Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Black and White Wednesday: Will Eisner's The Spirit--as a (Sort-of) Political Cartoon

Ya know, Groove-ophiles, a lot of us--with yers trooly at the front of the line--just don't dig it when modern writers and artists put our childhood heroes in adult situations. My belief has always been, "If ya wanna do that stuff, create your own characters, bub!" I still don't like it, but I have to admit, however grudgingly, that the precedence was set way back in the Groovy Age by one of comics' Founding Fathers--perhaps the most influential creator of all, Will Eisner. 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...

Eisner also did a brand-new four-page P'Gell tale for the second Kitchen Sink ish. It's also very...different. If enough of ya wanna see it, Ol' Groove just might be persuaded to oblige...


  1. I've never actually compared it but I'm pretty sure that the P'Gell story in that second issue--in spite of the cover making a big deal out of it being a left over, never before drawn story...was actually an almost note for note remake of a published P'Gell story.

    I love these strips from issue 1 though--much more SPIRIT-like than the similar one-pagers he did just 7 years earlier for the Harvey SPIRIT.

  2. I'd love to see you post the 4-page P'Gell story from issue #2. When Kitchen Sink reprinted the story in its second "best of the Spirit" volume (the one collecting all the P'Gell stories), I was disappointed at how muddied and out-of-focus the reprint was. Current technology makes it much easier to post/print quality versions of previously published material.

  3. I perfer Eisner's 70's period.
    so, yes. please. bring on P'gell.

  4. I wasn't aware these even existed, so it was great to be able to see them; having said that, they just don't work for me. I'm actually in the middle of collecting the Spirit Archives and have been reading quite a bit of Eisner. Even though his stories often had something to say they were never "preachy", and some of the cartoons above kinda slip into that. With the pulpy, noir dynamic gone it just doesn't work as well for me. I can see The Spirit and Bogart living in the same world, but The Spirit and Serpico..? And by all means, bring on the P'Gell stories!!

  5. These comics are pretty fascist. Too bad.



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