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Will Eisner Original Spirit Art: Prisoner of Donjon p.2 (1948)

Will Eisner Original Spirit Art: Prisoner of Donjon p.2 (1948)
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    WILL EISNER (1917-2005) • Original Spirit Art

    August 29, 1948. Page 2 from “The Prisoner of Donjon”

    Eisner at his cinematic best! Will Eisner shows why The Spirit is called “the Citizen Kane of comics,” with this dynamic page from “The Prisoner of Donjon.” This cinematic page shows Eisner flexing his storytelling chops with a dynamic composition that draws the reader’s eye from an establishing shot of an excavator working on the site of a demolished prison and working all the way down to an eccentric and forgotten prisoner buried in the dungeon for unknown eons. “This is my style of storytelling,” Eisner told Dave Schreiner in 1987, calling it “an instance where the cinema shows up in my work. I maintain that most of my work is theatrical and uses stagecraft, but here, with those top two tiers especially, that’s where film shows up. The inserts of the men in the steamshovel are like close ups in a film, used in the midst of some action. I’m also directing the reader’s eye toward that hole in the ground.”

    Beyond this page’s significance as an outstanding example of Eisner’s groundbreaking storytelling techniques, it also is a delightful work of art. The noir shadows and inventive point of view shots are presented with bold inks, while the characters’ expressive faces pop thanks to some lovely crosshatching and brush work. You can practically feel the sweat, grit, and surprise emanating from each character. This page is a wonderful scene from the Spirit’s later years.

    As the story unfolds, Spirit discovers that Smudge, the harmonica-playing forgotten inmate, was wrongly imprisoned for 37 years. This proves to be a dilemma for everyone. Smudge doesn’t want to leave jail. Dolan doesn’t want the department’s bad press for wrongfully imprisoning Smudge. And the crooked lawyers who framed Smudge - Redtape and Snarl – are at odds, because Redtape wants to come clean and Snarl wants to frame the Spirit with breaking and entry to keep their secret. This leads to a struggle between Redtape, Snarl, and Smudge where the latter takes a bullet as each tries to get what they want. At the end of the story no one winds up happy except the reader who’s treated to a classic example of Eisner’s prime-time storytelling.

    Medium/Size/Condition: Brush, pen, and ink on Bristol board measuring 16.5 x 23 inches (42 x 58 cm). Rubber cement discoloration along the top and bottom margins outside of image area. Small date, series, and printer notation stamps at top margin outside of image area, handwritten story and page number indication at the bottom margin White-Out and correctional scraping in a few places but overall in excellent condition.

    Further reference: Much other Eisner art, plus out-of-print graphic novels, Spirit comic books and magazines, signed serigraphs, his Famous Cartoonist Button, and numerous other Eisner-related items are accessible from our sister store Steve Krupp’s Curio Shoppe. Just type his name (or The Spirit) into our search bar.

    Provenance: The Will Eisner estate is exclusively represented by the Denis Kitchen Art Agency, an affiliate of Steve Krupp’s Curio Shoppe and Gallery. This drawing is warranted to be an authentic original created by Will Eisner, and sold on behalf of his estate. Note: Image is © Will Eisner Studios, Inc. Reproduction for commercial purposes requires permission.

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