Review | Will Eisner’s The Spirit Artist’s Edition Volume 2

Even better than its predecessor, Will Eisner’s The Spirit Artist’s Edition Volume 2 shows off stunning artwork at monstrous dimensions to delight and awe fans. A master of the medium visible in every panel.

Will Eisner's The Spirit Artist's Edition Vol 2 coverWill Eisner’s work on The Spirit was, in its way, as groundbreaking as Orson Welles‘ Citizen Kane. Both artistic achievements rewrote the book on sequential storytelling, and had lasting impacts on all that followed them. Volume two will contain stories from the same glorious post-war period of 1946 – 1950, along with some of the very best from Eisner’s run. If you are a fan of the first book (or are kicking yourself for missing it), make sure you don’t get caught short—it just doesn’t get any better than this!

As with all original artist’s gallery editions this is a collection of classic comic material and I’ll be reviewing the book and not the story. For a complete list of all current and announced editions, with review links, please visit our Index.

Material seventy-plus years old should be hard to find, but die-hard Eisner fans must have a treasure trove of original pages because IDW has been able to put together another 144 page collection. It may help that all the stories are seven pages and hopefully easier to locate and assemble than the standard 22 page comic book.

Will Eisner's The Spirit Artist's Edition Vol 2 interior 1

The story material is varied and collects post war work. Included stories are: The Haunt, Silen Floss, Umbrella Handles, The Wedding, Plaster of Paris, A Slow Ship to Shanghai, The Visitor, A Pot of Gold, Now Deputy, Hamid Jebru, The Return, The Return of Red Vino, The Return of Autumn Mewes, Lonesome Cool, Sand Saref, Nickles Nerser, The Island. No extras in this volume: straight stories ending with a one page biography of Eisner.

Will Eisner's The Spirit Artist's Edition Vol 2 interior 2

Eisner’s work is simply stunning: his work is so clean and detailed, a stark contrast to the various colour reprints we’ve been provided these past few decades. There were so many standout single panels it was hard to pick just four spreads to include for this review. The size of the pages allows for minute examination of detail that until now hasn’t been available for this material.

Will Eisner's The Spirit Artist's Edition Vol 2 interior 3

The material has aged wonderfully and every page is clean and clear, with varying amounts of yellowing due age. Inks were deep and variations were visible on some pages. Staples and some bent paste ups made me realize the scans may be from a camera of book scanner that uses a camera instead of a traditional flatbed. Unfortunately we don’t know how or who does the scanning.

Will Eisner's The Spirit Artist's Edition Vol 2 interior 4

Production is top shelf as always. The sewn binding seemed especially tight on this volume, resulting in a significant number of pages not able to lay flat. With a book this large you need flat pages: it gets unwieldy to lift the book, flatten the page and try to drink in all the Eisner goodness. The four images included move from front to back and none of them lay flat.

My copy arrived in the cardboard shipping box but the book wasn’t shrinkwrapped and looks to have had significant exposure to humidity. I put it under some weight (other Artist’s Editions) in my home and after a few days it mostly flattened out. Not sure why some books are shrinkwrapped and others aren’t, but it would certainly help with humidity and warped covers and pages.

Will Eisner's The Spirit Artist's Edition Vol 2 interior 5

Design is by Randall Dahlk, who does most of the artist’s editions. Each chapter divider features a quote from Eisner about the following story. It’s a great touch to a well designed and executed volume. Here’s what Dahlk had to say:

Will had created such cinematic staging and lighting that he made my job very easy. I chose again to have flat color and sharp contrast lighting to enhance the drama that was already there. I was basically hanging the curtains in the house he had designed and built!

It can’t be stressed enough that Eisner fans should run to the nearest store and buy this book. Fans of the medium can walk, but should still pick it up.



Will Eisner Spirit Artist Ed HC Vol. 02 – $151.99

Retail Price: $189.99
You Save: $38.00

Scott VanderPloeg Written by:

Editor-In-Chief. Scott works in I.T. but lives to eat and read. His other ramblings can be found at eBabble. Art collection at Comic Art Fans. Joe Shuster Awards Harry Kremer coordinator.

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5 Comments

  1. Josh
    February 6, 2015
    Reply

    I love it, but I feel Randall dropped the ball on the quote pages. The single spot colors were not properly underprinted beneath the black, giving the black a noticeable 2-tone look between where the color is underneath it and where the black is just on the white page. Maybe this look is what he intended, but to me it looks like an amateurish mistake.

  2. Boscoe
    February 10, 2015
    Reply

    Personally, I think the story selection is much stronger this time around, Silken Floss and Hamid Jebru are easily in my top five favorite Spirit stories art-wise. Now if only we could get MAD Vol 2, I could die happy…

  3. March 17, 2015
    Reply

    A very strong offering. Vol. 1 left me disappointed overall, and I’ve been trying to unload it. Vol. 2 is more of what I expected. A terrific representation of Eisner’s stronger work as the page samples above demonstrate. Also notable, is Eisner’s prefiguring of EC comics. His style is all over those later publications. How he never worked for them is a story I’d like know. Don’t hmm or haw over this volume. If you’re a fan of Eisner and Artist Editions, this is money well spent.

  4. June 11, 2015
    Reply

    “Material seventy-plus years old should be hard to find, but die-hard Eisner fans must have a treasure trove of original pages because IDW has been able to put together another 144 page collection. It may help that all the stories are seven pages and hopefully easier to locate and assemble than the standard 22 page comic book.”

    I believe Will Eisner personally kept the original art for almost all of his SPIRIT stories from the 40s and 50s. That’s probably the explanation here… and the explanation, even, that standard modern-day reprints of “The Spirit” look as crisp and sharp as they do.

    • Boscoe
      June 11, 2015
      Reply

      Actually, Eisner did sell his pages, but as far as I know he held onto them until sometime in the late 80’s/early 90’s and sold them mostly to a small group of friends and known collectors. So unless they choose to be selfish, it probably isn’t that difficult to find a lot of prime material.

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