Todd McFarlane Remembers a Creative Giant
Friday, January 07, 2005

Comics industry giant Will Eisner, creator of The Spirit, died Monday, Jan. 3, at Florida Medical Center in Lauderdale Lakes of complications from quadruple bypass heart surgery. Spawn creator Todd McFarlane remembers a giant in the comic book industry:

As time slips by in the comic book world, we are slowly beginning to lose all of the "giants" of the industry. Many greats have passed, including Jack Kirby, John Buscema, Gil Kane and now the genius Will Eisner. Each one of these men played a part in the development of how I draw and who I am.

In the case of Will Eisner, he was and will forever be a gentleman, always kind and giving of his time to others, even when he wasn't feeling his best. Mr. Eisner was the kind of person that I watched with admiration when I was a young fan going to conventions. The reason I watched him was to learn how to treat the public when they approached him. His generous dose of smiles was always at the forefront.

As for his actual comic book work, well, I'm not old enough to say that I bought it when it first came out. Instead, my introduction to his work came in the form of magazine-size black-and-white reprints of his work on the character called The Spirit. Each issue included about three stories from the past which were seen by my eyes with the freshness of the latest comics coming out from either Marvel or DC. I was working at a small comic shop during this time (around 1980) and soon became immersed in trying to break into the comic book world myself. I was still four years away from getting my first professional job, so any lasting influences I could find would serve me well beyond just breaking into the comics business.

The Spirit opened up my mind to the possibilities of how a story could be told, but even more important was that you could use a sense of "graphic design" to help carry your pictures. This is easily the single biggest thing that I took from his work. If you ever get to see some of those old stories, pay particular attention to the splash pages. They incorporated the title of the story better than any other artist I had seen to date. After viewing those books over and over again (they were coming out on a monthly basis, I believe, back then) I knew that if I ever did get a chance at drawing comics for a living, I wanted to put some visual pizzazz into my work (mostly to try and hide my actual drawing deficiencies).

Years later I did indeed get into the comic world and had the profound pleasure of meeting Mr. Eisner on a handful of occasions. His skill and his demeanor will both be greatly missed. I feel that we will be short in the future of those creators that can put together such a long and lasting amount of work into a few characters and projects (his books about life in the city are excellent examples of that).

The greatest tribute that I can give to his work is that early this week I was going through some old boxes in my office and I took the time to look over a couple of the hardcover editions of his work that I still keep with me. That I was studying his work for the first time in a while on the same day that he died is a fitting connection to how this man passed on his inspiration to this one artist.

You were one of the good guys, Will.
Sincerely, Todd McFarlane