Lakes International Comic Art Festival celebrates Will Eisner with competition, comic and exclusive exhibition

Will Eisner Centennial

Recognising the work of ground-breaking American comic creator Will Eisner, creator of “The Spirit”, the  Lakes International Comic Art Festival is pleased to announce not one but three celebratory projects to mark his incredible contribution to the development of the comics form – a competition of aspiring creators, a celebratory comics and an exciting exhibition for the Festival in October (13th – 15h October 2017).

Born William Erwin Eisner on 6th March 1917 in Brooklyn, New York, by the time of his death on 3rd January 2005, Eisner was recognised internationally as one of the giants in the field of sequential art, a term he coined. In a career that spanned nearly 70 years and eight decades — from the dawn of the comic book to the advent of digital comics — he truly was the “Orson Welles of comics” and is considered the “Father of the Graphic Novel”.

Will Eisner Centennial Week 2017This year marks his Centennial and news of the Festival’s celebratory projects comes with the launch of Will Eisner Week 2017 (1st – 7th March), an annual event supporting Sequential Art, Graphic Novel Literacy and Free Speech involving schools, universities, libraries, comic shops and graphic novel readers across the globe.

Revealing “The Spirit” of The Lake District

The Lakes International Comic Art Festival is delighted to announce a new competition open to students across the globe to showcase their comic art talent that could see them end up being part of Festival’s tribute exhibition to Will Eisner.

The competition will be judged by comics artist Sean Phillips , one of the founding Patrons of the Festival, and one of the world’s most successful and popular crime writers, the award-winning Ian Rankin and is open to students of the arts.

Noting Eisner’s creation of crime-fighting adventurer “The Spirit”, first published in a 16-page comics supplement published between 1940 and 1952, students from across the globe are being challenged to imagine a vigilante hero or heroine for the Lake District.

“This may be a comic strip, a single illustration or a series of illustrations reflecting Eisner’s comic style in The Spirit,” explains Festival Director Julie Tait. “Your interpretation could illustrate crime drama, adventure, mystery, horror, comedy or be a creative reinterpretation of an original artwork from The Spirit with a Lake District comic art twist.”

The ‘Revealing ‘The Spirit’ of the Lake District’ competition is kindly supported by the University of Cumbria. The deadline for entries is 1st September 2017 and full details of the competition can be found at

“Last year’s Beatrix Potter-inspired competition in a similar vein inspired students to create some stunning new visuals,” notes Julie, “and we’re confident this Eisner-inspired challenge will do the same.”

The Spirit of Eisner Newspaper

Commissioned to mark the Eisner Centennial, the Lakes International Comic Art Festival is delighted to announced the impending publication of The Spirit of Eisner a celebratory broadsheet comic, created in a style that homages Will Eisner’s original work on the title in his 16-page comics supplement that ran for 12 years from 1940 – 1952 in the United States.

Featuring a cover by Becky Cloonan, officially sanctioned by the Will Eisner estate, the 12-page broadsheet, co-ordinated by artist and Festival patron Sean Phillips will feature comic strips created by Sergio Aragonés (MAD, Groo), Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips (The Fade Out), John M. Burns (2000AD), Michael ChoGraham Dury and Simon Thorp (VIZ), Jason Latour (Spider-Gwen), Peter Milligan (2000AD) and Duncan Fegredo (Hellboy) broadcaster Jonathan Ross and Seth (Palookaville).

All the art featured in the publication, which will be launched at this year’s Lakes International Comic Art Festival weekend (13th – 15th October 2017), will feature in an exhibition at Kendal’s Brewery Arts Centre, in the Warehouse Gallery.

Will Eisner: A Centennial Celebration

The Lakes International Comic Art Festival is also pleased to announce its presentation of Will Eisner: A Centennial Celebration, a special exhibition featuring scores of key images from throughout the Will Eisner’s long career, including rare surviving pages from 1930s comic books, World War Two posters, several complete Spirit stories and splash pages, and key sequences from his groundbreaking graphic novels from the 1970s through 2004.

The images that will be on display in Kendal’s Brewery Arts Centre in October are exactingly-reproduced giclée reproductions from original art provided by the Eisner estate and private collectors. An oversize full-colour catalogue accompanies the centennial exhibition, which will make only one stop in the United Kingdom – Kendal!

“LICAF is proud to play a leading role in the UK in celebrating the life and work of Will Eisner in his centenary year,” says Julie Tait. “Our close collaboration with the family and guardians of his legacy have enabled us to put together a unique and varied programme. Leading creators from around the world presenting an homage to his ‘Spirit’ alongside new responses from up-and-coming talent is a recipe of which we are convinced he would have approved”.


Will Eisner at his drawing board, circa 1985

Will Eisner at his drawing board, circa 1985

Throughout his career, Will Eisner broke new ground in the development of visual narrative and the language of comics and was the creator of The Spirit, John Law, Lady Luck, Mr. Mystic, Uncle Sam, Blackhawk, Sheena and countless others.

A giant in the field of comics, Eisner was present at the birth of the American comic book as a teen-aged professional, writing and drawing, and organising a “packaging” studio in the mid-1930s. Barely in his twenties by 1940, he created The Spirit, a legendary detective character whose seven-page weekly adventures appeared in an innovative Sunday newspaper insert till 1952. During World War Two, Eisner served as a warrant officer in the Pentagon where he created instructive posters and educational manuals, using comics as an effective teaching tool.

Wraparound watercolour cover to The Spirit Issue 20, published by Kitchen Sink Press in 1979

Wraparound watercolour cover to The Spirit Issue 20, published by Kitchen Sink Press in 1979

Beginning in the early 1950s Eisner pioneered the use of educational comics for both the government and private industry. The Spirit underwent revivals in the mid-1960s and early ’70s, pulling Eisner back into the comics field. In 1978 he created A Contract with God, a “graphic novel” that revolutionised the industry, and he produced more than twenty-five others before his death at age 87 in 2005. America’s most prestigious awards for excellence in comics, presented annually at San Diego Comic Con, are named after him.

 Buy your tickets for the fifth Lakes International Comic Art Festival here

• For all events information visit the Lakes International Comic Art Festival web site: | Find the Lakes International Comic Art Festival on Facebook | Follow the Festival on Twitter @comicartfest

Will Eisner Official Site:

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