Will Eisner’s The Spirit at Kitchen Sink (pt. 3)

« See? Brute force triumphs after all!!! » — Mr. Fly (Jan. 11, 1942)

While Kitchen Sink’s ambitious chronological gathering of Eisner’s post-WWII The Spirit was intended to clean up and organize the series after decades of random, piecemeal reprinting, it was still a bit of a mess, at least early on. The methods of reproduction varied from issue to issue, and even within issues: three of four of issue one’s stories carry the original newspaper shadings, while one (« Hildie ») is newly-coloured and grey-toned. However, the folks at KSP can’t be faulted for this chaos: it all hinged upon which stories’ original line art remained in existence. Through it all, the publisher remained commendably hopeful but realistic and honest about the prevailing realities and conditions.

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This is The Spirit no. 1 (Oct. 1983, Kitchen Sink). Colours by Pete Poplaski, grey toning by Ray Fehrenbach. Four tales are featured: The Christmas Spirit (Dec. 23, 1945), by Eisner and John Spranger; Dead End (Dec. 30, 1945), by Eisner, Spranger and Bob Palmer; Hildie (Jan. 6, 1946), by Eisner and Alex Kotzky; and Dolan’s Origin of the Spirit (Jan. 13, 1946), by Eisner, Spranger and Palmer.
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This is The Spirit no. 4 (March 1984, Kitchen Sink). Colours by Poplaski, grey toning by Fehrenbach. Four stories within, all by by Eisner, Spranger and Palmer: Nylon Rose (Mar. 17, 1946); The Last Trolley (Mar. 24, 1946); Yafodder’s Mustache (Mar. 31, 1946); and The Kissing Caper (Apr. 7, 1946).
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Here’s a fine example of the careful colour work executed by grey tinter Poplaski and colourists Fehrenbach (in this case) and Mike Newhall, taking evident pains to avoid overwhelming Eisner’s detailed line work. In terms of old-fashioned colouring, this was a notch (or seven) about what was being done in mainstream comics in the 1980s, a period of technological changes, of magnificent highs and painful lows. This is page two of noir classic The Last Trolley (Mar. 24, 1946), from The Spirit no. 4.

The colour question elicited ever-churning controversy and budgetary woes in the face of steadily diminishing sales. By issue 9, the custom colouring was abandoned to make way for the rather more economical, but muddy laser-scanning of original Spirit sections, and an extra story was added to issues 10 and 11; then inside colour was jettisoned for good, with gray toning retained. But issue size was reduced to 6 1/4” x 9 3/4″ (as opposed to the traditional comic book format, which is, as we all know, 6 5/8″ x 10 1/4″) for issues 12-16.

Denis Kitchen sums up the situation very aptly, circa issue 4, late in ’83:

« … the current color comic market demands a more sophisticated reprinting of these stories. There is nothing sacred about the original color. Though Eisner experimented boldly with color, he generally left coloring to assistants, and much of it was handled in a pedestrian manner.

We shoot these stories, where possible, from original art in Will Eisner’s archives. Where stats, negatives silverprints or other proofs are the only source, we use the best existing copies. Our colorists, where possible, use the original sections as color guides and are concerned with authenticity and precedent. Color changes, gray tones and other ‘augmentations’ are made with the approval of Will Eisner. »

