Saturday, September 22, 2012


 OK, technically these sketches are not from Will Eisner's "sketchbook," they are preliminary drawings he did to guide his ghost artist, Lou Fine, in creating the finished art for The Spririt comic strip.

 I find it interesting that no matter how brusque and hurried these layouts are,  and no matter how many thousands of panels he had already drawn, Eisner was still motivated to play outside the panel borders with little doodles and sketches:

These preliminary sketches showed the essentials of what Eisner thought needed to be in his strip.

All of the trademark closeups and angle shots can be found in Eisner's road map.

Eisner leaves several notes for his ghost artist in the margins

I am not the world's biggest admirer of the draftsmanship in Eisner's finished strips but I am a true fan of the imagination, heart and humor in Eisner's work. 


Brenno said...

Wonderful series, David.

Part of the reason why I enjoy your blog so much is because I have always been interested in what distinguishes a "competent" draftsman from a "great" one. You noted in this post that "you are the world's biggest admirer of the draftsmanship in Eisner's finished strips". I'd be curious to hear what your thoughts Lou Fine's draftsmanship, either as Eisner's ghost or on his own, especially since he, unlike Eisner, is often hailed as one of the great precisely for his draftsmanship...

Looking forward to the next post!

Anonymous said...

Sorry for asking such a question. But what is draftsmanship within illustration? Is it composition, arrangement of objects within depicted space, storytelling views and arrangements, precision of rendering the appearance of things? I'm at a complete loss.

StimmeDesHerzens said...

I had to go to wikipedia to find out what made this guy special!
"He is considered one of the most important contributors to the development of the medium..." [comic strip I am supposing]--
ok thats worth something!

David Apatoff said...

Brenno-- Thanks for writing. I enjoy Lou Fine's draftsmanship-- he imposed high standards on himself at a time when most comic book artists did not-- but I would not consider him a giant in the broader (non-comic book) world of draftsmen. I wrote about a drawing by Lou Fine a while ago, and I was more charmed by the subject matter and the purity of spirit than the technical skill.

Anonymous-- Others may have a better definition but personally, I think of "draftsmanship" as the ability to translate your concept into line on paper. It requires a combination of hand/eye coordination and technical skill. I don't think draftsmanship by itself counts as great art. If the concept is unimaginative and uninspired, a technically skilled drawing may not take you where you want to go. But then again, imagination without draftsmanship is not enough, either.

StimmeDesHerzens-- Wikipedia will not help you understand why Eisner was so special. You should try to find Jules Feiffer's essay on Eisner in his book, The Great Comic Book Heroes. The next best alternative is to read some of Eisner's stories, preferably at a sleep over, or under the covers at night with a flashlight after you're supposed to be asleep.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for the reply.