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The Spirit Archives, Vol. 22 (Review/Retrospective)

There’s a sense that Eisner and his staff knew that the end was rapidly approaching. Narratively speaking, there’s a lot of different elements here that suggest – at least unconsciously – an effort to tidy up The Spirit so that it could be neatly folded up and put away. Eisner hadn’t completely abandoned his creation to its fate at this point, but it seemed like he was well aware that the strip might not continue forever. The Spirit Archive, Vol. 22 seems a bit more reflective than the editions that came before, acknowledging that the worm is slowly turning.

Gun to my head, I'd say the strip is in trouble...

Gun to my head, I’d say the strip is in trouble…

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The Spirit Archives, Vol. 5 (Review/Retrospective)

With The Spirit Archives, Vol. 5, we get our first real taste of what The Spirit looks like without Will Eisner. I’ve always felt like The Spirit belonged to Eisner in a way that very few iconic American comic book characters belong to a particular creator. The Spirit belonged to Eisner in the same way that The Adventures of Tintin belonged to Hergé. I am fond of Darwyn Cooke’s revival of the character, and there’s something interesting about the Kitchen Sink anthology series, but those exist mainly as curiosities or companion pieces to Eisner’s work on the character.

In many ways, this stretch of strips, published by Eisner’s staff and colleagues during his army service, feels the same sort of way. It’s more of a historical curiosity than an end to itself.

Lighten up…

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The Spirit Archives, Vol. 4 (Review/Retrospective)

As with the previous collection, the War looms large in The Spirit Archives, Vol. 4. While Eisner had been keenly following events in Europe from the start of the strip, things really come to a head here. These are the strips for the six months following the attack on Pearl Harbour, and – understandable – there’s a strong patriot undertone to everything here. Eisner would eventually put his patriotism into action when he was drafted, leaving his character in the hands of his staff – who dutifully kept the comic warm for him during his term of service. While Eisner’s early work on the strip isn’t quite as good as the work that would follow, and the shadow of the Second World War dominates, these are still fascinating stories told by a master storyteller.

Carrying on, naturally…

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The Spirit Archives, Vol. 3 (Review/Retrospective)

Join us the December as we take a dive into the weird and wonderful Will Eisner Spirit Archives, the DC collections of the comic strip that helped define the medium.

At this point The Spirit had survived a year. That first year had seen Eisner establish the strip, lay down many of the rules that would define the comic for the rest of its impressive twelve-year run as a regular fixture in the Sunday papers. This third volume is hardly the most essential in the twenty-six volume set, but there’s a sense of confidence in the stories the Eisner is telling and how he is telling them. The strip arguably wouldn’t hit its stride until after Eisner left for the war, and came back with a broader range of experience, but one can see the roots of that later success even in these (relatively) early adventures.

We'll always have Damascus...

We’ll always have Damascus…

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The Spirit Archives, Vol. 1 (Review/Retrospective)

Join us the December as we take a dive into the weird and wonderful Will Eisner Spirit Archives, the DC collections of the comic strip that helped define the medium.

It’s hard to overstate the impact that Will Eisner had on comic books as a medium. The writer, entrepreneur and artist is known as “the father of the graphic novel”, with A Contract With God regard as one of te very first examples of the format. Eisner made massive in-roads into developing comics as a medium that merited discussion and attention, trying frantically to break out of the ghetto where the artform is so frequently trapped. While he has made countless pivotal contributions, arguably Eisner’s largest and most influential body of work can be found in The Spirit, the weekly comic strip that the author syndicated across America. Packaged with any number of respected newspapers, it was among the most widely-read comic strips in the country, but it also allowed Eisner the freedom to expand and develop his craft.

DC have collected the bulk of the character’s history in a series of their superb “Archive Editions”, from the first strip published through to Eisner’s last work on the title (with a supplementary volume published by Dark Horse). Here, in the first volume, we can see the artist honing his craft and developing the series into one of the most important in comic book history.

That’s his name!

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The Starman Omnibus, Vol. 2

Now we’re getting into it. It seems that Robinson has got all the setup necessary to move the story forward out of the way (or at least the bulk of it) and that Tony Harris has finally found his feet on the series. This collection moves a lot more fluidly than the last one – partially due to the fact that it closes as many threads as it opens, but also because Robinson is no free of having to establish the series’ premise and can now focus on the stories that he wants to tell (almost, we’ll come to the exceptions). Those stories are – by and large – reflective studies of what is known as “The Golden Age” of comic books: the 1930s and 1940s. What happened to the world between then and now? What happened to the heroes? Was it ever really the kinder gentler place we recall?

christmasknight

And it's our first Chrismas-themed image... Earlier every year...

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