On September 26th, the largest and most important 75th-year retrospective exhibition of original comic art from Will Eisner’s The Spirit will go on display at Geppi’s Entertainment Museum at Camden Yards, Baltimore. More than 50 pieces of Eisner’s rare original art have been curated for the event, which runs through March 7, 2016. Some of the artworks are from actual editions of The Spirit, while others document Eisner’s pioneering work in the graphic-novel format.
Completely unprecedented in its scope and content, the exhibition is timed to coincide with the Baltimore Comic-Con and Baltimore Book Fair so as many comic-art fans as possible can have access to the unique archive.
“We think those attending the Baltimore show and the book fair will want to take advantage of this unusual opportunity to view the genius of Will Eisner through his original art. His influence on future comic book creators and cartoonists was profound, and it also went far beyond his obvious artistic talent,” said Melissa Bowersox, president of Geppi’s Entertainment Museum. “When Mr. Eisner started in the business, comic book artists were not held in the same regard as comic strip artists. During the Depression, there were twelve comic strip millionaires, but that wasn’t the case for comic book creators. Eisner became a leading advocate for creator rights and graphic novels, and his impact is still being felt today.”
From June 2, 1940 to October 5, 1952, Will Eisner’s The Spirit appeared in a comic-book-size insert in local newspapers around the country, including in Baltimore. Noted for its inventiveness, wry send-ups of the superhero milieu, and its succinct, seven-page lead stories, The Spirit featured a never-give-up title character, strong females ranging from childhood friends to femme fatales, and creatively designed title pages that worked the title into the art.
Escaping from the perceived second-class world of comic-book art and into the lucrative world of comic strips, Eisner built The Spirit sections into a calling card and never looked back.
Eisner introduced comics to the U.S. Army as an instructional tool for vehicle maintenance (in P.S. Magazine), presciently adapted his work to a graphic-novel format with A Contract With God (and many others), and taught at New York’s School of Visual Arts. He remained vibrant and fully engaged with the creative community until his death in 2005, at age 87. In a single night, he won separate Harvey Awards for work created five decades apart, validating his foresight and enduring influence on those who followed in his footsteps.
There will be no additional charge for museum visitors to view 75 Spirited Years: Will Eisner & The Spirit; it will be included in the regular admission charge of $10 for adults, $9 for seniors (55+), and $7 for students 5-18. Children 4 and under are admitted free.
Geppi’s Entertainment Museum is located at Camden Yards, 301 W. Camden St., Baltimore, MD 21201. Hours: Tues.-Sun. 10-6. Closed Mondays. For additional information, call 410-625-7060 or visit www.geppismuseum.com.