Today in Sci-Fi History: June 2

Today, June 2, in 1940, the comic hero, The Spirit, made his first debut appearance.

Will Eisner, the famous cartoonist, created The Spirit. He was one of the earliest cartoonists to work in the American comic book industry. In fact, The Eisner Award for creative achievement is named for Will Eisner.

When Will Eisner came up with The Spirit he never thought he should use a mask or any kind of costume because he didn’t want The Spirit to be a costumed super hero. Though his partner, Everett Arnold,  felt that if they were going to buy comic book for their newspaper, the strip needed a costumed hero. And so, The Spirit  was given a mask from his first appearance onward.

The Spirit went on to run until 1952. The comic is about  a masked hero who fights crime with the blessing of the city’s police commissioner Dolan (Replace The Spirit with Batman and Dolan with Gordan and it’s starting to sound quite familiar, no?). The episodes range a variety of styles – which is one of the things that has Set Will Eisner apart from others, his ability to experiment and succeed – from straightforward crime drama and noir to lighthearted adventure, from mystery and horror to comedy and love stories, often with elements that blended genres.

After a little more than a decade, The Spirit re-emerged in an article about the comic in the New York Herald Tribune. He has been featured  off and on in comics and was officially and fully introduced to the DC universe in 2007 after Will Eisner’s death in 2005. Surprisingly, this was done using the eerily similar Batman in a Batman/The Spirit One-Shot.  Shortly after, Frank Miller tried to make The Spirit into a feature film, but it fell short of audience expectations.

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