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Will Eisner Original Spirit Art: Ward Healy p.7 (1948)

Will Eisner Original Spirit Art: Ward Healy p.7 (1948)
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    WILL EISNER (1917-2005) • Original Spirit Art

    March 26, 1948. Page 7 from “Ward Healy”

    A rare 4-tier Eisner page crammed with exquisite characterization! Commissioner Dolan takes center stage in this outstanding page from the 1948 Spirit political corruption satire “Ward Healy.” Eisner’s acting is first rate on this page, showcasing crooked political party goons’ trying to turn the table on Dolan’s corruption investigation by selling out one of their own, a surveyor who they believe they’ve sealed into an underground tunnel. Unbeknownst to them, the fool’s incompetence is their undoing because he tunnels right through Dolan’s office!

    Everyone is afraid of Ward Healy’s political party influence – even Dolan. When he bumps off surveyor Honest John Sliderule and replaces him with bumbling Transit O’Plumb, Healy thinks he’s in the clear to overcharge the city and skim his take on the construction materials. He sends O’Plumb off on a tunnel project, where his incompetence makes a profitable mess for Healy. Meanwhile, Spirit investigates the receipts to prove Healy’s malfeasance. In the end, when it looks like Spirit and Dolan have the receipts, Healy fingers an associate to take a rap for bumping off Sliderule and tries to strongarm Dolan into forgetting about the receipts, telling him that O’Plumb is the key witness and long missing. Except the crooks’ plan to sideline O’Plumb backfires when his incompetence finds him tunneling straight into Dolan’s office. While the page-count restrictions make Eisner resort to cartoon logic in the storytelling, the characterization of cheap, bumbling, incompetent, and venal political bosses more than make up for it. And then there’s all that peak Spirit artwork to admire!

    The acting and linework on this page are extraordinary. Delicate pen work alternates with confident brushstrokes creating playful and expressive characterization. In each panel, Eisner’s characters jockey to come out on top displaying a wide range of emotions: from agitation, smugness, anger, anxiety, and surprise, to satisfaction and defeat. The page’s bottom tier is a rare delight, depicting an animated jailbreak attempt in outstanding pantomime.  

    Many collectors consider 1948 to be the pinnacle year for Eisner’s Spirit: this page is a masterclass in comics acting and an outstanding example of Eisner’s artistic prime. An excellent stand-alone Spirit page for the knowledgeable collector.

    Medium/Size/Condition: Brush, pen, and ink on Bristol board measuring 16.5 x 22.5 inches (42 x 57 cm). Some White-out and correction scraping. 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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