Synopsis by Mark Deming
Will Eisner never became a household name, but ask nearly anyone who works in comics about him and they'll speak with admiration about one of the pioneering talents in the medium. Born in New York City in 1917, Eisner started drawing at a young age, and became involved in comics at a crucial point in their development, when comic books were moving from reprints of popular newspaper strips to tabloids featuring original material. In 1936, on the advice of his friend Bob Kane (who went on to create Batman), he created an adventure series, Captain Scott Dalton, for a new publication called Wow, What A Magazine! It was the first step in a successful career in what he called "sequential art," and in 1939, Eisner created the series The Spirit, following the adventures of a masked crime fighter patrolling the streets of a major American city. The Spirit boasted artwork with a unique, richly detailed look inspired by the shadow lands of film noir, and Eisner gave his characters an emotional depth that was unique to comics; the result was a mature creation that appealed to adults as much as youngsters, and was wildly influential on a generation of artists and writers. Eisner believed that comics were an art form long before the notion was popular, and created one of the first "graphic novels," A Contract With God, a book-length comic story of life in a Jewish ghetto. Eisner was also one of the first comic artists to control the rights to his own creations, giving him creative control over his work and a fair share of their profits. Will Eisner: Portrait of a Sequential Artist is a documentary which explores the life and career of a true giant in American graphic arts; the film received its world premiere at the 2007 Tribeca Film Festival.