Tuesday, April 14, 2009

the spirit 7...

Here's Warren's SPIRIT #7. This issue focuses on the Spirit's sidekick, Ebony White. Ebony became a controversial character when Warren started reprinting Eisner's old strips. Debuting in the 1940s, the character, an African American, was portrayed with many of the racial stereotypes that were pervasive at that time. His role in the comic, however, was more progressive. For the most part, he was shown as equal to the other characters, intelligent and capable, often heroic. In some ways, the presence of a black character at all in a comic (or any media) in the 1940s was groundbreaking (Eisner later introduced other, non-stereotyped African American characters to the comic as well). Still, he presents some difficulty for modern readers. The current version of the comic features a considerably more racially sensitive version of Ebony, and he was omitted entirely from both the 1987 tv movie and the shitty 2008 Frank Miller version. I've always thought Ebony was a pretty cool dude, unfortunate stereotypes aside. The Spirit had a couple of other sidekicks over the years, I think one was a Dennis the Menace type, and another was an Eskimo (!).

These scans also feature an ad for Warren's COMIX INTERNATIONAL, a very short lived mag originally intended as an attempt to create something that appealed to the underground comics audience. Somehow, it became a Richard Corben reprint mag, not that there's anything wrong with that. I think some of the original COMIX INTERNATIONALs were eventually published by Kitchen Sink (who also eventually took over the SPIRIT), although I don't know the whole story on that one. I feel like I've also read that this idea originated at Marvel Comics, but that could be something else entirely....








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