Will Eisner, the man who created what's widely considered the first modern graphic novel (1978's A Contract with God) and coined the term "sequential art" to describe the medium, died Jan. 3 at age 87 after quadruple bypass surgery. This new book from DC Comics provides indisputable evidence of the impact Eisner had on the comic-book universe.
Will Eisner's Spirit Archives, Vol. 14 is a beautiful clothbound, full-color book collecting issues of Eisner's classic The Spirit from Jan. 5 to June 29, 1947. A weekly newspaper supplement that started in 1940, The Spirit reached five million readers through 20 newspapers. The hero, detective Denny Colt, was supposedly murdered by crooks but was actually buried alive, allowing him to continue his crime fighting incognito. His milieu was full of subway muggings, domestic violence, hard-eyed dames, pickpocketing street urchins and other (at the time shockingly) realistic details of urban New York life. This was no kids' stuff; Eisner was clearly out to establish comic books as a serious art form, and it worked. We have him to thank for everything from Sin City to American Splendor. BECKY OHLSEN