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This is The Spirit no. 11 (Aug. 1985, Kitchen Sink). For this final colour issue, five stories, all by by Eisner, Spranger and Palmer: The Haunt (Oct. 27, 1946); Beagle’s Second Chance (Nov. 3, 1946); Caramba (Nov. 10, 1946); Return to Caramba (Nov. 17, 1946) and Coot Gallus (Nov. 24, 1946)
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This is The Spirit no. 17 (Mar. 1986, Kitchen Sink). Colours by Poplaski, grey toning by Fehrenbach. Four stories within, all by Eisner and Jerry Grandenetti: Be Bop (Apr. 20, 1947); Ev’ry Little Bug (Apr. 27, 1947); The Fix (May 4, 1947), and The Fortune (May 11, 1947).
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This is The Spirit no. 19 (May 1986, Kitchen Sink). Colours by Poplaski, grey toning by Fehrenbach. Four stories await within, each by Eisner, Grandenetti and letterer Abe Kanegson: Black Gold (June 15, 1947); Hangly Hollyer Mansion (June 22, 1947); Whiffenpoof!! (June 29, 1947), and Wanted (July 6, 1947).
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This is The Spirit no. 22 (Aug. 1986, Kitchen Sink). Colours by Poplaski, grey toning by Fehrenbach. Presenting a quartet of tales by Eisner, Grandenetti and Kanegson: A Killer at Large (Sept. 7, 1947); Into the Light (Sept. 14, 1947); End of the SS Raven (Sept. 21, 1947), and Orson Welles lampoon UFO (Sept. 28, 1947).

If you’ve just caught us mid-swing, nothing to worry about: earlier entries are at your beck and call as follows :

… or point and click on our general category, That’s THE SPIRIT!, and beckon everything at once… but in reverse chronological order; that’s the price you pay for convenience.

-RG

 

Will Eisner’s The Spirit at Kitchen Sink (pt. 1)

« Hello… Times? … I want to place an ad in your Situation Wanted column! Wanted… dangerous assignment… will go anyplace, anywhere, anytime… contact The Spirit, Box 35! » – The Spirit, Apr. 30, 1950

If you’ve followed our series dogging the steps of The Spirit, you won’t be in the least surprised that, after a sixteen (plus colour special) residency with Warren Publishing (Apr. 1974 – Oct. 1976), the late Dennis Colt found himself, after a year’s break, updating his mailing address once more. As returning publisher (and later, also Eisner’s agent) Denis Kitchen put it Kitchen Sink’s inaugural magazine issue (no. 17, Winter 1977):

« Welcome back, SPIRIT fans! Several years ago, we launched an experiment, publishing Will Eisner’s SPIRIT in ‘underground’ format. The experiment was so successful that Eisner arranged for Warren Magazines to publish his stories in a larger format, distributed on a national scale. 

Seventeen issues later, we once again have the rights to THE SPIRIT. We will continue publishing stories never before reprinted, on a quarterly basis. In addition, we are adding new features, virtually eliminating the ad pages, and upgrading the quality of the paper. We hope you like the difference and will continue to support THE SPIRIT. »

Well, the first issue was all right, but looked a bit shoddy, a surprise, given the usually-solid production hand of KS’s peerless production man, Pete Poplaski. With the following, er… quarterly issue (five months later), all the kinks had been worked out, and every subsequent entry looks sharp and terrific.

Ah, but there’s the rub: Kitchen Sink’s magazine ran for 25 issues, most of them boasting spectacular, brand-new wraparound watercolour paintings by Eisner. Some brutal excisions had to be made, to say nothing of the backbreaking process of smoothly collating the front and back halves (we have standards!). Hence the necessity of “pt. 1”. Will you settle for my dozen picks of the twenty-five? I’m afraid you’ll have to.

