1992: Spirit: The Origin Years

Spirit: The Origin Years (1992) #1-10 by Will Eisner

Kitchen Sink had published all the post-WWII Spirit strips as a monthly comic book. After that’s run its course, it must have seemed like a pretty natural thing to do to start over with the pre-WWII material, which is what this series attempted to do — but they only managed to get ten issues out before having to cancel the series.

These comics have cardstock covers with metal-ish ink, so I guess Kitchen Sink was trying to fancy these up a bit.

But… it’s hard to see who would be buying a bi-monthly series that reprints this stuff. Hard-core pap pap comics people would presumably prefer to have sturdier books, and most other people just don’t care.

And… neither do I, so I’m not actually going to read these books. Each one reprints four stories, and the first few are pretty nicely reproduced. I mean, there’s a lot of line shrinkage, but it generally looks reasonable.

Steve Geppi is thanked for providing the books that this series is reproduced from, and he also gets one ad page per issue.

For the first half of the series, the Spirit stories are seven pages long, which leaves some pages over — and these are filled by essays and interviews.

I read a couple of the stories, and they’re sometimes amusing, but not really all that thrilling.

Halfway through, the reproduction changes abruptly. These are obvious shot from colour comics, but apparently without any attempt to clean them up, so things just look muddy and ugly.

There’s also basic sloppy reproduction issues, like moire and stuff.

This page (with a lunatic talking about Jesus) apparently got some push-back from readers from being blasphemous or something. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

With the tenth issue, the series goes on a “hiatus” (to never appear again).

DC Comics later reprinted the entire Spirit series in thick hardback colour volumes, I think, which is a much more sensible format.

The Comics Journal #167, page 33:

Eisner’s The Spirit Cancelled,
but Not for Long
Kitchen Sink Press has cancelled their reprint
series of vintage pre-World War II Will Eisner
Spirit strips, subtitled The Origin Years, with
issue ten. Marketing Director Jamie Riehle
cited production difficulties as the reason for
the cancellation, and added that the Spirit’s vis-
ibility will continue to be high throughout
1994, with many other projects in the works.
Riehle said that with previous, post-WWII
Spirit comics and magazines clean stats had al-
ways been readily available from Eisner’s own
archives. The stats of the pre-war material,
however, have all been destroyed or lost
through the years. Kitchen was forced for their
series, which is in black and white, to attempt
to blow the color out of existing Sunday sec-
tions that the material originally appeared in,
and neither the production staff nor Eisner him-
self have been satisfied with the results.
The status of the book is in limbo for now,
said Riehle, while the company considers alter-
native printing formats, with color a possibility.
Meanwhile, many other Spirit-related projects
are on the boards. This year Kitchen will re-
lease a new collector-card set, an updated re-
print of The Spirit Jam, and a full-color
Christmas Spirit collection, featuring eight
holiday tales done by Eisner over the years,
along with a new cover. Riehle also said that
Eisner is close to signing a film deal for the ad-
ventures of Denny Colt, but that no specifics
could be given at this time.

This is the one hundred and forty-third post in the Entire Kitchen Sink blog series.

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