Tag Archives: Will Eisner

Will Eisner and his Spirit

Today is the day that many of us Golden Age comic book fans have been waiting for, because today is the day that Will Eisner’s The Spirit comes to a theater near you. For those of you who may think that The Spirit is just another superhero, think again. There is much more to him than a blue suit, a red tie and beautiful women – both good and evil.

The Spirit was a 7 page Sunday newspaper insert created by 22-year-old Will Eisner that first ran in the Register and Tribune Syndicate on June 2, 1940, shortly after Superman and Batman debuted in comic books. The Spirit, in reality, was Denny Colt, a Central City police officer, who was beaten up and left for dead lying in a puddle of chemicals by the villain Dr. Cobra. Colt was pronounced by the coroner and was buried in Wildwood Cemetery. Unknown to everyone he was merely in a state of hibernation and broke out of his grave and continued his crime fighting crusade as The Spirit. Only police commissioner Dolan knows his true identity.

The strip itself was ahead of it’s time focusing its attention on a more adult male audience by incorporating crime noir, sex (via the many femme fatales), humor, a touch of science fiction and fantasy, and violence (including murder and blood). But mostly it was known for its use of sequential artwork by using angles, darkness and vibrant colors. Eisner stated in the past that a person could completely understand an entire strip without having one single word balloon; each panel would explain itself. That’s not to say that the language was not included, quite the contrary. For such a young man, Eisner’s usage of English catered to a more mature and well educated reader, even though some would say that his characterization of African-Americans at the time was unfounded.

The Sunday strip continued through October 5, 1952 and the character of The Spirit has been revived a number of times including a current run in DC Comics, which is on issue #24. For those of you want to learn more about The Spirit, DC is just finishing up its massive 26 Volume Hardcover Archive set, collecting everything The Spirit has ever appeared in. Interestingly enough, the series was first to only be 15 volumes collecting only the strips that Eisner worked on, not the strips that were done posthumously by Wally Wood (Tales From The Crypt), Jack Cole (Plastic Man) and others while Eisner served in World War II (Eisner was, however, the editorial director). DC wisely added these extra books making for a total of 24. Then as the last few were being planned outs the editorial staff at DC made the decision to add in a 25th Volume collecting the very rare and never-before reprinted Spirit Daily strip in it’s entirety that originally ran from October 1941 to March 1944. But that’s not all; DC has kept on going and on December 31, 2008 will release a 26th Volume that will collect all The Spirit material that was published by many other companies including Harvey Comics, Warren Publishing and Kitchen Sink Press, from the 1950’s to the 1980’s, thus ending DC’s monumental undertaking.

But there’s even more! In 1998, Dark Horse Comics published their own Spirit series that ran for 10 issues and was done by such prolific creators like Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons (Watchmen) and Neil Gaiman (Sandman). This April 2009 Dark Horse is going to collect the run in their own Archive Edition and it will match the DC line; even tagging the spine of the dustjacket as Volume 27. Kudos to both DC and Dark Horse for combining their editorial efforts.

It should be pointed out that Volume 3 (softcover edition) of DC’s current run will collect issues #14-20 and be out in comic books stores on January 28, 2009. There is no word yet from DC if these stores will be reformatted into Volume 28 of the Archive Series.

So enjoy the movie in all of it’s Sin City-esque glory then go out and read up on why a movie was to be made in the first place – because when it comes to Golden Age superheroes The Spirit ranks right up there with – and beyond – them.

2008 Eisner Awards: What Did Win

A few weeks back, April 17 to be exact, I blogged about the Eisner Award Nominees. In it I picked What Should Win and What Will Win for the Categories related to Collected Editions, Reprints and a few others that I found most interesting. Today, I republish that posting with What DID Win.

You can see the full list of Winners at the Official Eisner Awards Website.

Best Anthology

  • Best American Comics 2007, edited by Anne Elizabeth Moore and Chris Ware (Houghton Mifflin)
  • 5, by Gabriel Bá, Becky Cloonan, Fabio Moon, Vasilis Lolos, and Rafael Grampa (self-published)
  • Mome, edited by Gary Groth and Eric Reynolds (Fantagraphics)
  • Postcards: True Stories That Never Happened, edited by Jason Rodriguez (Villard)
  • 24Seven, vol. 2, edited by Ivan Brandon (Image)

What should win: Postcards: True Stories That Never Happened. A wonderful representation of what happens when creative minds peak.