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This is The Spirit no. 18 (May, 1978), featuring a half-dozen Spirit tales, namely: “The Seventh Husband” (May 20, 1951); “Thanksgiving Spirit” (Nov. 20th, 1949); “Future Death” (Jan. 21, 1951); “Barkarolle” (July 18th, 1948); “Mad Moes” (Feb. 9, 1947); “Fan Mail” (Jan. 1, 1950), as well as some vintage Clifford one-pagers by Jules Feiffer.
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This is The Spirit no. 19 (Oct. 1978), featuring five Spirit tales, namely: “Money, Money” (Nov. 23, 1947); “April Fool” (Mar. 30 1947); “Gold” (Oct. 10, 1948); “The Chapparell Lode” (Nov. 14, 1948); “Halloween” (Oct. 31, 1948), as well a pair of Clifford one-pagers by Jules Feiffer, a Lady Luck four-pager by Klaus Nordling, and part one of Eisner’s brand-new, hard-hitting serial, Life on Another Planet (eventually coloured and collected as Signal From Space).
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This is The Spirit no. 20 (Mar. 1979), featuring five Spirit tales, namely: “Quirte” (Nov. 21, 1948); “Cromlech Was a Nature Boy!” (July 4, 1948); “War Brides” (Mar. 14, 1948); “Time Bomb” (Apr. 15, 1951); “Census ’50” (June 25, 1950); and “[Mission… the Moon]” (Aug. 3, 1952), plus part two of Eisner’s Life on Another Planet and some informative articles.
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This is The Spirit no. 24 (May 1980), featuring five Spirit tales, namely: “Boombershlag” (Mar. 23, 1941); “Beauty” (June 9, 1946); “Cargo Octopus” (July 14, 1946); “A River of Crime” (Nov. 30, 1947); “Rescue” (Aug. 24, 1952), plus a chapter of Life on Another Planet and a host of other features, including a Spirit checklist
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This is The Spirit no. 27 (Feb. 1981), featuring six Spirit tales, namely: “The Devil’s Shoes” (Feb. 1, 1942); “M.U.R.D.E.R.” (July 19, 1942); “Montabaldo” (Jan. 25, 1948); “Rife” (Jan. 14, 1951); “The Amulet of Osiris” (Nov. 28, 1948), “The Return” (Sept. 21, 1952), plus a new Eisner ‘Big City’ nine-pager, “The Treasure of Avenue ‘C‘”… and more.
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This is The Spirit no. 28 (Apr. 1981), featuring six Spirit tales, namely: “Sphinx & Satin” (Oct. 5, 1941); “Professor Pinx” (Aug. 2, 1942, with Lou Fine); “Survivor” (July 16, 1950); “Deadline” (Dec. 31, 1950); “Return From the Moon” (Sept. 28, 1952), “The Martian” (Oct. 10, 1952), plus a Feiffer Clifford one-pager, a ‘Shop Talk’ discussion between Eisner and Gil Kane, and so forth.

If you’ve just joined us mid-programme, fret not: simply rewind to our earlier instalments, if you will:

… or simply click on its general category, That’s THE SPIRIT!, and find yourself with everything at your blue-gloved fingertips.

-RG

Will Eisner’s The Spirit at Warren

« According to statistics, millions of Americans read millions of the most carefully written crime and crime detection stories in the world! Expertly told… and prepared, after exhaustive research — the best of these are, in effect, lessons in crime and criminal psychology! Yet could you, sitting in the trolley or bus or subway at night, pick out the killer sitting opposite you? » — The Killer (Dec. 8, 1946)

Welcome to the fourth entry in our chronicle of the variegated ambulations of the former Denny Colt. Begin if you will, as we did, with his time at Quality, then follow his path through Fiction House, then on to Harvey, Super and Kitchen Sink; at that point, you’ll be all caught up.

Okay, now that we’re all here, let’s pose and answer the next burning question: how did The Spirit come to make landfall at Warren Magazines? Thankfully, we’re spared the motions of idle speculation in this case, since Jim Warren himself revealed all in the course of an interview with Jon B. Cooke, published in The Warren Companion (2001):

JW: « I would have mortgaged everything I owned to publish Will Eisner — to be involved in anything Will Eisner was doing. I called Will and said, ‘Mr. Eisner, I’d like to take you out to lunch.

I knew Will was talking to Stan Lee about The Spirit and that DC was interested in his company, American Visuals. I also knew that Harvey Comics had done a couple of Spirit reprints and that they might be interested again. I had to move fast.

So I took him out to lunch, sat him down, and said, ‘There’s no possible way that I’m going to let the great Will Eisner escape. You are someone I have revered since 1940, when I saw the very first Spirit section in the Philadelphia Record with that splash page that changed my life. Do you think I’m going to let you go to Stan Lee, whom I ‘hate’ and ‘despise’ as a competitor? Do you think I’m going to lose you to that unrepentant sociopath? You’re just going to be a computer number to Marvel; they have a factory, where they cookie-cut comics, turning out 400* titles a month!’

