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WILL EISNER (1917-2005) •
Original Spirit Art
August 29, 1948. Page 3 from “The Prisoner of
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
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,
Button, and numerous other
Eisner-related items are accessible from our sister
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