What will win: Best American Comics 2007. Everyone loves Chris Ware.

What did win: 5. Sorry, I still have never heard of it. But I check it out now.

Best Graphic Album-New

  • The Arrival, by Shaun Tan (Arthur A. Levine/Scholastic)
  • Bookhunter, by Jason Shiga (Sparkplug Books)
  • Essex County, vols. 1-2: Tales from the Farm/Ghost Stories, by Jeff Lemire (Top Shelf)
  • Exit Wounds, by Rutu Modan (Drawn & Quarterly)
  • Percy Gloom, by Cathy Malkasian (Fantagraphics)

What should win: The Arrival. Monsters in NYC with no words. How cool is that?

What will win: Exit Wounds. Going strictly by Dick Hyacinth’s Top 10 list of 2007

What did win: Exit Wounds. Nailed it! Thanks Dick Hyacinth!!!

Best Graphic Album-Reprint

  • Agents of Atlas Hardcover, by Jeff Parker, Leonard Kirk, and Kris Justice (Marvel)
  • Gødland Celestial Edition, by Joe Casey and Tom Scioli (Image)
  • James Sturm’s America: God, Gold, and Golems, by James Sturm (Drawn & Quarterly)
  • Mouse Guard: Fall 1152, by David Petersen (Archaia)
  • Super Spy, by Matt Kindt (Top Shelf)

What should win: Agents of Atlas. A great revival story is collected with all the online pieces. Also includes the original #1’s of each character – all for $25. this was the CCL’s Book of the Year.

What will win: Mouse Guard: Fall 1152. Peterson is Hot Hot Hot and this is a great story. The RPG rights just sold this week, the film rights can’t be far behind.

What did win: Mouse Guard: Fall 1152. Nailed it! Chalk one up for Michigan’s own Petersen!!!

Best Archival Collection/Project-Comic Strips

  • (The Complete) Dream of the Rarebit Fiend, by Winsor McCay (Ulrich Merkl)
  • Complete Terry and the Pirates, vol. 1, by Milton Caniff (IDW)
  • Little Sammy Sneeze, by Winsor McCay (Sunday Press)
  • Popeye, vol. 2: Well Blow Me Down, by E. C. Segar (Fantagraphics)
  • Sundays with Walt and Skeezix, by Frank King (Sunday Press)

What should win: Complete Terry and the Pirates. Although this has been previouly released, we now have the HD version in 2008.

What will win: Sundays with Walt and Skeezix. Walt and his old pal got passed on last year by Peanuts. This is their year.

What did win: Complete Terry and the Pirates. Good for Terry.

Best Archival Collection/Project-Comic Books

  • Amazing Spider-Man Omnibus, vol. 1, by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko (Marvel)
  • Apollo’s Song, by Osamu Tezuka (Vertical)
  • The Completely MAD Don Martin, by Don Martin (Running Press)
  • Daredevil Omnibus, by Frank Miller and Klaus Janson (Marvel)
  • I Shall Destroy All the Civilized Planets! by Fletcher Hanks (Fantagraphics)

What should win: The Completely MAD Don Martin. But did anyone actually read it outside of the free “look at” copy at Borders?

What will win: I Shall Destroy All the Civilized Planets! Classic Golden Age icon Fletcher Hanks will get recognized. Just what this category is.

What did win: I Shall Destroy All the Civilized Planets!. Nailed it! Go out now and buy this book.

Best Comics-Related Periodical/Journalism

  • Comic Art #9, edited by Todd Hignite (Buenaventura Press)
  • Comic Foundry, edited by Tim Leong (Comic Foundry)
  • The Comics Journal, edited by Gary Groth, Michael Dean, and Kristy Valenti (Fantagraphics)
  • The Comics Reporter, produced by Tom Spurgeon and Jordan Raphael
  • Newsarama, produced by Matt Brady and Michael Doran

What should win: The Comics Reporter. Everything, I mean everything, is done in digital these days, including making comics. Publishing comics on the other hand is done on paper and sadly this site (and others) will get passed over this year. It’s a real shame since everyone in the industry reads Tom’s blog on a daily basis.

