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When did the first issue of 'Will Eisner's John Law Detective' appear ? (Answer at bottom of the page)

Although Will Eisner's American Visuals company had been unsuccessful with news-stand comic books (see John Law), it did prosper by producing educational titles. In particular, the Army magazine P*S took off and Eisner had to spend more time with that, to the detriment of The Spirit section. During this time Eisner also married.

Newspaper headlines

By the end of 1951 Jules Feiffer was scripting the series and staff artists at American Visuals (including Jim Dixon and Don Perlin) were handling the art.

As Eisner explains to Tom Heintjes:

"By then it was very clear to me that I either had to do something drastic to the feature, or pull the plug on it."

Fortunately a meeting with artist Wally Wood prompted work to commence on the Outer Space Spirit stories.

The first page of the series

(The first Outer Space Spirit section)

The series involved The Spirit accepting an experimental mission to the moon for the government accompanied by a scientist and a group of criminals to test the effects of man in space.

The first part of this series appeared as the 27 July 1952 section and Wood's impressive art continued on the sections for the next two weeks until the 17 August story which Eisner himself drew.

Impressive Wally Wood art

The reason for Eisner doing the art was two fold: Wood had fallen behind with the work (he was also doing some fantastic art for EC's "Weird Science" series at the same time), and the syndicate handling the section had received requests from their clients asking for Eisner to do the art.

More impressive Wood art

With the following weeks' section a compromise was reached: Wood handled the art for the scenes set in space; Eisner the earthbound scenes. However with this section the number of pages were cut from 7 to 4 (the rest of the section being filled with reprints), and this marked the beginning of the end for the series.

Excellent Wood splash page

Things drew to a head with the 14 September section, which had Ebony reminiscing about an old story (known in the trade as a "refry"). The following week's section had The Spirit returning to Earth (not drawn by Wood) but the section that appeared on 28 September (with art by Wood) still featured the character in space! This section marked the end of Wood's tenure on the strip.

Eisner comments that: "We parted amicably - we started as friends, and we ended as friends".

Just a week later, with 'Denny Colt, UFO Investigator' (the first of another multipart series) The Spirit ended suddenly after twelve years of continuous publication.

"The Spirit years were good years. There was a lot of warmth like being in a cocoon, almost. I had freedom to do the kinds of stories I wanted, and there was security."

The Kitchen Sink trade paperback reprint

(The cover to the Kitchen Sink collection of Outer Space Spirit reprints)

Outer Space Spirit sections

27 July 1952 - "Outer Space"

3 August 1952 - "Mission... The Moon"

10 August 1952 - "A DP On the Moon"

17 August 1952 - "Heat"

24 August 1952 - "Rescue" (First of the four page sections)

31 August 1952 - "The Last Man"

7 September 1952 - "The Man in the Moon"

14 September 1952 - "The Amulet of Osiris" (refry of 28 November 1948 section)

21 September 1952 - "The Spirit Back on Earth" (This story is meant to be read AFTER the 28 September section)

28 September 1952 - "Return From the Moon" (This story is meant to be read BEFORE the 21 September section)

5 October 1952 - "Denny Colt, UFO Investigator" (Not officially part of the Outer Space series, it does make references to events of the previous sections).

From the vaults...

(As the original series ran out of sequence towards the end - it should come as no surprise that when Kitchen Sink first tried to reprint the series in their Spirit magazine that they also reprinted a section in the wrong order! The jam page above by Eisner & Kitchen shows how the error happened!)

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Quick Link

A page giving a concise history of The Shadow character is at Who Knows What Evil Lurks In The Hearts of Men?


Click here to goto Will Eisner's site!
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Trivia Answer: 1983, some 25 years after it was finished.(For more information about John Law, click here)