Wednesday, November 30, 2011

The Spirit: First Appearance on ebay

The origin splash page, from 2 June 1940.
Art and story by Will Eisner.
This scan from the Spirit Archives.
I just know you've got $4,500 lying around that you're not telling me about. Buy it now!

The first edition of The Spirit Section has been available on ebay for a number of weeks now, won't you give it a home?

Indeed this hard copy is probably very rare. I couldn't even find another one of these at Heritage Auctions. Jim Halperin at Heritage was a great help to me when I was researching the book. In writing the Companion, my access to The Spirit Section was limited. Unlike the other Quality books, which are well represented at the Digital Comics Museum, the Spirit selection is very spotty. Sure, you can find lots of reprints of the Spirit, but this made chronicling Lady Luck and especially Mr. Mystic more difficult than other heroes. I feel I accomplished the task, though, cobbling up enough of the originals, plus reprints from editions by Kitchen Sink Press and others. Because The Spirit Section was inserted into newspapers, it was probably thrown out with the newspapers a lot. That said, there are always editions available on ebay for under $40.

In the first reprint from Police Comics #11
(Sept. 1942), editors added the mask to the splash
panel, but nowhere else.
Where's his mask? In interviews, I believe Eisner spun this matter a little bit. A masked hero was outside the bounds of what he'd originally envisioned when the Register and Tribune Syndicate and Busy Arnold asked him to create a new super-hero. Eisner was hoping to (and eventually did) tell stories for grownups with this new newspaper section, so his super-hero was created as a detective and Eisner conceded that the hero would wear a mask — at least that's the story he told about the character's conception.

If he'd promised a mask to Arnold before this first edition hit newsstands, then he must have conveniently "forgotten" to draw it in. The mask didn't appear until the second installment. Super-heroes were hot hot hot and the people backing this new strip must surely balked when they saw their new lead character in a plain old suit and hat.

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