Wednesday, December 13, 2017

The Modern History of the Fist

The Spirit #10 (Quality, Fall 1947, 10 cents)
My coverless copy is missing a wrap, as well, so I'm missing the first couple of pages of the first story, as well as the last two pages of the last.

"Diamonds and Rats" Script: Manly Wade Wellman, Pencils and inks: Lou Fine, Letters: Martin DeMuth (Originally published April 22, 1945)
The Spirit and Ebony are tracking smugglers to the old Grimm house, a country inn. While giving "a lesson in the modern history of the fist," the Spirit is conked on the noggin by one Juanito, but our heroes escape from the basement and turn the smugglers in to Commissioner Dolan.

"Jonesy" Script and art: Bernard Dibble.
In this one-page gag, Jonesy attempts to be made of sterner stuff when he spies "another nut-sundae siren" but proves quite adept at picking up dropped handkerchiefs.

"Mr. Sorrel" Script and art: Jack Cole, Letters: Martin DeMuth. (Originally published Jan. 9, 1944)
Ebony challenges Commissioner Dolan to catch the killer of Mr. Dolan. Ebony and the Spirit go to interview Mrs. Sorrel. After thoroughly searching the dead man's papers, they learn the identity of the killer.

"Hungry for Romance" Script: Manly Wade Wellman, Art: Robin King, Letters: Martin DeMuth. (Originally published Sept. 2, 1945)
Ellen's cousin Cookie is visiting, and Ellen is worried about an admirer named Sparling. He proves to be no good, romancing Cookie to "learn a lot about the police department's activities." Planning to dissolve the Spirit's body in acid (!!!), he is thwarted by Ellen and a seltzer bottle.

"Commissioner Dolan Under Arrest" Script and art: Jack Cole, Letters: Martin DeMuth. (Originally published March 19, 1944)
Dolan is invited to the offices of Skelter and Crabb, private detectives, who plan to demonstrate their expertise. The lights go out, and Skelter is dead, Dolan's fingerprints on the knife. The Spirit and Ebony investigate Crabb's past with Ellen's help. He turns out to have been a knife thrower of some skill.

"Jonesy" Script and art: Bernard Dibble. (Originally published Jan. 14, 1945)
A one-page gag featured Jonesy practicing the trombone, causing his father to ruin a cathedral of collar buttons.

"From the Army Air Forces Experimental Department" Script and art: Al Stahl. (Originally published Oct. 21, 1945)
Flatfoot Burns, star detective, strives to be the speediest crime-solving detective in the world. His new jet bike allows him to travel faster than sound and light. He introduces the chief of police to the mayor of Iglooville.

"Jonesy" Script and art: Bernard Dibble.
After reading a self-help book, Jonesy works up the nerve to "ask that new super-snooty witch" to go to a dance. Instead, he asks her a more interesting question, which goes unanswered.

In this two-page text story, Nock Strube plans to move in on Central City big. After recruiting for the Protective Association, three fires break out in three stores on the main streets of the city. The Spirit solves the mystery before going to a clambake with Ellen.

"Killer Ketch" Script: Bill Woolfolk, Art: Robin King. (Originally published Jan. 2, 1944)
Safe cracker Ketch gets out of jail after 10 years and hunts down Lulu Mae Cronin. Ketch is being hidden by private detective Jennifer Jordan, but the Spirit finds him with Ebony and Ellen's help.

These quarterly comics were reprints of material that originally appeared in the seven-page Spirit newspaper sections. Will Eisner was serving in the military between 1942-1945, so the work in that time period was largely uncredited. The Jack Cole material is particularly excellent, and Dibble's "Jonesy" gag pages are notable, even if Jonesy doesn't seem to actually like women very much.

Availability: The above Spirit pieces have been collected in The Spirit Archives, Vol. 8: January 2 to June 25, 1944The Spirit Archives, Vol. 10: January 7 to June 24, 1945, and The Spirit Archives, Vol. 11: July 1 to December 30, 1945.

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