July 23, 2014

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Dynamite Gets Rights to The Spirit

  In a press release that came out just a few minutes ago, publisher Dynamite Entertainment dropped a huge announcement that serves as a capstone of sorts to all of the licensing work they've been doing over the course of 2014.

Dynamite has gotten the rights to none other than Will Eisner's Spirit.

Obviously, the timing here is perfect, given the Eisner Awards will be given out at San Diego Comic-Con this weekend. But anytime you announce you have the rights to use one of the most iconic figures among people who know comics, timed to the character's 75th anniversary, it's going to be big news.

From the Press Release:
"We are thrilled that Will Eisner's The Spirit has found a new home with Dynamite Entertainment," state Nancy and Carl Gropper of the Eisner estate in a joint announcement.  "At Dynamite, The Spirit will be joining many iconic heroes including Flash Gordon, The Shadow, The Green Hornet, The Lone Ranger, Zorro, and others. Will Eisner created The Spirit in 1940 as a syndicated seven-page newspaper supplement, where The Spirit fought the villains of Central City weekly until 1952.  We're hoping to see Dynamite's new comics of The Spirit surpass the circulation of the Will Eisner's original series."
 This is, frankly, incredibly good news. DC Comics didn't seem to know what to do with Eisner's creation, especially after Darwyn Cooke moved on to doing Parker adaptations instead. At Dynamite, Denny Colt joins The Shadow, Green Hornet, Lone Ranger, and many, many other pulp-adventure heroes. While not all of these books have been to my taste, it's clear Dynamite understands and appreciates how to market these books. With creators like Jeff Parker on Flash Gordon and Ron Marz coming to John Carter, they also do a great job of matching the material with someone able to best write it.

Dynamite's fan-level excitement comes through on the release:
 "Bringing The Spirit to Dynamite is a dream come true.  Actually, that's not a strong enough sentiment.  It's a lifelong dream come true," says Nick Barrucci, CEO and Publisher of Dynamite Entertainment. "The Spirit is one of comicdom's greatest characters, and has stood the test of time for nearly 75 years.  Will is one of the greats, and his influence as a storyteller is incredible.  I've loved all of Will's work from The Spirit to his graphic novels from A Contract with God to The Dreamer, and his entire body of work.  This is a huge responsibility that we've undertaken as there have been some great creators involved in The Spirit throughout the seven decades of his career. I'm honored that Carl and Nancy feel that we are up to the task, and have entrusted us to publish The Spirit, especially beginning at such a landmark year - his 75th Anniversary.  I believe that, with our proven track record for high-quality pulp comics by incredible talents (like Matt Wagner, Garth Ennis, and Kevin Smith), the addition of The Spirit to our line of classic adventure titles is a major win for longtime fans of Will Eisner's original crime fighter.  I cannot emphasize enough how important publishing The Spirit is to us."
Look at that last sentence: "I cannot emphasize enough how important publishing The Spirit is to us." Do you really think it was ever important to DC Comics to get The Spirit in front of new fans? Maybe in theory, but it never showed in practice. If I remember right their last attempt had an old-school Batman heading the line of titles. That should tell you everything.

There is no word on a creative team yet--I'm sure that will either come later at SDCC or in some exclusive article, but I trust them to find the right people for the job. I'd love to see some female creators involved, partly because I don't think Denny Colt has ever had one and partly because Eisner's misogyny needs addressed, and I don't know that male writer or artist will be willing to do that, or see its importance.

Also not noted is who has the right to re-publish Eisner's Spirit books. Those were only available in expensive DC archives. I'd love to see new, affordable editions.

No matter what, this is great news, and I eagerly look forward to finding a "coming soon" notice for an all-new Spirit #1. Anyone who is a long-time fan of the character should be as well.