It's Friday, and I'm too lazy to continue with the evil stepfather portions of my Coatney True Life Tales of Concussion Theatre. So I am giving you yet another unseen work from the aborted www.independent-comics.com website to complement the Doc Savage piece.
This one is on Will Eisner and The Spirit:
Will resume the stepfather smackdown on Monday.
There are always lessons in life to be learned. It's taken me this long to realize, that no matter how old or young, either veteran or rank amateur, there are always going to shades of nuances left to instill on the sedulous path that one hopes to canvass. Comics can be there to help one to choose the course most wisely and a graphic novel borne from scratch by Will Eisner is the sole equivalent of handing in a master thesis to a university professor.There is not one living being on this planet who can successfully dispute that Will Eisner is the ambrosia of the comic book industry, served without appetizer.
Now, how did I walk in the door this late while class was in session ?
Chalk it up to wanting comic books to mature along with you. One day, you wake up craving something more than the offered usual unctuous bread & butter mainstream fare which has the daily requirements of a stiff cardboard diet. You have your sugar powdered and undernourished diet of grown people in crotch hugging tights, and you have your furry animals who in turn sniff those crotches, and you have those genre challenged types who buy nothing but anime, anime, anime, and anime just to see those characters expose their crotches. Independent and small press titles can still grab one's attention looking for a health food diet of diversity, but you take your chances good and bad. A series will come along, and no matter how favorably reviewed ( or not that favorably reviewed ) and will keep your heartstrings tugging along for perhaps all of eternity, or when hence said provider writer/artist/creator raises the capital to publish the next issue.
With Will Eisner, you can't go wrong- the man is a genre all to himself. As testament to the inventor of the graphic novel, my eyes have recently feasted upon the current printing of the Dreamer ( the DC Comics Will Eisner Library )and having completed it in one sitting clocking in around one hour and half, my gut reaction was as if a revelation has suddenly enveloped over me; releasing a floodgate of consonancy steadfast in the utimate plateau of storytelling. Not only is it an enlightening read of a personal account into the hardships of breaking into the comic book industry during the era of the 1940's sharing the spotlight with characters built on onerous legends such as Jack Kirby and Milton Caniff, but it sort of acts as a behind the scenes reference material on the passion and the pratfalls and of running a comic book company.
As soon as I finished reading The Dreamer, I had immediately had to have more- so I placed in a order through Diamond's Star System to obtain the entire Will Eisner library that DC has gotten the rights to keep in print including; The Building, A Life Force, Droopsie Avenue, Life On Another Planet, and Eisner's latest, A Minor Miracle. Dark Horse also has a relatively new work from Eisner entitled The Last Days in Vietnam ( printed on pulp style paper ). Now I may have all of these wonderful masterworks in my possession, but as of this writing, I haven't had the time to savor them yet.
Even as I push to the side these revamped sequential editions of serendipity ( due to lack of funds that I hope soon to rectify - hey, do you have
any idea what it cost to publish your own comic book these days ? ), I've still managed to place the mind on idle during the course of the holiday season drooling over page after page of the first three volumes of the archives commemorading the sexagenarian anniversary of the Spirit Sunday strips.
For those not in the know, The Spirit Sunday section elicited comics' first exposure to total independence and sole ownership. Eisner struck a lucky unprecented deal with The Register and Tribune Syndicate to produce a weekly eight page comic book style strip as a insert to major Sunday newspapers across the country and retained ownership and all rights to the characters - something practically unheard of in those early 1940's war torn days of fly by night sleazy syndicate strip owners who would rather crack their hackneyed slaves over the skull with a bullwhip then freely surrender the reins of their own creation to them.
With the Spirit, you got the best in adventure, romance and sheer thrills and derring-do that comics had to offer and remains even unparalleled to this day. Besides The Spirit, ( aka Denny Colt, a police detective once believed to be dead )also included are a colorful palate of supporting characters such as his bumbling assisstant Ebony, Police Commissioner Dolan, and his ever persistent daughter Ellen, who's always trying to be one of the boys. The Spirit has his fair share of worthy adversaries, although most of them were mainly rugged gangsters and con men, a few stick out of the bunch, femme fatales P'Gell and Silk Satin, The ever unseen Octopus, and Carrion with his Vulture companion.
Each week's adventure was as varied and eclectic as a comic strip could get. One week, the Spirit is out halfway around the world smashing a spy ring or a gang of saboteurs and the next he could be playing cowboy somewhere out in the high plains. Mostly the Spirit stuck around his home base of Central City kicking ass over racketeers, crimelords, witches, and masked archers. I cite the example of my old favorite Spirit adventure, The Jewel of Death ( reprinted in Volume 3 ) which I first read when I was eight years old when it was presented in Jules Feiffer's memoir The Great Comic Book Heroes. Here you have The Spirit, lurking about Damascus searching for a doctor who has the antidote for a plague sweeping over Central City. He even goes as far as seeking information in a seedy bar that is hard pressed to serve him a glass of milk. Getting roughed up by Arabian Knight rejects, dodging a massive earthquake, and being the bearer of a prophecy coming true is all in a day's work of our hero. This one sticks out from the rest of the pack for the sole reason that The Spirit is sporting white threads instead of his traditional blue ones. As seeing how DC is printing these volumes in chronological order, the following strip has him back; business as usual, protecting a reknown comic book artist from fussy gangsters.
No one can equal or parallel his style, attempting to ape it would leave one's career in tatters if one so much as steps one step close to his level of unbridled genius. He is a one man band and traveling show. He will teach you and you learn to do it your own way. It would take more than a hundred Rob Liefelds
or Todd McFarlane to reach the pinnacle at the top of their milestone game to be on equal footing
Just when you think you have everything and you just want to pack it all in and leave, here comes Eisner like gangbusters just like a consummate actor such as Al Pacino in Godfather III with something new and magical enough to pull you back in.
Spirit Archives Vol 1 - 3