Will Eisner ,quando creò questo bellissimo personaggio dei Comics, anticipò (grazie all’uso delle “splash page” e grazie anche a tutta una serie di invenzioni grafiche e stilistiche, tipiche ancora oggi nella magior parte della produzione fumettistica americana), lo stile di intere generazioni di disegnatori . Spirit l’investigatore con la mascherina, é stato senza ombra di dubbio l’antesignano di uno stile che ha influenzato e continua ancora a farlo, tutta una serie di vecchi è nuovi fumettisti e la lezione non è ancora finita.
P.S: la biografia che Vi presento è in inglese ( sempre della serie “in italiano non l’ho trovata, sorry”)
For the film adaptation of the comic, see The Spirit (film).
For the religious or spiritual meaning of “The Spirit”, see Spirit.
Cover detail, The Spirit #6 (Feb. 1975), Warren Publishing. Art by Will Eisner and Ken Kelley
|Publisher||Eisner-Iger Studio; DC Comics|
|First appearance||Spirit Section #1 (Register and Tribune Syndicate, June 2nd 1940)|
|Created by||Will Eisner|
|In story information|
|Alter ego||Denny Colt|
|Team affiliations||Central City’s Police|
|Abilities||athleticism, hand-to-hand combat, either no or extremely slow aging|
The Spirit is a fictional American masked crime-fighter, created by writer-artist Will Eisner in 1940, who starred in a Sunday-newspaper comic-book insert. His namesake, seven-page weekly series is considered one of the comic-art medium‘s most significant works, with Eisner creating or popularizing many of the styles, techniques, and storytelling conventions used by comics professionals decades later.
The Spirit chronicled the adventures of a masked vigilante who fought crime with the blessing of the city’s police commissioner, an old friend. Despite the Spirit’s origin as a detective named Denny Colt, his real identity was virtually unmentioned again and for all intents and purposes he was simply “The Spirit”. The stories ranged through a wide variety of styles, from straightforward crime drama and noir to lighthearted adventure, from mystery and horror to comedy and love stories, often with hybrid elements that twisted genre and expectations.
The feature was the lead item of a 16-page, tabloid-sized, newsprint comic book sold as part of eventually 20 Sunday newspapers with a combined circulation of as many as five million copies. “The Spirit Section”, as it was colloquially called, premiered June 2, 1940, and continued until October 5, 1952. It generally included two other, four-page strips (initially Mr. Mystic and Lady Luck), plus filler material. Eisner worked as editor, but also wrote and drew most entries — generally, after the first few months, with such uncredited “ghost” collaborators as writer Jules Feiffer and artists Jack Cole and Wally Wood, though with Eisner’s singular vision for the character as a unifying factor.
In late 1939, Everett M. “Busy” Arnold, publisher of the Quality Comics comic-book line, began exploring an expansion into newspaper Sunday supplements, aware that many newspapers felt they had to compete with the suddenly burgeoning new medium of American comic books. Arnold compiled a presentation piece with existing Quality Comics material. An editor of The Washington Star liked George Brenner‘s The Clock, but not Brenner’s art, and was favorably disposed toward a Lou Fine strip. Arnold, concerned over the meticulous Fine’s slowness and his ability to meet deadlines, claimed it was the work of Eisner, Fine’s boss at the Eisner & Iger studio, from which Arnold bought his outsourced comics work.
In “late ’39, just before Christmas time,” Eisner recalled in 1979, Arnold “came to me and said that the Sunday newspapers were looking for a way of getting into this comic book boom”. In a 2004 interview, he elaborated on that meeting:
|“||‘Busy’ invited me up for lunch one day and introduced me to [sales manager of the Des Moines Register and Tribune Syndicate] Henry Martin, who said, ‘The newspapers in this country, particularly the Sunday papers, are looking to compete with comics books, and they would like to get a comic-book insert into the newspapers’. … Martin asked if I could do it. … It meant that I’d have to leave Eisner & Iger [which] was making money; we were very profitable at that time and things were going very well. A hard decision. Anyway, I agreed to do the Sunday comic book and we started discussing the deal [which] was that we’d be partners in the ‘Comic Book Section’, as they called it at that time. ||”|
The new series “gave me an adult audience,” Eisner said in 1997, “and I wanted to write better things than super-heroes. Comic books were a ghetto. I sold my part of the enterprise to my associate and then began The Spirit. They wanted an heroic character, a costumed character. They asked me if he’d have a costume. And I put a mask on him and said, ‘Yes, he has a costume!'” 
