Friday, March 9, 2012

The Spirit reboot

Shockingly, there is a lot of driving involved in road trips in America, and somewhere at the beginning I had decided that instead of just listening to my mp3 player, I wanted to listen to radio stations. Unfortunately, this means that sometimes you hear the same two songs over and over and over and over and over and over again. And then once more.

Turns out that NPR is a great palette cleanser for your ears. And sometimes, if you are very lucky, they are airing a program that is super aligned with your interests. In this case, I tuned in at the beginning of an interview with a man who got his start in comics by inking The Spirit. (I wish I could remember his name, but I can't.) The program immediately following that was also about Will Eisner, and then after that was an interview with R Crumb and his daughter, which is when I went back to trying my luck with local radio stations.

Some things you just can't bring yourself to care about, I guess.

Anyway, I was thinking about all of this and also about the imminent arrival of Womanthology and also also about some blogs I've been following recently that concentrate on how women are portrayed in comics (usually how it's done wrong, but also how it's done right) and then I thought: I would kill to work on a female!Spirit reboot (I am also a huge fan of many fans' portrayals of female!Sherlock, so I know things like this can be done well)

The first sketch. The idea really came together while I was doodling this in a coffee shop, hiding from some rain.

cover idea sketch

Ink test. This followed lots of pages of me really not getting the look of the character right. This was definitely the point at which things turned in the correct direction

I thought it was going to be really difficult to get the 'Will Eisner' to look right. I was pleasantly surprised to find that it wasn't that hard. (and yes, as you can tell from this, I am aware of who currently holds the rights to the Spirit property)

More fiddling with her personality, making sure the character works in different situations. 

The first time I'd gotten Ebony to work. In my version, her last name is still White, but Ebony is a code name she takes for herself. She's a professor at a local community college with a heart condition (which is why she never took to superheroics herself.) Taking on the Spirit persona is all her idea. 

The thing I love about Eisner's original stories (or one of the things) is that against a noir backdrop, they're so slapstick and ridiculous. It's important to me to maintain that. (Darwyn Cooke got it right. Frank Miller didn't.)

Obviously this is not something that is going to happen any time soon if at all. Probably not at all. But it's an idea I'm going to keep tinkering with in the back of my mind for a while, I think. Or maybe I'll just do a crazy short fan comic, exorcise it from my system, and move on.

Either way, I think I'll color that cover and use it as a portfolio piece. 

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