Comic Book Trailblazer Eisner Dead at 87

The comic book community is mourning the loss of another legend. The Associated Press reports that Will Eisner, creator of the innovative and popular 1940s adult-aimed crime comic, The Spirit, has died at the age of 87. The artist suffered complications from last month’s quadruple bypass heart surgery and passed away Monday at Florida Medical Center in Lauderdale Lakes.

The Spirit, about a coroner who was buried alive and returns from the grave to protect the fictional metropolis of Central City, was part of a weekly newspaper supplement published by 20 Sunday newspapers and distributed to roughly 5 million households.

Eisner is credited with being the first to use "silent" panels to depict characters’ emotions with detailed facial expressions rather than using thought or dialog balloons. His comics were also revolutionary in their subject matter, which included spousal abuse, tax audits and urban blight.

Drafted during World War II, Eisner was commissioned by the Army to create the Joe Dope comic strip, which employed a bumbling misfit to teach Jeep maintenance to soldiers. After the war, he continued publishing The Spirit until 1952. In 1978, he published his first graphic novel, A Contract with God.