The Spirit: A Celebration Of 75 Years
In a career that spanned close to eight decades and gave birth to the modern comic book, comes the godfather of graphic story-telling, Will Eisner. Often referred to as the “Orson Welles Of Comics,” he is almost wholly responsible for the development of the visual narrative of comic books we now take for granted. He is, without a shadow of a doubt, the most influential comic book creator of all time, and is thus honoured yearly through “The Eisner Awards,” the comic book industry’s version of the Baftas or Oscars, an annual celebration usually held at San Diego comic-con, showcasing the best and brightest talent in the comic medium, all of whom owe their careers in some small part to the “Father Of The Graphic Novel.”
Many diverse characters spilt forth from the fervent imagination of Mr Eisner including the likes of; Lady Luck, the 1940’s crime fighting adventuress, Blackhawk, leader of a team of ace fighter pilots of varying nationalities and set primarily during WWII, but his most enduring and popular creation has always been the noir inspired, domino masked, crime-fighting legend known as – The Spirit.
Now then, before we get started on recounting the origins of detective Denny Colt, a quick review of the 2008 Frank Miller directed movie recreation of the character; It’s awful… avoid!
Vacuous, nonsensical rubbish that really is the epitome of style over substance. Yes it looks marvellous, a graphic novel brought to life, but that is where all praise of this monumental turkey ends. Even great character actors such as Samuel L. Jackson and Eva Mendes are at a career spanning low in this one, avoid this like a plague of crazed cybernetic locusts programmed to kill.
In late 1939, Sunday newspapers started to show an interest in breaking into the popular and lucrative market of the comic-book, and it was through the Des Moines Register and Tribute that Eisner’s Spirit would be first let loose, with his initial appearance in an issue dated June of 1940. The name derived from a suggestion by Everett “Busy” Arnold, at the time publisher of comic book line up “Quality Comics.” Everett suggested that Eisner create a metaphysical or ghost like character, and consequently The Spirit was born. Initially an eight page urban crime-fighting series that also featured back up stories, Lady Luck and Mr Mystic, which formed a sixteen page newspaper supplement known as the “Spirit Section.”
The Spirit is the hero alter ego of Central City detective, Denny Colt, who was believed to have been killed in the opening chapter of the story premier. In truth he was captured and kept in suspended animation by Super-Villain Dr Cobra. Once Denny finally awakened, he found himself in Wildwood Cemetery, from where he proceeded to establish his base of operations and use his newly acquired anonymity to fight crime and injustice, simply wearing a domino mask, azure suit and flaming red necktie to cover his true identity. The Spirit’s rogues gallery is almost the equal of the Caped Crusaders, and includes such memorable rapscallions as, espionage agent of excellence Sand Saref, nutty nuclear physicist Silken Floss, not forgetting of course his arch nemesis, the irascible, Octopus.
DC Comics recently released a hardcover anthology of The Spirit’s finest adventures that spans his 75 years as crime busting adventurer and masked maverick. This tremendous tome weighs in at an impressive 496 pages and includes art and stories from some of the world’s greatest ever comic book creators including; Will Eisner, Alan Moore, Darwyn Cooke, Neil Gaiman, and Jeph Loeb.
Precinct1313 Rating: Spirited!