Great Pages: THE SPIRIT – 9.11.1949

The Spirit - 9-11-49

From The Spirit (9/11/1949)

Will Eisner created the Spirit in 1940 as one story in a tabloid size insert found in several newspapers. Titled “The Spirit Section,” this tabloid was a 16-page comic book found in various Sunday editions. It featured a few stories in each issue including one featuring Eisner’s The Spirit. The Spirit started off like any other masked hero of his day, fighting crime with his fists. Eventually, Eisner began pushing the format of his stories further and further. The splash page of each tale become more and more elaborate as Eisner found new ways to incorporate the Spirit’s title into the panels themselves. The stories ranged from adventure tales to parables to horror stories. Many times, the Spirit wasn’t even the main character of his own comic. Such is the case with the tale published on September 11th, 1949.

From the start, the story draws the reader in. We’re told that Freddy, a local neighborhood boy, only has ten minutes to live. His attitude and disregard for his neighbors on the street seem to indicate that his last ten minutes won’t be free from violence. It’s the kind of beginning that makes you want to read further just to find out what the narrator knows that you don’t. This brand of effective storytelling was Eisner’s trademark and it still works over 60 years later.


  1. Love Eisner’s the Spirit. There’s nothing like the original stories IMO. The range of the stories, the way he he could build suspense in like 3 pages; in fact just telling a great story in 3 pages was an achievement in itself. Wish the library editions didn’t cost so much.

  2. “It’s the kind of beginning that makes you want to read further…” Too true. Eisner is one of those creator’s stories that I want to immerse myself in but don’t know where to start.

  3. Will Eisner was a true master of both art and story. I agree with Ithosapien, the range covered in The Spirit tales is quite impressive. The archive editions are nice, and well worth it. DC did put out an inexpensive trade sampling of Spirit stories a while back; I have no idea if it’s still in print, though. Contract with God is well worth your time as well . . .

  4. I have a big pile of “Spirit” Black & White reprints from the ’70’s
    that I’ve NEVER READ!! Seeing this incredible page is the kick up the ass I needed to make me locate which box they’re in, turn out the lights, break out the bourbon and settle down for an epic read!