Sunday, March 6, 2011

The Spirit of Google

So, I have to hand it to good folks at Google this time.  Today's Google home page features an adaptation of The Spirit, Will Eisner's famous mysteryman from the early days of comic books, and they do a really wonderful job of reproducing Eisner's signature style.  Here, see for yourself:

It's not just the face of The Spirit, it's the way that the letters appear as apartment buildings, occupied by the kinds of people you'd find on Manhattan's lower east side back in the depression era.  I just have to say I love it!  Eisner was both a pioneer and one of the all time great comicbook creators.  Here's an example of Eisner's spirited artwork:

PC Magazine did a little post about this Google homage, with a headline of Google Doodle Celebrates Comics Legend Will Eisner.  And they start out by explaining

Google has unveiled its latest doodle—a creative play on the logo that adorns the company's primary search page. Comics artist Scott McCloud assisted in the creation of today's illustration, which pays tribute to comic book legend Will Eisner. The masked character making up the two "Os" in Google represents one of Eisner's more well-known works: The Spirit, or Denny Colt, a crime-fighting detective whose comic (of the same name) ran in newspapers between 1940 and 1952. 
I was doubly impressed to see that Scott McCloud was involved.  I brought him up in a previous post here on blog time passing, Understanding the Comics Medium, and his book, Understanding Comics, is one of the assigned readings I've included for my graduate class on Media and Symbolic Form at Fordham University.   David Murphy provides a little more information about McCloud at the end of the piece:

McCloud, who helped fashion today's Google doodle (in honor of what would have been Eisner's 94th birthday), previously illustrated Google's Chrome comic book. He's also a judge for the "Doodle 4 Google" contest, which invites K-12 students to submit Google-themed illustrations for the chance to win a $15,000 grand prize—a college scholarship, of course, in addition to other technological goodies.

The article also gives some background information about Eisner, including the following:

Subsequent work by Eisner, including his graphic novels entitled, "A Contract With God, and Other Tenement Stories," as well as a graphical retelling of Herman Melville's, "Moby Dick," earned Eisner the unofficial honor of being considered the father of modern graphical storytelling. He continue to publish graphical books up until his death in 2004, mainly focusing on using print graphics to retell stories, and expand upon the characters, of various novels and myths cemented in the public consciousness.

"For most of his career, Eisner was years, even decades, ahead of the curve. I saw him debating artists and editors half his age, and there was rarely any question who the youngest man in the room was," writes McCloud. "It helped that he never stood on ceremony. Everyone was his peer, regardless of age or status. None of us called him 'Mr. Eisner.' He was just 'Will.'"

The recognition of Eisner's influence even stretched as far as the awards platform—specifically, the creation of the Will Eisner Comic Industry Award, otherwise known as the "Oscar" of the comics industry, in 1987.

Well then, happy birthday Will, and as for Google, well folks, that's The Spirit!

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