And I saw the expression in Will’s face — he had his pipe in his mouth at the time, just like Commissioner Dolan — and I could see that I had him. »

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Let’s have a look at some covers. Most of the sixteen (plus the colour Special) are terrific, but I skipped a few of the lesser ones: issue one is a not-quite successful Eisner-Basil Gogos painted collaboration, and issue two is just okay. Issue 11 is another Ken Kelly painting over Eisner pencils, and 12 to 16 are composites using inside panels. Fine, but facultative. And now, on to the gems!

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This is The Spirit no. 3 (Aug. 1974), reprinting eight post-WWII stories: Black Alley (June 5, 1949), Fox at Bay (Oct. 23, 1949), Surgery… (Nov. 13, 1949), Foul Play (March 27, 1949), The Strange Case of Mrs. Paraffin (March 7, 1948), The Embezzler (Nov. 27, 1949), The Last Hand (May 16, 1948) and Lonesome Cool (Dec. 18, 1949). Cover pencils and inks by Eisner, colours by Richard Corben.
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This is The Spirit no. 4 (Oct. 1974), reprinting eight post-WWII stories: Life Below (Feb. 22, 1948), Mr. McDool (Oct. 12, 1947), The Emerald of Rajahpoor (May 30, 1948), Ye Olde Spirit of ’76 (July 3, 1949), The Elevator (June 26, 1949; in colour), The Return of Vino Red (Sept. 25, 1949), The Guilty Gun… (June 6, 1948), and Flaxen Weaver (Dec. 11, 1949). Cover colours by Ken Kelly.
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This is The Spirit no. 5 (Dec. 1974), reprinting eight post-WWII stories: The Return (Aug. 14, 1949), The Spirit Now Deputy (Apr. 24, 1949), The Hunted (May 1st, 1949), The Prediction (June 19, 1949), The Deadly Comic Book (Feb. 27, 1949; in colour), Death, Taxes and… The Spirit (Mar. 13, 1949), Hamid Jebru (May 18, 1949), and Ice (Jan. 2, 1949). Cover colours by Ken Kelly.
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« You cannot stop me now… I am at the threshold of immortality… Yowch! »
This is The Spirit no. 6 (Feb. 1975), featuring seven black & white (and one full-colour) presentations of tales from the 1940s: Showdown (Aug. 24, 1947), The Wedding (May 2, 1948), The Job (May 9, 1948), The Lamp (July 27, 1947), Glob (March 6, 1949; in colour), The Winnah! (Dec. 3, 1950, This is ‘Wild’ Rice (Apr. 4, 1948) and Taxes and the Spirit (Apr. 16, 1950). Cover colours by Ken Kelly.
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This is The Spirit no. 7 (Apr. 1975), reprinting eight post-WWII stories: The Big Sneeze Caper (Feb. 6, 1949), Hoagy the Yogi (Pt. I) (Mar. 16, 1947), Hoagy the Yogi (Pt. II) (Mar. 23, 1947), Cheap Is Cheap (June 13, 1948), Young Dr. Ebony (May 29, 1949; coloured by John Laney); A Moment of Destiny (Dec. 29, 1946); The Explorer (Jan. 16, 1949); and A Prisoner of Love (Jan. 9, 1949). Cover colours by Ken Kelly.