A classic Eisner cover for The Spirit, Oct. 6, 1946. Note the innovative use of title design, the mix of color and black-and-white, and the shadowing and texturing that combine for exotic noir effect. Other Spirit stories could be whimsical, gritty, folklorish, sentimental, horrific, or mystical, yet always humanistic.
During World War II, Eisner served in the U.S. Army. In his absence, the newspaper syndicate used ghost writers and artists to continue the strip, including Manly Wade Wellman, William Woolfolk, and Lou Fine.
Fictional character history
The Spirit, referred to in one newspaper article cited below as “the only real middle-class crimefighter”, was the hero persona of young detective Denny Colt. Presumed killed in the first three pages of the premiere story, Colt later revealed to his friend, Central City Police Commissioner Dolan, that he had in fact gone into suspended animation caused by one of archvillain Dr. Cobra’s experiments. When Colt awakened in Wildwood Cemetery, he established a base there and, using his newfound anonymity, began a life of fighting crime wearing only a small domino mask, blue business suit, fedora hat and gloves for a costume. The Spirit dispensed justice, funding his adventures with the rewards for capturing villains.
The Spirit was based originally in New York City which soon changed to Central City, but his adventures took him around the globe. He met up with eccentrics, kooks, and beautiful but deadly femme fatales (most notably P’Gell), bringing his own form of justice to all of them. The story changed continually, but certain themes remained constant: the love between the Spirit and Dolan’s feisty protofeminist daughter Ellen; the annual “Christmas Spirit” stories; and the Octopus (a psychopathic criminal mastermind who was never seen, except for his distinctive gloves).
Ebony White in perspective
Eisner is sometimes criticized for his depiction of Ebony White, the Spirit’s African American sidekick. He later admitted to consciously stereotyping the character, but said he tried to do so with “responsibility”, and argued that “at the time humor consisted in our society of bad English and physical difference in identity.” The character developed beyond the stereotype as the series progressed, and Eisner also introduced black characters (such as the plain-speaking Detective Grey) who defied popular stereotypes.
In a 1966, New York Herald Tribune feature by his former office manager-turned-journalist, Marilyn Mercer wrote, “Ebony never drew criticism from Negro groups (in fact, Eisner was commended by some for using him), perhaps because, although his speech pattern was early Minstrel Show, he himself derived from another literary tradition: he was a combination of Tom Sawyer and Penrod, with a touch of Horatio Alger hero, and color didn’t really come into it”.
The Octopus — Arch-enemy of the Spirit. A criminal mastermind and master of disguise who never shows his real face, but is identified by his distinctive gloves.
P’Gell — One of The Spirit’s most recurrent and famous foes. A French femme fatale and a black widow who has married several times.
Dr. Cobra — Mad scientist whose chemicals and machinations inadvertently helped Denny Colt become the Spirit.
Mr. Carrion — Morbid con man with a pet vulture, Julia.
Darling O’ Shea — The richest and most spoiled child in the world.
Hazel P. Macbeth — Witch with Shakespearean motif and apparent magical powers.
The Spirit and John Law
Several famous Spirit stories were actually retooled from a failed publishing venture featuring an eyepatched, pipe smoking detective named John Law. Law and his shoeshine boy sidekick, Nubbin, featured in several adventures planned for a new comic series. These completed adventures were eventually adapted into Spirit stories, with John Law’s eyepatch being changed to The Spirit’s mask and Nubbin being redrawn to be Willum Waif (or other Spirit support characters).
The original John Law stories have been restored and published in Will Eisner’s John Law: Dead Man WalkingLady Luck and Mr. Mystic. (2004, IDW), a collection of stories that also features new adventures by writer/artist Gary Chaloner starring John Law, Nubbin, and many other Eisner creations including
Assistants and collaborators
Like most artists working in newspaper comic strips, Eisner after a time employed a studio of assistants who, on any given week’s story, might draw or simply ink backgrounds, ink parts of Eisner’s main characters (such as clothing or shoes), or as eventually occurred, ghost-draw the strip entirely. Eisner also eventually used ghostwriters, generally in collaboration with him.