What will win: The Comics Journal. It was passed up last year.

What did win: Newsarama. Shortly after the nomination, Newsarama revamped their site and they added RSS. It may of helped them get the Award.

Best Comics-Related Book

  • The Art of P. Craig Russell, edited by Joe Pruett (Desperado)
  • The Artist Within, by Greg Preston (Dark Horse)
  • Manga: The Complete Guide, by Jason Thompson (Del Rey Manga)
  • Meanwhile . . . A Biography of Milton Caniff, by R. C. Harvey (Fantagraphics)
  • Reading Comics: How Graphic Novels Work and What They Mean, by Douglas Wolk (Da Capo Press)
  • Understanding Manga and Anime, by Robin Brenner (Libraries Unlimited/Greenwood Publishing)

What should win: Meanwhile . . . A Biography of Milton Caniff. Since Terry and the Pirates won’t win, neither can this excellent book.

What will win: Reading Comics: How Graphic Novels Work and What They Mean. A book that tells us how to read. I’ll never quite figure this one out.

What did win: Reading Comics: How Graphic Novels Work and What They Mean. Too bad for Terry.

Best Publication Design

  • (The Complete) Dream of the Rarebit Fiend, designed by Ulrich Merkl (Ulrich Merkl)
  • Complete Terry and the Pirates, designed by Dean Mullaney (IDW)
  • Heroes, vol. 1, designed by John Roshell/Comicraft (WildStorm/DC)
  • Little Sammy Sneeze, designed by Philippe Ghielmetti (Sunday Press)
  • Process Recess 2, designed by James Jean and Chris Pitzer (AdHouse)
  • Sundays with Walt and Skeezix, designed by Chris Ware (Sunday Press)

What should win: (The Complete) Dream of the Rarebit Fiend. Winsor McCay’s title made sence 100 years ago – and so did the strip itself.

What will win: Heroes, vol. 1. But not the Jim Lee cover, give me the Alex Ross one, please.

What did win: Process Recess 2. Another book I’ll have to pick up now.

2008 Eisner Awards: What Should Win and What Will Win

As promised, here is my breakdown of a few categories of the 2008 Eisner Awards as they pertain to my interests and this website and podcast (also, I can’t tell one Letterer from the next).

The results in all categories will be announced in a gala awards ceremony on the evening of Friday, July 25 at Comic-Con International.

Best Anthology

  • Best American Comics 2007, edited by Anne Elizabeth Moore and Chris Ware (Houghton Mifflin)
  • 5, by Gabriel Bá, Becky Cloonan, Fabio Moon, Vasilis Lolos, and Rafael Grampa (self-published)
  • Mome, edited by Gary Groth and Eric Reynolds (Fantagraphics)
  • Postcards: True Stories That Never Happened, edited by Jason Rodriguez (Villard)
  • 24Seven, vol. 2, edited by Ivan Brandon (Image)

What should win: Postcards: True Stories That Never Happened. A wonderful representation of what happens when creative minds peak.

What will win: Best American Comics 2007. Everyone loves Chris Ware.

Best Graphic Album-New

  • The Arrival, by Shaun Tan (Arthur A. Levine/Scholastic)
  • Bookhunter, by Jason Shiga (Sparkplug Books)
  • Essex County, vols. 1-2: Tales from the Farm/Ghost Stories, by Jeff Lemire (Top Shelf)
  • Exit Wounds, by Rutu Modan (Drawn & Quarterly)
  • Percy Gloom, by Cathy Malkasian (Fantagraphics)

What should win: The Arrival. Monsters in NYC with no words. How cool is that?

What will win: Exit Wounds. Going strictly by Dick Hyacinth’s Top 10 list of 2007

Best Graphic Album-Reprint

  • Agents of Atlas Hardcover, by Jeff Parker, Leonard Kirk, and Kris Justice (Marvel)
  • Gødland Celestial Edition, by Joe Casey and Tom Scioli (Image)
  • James Sturm’s America: God, Gold, and Golems, by James Sturm (Drawn & Quarterly)
  • Mouse Guard: Fall 1152, by David Petersen (Archaia)
  • Super Spy, by Matt Kindt (Top Shelf)

What should win: Agents of Atlas. A great revival story is collected with all the online pieces. Also includes the original #1’s of each character – all for $25. this was the CCL’s Book of the Year.

