For comics fans, today's image may well be Google's greatest "Doodle" yet.
The latest Google logo celebrates what would have been the 94th birthday of one of the cartooning world's towering legends, Will Eisner. The home-page "doodle" -- as the company calls each of them -- features Eisner's iconic character The Spirit, as well as the Bronx tenement buildings that the pioneering cartoonist rendered so elegantly in his ever-influential '70s graphic novel "A Contract With God (and Other Tenement Stories)."
"Eisner was one of the first cartoonists to understand the power of visual education, and wrote eloquently about the process of making comics in 'Comics and Sequential Art' (1985) and 'Graphic Storytelling' (1996)," writes noted comics artist/author Scott McCloud, who was invited by Google to remember his mentor. (McCloud also helped design the logo, whose puddle pays tribute even to the "Eisner spritz" -- the legend's famed style for drawing precipitation.)
"For most of his career," McCloud writes, "Eisner was years, even decades, ahead of the curve."
Eisner's masked Central City criminologist The Spirit -- aka Denny Colt -- debuted in American newspapers in 1940 and ran for 12 years as part of "the Spirit Section." Among the great talents who worked on "The Spirit" -- which also was published in comic-book form -- were Pulitzer-winning Village Voice cartoonist/author Jules Feiffer , MAD co-founder Wally Wood and Plastic Man creator Jack Cole.
"Will Eisner was a rarity, a man who wrote as well as he drew -- and he was a master at both," Stan Lee tells Comic Riffs. "Not only was he a great creator of graphic novels, but his talent as a designer was awesome, as evinced by the magnificent opening pages of his famed 'The Spirit' strip.
"Will's lasting legacy was, and always will be, an inspiration to creative people everywhere."
In 2008, Hollywood tapped Eisner's Wildwood Cemetery crimefighter for "The Spirit," starring Gabriel Macht, Samuel L. Jackson, Eva Mendes and Scarlett Johansson.
The Brooklyn-born William Erwin "Will" Eisner died in 2005. The industry's esteemed Eisner Awards -- handed out each year at San Diego Comic-Con International -- pay tribute to his legend and inspiration.