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This is The Spirit no. 8 (Apr. 1975), reprinting eight post-WWII stories: “Sand Saref” (Jan. 8, 1950), “Bring In Sand Saref…” (Jan. 15, 1950), “Thorne Strand” (Jan. 23, 1949), “A Slow Ship to Shanghai” (Jan. 30, 1949), “Assignment: Paris” (May 23, 1948; coloured by Michelle Brand), “A Pot of Gold” (Apr. 3, 1949), “Satin” (June 12, 1949), and “Visitor” (Feb. 13, 1949). Cover colours by Ken Kelly.
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This is The Spirit no. 9 (Aug. 1975), reprinting eight post-WWII stories: The Candidate (Aug. 21, 1949); White Cloud (Aug. 28, 1949); Stop the Plot! (Dec. 5, 1948); Lovely Looie (Apr. 10, 1949); The Space Sniper (May 22, 1949; in colour); The Vernal Equinox (Mar. 20, 1949); Black Gold (June 15, 1947); and Two Lives (Dec. 12, 1948). Cover colours by Ken Kelly.
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« The Octopus is at it again. This time his thugs have the Spirit cornered. Has his incredible luck finally run out? A tense moment captured by Will Eisner and Ken Kelly. » Evidently, Warren’s readership wasn’t content with line art covers, fancily wrought and gorgeous as they were; so Ken Kelly was brought in to slap some paint over a tight Eisner layout et voilà! An interesting hybrid, but I’m not quite convinced of its necessity. This is The Spirit no. 10 (Oct. 1975), reprinting a whopping ten post-WWII stories: Heat (July 15, 1951); Quiet! (July 22, 1951); Death Is My Destiny (March 4, 1951); Help Wanted (April 29, 1951); The Origin of the Spirit (From Harvey’s The Spirit No. 1; in colour); Sound (Sept. 24, 1950); A Time-Stop! (Jan. 7, 1951); The Octopus Is Back (Feb. 11, 1951); Hobart (Apr. 22, 1951) and The Meanest Man in the World (Jan. 28, 1951).
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Among my favourite features of the Spirit’s Warren run are the single, well-selected, lushly-coloured story appearing in each of the first ten issues. This, from no. 1, is page 4 of El Spirito (Feb. 1st, 1948). The Octopus’ buxom accomplice is Castanet. While I’m strictly underwhelmed by Rich Corben’s interchangeable tales of bald, lumpy, donkey-donged bodybuilders roaming the land and forever risking ritual castration at the hands of amazon tribes, his colour work here is simply sublime.
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As you can see, the panel montages were extremely well-done; The Spirit Special (1975) handily gathered in one place the colour stories from issues one to ten. According to the GCD: « Available through mail purchase only, just over 1500 are thought to have been printed. »