His studio included:
Art assistants: Bob Powell (1940), Dave Berg (backgrounds, 1940-41), Tex Blaisdell (1940-41), Fred Kida (1941), Alexander Kostuk a.k.a. Alex Koster (1941-43), Jack Cole (1942-43), Alexander Kostuk a.k.a. Alex Koster (1941-43), Jack Keller (backgrounds, 1943), Jules Feiffer (1946-47), Manny StallmanAndre LeBlanc (1950), Al Wenzel (1952)
Inkers: Alex Kotzky (1941-43), John Belfi (1942-43), Don Komisarow (1943), Robin King (year?), Joe Kubert (1943-44), Jerry Grandenetti, (1948-51), Jim Dixon (1950-51), Don Perlin (1951)
Letterers: Martin De Muth (years?), Abe Kanegson (years?), Sam Schwartz (1951), Ben Oda (1951)
Colorists: Jules Feiffer (years?), Chris Christiansen (1951)
Ghost artists (pencilers): Lou Fine and Jack Cole (variously, during Eisner’s World War II service, 1942-45), Jerry Grandenetti (1951), Wally Wood (1952)
Ghostwriters/writing assistants: Toni Blum (1942), Jack Cole (years?), Manly Wade Wellman and William Woolfolk (variously, during Eisner’s World War II service, 1942-45), Klaus Nordling (1946, 1951), Marilyn Mercer (1946), Abe Kanegson (1950), Jules Feiffer (1951-52)
Latter-day Spirit comics
A five-page Spirit story, set in New York City, appeared as part of a January 9, 1966 article about the Spirit in the New York Herald Tribune.
Harvey Comics reprinted several Spirit stories in two giant-size, 25-cent comic books published October 1966 and March 1967, each with new Eisner covers.
The first of these two 60-page issues opened with a new seven-page retelling of the Spirit’s origin by writer-penciler-inker Eisner (with inking assist by Chuck Kramer). Also new was the text feature “An Interview With the Spirit”, credited to Marilyn Mercer; and writer-artist Eisner’s two-page featurette “Spirit Lab: Invincible Devices”. Seven 1948-1949 Spirit stories were reprinted. The second opened with a new seven-page story by writer-artist Eisner, “Octopus: The Life Story of the King of Crime,” giving the heretofore unrevealed origin of the Spirit’s archnemesis The Octopus, as well as his given name (Zitzbath Zark). Also new was the two-page text feature “The Spirit Answers Your Mail”, and writer-artist Eisner’s two-page featurette “The Spirit Lab: The Man From MSD”. Reprinted were seven 1948-1950 Spirit stories.
Warren Publishing and later Denis Kitchen’s Kitchen Sink Press published extensive reprints, first as large black-and-white magazines (the Warren part of the run eventually having a color section), then as trade paperbacks. The magazines often featured new Eisner covers.
Two new stories were written during this period “The Capistrano Jewels”, a 4-page story published in the second issue of the Kitchen Sink reprints in 1972; and “The Invader”, a 5-page story (reprinted in The Will Eisner Color treasury).
In 1976, an oddity called “The Spirit Casebook of True Haunted Houses and Ghosts” was published. The Spirit plays the EC host, introducing “true” stories of haunted houses. The Spirit makes a cameo in Vampirella #50.
Issue 30 of the Kitchen Sink series features “The Spirit Jam”, with a script from Eisner, and few penciled pages with the contributions of 50 artists (Kitchen Sink reprinted this story with a 4-page Cerebus/Spirit jam by Eisner and Sim).
Kitchen Sink Press did a complete reprinting of the post-WWII Eisner work in a color comic series, and started another series intended to reprint the stories from the beginning but lasted only 10 issues.
1990s and beyond
Kitchen Sink also published a series of original Spirit stories in 1996-97, with contributions from Alan Moore, Dave Gibbons, Paul Chadwick, Neil Gaiman, Joe R. Lansdale, and Paul Pope, among others.
In the mid-2000s, DC Comics began reprinting The Spirit chronologically in the company’s hardcover Archive series, in an approximately 8×10-inch format, smaller than the Kitchen Sink and Warren publications.
