Today I’m starting a new blog, in which I examine specific comic panels that have special meaning to me. Where better to start than with one of the all-time greats, from my favorite of his stories, and on his birthday, no less? First published on September 5, 1948, this is the last panel from page five of The Story of Gerhard Shnobble by Will Eisner. This scan was taken from The Best of the Spirit, published by DC Comics in 2005.
Here we see Gerhard, who once had taken flight as a little boy, leaping off of a building, hoping to fly once more. Eisner portrays the dizzying perspective perfectly using the high angle, even at the cost of seeing the protagonist’s face in this moment (which comes on the next page). The faint action lines illustrate the movement without being intrusive. The fine lines used to create the building facades also serve as speed lines, giving the reader the sense that Gerhard will be quickly plummeting toward Earth if his supposed ability doesn’t resurface.
I had the good fortune to see the original art for this page as part of the Masters of Comic Art exhibit held in Los Angeles a few years ago. I stood transfixed by the drawing. At its original size, the art is stunning. I desperately hope that IDW’s upcoming Artists’ Edition of The Spirit includes this story, so that I can have a full-sized copy of this original art to enjoy.
I’m sure Will Eisner will appear in the blog again. His work both on the Spirit and on his New York stories, especially A Contract with God, has dozens and dozens of panels worth of discussion. His talent was unparalleled, and his presence in comics has been sorely missed.
Posted on March 6, 2012