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Will Eisner Original Spirit Art: Prisoner of Donjon p.3 (1948)

Will Eisner Original Spirit Art: Prisoner of Donjon p.3 (1948)
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    WILL EISNER (1917-2005) • Original Spirit Art

    August 29, 1948. Page 3 from “The Prisoner of Donjon”

    Lighthearted noir! Eisner brings cinematic noir to comics in this dynamic page from “The Prisoner of Donjon.” Smudge has just been found at the site of a demolished prison and is indignant about wanting to stay in. Officer Klink drags him downtown where Dolan discovers that the records of Smudge’s crime were destroyed in a fire, creating a major dilemma. Without evidence, they have to let him go, but maybe he’s guilty of a terrible crime. And anyway, he doesn’t want to budge from playing harmonica in his cell!

    Eisner tightly rendered this page, demonstrating his signature approach to dynamic composition, with some breathtaking camera angles and acting. In 1987 he said this story was “an instance where the cinema shows up in my work.” The dynamic light, shadow and expression in each panel certainly could have been storyboards for a noir picture of the era.

    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.

    Eisner said, “I happen to like this story because the whole idea of somebody coming back who has been hidden for many years has always been intriguing to me.” A delightful page from a prime-time Spirit tale.

    Medium/Size/Condition: Brush, pen, and ink on Bristol board measuring 16.5 x 23 inches (42 x 58 cm). Some White-out . Rubber cement discoloration along the top and bottom margins outside of image area, 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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