The final Spirit art by the late Eisner appeared in issue 6 of The Amazing Adventures of the Escapist, from Dark Horse Comics.
Promotional art by Darwyn Cooke for DC Comics‘ The Spirit
The DC Comics one-shot Batman/The Spirit (Jan. 2007), by writer Jeph Loeb and artists Darwyn Cooke and J. Bone brought the Spirit into the DC Universe. The first issue of the ongoing series The Spirit, written and pencilled by Cooke and inked by J. Bone, debuted the following month.
The series remains similar in tone to Eisner’s original while updating some concepts for a 21st-centuryInternet helps solve a case, for instance, and Ebony White, stripped of his minstrel characteristics, is a resourceful, streetwise kid. Most stories each run a single, 22-page issue. audience. Ellen’s familiarity with the
The team of Mark Evanier and Sergio Aragones became the series’ regular writers beginning with issue #14 (March 2008), with Mike Ploog and later Paul Smith providing the artwork.
Legacy and influence
|This section does not cite any references or sources. (May 2008)
Please help improve this section by adding citations to reliable sources. Unverifiable material may be challenged and removed.
The character and stories featuring Masked Man, published by Eclipse Comics, were very similar to Will Eisner’s work.
Jack Cole‘s Midnight was intended as a simple replacement for the original during Eisner’s enlistment, but took on its own life in broader stories.
Michael T. Gilbert created a “funny animal” version dubbed The Wraith.
Steve Ditko‘s character The Question shared much of the urban visual tone of Eisner’s work, as did Alan Moore‘s and Dave Gibbons‘ version of Ditko’s character, the Watchmen anti-hero Rorschach.
In addition, Moore’s and Rick Veitch‘s later character of Greyshirt (originally appearing in Tomorrow Stories, and later in his own limited series Greyshirt: Indigo Sunset), consciously mimicked the character and storytelling techniques of The Spirit.
In other media
From October 1941 to March 1944, there was also a daily, black and white newspaper strip of The Spirit. These were later reprinted in several collections. DC’s The Spirit Archives Vol. 25 will collect all of these strips.
Reprints of the Spirits adventures ran in Quality Comics and Fiction House publications shortly after their newspaper debuts.
The character was the subject of a 1987 television movie starring Sam Jones as The Spirit, Nana Visitor as Ellen Dolan and Garry Walberg as Commissioner Dolan.
The Spirit was briefly mentioned in the animated film The Iron Giant when Hogarth shows the Giant a few of his comic books:
Main article: The Spirit (film)On July 19, 2006, The Hollywood Reporter reported that comic book writer/artist Frank Miller would write and direct the feature film The Spirit, previously announced as a project in 2004. The trade magazine reported the production company would be Odd Lot Entertainment, with executive producers including Batfilm Productions’ Michael Uslan, Benjamin Melniker, and Steven Maier, and producers to include Odd Lot’s Linda McDonough and Batfilm’s F.J. DeSanto. Miller later confirmed this. The film, starring Gabriel MachtSamuel L. Jackson as his enemy the Octopus, is scheduled for release by Lionsgate on December 25, 2008. as the Spirit and
Denis Kitchen, the Eisner estate’s agent, said in a July 8, 2006 online interview that a Spirit radio series was in development: “It was pitched to the estate by a couple of producers, one of whom is very experienced with NPR, so we have been back and forth on how that would work. Again, it would be premature to tell you it is going to happen, but it is in serious discussion.”
