A birthday celebration…


Mystery novelist Raymond Chandler wrote in his essay “The Simple Art of Murder” (The Atlantic Monthly, Dec. 1944): “But down these mean streets a man must go who is not himself mean, who is neither tarnished nor afraid. … He is the hero; he is everything. He must be a complete man and a common man and yet an unusual man. He must be, to use a rather weathered phrase, a man of honor—by instinct, by inevitability, without thought of it, and certainly without saying it. He must be the best man in his world and a good enough man for any world.”

He was writing about the private detective in prose fiction, but if it is not also a description of Denny Colt, the Spirit, I don’t know what is. Will Eisner (born 106 years ago on March 6, 1917) embedded those characteristics in his creation for the Sunday newspaper supplements that ran from June 2, 1940, to October 5, 1952. He then went to the opposite extreme when creating so many tantalizing female villain-types — who inevitably fell in love with the Spirit because he could not be corrupted as they had been. In their criminal world, he was the cleanest thing they would ever know.

Here are 13 lethal ladies of The Spirit — plus Ellen Dolan, the police commissioner’s delightful daughter:

Thorne Strand and Ellen Dolan – January 23, 1949

Sand Saref – January 15, 1950

Plaster of Paris – November 7, 1948

Skinny Bones – The Spirit #22 (Aug. 1950, Quality Comics)

P’Gell – October 6, 1946

Dulcet Tone – July 7, 1946

Silk Satin – August 23, 1942

Lorelei Rox – September 19, 1948

Olga Bustle – September 1, 1946

Nylon Rose – March 17, 1946

Silken Floss, M.D. – The Spirit #15 (Jan. 1986, Kitchen Sink Press)

Miss Cosmek – February 13, 1949

The Women – The Spirit Portfolio (1977, Collectors’ Press)


— DARWYN COOKE: The WILL EISNER Stories Every Fan Should Read. Click here.

— 13 COVERS: A WILL EISNER Birthday Celebration. Click here.

PETER BOSCH’s first book, American TV Comic Books: 1940s-1980s – From the Small Screen to the Printed Pagehas just been published by TwoMorrows. He has written articles and conducted celebrity interviews for various magazines and newspapers. Peter lives in Hollywood.

Author: Dan Greenfield

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  1. Eisner is awesome. The Sunday papers used to have so many great comics.

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  2. Eisner illustrated the Preventative Maintenance maunals when I was in the army. Master Sergeant Half Mast looked like Chief Dolan. Connie Rodd looked like an Eisner femme fatele.

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