Published in 1975, by Jim Warren.
And now for a bit of nostalgia and comic-book history.
Those of us who are old enough to remember the US publishing landscape in the 1970’s, it may come to mind the fact that Warren Publishing brought into the public eyes a bunch of magazines/comics in the early 1970s’ such as Vampirella, Creepy and Eerie. I will speak more about those other long lost jewels in other posts.
Today I will focus on one particular jewel that came to existence thank to a strange conflagration of events, merging the new and the classic in the form of The Spirit Magazine.
To give the readers of my blog some chronological context, I will remind all that in the early 70’s not only there weren’t that many specialized comicbook stores, (if any) but the majority of your comics had to be purchased on the newsstand, where Marvel and DC ruled supreme in the comic racks. Yeah, there were some Archies, and some Mad (which, by the way, is labeled as a magazine, not a comic), so how do you differentiate your product?
Shall we let Jim Warren show us how it is done?
Any Google search will tell you a bunch of statistical information about Jim Warren’s Publications. What you may not find that readily are tidbits of juicy information such as the fact that these Comics were renamed as Magazines, just to bypass the Comic Book Code Authority. Jim Warren loved comics, and showed his love by achieving a popularization of this media, not by dumbing it down, as most publishers at the time thought it was necessary to augment sales, but by adding small enticements to the sophistication of their narratives, small things, such as sexy drawings, innovative heroes, fantasy themes, etc.
And what greater labor of love towards the comic industry is there than to re-issue a long lost classic such as Will Eisner’s The Spirit?
Anyway, Warren only managed to publish 17 issues of The Spirit, and changed its format after issue 6 (I think, could be wrong on this), and changed from a magazine carrying all SPIRIT stories on its pages, to one where only the center story was about The Spirit (in glorious PULP color) and the rest detective-noir-crime stories, written and drawn by various talented artists and creators.
You can read Will Eisner: A dreamer’s life in comics, by Michael Schumacher, and you can get all the glorious details about Eisner having a final say on the covers and the coloring, and how he insisted in more muted coloring palette, and how he conceded to Jim Warren small victories, even though he did so reluctantly, for which all of us, Warren lovers are so grateful now.
Later, in the 1980’s Eisner returned The Spirit to Kitchen Sink Press, and he obtained somewhat his dream of proceeding chronologically reprinting the spirit, but the covers and the art, albeit also wonderful, lack that PULP feel that the Warren publishers were so adept to achieve.
The cover for Warrens’ The Spirit#1 was color by Sanjulian, while the colors (amazing colors) for cover The Spirit #3 were done by Richard Corben.