Tuesday, September 27, 2011

There Once was a Man in a Mask...



Before heroes wore capes and had frikkin' laser beams or psychic craniums, there was a man, a simple man, if simplicity meant being a true Hero.

Now, I love me some Batman. Or the quirky heroes of Doom Patrol under the pen of Grant Morrison. But one of my favorite heroes of all time remains Will Eisner's The Spirit.

Spoiler ---> Don't go see that horrible movie version of The Spirit. It will spoil your dinner, spoil your brain, spoil your chances of getting into Heaven. Honest!

Instead, you should consider going to the bookstore (they still have those, right? Amazon hasn't taken over the world yet? That's villainy, pure and simple) and find yourself a graphic novel edition of Eisner's classic work.

Some options:

» The Best of the Spirit is a wide-ranging collection with an intro by somebody named Gaiman.

» The Spirit: Femmes Fatale will teach you want the word "gams" refers to. Sexy, yes, but wickedly fun first and foremost.

» The Spirit Casebook is another terrific collection of The Spirit's adventures. The man did have many enemies, some colorful but never as zany as Dick Tracy's kooky criminals.

» Will Eisner: A Spirited Life tells the story of the genius behind the comics. Eisner's life is a fascinating one. You won't get bored. You will get impressed. Eisner wrote many graphic novels -- supposedly he is the very first person to coin the term! there's an award named after Eisner! -- and these range from the heroic to the deeply moving drama of New York immigrants to questioning faith and the human condition. Deep stuff but told through ink it becomes so...well, visible.

But back to arguably his most famous creation. The Spirit doesn't have the powers of the latter generations of heroes. He does have panache, a term every kid, straight or gay or somewhere in-between, needs to know because it's pretty much like "class" -- which really does impress everyone, especially girls (or boys) you want to swoon over you. The Spirit had style. And he had humor, because Eisner was a master of drawing and writing capricious comics in only a few pages. We're not talking Nelson Muntz guffaws but real honest chuckles. And, what's more, the comics are engaging, and exciting, and exhilarating and a few more e words that would demand me take out my e-saurus, err, thesaurus. Okay, that was bad, but I'm really trying to be honest. Honest.

Perhaps you'll end up like me and collecting all of The Spirit's published adventures in hardcover. I like my heroes to last.


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