Concluding a month of shows about ‘Masters of American Comics’, Alex Fitch talks to a quartet of comics experts and historians about the 75th anniversary of Will Eisner’s seminal crime comic The Spirit.
Will Eisner created the The Spirit in 1940. For twelve years, the original adventures of masked crime fighter Denny Colt appeared in newspapers and comic books across the United States.
The Spirit first appeared in print as the star of a syndicated comics feature — known now as ‘The Spirit Section’ — produced by Eisner’s studio. The stories were also published in comic book format in various Quality Comics by publisher Everett ‘Busy’ Arnold, a business partner of Eisner’s. The stories have been reprinted many times in several comic book series and collected editions from various publishers over the years. The main publisher was Kitchen Sink Press, who published the entire run of post-War Spirit stories as well as a selection of pre-War stories in The Spirit: The Origin Years.
Kitchen Sink Press also published The Spirit: The New Adventures, which featured Spirit stories written and illustrated by a variety of creators including Alan Moore, Eddie Campbell, Dave Gibbons and Paul Chadwick.
DC Comics have published a 26-volume set of Will Eisner’s The Spirit Archives, reprinting the entire original series in high quality hard cover editions. Dark Horse have completed the job by packaging the “New Adventures” as a matching volume.
For this episode of Panel Borders, Richard Reynolds (Senior Lecturer, Central Saint Martins), Ian Rakoff (Lecturer, Victoria and Albert Museum), Guy Lawley (contributor: 1001 Comics You Must Read Before You Die) and Steve Edgell (co-author: The Complete Cartooning Course) discuss the early days of American adventure comics and the other characters Eisner created in the 1930s, how The Spirit was influenced by film noir, and representations of racial minorities in the author’s work.
• Panel Borders: Masters of American Comics – Will Eisner airs at 11.00am Thursday 26th February, repeated 7.00am Saturday 28th February 2015, Resonance 104.4 FM (London) / streamed at www.resonancefm.com / podcast after broadcast at www.panelborders.wordpress.com
• Listen to the accompanying podcast on Eisner’s autobiographical comics
• Reynolds on Central Saint Martins website
• Information about Guy Lawley on Paul Gravett’s website
• Steve Edgell’s bibliography on goodreads.com
• Will Eisner week website