did the daily sequence of The Spirit
first start? (Answer at bottom of the page)
Although Will Eisner introduced the Halloween and Christmas Spirit sections when the series started in 1940, it would not be until much later in the run before a New Year story would be created.
The 26 December 1948 section, 'Will Eisner's Almanack of the Year 1948' recaps some of the more memorable storylines which had appeared over the previous 12 months: Gerhard Shnobble, War Bride, Chapparell Lode, Plaster of Paris are among some of the many tales mentioned.
"I had no way of knowing if this piece was successful. I do think the papers liked it, because it was kind of an advertisement for the feature." Eisner recalls to interviewer Dave Schreiner.
The next New Year section, Fan Mail (January 1, 1950) is a very humourous tale dealing with the many questions that fans ask about The Spirit, as detailed in the panel below:
The following three New Year sections are unique in that they were published within a three week period! Deadline (aka Happy New Year) was published on 31 December 1950 by the team of Eisner and Jules Feiffer. The planned New Year story had run into deadline problems, so Eisner and Feiffer quickly assembled another tale - this one featuring Feiffer's character of Clifford, acting out some of The Spirit's highlights of 1950.
"Another great thing about this story is that it gave me the chance to caricature Feiffer on page 2.
That's what he looked like back then - he had that big mane of hair, and now he's as bald as me. Serves him right." Eisner joyfully recalls.
The story originally intended to be published, A Time-Stop! appeared instead the following week. It tells of Mark Tymely, who finds that time has been suspended for him just as he's being shot at.
It gives Mark the chance to escape certain death and do whatever he wants to... or does it?
"... I wanted to set up a premise where a guy had this tremendous good fortune that no one else had, only to have him take it one step too far." Eisner explains to Tom Heintjes in an interview.
The third story in this trilogy is Rife Magazine, a primer for new readers of the series.
"This is a desperation story... I just had to get a story out that week." Eisner comments.
The final New Year Spirit is Joshua Blows His Horn, the 30 December 1951 section. In this tale Joshua has obtained money from a bank which has collapsed when he blew his party horn (or so Joshua thinks). Persued by Mr Prosper and Mr Wage, The Spirit is able to regain the money with some assistance from a child and some party balloons.
Unfortunately this is a disappointing end to the New Year stories, although there is an interesting scene (as shown above) with The Spirit and his doctor.
All in all, the New Year stories are not as good as the other seasonal tales that Eisner contributed to the series, but nevertheless there are a couple of gems - in particular the Eisner/Feiffer collaboration on the 31 December 1950 section.
Trivia Answer: Monday, 13 October, 1941. (For more information on the series, click here)