Welcome to Will Eisner Week, which runs through March 7 and celebrates the legacy of the comics great. Eisner, who died in 2005, is widely considered to be the inventor of the modern graphic novel, and the annual Eisner Awards are among the most prestigious comic book honors. Will Eisner Week takes place each year during the week of March 6, which was Eisner’s birthday—this year marks the 98th anniversary of his birth.
If you want to celebrate Eisner’s life, you can watch the 2008 film adaptation of The Spirit, the comic series that marked Eisner’s big break. Or, you can do something far more worthwhile and read something from his prolific career. Why not try one of his several graphic novels about Jews? There’s The Plot: The Secret Story of The Protocols of the Elders of Zion. If you don’t find that depressing enough (you will), works like A Contract with God and Other Tenement Stories tend to be Jobian in a way only Jewish literature can be.
Eisner’s stories are remarkable because if anything can prove comics’ worth as a literary art form, it’s these stories of heartbreak, gorgeously drawn, painstakingly paced, and with a sense of drama that elevates each piece rather than make it lowbrow. Jews created the comic book industry, so it’s only natural that a Jewish man would bring them to the next level, as Eisner began to do nearly 40 years ago.