RARA-AVIS: Re: The Spirit, Cooke's not Miller's

From: Kevin Burton Smith (kvnsmith@sbcglobal.net)
Date: 27 Dec 2008

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    Mark wrote:

    > I saw two volumes of Darwyn Cooke's The Spirit in the bookstore today.
    > Has anyone read them? How are they? The art clearly wasn't trying to
    > copy Eisner's, but is the, well, spirit of his Spirit faithful?


    There was always a goofy, upbeat spirit of fun about Eisner's Spirit, and very little true meanness.

    Cooke has evidently not only read Eisner, but "gets" it, in a way the trailers of the upcoming film suggest that the film's makers do not. It seems all glossy surface, with little thought to what lies behind the pretty shiny pictures.

    The one-off crossover Cooke did between Batman and the Spirit is pretty good too. There's a collection that includes it, I think,, Mark, along with several of Cooke's Batman and Catwoman stories.

    Also extremely recommended: THE MAMMOTH BOOK OF CRIME COMICS, which does offer several samples of the darker side of crime comics.

    This hefty brick of a paperback, edited by Paul Gravett, is like a warning tossed through the plate glass window complacency of all those skinny, skimpy over-priced little graphic "novels" that offer a lot of overblown, pretentious artwork and precious little actual plot.

    You want story? This collections offers a virtual who's who tour of crime comics from the forties to the present, offering samples of everything from Will Eisner's The Spirit to Collins and Beatty's Ms. Tree. The earliest selection is a dry run of Spillane's Mike Hammer
    ("Mike Lancer and the Syndicate of Death" from 1942) and winds its way to the present, offering mostly complete stories (or story arcs, in the case of strips) of such familiar classics as Dashiell Hammett and Alex Raymond's Secret Agent X-9.

    Sure, even clocking in at close to 500 pages, there are some glaring omissions (No Dick Tracy? No Slam Bradley? No Johnny Dynamite or 100 Bullets?), but the spattering of off-beat choices and outright rarities they offer instead (a 87th Street Precinct tale from 1962, a 1975 Alack Sinner vignette, a 1948 Simon-Kirby short) more than make up for it.

    Please, please, please may this be an annual collection.

    Kevin Burton Smith I blog; therefore I am. http://thrillingdetectiveblog.blogspot.com

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