I'm not a comic-book reader, so I didn't know much about the subject of Will Eisner: Portrait of a Sequential Artist before seeing the documentary at Austin Film Festival. I knew he was the creator of The Spirit, a comic-book series that Frank Miller is adapting into a feature film ... and that's about all I knew. Fortunately, the documentary filled in many of the blanks for me about Eisner and provided some interesting details about the artist's life.
Eisner is credited for being one of the pioneers in the comic-book form -- as the film's title indicates, he believed in making the comics sequential, giving them an ongoing storyline, which was not standard back in the 1930s when he started work as an artist. His character The Spirit was not a traditional superhero with crazy superpowers, but an ordinary guy in the smallest of masks, who happened to fight crime. During WWII and afterwards, Eisner created military instructional manuals that were drawn in a comic-book style to make them interesting and easy to understand. Later in life, he created more dramatic, personal comic books (A Contract with God) that he dubbed "graphic novels," and paved the way for this type of work to be taken seriously.