Will Esiner is an undisputed genius of comic books. A frustrated painter and storyteller, he found a way to turn what he saw as weaknesses and transform them into strengths with the Spirit, a comic strip that has influenced nearly every cartoonist in the comic book business in some way. It is no wonder that Eisner coined the phrase ‘sequential art’ which so perfectly fits his narrative style.
In 1980, Brad Bird (The Iron Giant, Incredibles and Tomorrowland) was developing an animated version of the Spirit with Star Wars producer Gary Kurtz. Recently, this pencil test video started making the rounds and it is heartbreakingly wonderful.
Steven Paul Leiva: “In 2008 as Frank Miller’s live action feature film based on Will Eisner’s “The Spirit” was being released I wrote a piece for the Los Angeles Times on the time, back in 1980, when I became involved with Brad Bird and Gary Kurtz (producer of the first two “Star Wars” movies) in trying to get into production an animated feature based on “The Spirit” In that piece, which you can read here: http://herocomplex.latimes.com/uncategorized/the-spirit-that/ I spoke of a pencil test “trailer” for the our proposed film that was made by Bird along with several classmates from Cal Arts, most of whom were working at Disney at the time.”
Of course the Spirit is still with us. I was introduced to the strip through the Kitchen Sink reprint magazines and followed the hero’s transition to Dark Horse and DC Comics. Matt Wagner is now working on the character for Dynamite and it looks like it is going top be a stunner!