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Monday, March 7, 2011
Will Eisner's Spirit
Yesterday (as Google kindly pointed out) would have been the 94th birthday of graphic storytelling giant. Will Eisner. Eisner was the author of numerous comics and graphic novels, but his most famous creation, The Spirit, appeared in newspapers.
The domino masked crime-fighter known as the Spirit appeared in June 1940 in a syndicated Sunday newspaper supplement. The strip would continue in that format until October 1952. Later, Kitchen Sink Press and DC Comics would bring the Spirit into traditional comic book format--and of course there was the movie that should have been called Frank Miller’s Spirit since it bore only a passing similarity to Eisner’s work.
The most interesting thing about The Spirit was the way the stories were told. Unlike conventional hero comics, the Spirit was often merely an observer or a minor player in the events depicted--which were frequently character studies or musing on aspects of urban life. Sure there was a good bit of violence, noir crime, and femmes fatale a plenty, but there was also a good deal of humor. All of this was delivered in a visual style showing a greater sophistication and awareness of techniques from film than most other artists of the era.
The Spirit would be good inspiration for many sort of urban campaigns, particular in the pulp and low-powered supers genres. It certainly had an influence on the City, both directly, and indirectly through Moore and Veitch’s Spirit homage, Greyshirt.