Wednesday, January 14, 2009


OK, this is OLD NEWS and it's probably the last place you're gonna read about it ANYWHERE, but since I just got 'em into my mitts (bought 'em with some of the Christmas moolah that I was told to put in the bank but why should I waste good money that way?) why not write these hardback editions of THE SPIRIT up in a nifty midweek posting anyway? Who knows, maybe there are a few of you lumpen ignoramuses out there who aren't familiar with the Spirit and his creator Will Eisner, and yeah maybe mentioning this stuff in BLOG TO COMM does give it a certain air of legitimacy, dontcha think?

Like a good hunka ya more comically-inclined regulars, I discovered THE SPIRIT via Jules Feiffer's rather informative if you're a kid just discovering this stuff comic book history entitled THE GREAT COMIC BOOK HEROES (received Christmas 1971 in case you care), and yeah, at the time I thought it rather strange that such a thing as a "comic book section" of the Sunday papers where these SPIRIT sagas appeared ever existed in the first place! I mean,if ever a thing did exist I woulda thunk the comics enclosed must've been some dogs if the guy couldn't get a real life publisher to print his creations! Well, that's how kiddie minds think, and such barren thought processes are akin to the view I once had (and another guy held for his entire comic book life) that outside of DC there was nothing...Marvel doesn't count and forget Charlton and all that stuff and of course I wised up soon enough to give that Spirit saga a try...well, actually it wasn't until I read and re-read every other story in that dad-blamed book that I decided to read that 'un out of boredom more'n anything and hey whaddya know but that SPIRIT saga was actually a good 'un! Different in its own way of course and nothing like the slam-bang sagas at Timely nor the big-name brouhaha of DC...THE SPIRIT was unique enough to even make indents into my adolescent pea brain to the point where I wanted to know MORE about this character even if his name wasn't being bandied about as much as Superman's. Of course when I found out that THE SPIRIT also appeared in POLICE COMICS alongside perennial fave Plastic Man he suddenly had all of the credibility I needed to like him, in my own suburban slob comic collecting midclass way of course.

None of this may have any meaning to you if you're a lousy communist, but it sure dredges up great comic book memories of combing garage sales and flea markets for 15-cent-era comic books (the good old days) and maybe even an ARCHIE printed in 1963 or before, even then a cutoff date for a glorious era only a dolt would want to defile. And hey, these SPIRITs are just as much a zone-back to my comic book collecting days as any tattered MONSTERS ON THE PROWL that still survives in my collection because they have that great Golden Age bash and crash to 'em that seemed to get lost in the shuffle once World War II ended and comic books tended to go off on a different tangent that seemed rather fuzzy, at least until the advent of the horror and sci-fi trend in the early-fifties. I guess World War II messed up everyone's mind, and the comics were sure to suffer for that!

No need to go on about the Milton Caniff-influenced art and the interesting "camera" angles and unique layouts. You've probably read about all that years ago and besides I'm sure there's some guy on the 'net with an anus tighter than mine who can tell you all about it in case you missed it the first/second/third time around. However, I would like to talk to you about Ebony White, the oft-maligned sidekick of the Spirit who in many ways was Robin to the Spirit's Batman. It would figure since the similarities between Batman and the Spirit, or at least the early Spirit, were rather evident from both of them being "scientific"-minded crimefighters who more or less "worked" with the police while remaining fringe-type "outlaw" characters. Batman had the Batmobile while the Spirit had his combination automobile/airplane, and both had out-of-the-way hideouts with Batman's situated 'neath "stately Wayne Manor" and the Spirit's in Wildwood Cemetery. Of course the big diff twixt the two was that Robin was about as Caucasian as they come, while Ebony was what way too many people'd call a "stereotypical" forties-era black character which it seems too many wonks find oh-so "beneath-the-pale" (no vague pun intended) to the point where they'd sure love to toss every copy of THE SPIRIT (even the ones with post-Ebony episodes just to play it safe!) into the same abyss where they'd like to see all of these cartoon and movie images rot for all eternity! Of course the new stereotypes perpetrated by these same well-heeled arbiters of whadevva are perfectly OK, meaning that people of color can DO NO WRONG these days while Polish plumbers and white Southerners are to be subjected to every slur inna book because...well, they deserve it, I think?

But hey, why pick on Eisner?!?!? I mean yeah, Ebony is sure scared of ghosts just like Sunshine Sammy was in the EAST SIDE KIDS films, and he even turned white once while in a haunted house, but many other times this kid was manning the Spirit's auto-plane while the Spirit was in trouble as well as dealing it out to the badskis with a whole load of power and gunch! And true he spoke in that patented old timey black dialect complete with every "dem" "dese" and "dose" Eisner could cram into a word balloon, but would anyone in the comics world back in the day portray a cowpoke who spoke English like the Queen? When people criticize Eisner for the Ebony character all it reminds me of is the cop on the highway who sees everyone speeding and then tags the guy who's only going 66 mph instead of 86 and makes an example out of him! These people are nothing but a buncha Judy Hennslers who'd make up a list of all the kids who were talking in class while Miss Landers left the room, and they probably all expect gold stars on their foreheads for their good deeds as well! Well, if you're looking for some special pat-on-the-back because you find Ebony so offensive don't look for any accolades from ME! Ebony White was one great lovable character and he sure had a lot more taste and gumption in him than all of those "positive black role models" the media has been trying to push on us for a good three decades. And, as anyone who's sat through an episode of a PBS kids series of eighties vintage can tell you, they're all a buncha stoopid patsies anyway! Perhaps people who do "pick on" Ebony are really picking on the definitive good vs. evil, top-notch story lines and exemplary art of THE SPIRIT and maybe if they really wanted to help they'd all go to New Guinea and offer their own flesh to the cannibals. Now that would really be serving humanity!

No comments: