Friday, December 16, 2005

The Holiday Spirit

DC Comics, which has put out some terrific reprint trade paperbacks this year (see past blog posts), has given fans of Will Eisner's THE SPIRIT a present for the holidays.

Some years ago, DC licensed the rights to reprint Spirit stories from Eisner (who passed away earlier this year); and has been chronologically reprinting the stories from 1940 on in nice, expensive hardbacks -- pretty soon they'll reach the features end from the early '50's, when Wally Wood was drawing the stories over Eisner's layouts and Jules Feiffer was scripting them with Eisner.

But as a treat for those who don't want to shell out a couple thousand for the hard back series, DC has published "The Best of THE SPIRIT," a 14.95 paperback that reprints a whopping 22 stories from throughout the run, as they were meant to be seen -- in color, and on newsprint. Further, despite the inexpensive paper, the color and printing are excellent.

As for the stories, any "Best of" collection will be controversial; but the book does include my two favorite Spirit stories (and therefore two of my all-time favorite comics stories): "Ten Minutes," a tense experimental story co-written by Feiffer and Eisner that takes place in "real time" (complete with a ticking clock as the first panel of each page) , describing the last ten minutes of a man's life; and "The Story of Gerhard Schnobble," a sad, funny and poetic parable about a man who learns as a boy that he can fly; has his talent beaten out of him; and then forgets it until he is middle-aged and suddenly seeks to fly again.

This book is a must-read for anyone who is seriously interested in comics as a storytelling medium; anyone who enjoys film noir or "Saint" type wisecracking adventurers; or anyone who wants to see a master storyteller at the top of his game.

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