'Spirit' celebrates creator's centennial with Dick Tracy crossover
The comic-strip crossover between Chicago cop Dick Tracy and masked detective the Spirit wrapped up in newspaper strips earlier this week.
Many in comics are celebrating 2017 as the centennial of "Spirit" creator Will Eisner, who had a career in comics that spanned more than 70 years, from the very beginnings of the form in the late 1930s to creating one of the early graphic novels with “A Contract With God.”
The Society of Illustrators in New York is currently hosting a two-floor retrospective of more than 150 pieces of Eisner art, the largest exhibition of Eisner's art ever held in the United States.
"The Spirit," which was serialized in special newspaper sections starting in 1940, ran until 1952. The character has been revived periodically in the decades since, and twice was filmed in live-action, in a 1987 TV movie starring Sam Jones ("Flash Gordon") and in 2008 in a feature film directed by "Sin City" graphic novelist Frank Miller.
Eisner, who was born March 6, 1917, died Jan. 3, 2005. The Eisner Awards, generally considered the highest comic-book awards, are named in his honor.
Eisner used the Spirit to examine human nature through the concept of a detective comic, with the Spirit's domino mask putting him technically in the realm of “masked adventurers.”
If you've been following the crossover in the pages of The Oklahoman and are curious about where to read more about the Spirit, more details follow.
• You can navigate to previous episodes of the "Dick Tracy" crossover at www.newsok.com/comics or www.gocomics.com/dicktracy. The Dick Tracy strip is written by Mike Curtis and drawn by Joe Staton. Dick Tracy was originally created by Oklahoma native Chester Gould.
• "The Spirit: A Celebration of 75 Years" was released by DC Comics in 2015, celebrating the 75th anniversary of the Spirit character. It contains more than 60 stories, including many from Eisner's heyday, and more recent adaptations by creators including Neil Gaiman, Alan Moore, Eddie Campbell and Darwyn Cooke. Cooke, who died in 2016, also was the primary creator behind DC's 2005 "The Spirit" revamp, including the crossover "Batman/The Spirit."
• DC Comics spearheaded a complete 26-volume republication of "The Spirit" under the title "The Spirit Archives" from 2000-2009. If you want to sample just one, you might start with the postwar era beginning with Vol. 14. There's also a 27th volume of "New Adventures" by other creators that was published by Dark Horse Comics.
• Current "Spirit" license-holder in comics, Dynamite Entertainment, celebrated the 75th anniversary with a 12-issue series by writer Matt Wagner, artist Dan Schkade, and colorist Brennan Wagner collected as "The Spirit Returns."
• Currently on comic store shelves are the first two issues of "Will Eisner's The Spirit: The Corpse-Makers," written and drawn by Francesco Francavilla, himself an Eisner Award winner.