Google Shows Its Spirit

By  |  Saturday, March 5, 2011 at 11:43 pm

Someone at Google–maybe Sergey Brin, maybe Larry Page, maybe just whoever’s in charge of choosing “Google Doodles” is a cartoon fan*. We know because the company sometimes pays tribute to cartoons and cartoonists. And it’s currently demonstrating its laudable good taste by using a Google logo featuring Will Eisner’s Spirit, the most notable work of one of the greatest comic artists ever. The art celebrates the 94th anniversary of the birth of Eisner, who passed away in 2005, and is inspired by his famous splash pages.

With the US Postal Service having long ago debased itself by releasing too many cartoon-related stamps featuring too many subjects that aren’t all-time greats, Google doodledom may be the highest honor currently being paid to comic art’s greats. Well done, Google.

*Actually, come to think of it, this 2008 Wired article by Steve Levy says that Google search boss Udi Manber likes cartoons–New Yorker cartoons, to be precise. Maybe he’s responsible for the Spirit tribute. Then again, we haven’t (yet) seen Google doodles commemorating the work of Peter Arno, George Price , or Barney Tobey


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5 Comments For This Post

  1. T. Martin Says:

    Shame on Google!
    Shame on Google!
    Shame on Google!
    How dare Gogle honor such a racist cartoonist as Will Eisner. This man created create an over the top racist cartoon character named "Ebony White". A supposed young black boy who spoke in extremely broken English or “pidgin dialect”. To add insult to injury he resembled a monkey. Please Google this for yourself and see how rudimentary offensive this character was.
    Here is a snippet from a Time magazine interview in 2003:

    TIME.comix: As you say in the introduction to "Fagin," you have your own history with stereotype, most particularly in the character Ebony White, a big-lipped, saucer-eyed African-American comedic sidekick to the Spirit. Although Ebony evolved with greater sensitivity in the latter half of the series' life, do you see "Fagin" as a kind of mea culpa?

    Eisner: I suppose if I denied it nobody would believe me. But I if you go back and examine how I handled Ebony, I was aware that I was dealing with something that was volatile and had I a responsibility. The only excuse I have for [that portrayal] is that at the time humor consisted in our society of bad English and physical difference in identity. Later I attempted to depart from it by having a black character, a detective, who spoke proper English and I had an airplane pilot that was black.

    Eisner remains unremorseful to this day and is quoted in many articles as saying “Those were different times.”

    Google you should take better care in the future to honor people who deserve it, not this RACIST who only changed due to social disapproval.

  2. Harry McCracken Says:

    I know about Ebony and regret both Eisner creating him and the pervasiveness of anti-Black stereotypes in the comics in particular and American popular culture in general–although the character was very far from the most horrifying example in popular media of its day–and am glad that Eisner stopped using him. The character is a negative aspect of an otherwise exceptional body of work. I’ve spent hours discussing that with comics-aficionado friends, and none of the Eisner fans I know are Ebony fans.

    But if we stopped honoring people who did unfortunate things, there wouldn’t be many people left to honor–and most of the people in the world who never made any mistakes aren’t particularly worthy of honor.

    And I don’t think Eisner remains unremorseful to this day; he’s been dead for six years.


  3. The_Heraclitus Says:

    Well T. Martin, they 'missed' Thomas Jefferson's birthday last year. Not surprised they pick a cartoon over people who actually changed the world for the better…

  4. Harry McCracken Says:

    If I were ranking great Americans, I’d put Tom Jefferson above Eisner, too–but I don’t think the point of Google Doodles is to mark every significant day or pay honor to every great human being.


  5. The_Heraclitus Says:

    I'm simply pointing out the LACK of judgement and/or education. It is obvious by who they DO and DON'T highlight.