What will win: Mouse Guard: Fall 1152. Peterson is Hot Hot Hot and this is a great story. The RPG rights just sold this week, the film rights can’t be far behind.

Best Archival Collection/Project-Comic Strips

  • (The Complete) Dream of the Rarebit Fiend, by Winsor McCay (Ulrich Merkl)
  • Complete Terry and the Pirates, vol. 1, by Milton Caniff (IDW)
  • Little Sammy Sneeze, by Winsor McCay (Sunday Press)
  • Popeye, vol. 2: Well Blow Me Down, by E. C. Segar (Fantagraphics)
  • Sundays with Walt and Skeezix, by Frank King (Sunday Press)

What should win: Complete Terry and the Pirates. Although this has been previouly released, we now have the HD version in 2008.

What will win: Sundays with Walt and Skeezix. Walt and his old pal got passed on last year by Peanuts. This is their year.

Best Archival Collection/Project-Comic Books

  • Amazing Spider-Man Omnibus, vol. 1, by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko (Marvel)
  • Apollo’s Song, by Osamu Tezuka (Vertical)
  • The Completely MAD Don Martin, by Don Martin (Running Press)
  • Daredevil Omnibus, by Frank Miller and Klaus Janson (Marvel)
  • I Shall Destroy All the Civilized Planets! by Fletcher Hanks (Fantagraphics)

What should win: The Completely MAD Don Martin. But did anyone actually read it outside of the free “look at” copy at Borders?

What will win: I Shall Destroy All the Civilized Planets! Classic Golden Age icon Fletcher Hanks will get recognized. Just what this category is.

Best Comics-Related Periodical/Journalism

  • Comic Art #9, edited by Todd Hignite (Buenaventura Press)
  • Comic Foundry, edited by Tim Leong (Comic Foundry)
  • The Comics Journal, edited by Gary Groth, Michael Dean, and Kristy Valenti (Fantagraphics)
  • The Comics Reporter, produced by Tom Spurgeon and Jordan Raphael
  • Newsarama, produced by Matt Brady and Michael Doran

What should win: The Comics Reporter. Everything, I mean everything, is done in digital these days, including making comics. Publishing comics on the other hand is done on paper and sadly this site (and others) will get passed over this year. It’s a real shame since everyone in the industry reads Tom’s blog on a daily basis.

What will win: The Comics Journal. It was passed up last year.

Best Comics-Related Book

  • The Art of P. Craig Russell, edited by Joe Pruett (Desperado)
  • The Artist Within, by Greg Preston (Dark Horse)
  • Manga: The Complete Guide, by Jason Thompson (Del Rey Manga)
  • Meanwhile . . . A Biography of Milton Caniff, by R. C. Harvey (Fantagraphics)
  • Reading Comics: How Graphic Novels Work and What They Mean, by Douglas Wolk (Da Capo Press)
  • Understanding Manga and Anime, by Robin Brenner (Libraries Unlimited/Greenwood Publishing)

What should win: Meanwhile . . . A Biography of Milton Caniff. Since Terry and the Pirates won’t win, neither can this excellent book.

What will win: Reading Comics: How Graphic Novels Work and What They Mean. A book that tells us how to read. I’ll never quite figure this one out.

Best Publication Design

  • (The Complete) Dream of the Rarebit Fiend, designed by Ulrich Merkl (Ulrich Merkl)
  • Complete Terry and the Pirates, designed by Dean Mullaney (IDW)
  • Heroes, vol. 1, designed by John Roshell/Comicraft (WildStorm/DC)
  • Little Sammy Sneeze, designed by Philippe Ghielmetti (Sunday Press)
  • Process Recess 2, designed by James Jean and Chris Pitzer (AdHouse)
  • Sundays with Walt and Skeezix, designed by Chris Ware (Sunday Press)

What should win: (The Complete) Dream of the Rarebit Fiend. Winsor McCay’s title made sence 100 years ago – and so did the strip itself.

What will win: Heroes, vol. 1. But not the Jim Lee cover, give me the Alex Ross one, please.