In closing, this final, telling exchange from the Jim Warren interview:

Jon Cooke: Do you recall dealing with Denis Kitchen about The Spirit?
Jim Warren: Will had given his word — and his word is his bond — for Denis to reprint The Spirit (this was before Will and I negotiated a deal). Denis had spent money on preparing the reprints. Will said to me, « It would be a nice gesture if you would reimburse Denis, who is a good guy, for the material he’s already prepared. » I think Will looked on me kindly when I said « Absolutely. » (What Will doesn’t know if that if he had asked for me to give Denis a Rolls-Royce, I would have driven it to Wisconsin myself!)

*an exaggeration, of course, but a pointed one. At the time, Marvel *was* doing its worst to flood the market in order to starve its competitors.

-RG

Will Eisner’s The Spirit at Harvey and…

« It was long past midnight on a hot, wet June night many years ago… Central City lay choking for breath in an eerie fog… »

In this, part three of our chronicle following as we can the meandering and sometimes mystifying odyssey of Will Eisner’s The Spirit, we reach the most outré segments of the former Denny Colt’s road.

In a unique twist, The Spirit’s next residence, nearly a decade after his Fiction House run, had nothing at all to do with Will Eisner… in terms of securing his assent, that is.

It was down to the fabulously sketchy Israel Waldman, one of those fringe-dwelling characters who made the comics industry such a colourful snake pit. To quote the Grand Comics Database: « I.W. Publications (1958-1964) was part of I.W. Enterprises, and named for the company’s owner, Israel Waldman. Reportedly, Waldman came into possession of a printing company and among the assets were the production materials for several hundred comic books previously published by various publishers as well as a limited amount of previously unpublished material. Waldman equated possession of production materials as the right to reprint and I.W. became notable for publishing unauthorized reprints of other companies’ comics, often with new covers, as Waldman’s windfall did not often include the production materials for covers. The later half of the company’s existence, it published comics under the Super Comics name. Usually these companies were out of business, but not always. »

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This is The Spirit no. 11 (1963), featuring The Man Who Killed The Spirit (Mar. 24, 1946), cover-featured The Case of the Balky Buzzard (Apr. 21, 1946), Carrion’s Rock (May 19, 1946), all scripted by Eisner, as well as Honeybun and Flatfoot Burns shorts. Cover by Joe Simon (“Joe, did you even read the story you’re depicting?“). This one was well worth one’s hard-earned twelve pennies. Read it here.
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This is The Spirit no. 12 (1964), featuring, this time, a trio of WWII-era Spirit stories scripted by Manly Wade Wellman and Bill Woolfolk and illustrated by Lou Fine, rounded off with a pair of Flatfoot Burns shorts by Al Stahl . Cover again by Joe Simon. Read it here.

If memory serves, Waldman’s comics craftily bypassed the Comics Code (another exception!) and the newsstands, being exclusively sold in sealed bags of three in bargain-basement department stores. To bait the hook, Waldman paid top dollar for new cover artwork, approaching established pros like Ross Andru (who actually delivered some fun stuff, unlike his unforgivably atrocious turn as DC’s main cover artist in the late 1970s), John Severin, Jack Abel, and in these two cases, Jacob Kurtzberg‘s old partner, Joe Simon.

Unsurprisingly, Waldman skimped on all other materials, particularly the paper his comics were printed on, which means that I.W./Super Comics are pretty hard to come by these days in any kind of decent state, so they’re ironically pricey.

A few years later, Eisner struck a deal with another rascal (albeit one with cleaner fingernails), Alfred Harvey of Harvey Comics, Stan Lee‘s only credible competition in the credit-usurping, I created-the-Universe stakes. Again, two issues, but this time with some new Eisner material, including origin stories for The Spirit (his third, but definitive one), and his arch-nemesis Zitzbath Zark, which you may know as purple glove enthusiast The Octopus.

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Harvey’s The Spirit no. 1 (Oct. 1966), featuring the new Origin of the Spirit by Eisner, and classics Lorelei Rox (Sept. 19, 1948), Two Lives (Dec. 12, 1948), Agent Cosmek/Visitor (Feb. 13, 1949), The Story of Rat-Tat the Toy Machine Gun (Sept. 4, 1949), Ten Minutes (Sept. 11, 1949), Thorne Strand (Jan. 23, 1949), Gerhard Shnobble (Sept. 5, 1948), all scripted by Eisner, save Ten Minutes, which hails from the mind of Jules Feiffer.
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Harvey’s The Spirit no. 2 (March, 1967) features the brand-new Octopus: The Life Story of the King of Crime and 2-pager The Spirit Lab, plus a generous helping of fine oldies, namely Plaster of Paris (Nov. 7, 1948), The Deadly Comic Book (Feb. 27, 1949), Rudy the Barber (Oct. 22, 1950), The Story of Sam, the Saucer That Wanted to Fly (Sept. 17, 1950), Sam Chapparell (Oct. 10, 1948), La Cucaracha (Nov. 19, 1950), The Halloween Spirit of 1948–Ellen Meets Hazel (Oct. 31, 1948), all scripted by Eisner… the book wraps up with a preview of the next issue, which never saw print. And so it goes…

Mr. Eisner then finally had the good fortune to run into an honest man, who would prove in time to be his most steadfast ally: Mr. Denis Kitchen. Their first collaborations were a bit tentative, but quite sympathiques, with Eisner kind of slouching towards the Underground, his creation even cover-featured on Kitchen’s long-running humour anthology Snarf.

