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Complete 7 page story, "Willum and the Baron"


Complete 7 page story, "Willum and the Baron"
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    WILL EISNER (1917-2005) Complete 7-page Spirit Story

    June 18, 1950 (but much is 1948). "WILLUM AND THE BARON" (also called "Willum the Waif).

    Background: In 1948, at the height of The syndicated weekly Spirit, Will Eisner separately started his own comic book company. Two were published: Baseball Comics and Kewpies (neither drawn by him). The third, which was by him, was titled John Law, but because sales on the first two were poor, Eisner quickly ended his comic book publishing experiment. The unpublished John Law comic pages sat on his shelf for two years until he faced deadline pressure with The Spirit and he decided to recycle the stories. The most famous is the 2-part "Sand Saref" in which he slightly altered Detective John Law (similar but with an eye patch) to become The Spirit, and changed Chief Bunyan into Commissioner Dolan. Many fans considered the Sand Saref series to be among the best-ever Spirit stories (revealing details of Denny Colt's early years and early romance with Sand) but fans till fairly recently never knew these "1950" stories began in 1948 as John Law stories. (The Before & After can be seen in the John Law: Dead Man Walking book from IDW Publishing.)

    In other stories from that 1948 effort John Law had a sidekick named Nubbin the Shoeshine Boy. Again facing a deadline problem, Eisner recycled a good portion of that story in mid-1950 to become "Willum and the Baron." The name Willum, a nickname for William, is probably an in-joke reference to Will himself (William Eisner). It should be easy to see in the photos which parts of the art were drawn in 1948 because they are cut- and-pasted, with the remaining art drawn in 1950. 1948 art is: the boy and dog on the opening page; most off the art on pages 2, 3, and 4; and the Baron's face in the 2nd panel of page 7. Pages 5 and 6 have no paste- ups. To some collectors, paste-ups are not desirable. To comics archaeologists, like myself, stories like this, with a fascinating history, are special. This is the latest Spirit story in the chronology to incorporate Will's 1948 art, the period many consider his strongest year, when he took the time to carefully pencil and and distinctively shade ("feather") each panel. The 1950 panels are still very good, but are drawn somewhat faster, without the full craftsmanship displayed in 1948.

    Condition: Numerous paste-ups as noted above because of story conversion. Significant White-out on some pages (usually to help disguise the paste-up borders). White tape at the bottom and top of pages.

    Size: 15 x 22 inches (38 x 56 centimeters) on heavy Bristol board. Comes in vintage 39 x 57 cm storage envelope with Eisner's handwriting.

    Provenance: Warranted to be from the Will Eisner estate, which this agency exclusively represents.





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