The Spirit, 22 issues, Quality Comics, 1944-50
The Spirit, 2 issues, Boardman Books (UK), 1948-1952 (repackaged by Denis McLoughlin)
The Spirit, 5 issues, Fiction House, 1952-54
The Spirit, 2 issues, I. W. Publications, 1963
The Spirit, 2 issues, Harvey Comics, 1966-67 (each contained new Eisner work)
The Spirit, 2 issues, Kitchen Sink Press, 1972 (underground)
The Spirit, 4 issues, Ken Pierce, 1978 (reprinting Spirit Dailies)
The Spirit Magazine, 41 issues, Warren Publishing / Kitchen Sink #17 on, 1974-83 (black-and-white magazine)
The Spirit, 87 issues, Kitchen Sink Comics, 1983-92 (post-WWII Spirit, complete)
The Spirit: The Origin Years, 10 issues, Kitchen Sink Comics, 1992-93 (reprints from the beginning)
The Spirit: New Adventures, 8 issues, Kitchen Sink Comics, 1997-98
The Spirit, monthly series, DC Comics, 2006-ongoing
Will Eisner Color Treasury (1981, Kitchen Sink) (ISBN 0-87816-006-X)
Spirit Color Album (1981, Kitchen Sink) (ISBN 0-87816-002-7)
Spirit Color Album, v2 (1983, Kitchen Sink) (ISBN 0-87816-010-8)
Spirit Color Album, v3 (1983, Kitchen Sink) (ISBN 0-87816-011-6)
Art of Will Eisner (1989 2nd ed, Kitchen Sink) (ISBN 0-87816-076-0)
Outer Space Spirit (1989 Kitchen Sink) (ISBN 0-87816-012-4)
Christmas Spirit (1995 Kitchen Sink) (ISBN 0-87816-309-3)
Spirit Casebook (199x Kitchen Sink) (ISBN 0-87816-094-9)
All About P’Gell: Spirit Casebook II (1998 Kitchen Sink) (ISBN 0-87816-492-8)
The Spirit Archives: (DC Comics)
Volume 1 (2000) (ISBN 1-56389-673-7) through Volume 26 (2009)
The Best of The Spirit (2005 DC Comics) (ISBN 1-4012-0755-3)
Will Eisner: A Spirited Life (2005 M Press/Dark Horse) (ISBN 1595820116)
^ Wildwood Cemetery. “The Spirit Database“. ^ Panels #1 (Summer 1979), “Art & Commerce: An Oral Reminiscence by Will Eisner”, pp. 5-21, quoted in “Rare Eisner: Making of a Genius” (see under References, below) ^ Eisner interview, Alter Ego #48 (May 2005), p. 10 ^ Eisner interview, The Jack Kirby Collector #16 (June 1997) ^ Time.com (Sept. 19, 2003): Will Eisner interview ^ a b Mercer, Marilyn, “The Only Real Middle-Class Crimefighter”, New York (Sunday supplement, New York Herald Tribune), Jan. 9, 1966; reprinted Alter Ego #48 (see References) ^ Credits based primarily but not exclusively on The Comic Strip Project: Credits, with other sources including Wildwood Cemetery: The Spirit Database: “Will Eisner” and The Grand Comics Database ^ The Hollywood Reporter via Reuters (July 19, 2006): ” ‘Spirit’ Comic Comes to Life on Big Screen” ^ Variety (July 22, 2004): “Odd Lot, Batfilm join forces for ‘Spirit'”, by Michael Fleming ^ Cinescape (Aug. 23, 2004): “Hollywood gets into ‘The Spirit’: Classic comic book character slated for a film”, by Patrick Sauriol ^ Miller, March 4, 2007 interview on TV series Icons (G4 network) ^ The Spirit official website ^ [http://www.aspiritedlife.com/blog/2006/07/denis-kitchen-interview.html: Will Eisner: A Spirited Life Interview Series: “Denis Kitchen Interview”
Will Eisner official site
Comicartville: “Rare Eisner: The Making of a Genius”
Grand Comics Database
Andelman, Bob, Will Eisner: A Spirited Life ISBN 1-59582-011-6
Feiffer, Jules, The Great Comic-Book Heroes, ISBN 1-56097-501-6
Jones, Gerard, Men Of Tomorrow ISBN 0-434-01402-8
Transcript, Eisner’s keynote address at the 2002 University of Florida Conference on Comics and Graphic Novels’ Will Eisner Symposium
Jack Kirby Collector #16 (June 1997): Will Eisner interview
“Will Eisner’s The Spirit: Setting Up Shop”, by Tom Heintjes
The New York Times Syndicate obituary, by Sarah Boxer
The Comics Journal #267: Excerpt, “Will Eisner: Having Something to Say” (interview)
Alter Ego #48 (May 2005), pp. 7-25: Will Eisner interview
Steranko, Jim, The Steranko History of Comics 2 (Supergraphics, 1972)