Wednesday, March 04, 2015

Number 1704: Jim Warren gets into the Spirit

Jim Warren’s revival of Will Eisner’s The Spirit in 1974 was another attempt to bring that moribund character back to life. After the end of the Spirit Section in newspapers in 1952 there were several attempts to bring back the character, but none of them were ongoing in the sense of Warren’s handsome newsstand magazine reprints. The Spirit was announced in Eerie #54, with these pages, which comprise the inside front and back covers of that issue.

Harvey Kurtzman may have gotten the ball rolling with his reprint of a classic Spirit story in Warren’s Help! in 1962. You can see it in this 2010 posting from Hairy Green Eyeball.

There was also a Rich Corben-colored “Christmas Spirit” story in issue #54, which I thought of posting, but won’t, Christmas being  months past. So I am showing the color Spirit story, “Bucket of Blood” from Eerie #55. That issue was cover dated March, 1974, and The Spirit #1 was cover-dated April, but my recollection is they were on the stands at the same time. I could be wrong. Memory is often flawed, but I also recall we fans were forewarned of the Warren Spirit in the fan press of the time.

Monday, March 02, 2015

Number 1703: Prince Valiant and the Holy Grail

There were seven issues of Prince Valiant in Dell’s Four Color series, this being #849 (1957), the second-to-last issue.

A religious theme runs through “Quest For the Grail.” The quest being to the Holy Land, looking for the Holy Grail. The chalice is held hostage by some “pagans” (a euphemism for Muslims). There is a sequence of Prince Valiant being crucified on a battlement. There is no cross, but the position Val is put into is the same. Usually comics, and especially Dell Comics, avoided religion, but here religion is the linchpin of the plot, right down to Val filling in symbolically for Jesus. In Val’s case, he gets to climb down.

Prince Valiant is a Viking, as is his pal Boltar, who is part of the search party. Boltar apparently still believes in the Viking gods and is not a Christian. It begs the question: with all of the many religious philosophies alive today, does anyone still pray to Odin or any Norse gods? Just wondering.

The Dell issues of Prince Valiant were drawn by Bob (“Bob Fuje”) Fujitani. The script for “Quest For the Grail” is credited by Grand Comics Database to Paul S. Newman. I do not know if there is anything on record of the feelings of Prince Valiant creator, Hal Foster, on the comic book handling of his character.

Two years ago I showed another Dell Prince Valiant. Just click on the thumbnail:

Friday, February 27, 2015

Number 1702: “Fish nibbling at my flesh...”

“The Thing From the Sea” looks a lot like an EC story of the same era. But it is from Avon Comics’ Eerie #2 (1951). The plot of a dead person coming back to wreak revenge on his murderer is a cliché, but the art treatment here is first class. Wallace Wood’s distinctive style distinguishes this story, beginning with the striking inside front cover, deftly illustrated on coquille board.

Jim Vadenboncoeur Jr gives credit for the inside cover to Wood and Sid Check, and for the story to Wood, Joe Orlando and Check.