The Rocketeer / Spirit #2
Mark Waid! / Wallace! / Wiacek!
At your local Comic Book Shop
So; while there's no creator in the history of comics that I respect more than Mr Eisner, I just feel that I'd benefit from owning up to the fact that I think his work on the Spirit is, as a general principle, far, far superior to anything which he produced from the publication of "A Contract With God And Other Tenement Stories" in 1978 onwards....and...
The weekly context in which The Spirit's adventures were published demanded both innovation and clarity, emotion and excitement, and just like the very best of any and all popular entertainment, it was largely unpretentious, lacking in worthiness and completely involving. If the message of a typical Spirit tale tended to be somewhat obvious, and most of the themes were never anything other than straight-forward, the storytelling carried the reader onwards towards the story's moral closure with an exceptional vigour. And The Spirit himself, so often decried by Mr Eisner as being no more sophisticated a character than a man in a mask, served so effectively as an everyman, as the reader's POV, as a symbol of an individual caught outside the madness of everyday life trying to impose some sanity upon it. Constantly beaten, wounded, heart-broken, confused, the Spirit moves me far more as a symbol of one type of 20th century person than any of Mr Eisner's later characters do.Read the full post here.
In 1952 at the end of The Spirit's original run as a newspaper insert, Will Eisner was losing interest in the strip. Television among other things was cutting into the viability of maintaining the strip and Eisner wanted to put his talents elsewhere. Already the strip was being written by Jules Feiffer, so a proper replacement artist needed to be found.Read the full article here.
When Underground Publisher Denis Kitchen got Eisner to let him reprint a couple issues' worth of classic Golden Age Spirit stories, he also managed to get Eisner to create some brand new Spirit material. Instead of brand new 7 page adventures in the classic vein, though, in the first issue (1973) we got an updated Spirit walking (or punching) through a set of single-page strips that are really political cartoons. The Spirit and Ebony are still 100% themselves, but the tone and purpose of the strips are as far removed from the 40s classics as the latest issue of Green Lantern is from the Silver Age GL. I s'pose "re-inventions" aren't always a bad thing, after all...
But everything changed with the appearance of Will Eisner's "The Spirit" (1940). "The Spirit" was published as a seven-page supplement to the comics section of American Sunday newspapers. As a supplement tucked inside newspapers, "The Spirit" did not depend on being visible on the newsstands. It was not limited by the need for recognizable branding like "Superman".
Mr. Eisner used that extremely cleverly by going in exactly the opposite direction. Not only did he change the masthead of "The Spirit" for every issue, but very soon, the masthead became an integral part of the scene/set.
A few years ago, I was catching the train at Broadway Junction to come into the city. Will Eisner walks up and we started talking. He said, "you should come work for me." I said, "I would love to." We talked a few times, but then I got drafted and I went off to Vietnam. So, it's a pleasure to finally work with Mr. Eisner.