital comics—Will Eisner was truly the 'Orson Welles of comics' and the 'father of the Graphic Novel'. He broke new ground in the development of visual narrative and the language of comics and was the creator of The Spirit, John Law, Lady Luck, Mr. Mystic, Uncle Sam, Blackhawk, Sheena and countless others.
During World War II, Will Eisner used the comic format to develop training and equipment maintenance manuals for the US Army. After the war this continued as the Army's P.S. Magazine, which is still being produced today. Will Eisner taught Sequential Arts at the New York School of Visual Arts. The textbooks that he wrote based on his course are still bestsellers. In 1978, Will Eisner wrote A Contract with God, the first modern graphic novel. This was followed by almost 20 additional graphic novels over the following 25 years.
The "Oscars" of the Comic Industry are called The Eisner Awards, and named after Will Eisner. The Eisners are presented annually before a packed ballroom at Comic-Con International in San Diego, America's largest comics convention.
Wizard magazine named Eisner "the most influential comic artist of all time." Michael Chabon's Pulitzer-prize winning novel The Adventures of Kavalier and Clay is based in good part on Eisner. In 2002, Eisner received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Federation for Jewish Culture, only the second such honor in the organization's history, presented by Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist Art Spiegelman.