Will Eisner’s The Spirit at Kitchen Sink (pt. 1)

« Hello… Times? … I want to place an ad in your Situation Wanted column! Wanted… dangerous assignment… will go anyplace, anywhere, anytime… contact The Spirit, Box 35! » – The Spirit, Apr. 30, 1950

If you’ve followed our series dogging the steps of The Spirit, you won’t be in the least surprised that, after a sixteen (plus colour special) residency with Warren Publishing (Apr. 1974 – Oct. 1976), the late Dennis Colt found himself, after a year’s break, updating his mailing address once more. As returning publisher (and later, also Eisner’s agent) Denis Kitchen put it Kitchen Sink’s inaugural magazine issue (no. 17, Winter 1977):

« Welcome back, SPIRIT fans! Several years ago, we launched an experiment, publishing Will Eisner’s SPIRIT in ‘underground’ format. The experiment was so successful that Eisner arranged for Warren Magazines to publish his stories in a larger format, distributed on a national scale. 

Seventeen issues later, we once again have the rights to THE SPIRIT. We will continue publishing stories never before reprinted, on a quarterly basis. In addition, we are adding new features, virtually eliminating the ad pages, and upgrading the quality of the paper. We hope you like the difference and will continue to support THE SPIRIT. »

Well, the first issue was all right, but looked a bit shoddy, a surprise, given the usually-solid production hand of KS’s peerless production man, Pete Poplaski. With the following, er… quarterly issue (five months later), all the kinks had been worked out, and every subsequent entry looks sharp and terrific.

Ah, but there’s the rub: Kitchen Sink’s magazine ran for 25 issues, most of them boasting spectacular, brand-new wraparound watercolour paintings by Eisner. Some brutal excisions had to be made, to say nothing of the backbreaking process of smoothly collating the front and back halves (we have standards!). Hence the necessity of “pt. 1”. Will you settle for my dozen picks of the twenty-five? I’m afraid you’ll have to.

This is The Spirit no. 18 (May, 1978), featuring a half-dozen Spirit tales, namely: “The Seventh Husband” (May 20, 1951); “Thanksgiving Spirit” (Nov. 20th, 1949); “Future Death” (Jan. 21, 1951); “Barkarolle” (July 18th, 1948); “Mad Moes” (Feb. 9, 1947); “Fan Mail” (Jan. 1, 1950), as well as some vintage Clifford one-pagers by Jules Feiffer.
This is The Spirit no. 19 (Oct. 1978), featuring five Spirit tales, namely: “Money, Money” (Nov. 23, 1947); “April Fool” (Mar. 30 1947); “Gold” (Oct. 10, 1948); “The Chapparell Lode” (Nov. 14, 1948); “Halloween” (Oct. 31, 1948), as well a pair of Clifford one-pagers by Jules Feiffer, a Lady Luck four-pager by Klaus Nordling, and part one of Eisner’s brand-new, hard-hitting serial, Life on Another Planet (eventually coloured and collected as Signal From Space).
This is The Spirit no. 20 (Mar. 1979), featuring five Spirit tales, namely: “Quirte” (Nov. 21, 1948); “Cromlech Was a Nature Boy!” (July 4, 1948); “War Brides” (Mar. 14, 1948); “Time Bomb” (Apr. 15, 1951); “Census ’50” (June 25, 1950); and “[Mission… the Moon]” (Aug. 3, 1952), plus part two of Eisner’s Life on Another Planet and some informative articles.
This is The Spirit no. 24 (May 1980), featuring five Spirit tales, namely: “Boombershlag” (Mar. 23, 1941); “Beauty” (June 9, 1946); “Cargo Octopus” (July 14, 1946); “A River of Crime” (Nov. 30, 1947); “Rescue” (Aug. 24, 1952), plus a chapter of Life on Another Planet and a host of other features, including a Spirit checklist
This is The Spirit no. 27 (Feb. 1981), featuring six Spirit tales, namely: “The Devil’s Shoes” (Feb. 1, 1942); “M.U.R.D.E.R.” (July 19, 1942); “Montabaldo” (Jan. 25, 1948); “Rife” (Jan. 14, 1951); “The Amulet of Osiris” (Nov. 28, 1948), “The Return” (Sept. 21, 1952), plus a new Eisner ‘Big City’ nine-pager, “The Treasure of Avenue ‘C‘”… and more.
This is The Spirit no. 28 (Apr. 1981), featuring six Spirit tales, namely: “Sphinx & Satin” (Oct. 5, 1941); “Professor Pinx” (Aug. 2, 1942, with Lou Fine); “Survivor” (July 16, 1950); “Deadline” (Dec. 31, 1950); “Return From the Moon” (Sept. 28, 1952), “The Martian” (Oct. 10, 1952), plus a Feiffer Clifford one-pager, a ‘Shop Talk’ discussion between Eisner and Gil Kane, and so forth.

If you’ve just joined us mid-programme, fret not: simply rewind to our earlier instalments, if you will:

… or simply click on its general category, That’s THE SPIRIT!, and find yourself with everything at your blue-gloved fingertips.


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