The Baltimore Comic-Con has come and gone, leaving us excitedly looking ahead to the next Dick Tracy crossover! With all four members in attendance (handing this out!), the Dick Tracy creative team unveiled the awesome poster to the left, teasing an incredible future meeting with The Spirit! Coordinating and getting permissions for these crossovers is no doubt a exhaustive effort and credit to Mike for making these things happen!
“So”, some of you might be asking, “I know the name, but who is the Spirit?” The Spirit was created by Will Eisner at the behest of newspapers looking to get in on the emerging comic book market in 1940. Eisner’s new crime fighter was a 7-8 page comic insert inside of newspapers called “The Spirit Section”. The artwork and writing for these comics was top notch but due to specialized printing requirements and costs, the Spirit was only carried by a select group of newspapers.
The Spirit himself was a young detective by name of Danny Colt who was presumed killed in the first pages of the premiere story but awakens from suspended animation (for reasons) in the Wildwood Cemetery where he establishes a base and begins fighting crime while wearing a small domino mask and fedora hat.
Originating but not tied to his home city, the Spirit’s adventures took him around the globe where he met all manner of upper and lower class citizens, bringing his own form of justice to all of them. The story style and tone frequently changed as Eisner’s interests led him to explore different genres but certain themes remained constant: the love between him and Ellen, the annual “Christmas Spirit” stories and his arch-nemesis, the Octopus, a criminal master of disguise. According to Eisner,
“When I created The Spirit, I never had any intention of creating a superhero. I never felt The Spirit would dominate the feature. He served as a sort of an identity for the strip. The stories were what I was interested in.”
The Spirit slid away into the night around 1952 although comic reprints are common. In any case, I’ll stop regurgitating Spirit information you can probably find on Wikipedia. The exciting part is the Spirit and Dick Tracy will be meeting this coming January! It will be very interesting to see what foe (foes?) the pair will match wits with and how deep the crossover goes. Will we get a Fearless Fosdick style mini-story or a full on Little Orphan Annie length crossover? I’d wager somewhere in between, but we’ll find out together!