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This is Kitchen Sink Enterprises’ Snarf no. 3 (Nov. 1972), featuring an original Eisner cover.
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Another two-issue run! Kitchen Sink’s The Spirit no. 1 (Jan. 1973), featuring a new cover by Eisner, and precious relics Max Scarr’s Map (Apr. 14, 1946), Caramba (Nov. 10, 1946), Return to Caramba (Nov. 17, 1946), The Rubber Band (June 23, 1946), plus a few brand-new short pieces.
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Kitchen Sink’s The Spirit no. 2 (Nov. 1973), featuring a new Eisner cover, an original four-pager, The Capistrano Jewels, and, as boasts the cover, all about P’Gell, with Meet P’Gell (Oct. 6, 1946), The School for Girls?? (Jan. 19, 1947), Competition (Aug. 3, 1947) and The Duce’s Locket (May 25, 1947).

Next time out: some interesting times with Warren.

-RG

Tentacle Tuesday: Octopus à la carte (sniff, sniff)

I don’t necessarily like to contemplate this fact of life, but octopus flesh gets eaten a lot (in some countries more than others). However, comic artists are mostly a classy lot: they tend to like cephalopods, so it’s not too often that one runs across a depiction of them as a foodstuff. An octopus slashed in battle is one thing, but disgraced and transformed into a dish? What kind of person would want to illustrate *that*? Perverts, that’s who!

These bold souls who have drawn the forbidden, mentioned the unmentionable, shall surely be punished by the Elder Gods.

Let’s have a cautious peek (don’t forget to leave a sacrifice at the altar of the Octopus God, however).

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Zoot no. 5 (December 1993, Fantagraphics). Cover by Roger Langridge.
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Originally called “Ernie” (the name of its main character), the strip was renamed “Piranha Club” presumably because it’s a much catchier title. No, or few, pirañas are involved, but you are guaranteed to encounter Quacko the Human Duck, his wife the Bearded Lady, Effie (who often cooks octopus, much to the dismay of her husband), Bob the zombie, and a host of other irrelevant and quirky characters.  Who’s responsible for all this mayhem? Bud Grace, the creator of this strip. If you haven’t heard of Piranha Club, slither over here.
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Delicious in Dungeon Vol. 3 (November 2017). This manga series by Ryōko Kui involves a few characters tromping around a dungeon, consuming all and any monsters they find within. “Slimes, basilisks, and even dragons… none are safe from the appetites of these dungeon-crawling gourmands!
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Octopus pie, again? Is it as inedible as tuna casserole, the frequent butt of jokes in all sorts of sitcoms? This is Mom’ Homemade Comics no. 1, October 1969, cover (and everything else) by Denis Kitchen. Visit Comixjoint for the riveting tale of how this underground classic came to be published, as well as a review of its three issues.
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Octopus Soup by Mercer Mayer (2011, Two Lions). Technically a book for kids, but I’d highly recommend it for octopus lovers of any age.
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Another peek at Octopus Soup…
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Cthulhu Does Stuff no. 4, by Ronnie Tucker and Maxwell Patterson. Visit their website.

Bon appétit!

~ ds

Smug Saddle Sniffer

Today’s linguistic lesson: what’s a snarf? I’ll let Kurt Vonnegut answer that one:

« Do you know what a twerp is? When I was in Shortridge High School in Indianapolis 65 years ago, a twerp was a guy who stuck a set of false teeth up his butt and bit the buttons off the back seats of taxicabs. (And a snarf was a guy who sniffed the seats of girls’ bicycles.) »

Here’s a typical illustration of a snarf, albeit a shockingly rich one, with a fittingly well-developed proboscis, in his not-so-natural habitat: golden-hour hues, a cozy armchair, and selection of vintage selles de vélo. Next time you see a bicycle with its seat stolen (let’s face it, these saddles *must* be acquired in illicit fashion), you’ll thank me for this mental image.

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This is Snarf no. 11, 1989. Dennis Kitchen gave his comic book series an apt title!

The cover by Rand Holmes (1942-2002), a Canadian underground comix artist probably best known for his Harold Hedd comic strip. (Look for the compendium of his exploits published by Last Gasp, Anus Clenching Adventures With Harold Hedd!)

~ ds