That’s The Spirit…!

Of being an old soul but never wanting to grow up.

The Spirit: ”Il Duce’s Locket” page 1
May 25, 1947
Ink on paper

P’Gell, a femme fatale with an impossibly narrow waist, was among the more prominent and persistent in a series of beautiful criminals in Eisner’s long-running Spirit. P’Gell, though a deadly adversary couldn’t shake her love interest in The Spirit. He seldom returned her affectionate overtures. P’Gell was named after the Quartier Pigalle, the notorious red light district of Paris


The Spirit: ”Quirte” seven-page story
November 21, 1948
Ink on paper


The Spirit: ”John Lindsay’s Mayoral Race”, five-page story
New York Herald Tribune magazine (January 9, 1966)
Will Eisner and Chuck Kramer
Ink on paper with wash

Will Eisner had not drawn a new Spirit story since 1952 when the New York Herald Tribune’s Sunday magazine contacted him in late 1965 to create a story based on the city’s mayoral election. The lettering (done on clear acetate) is missing from the original pages, but the story can be read on the smaller reproductions of the published version.


Portrait of Will Eisner by The Spirit
circa 1985
Ink on paper


Spirit Magazine #20 cover art
1979

Ink with watercolour on board


Samples of Eisner’s used pens and brushes
Jules Feiffer script for unpublished Spirit Story
1952
manuscript 


Smash Comics #8: ”Espionage”, page 3
1940
Ink on paper

This original ”Espionage” page on display is among a very small handful of Will Eisner’s surviving comic book pages from the 1930s when the Eisner & Iger Studio ”packaged” stories for client publishers. During that period (and later) publishers routinely destroyed original art after publication. Decades before organized fandom saw value in both vintage comics and art, publishers saw no reason to save such ”production” material. As a result, original art from the comic book industry’s early years is extremely rare. 


Portrait of a Nude Woman
1936

Oil on stretched canvas

A teen-aged Will Eisner painted this model while attending life drawing classes at the Art Students League in New York. Eisner’s disapproving and practical mother was shocked to learn that her young son was painting naked women and she discouraged him from pursuing art, a career she felt would be unremunerative. Eisner’s father, who when younger had aspired to be an artist, quietly gave his son encouragement. 


Late Train
New York City lithograph series
1988
Ink with watercolour on board


Turf War
New York City lithograph series
1988
Ink with watercolour on board


A Contract with God and Other Tenement Stories: ”The Super”, ten-page excerpt
1978
Ink on vellum, adhered to board


Images from WILL EISNER: The Centennial Celebration 1917-2017, a retrospective comprising over 150 pieces of artwork, graphic novel sequences, original pages of The Spirit and Mr. Eisner’s personal items. The exhibition was curated by Denis Kitchen and John Lind and ran between March & June 2017 at the Society of Illustrators. It was the largest Eisner exhibition ever in the United States and made me very happy indeed.

June 3rd, 2017

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