Will Eisner Channels Lauren Bacall for The Spirit #22, Up for Auction

Considered one of the most historically important bodies of work in American comic book history, The Spirit was created by Will Eisner as a masked adventurer whose exploits ranged from detective stories and drama to horror, romance, and even comedy.  The character debuted as a feature in the tabloid-sized newspaper insert (subsequently popularly called "Spirit Sections") in 1940, where it ran through 1952.  Quality Comics reprinted some of this material in standard comic book format.  Quality's The Spirit #22 features one of the most iconic images associated with the Spirit saga, on a cover featuring the character Skinny Bones, drawn by Eisner — who had based the character on Lauren Bacall.  An iconic image by a legendary comic book creator, there's a The Spirit #22 (Quality, 1950) CGC FN- 5.5 Off-white to white pages up for auction in the 2022 July 10-11 Sunday & Monday Comic Books Select Auction #122228 at Heritage Auctions.

The Spirit #22 (Quality, 1950)
The Spirit #22 (Quality, 1950)

When this image was turned into a signed print authorized by Eisner, it was described as, "This image, simultaneously dangerous and sexy, depicts Skinny Bones. This particular image first graced the cover of issue #22 in the original Spirit comic book series (1950). Will Eisner modeled this dagger-wielding femme fatale after sultry actress Lauren Bacall."

The cover of The Spirit #22 ended up in the 1951 Report of the New York State Joint Legislative Committee to Study the Publication of Comics.  The Joint Legislative Committee depicted panels, pages and covers from a number of comics in this report, placing their examples into three groups:

  1. Brutality, violence and crime.
  2. Drawings which depict ways of bodily injury, plans for commission of crime and unlawful breakings.
  3. Sexually suggestive cartoons and in some instances semi hidden pornography.

Interestingly enough, the Joint Legislative Committee placed the cover of The Spirit #22 into group one, seemingly for its suggestion of violence, rather than in group three. An iconic image by a legendary artist, there's a The Spirit #22 (Quality, 1950) CGC FN- 5.5 Off-white to white pages up for auction in the 2022 July 10-11 Sunday & Monday Comic Books Select Auction #122228 at Heritage Auctions.

The Spirit #22 (Quality, 1950) CGC FN- 5.5 Off-white to white pages. Classic femme fatale cover by Will Eisner. Used by The New York Legislature committee, who cited this cover in their investigation of comic books during the 1950s. This was the last issue of the title, and is also one of the scarcest of its run. Overstreet 2021 FN 6.0 value = $1,623. CGC census 6/22: 10 in 5.5, 36 higher.

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Mark SeifertAbout Mark Seifert

Co-founder and Creative director of Bleeding Cool parent company Avatar Press. Bleeding Cool Managing Editor, tech and data wrangler. Machine Learning hobbyist. Vintage paper addict.
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