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ONGOING SPIRIT SERIES BY MATT WAGNER IN JULY!!

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  • #16
    Originally posted by pulphero View Post
    . . . To some extent the changes to both her and Ebony's characters are concessions to a modern audience's sensibilities rather than strictly the most realistic choice, but I have no problem understanding and accepting that decision on Wagner's part. It also gives some more definition to what was largely, in the 1940s, a vaguely defined character. Who WAS Ellen Dolan, besides being the commissioner's daughter and the Spirit's "good girl" love interest? We never really knew, did we? Matt Wagner is saying, "Oh look, I guess she did have a brain in her head after all." OH! So that's why she's worthy of competing for the Spirit's attention with women of more obvious talents like P'Gell, Sand Saref, etc.
    But the change to Ebony was a necessity. I don't know if Ellen had to be given a role like City Council member . . . there were many women back then who didn't have major jobs like politicians. Being housewives and doing social work were quite common depending on upbringing and income, and wouldn't be considered "offensive" to a more modern audience. (When my mother graduated college back in the early 1950s, I'm not sure how common it was for women to be educated beyond high school. She did have a job doing mathematical work for Bell Labs briefly, then was married and eventually became just a housewife when she had her first child.)

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    • #17
      Originally posted by MajorHoy View Post
      But the change to Ebony was a necessity. I don't know if Ellen had to be given a role like City Council member . . . there were many women back then who didn't have major jobs like politicians. Being housewives and doing social work were quite common depending on upbringing and income, and wouldn't be considered "offensive" to a more modern audience. (When my mother graduated college back in the early 1950s, I'm not sure how common it was for women to be educated beyond high school. She did have a job doing mathematical work for Bell Labs briefly, then was married and eventually became just a housewife when she had her first child.)
      Yes, it's unusual. That's what Wagner is saying here. Ellen is not an ordinary woman, she's an extraordinary woman, which explains why the Spirit would be interested in her in the first place. She's driven because she cares about Central City, and she's ahead of her time as a female politician in a time when that was not common. Which is a better reason than that's she's the commissioner's daughter, and that placed her strategically in Eisner's stories... and it never hurts to curry favor with the Police Commissioner if you're a masked vigilante.

      I think if you place this post-1952 in Eisner's canon (and it's stated the Spirit has been missing long enough for people to accept him as dead), it helps explain the changes. The characters have used the Spirit's absence to concentrate on their own growth as individuals. Ebony and Sammy, and Ellen have all been inspired by the Spirit to become part of a force for positive social change, each in their own way fighting for justice using the ability available to them.
      Last edited by pulphero; 08-11-2015, 07:20 AM.

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      • #18
        Originally posted by pulphero View Post
        . . . Or wouldn't this be the early 1950s by now? A somewhat older looking Ebony White seems to place the events of this series after those of the original published weekly comic book section, which ended in 1952.
        After looking back at the first issue of this series, it appears we may still be somewhere in the 1940s.

        On the very first page, there's a newspaper with the headline "Who Killed The Spirit?", and in that story it begins "It has been nearly two years since the last reported sighting ...

        Click image for larger version

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        full-size image at:
        http://www.dynamite.com/previews/C72.../Spirit011.jpg

        If you look at the date of that newspaper, the last two numbers of the year are covered over somewhat, but it clearly looks like the "19" is followed by a "4" and not a "5".

        To further place this sometime in the 1940s, Dolan and Ellen later have a discussion where Dolan says " ... Two years to the day since any of us either saw or heard a word from him", which would place the newspaper shown on the first page as being pretty current to what Dolan was saying.

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        • #19
          Originally posted by MajorHoy View Post
          It was necessary to change Ebony. The young colored kid (to phrase it in a way that might have been used back then) wouldn't be socially acceptable in a modern comic book and might even be considered offensive by some.
          I just did a Google Image Search. YIKES. The way Ebony White was depicted years ago is considered offensive by nearly everyone.

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          • #20
            An earlier preview page had the hidden part of the year as 1948.


            http://cdn3.denofgeek.us/sites/denof...?itok=d4uOMXVg

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            • #21
              Will Eisner later regretted the way he depicted Ebony White.

              http://theculturalgutter.com/comics/...ony_white.html

              In Fagin the Jew (Doubleday, 2003), Will Eisner writes about unintentionally “feeding a racial prejudice with this stereotype image….I never recognized that my rendering of Ebony, when viewed historically, was in conflict with the rage I felt when I saw anti-Semitism in art and literature.”

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              • #22
                Originally posted by ChastMastr View Post
                An earlier preview page had the hidden part of the year as 1948.
                http://cdn3.denofgeek.us/sites/denof...?itok=d4uOMXVg
                Good find. Thanks.

                Originally posted by ChastMastr View Post
                Will Eisner later regretted the way he depicted Ebony White.

                http://theculturalgutter.com/comics/...ony_white.html

                In Fagin the Jew (Doubleday, 2003), Will Eisner writes about unintentionally “feeding a racial prejudice with this stereotype image….I never recognized that my rendering of Ebony, when viewed historically, was in conflict with the rage I felt when I saw anti-Semitism in art and literature.”
                Yeah, Ebony is . . . complicated.

                The way Ebony was drawn was quite common in comic books and other forms of entertainment at the time. But the way the character of Ebony was depicted by Eisner was less of a stereotype and more of an actual character who added to the story and wasn't just the butt of jokes. If you read old Spirit comics, he doesn't come off quite as offensive as, say, the character of Steamboat in the old Fawcett Comics Captain Marvel stories.

                Click image for larger version

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                You can learn a bit more about Steamboat here:
                http://goodcomics.comicbookresources...-revealed-467/

                Now, with Ebony, there were often times where he was used for comic relief, and sometimes those stories are really hard to take if Eisner goes too far, but in general his character isn't too bad if you look at what was done in comparison to what society / other publications were like back then. It's just that writing new material using the character as originally depicted wouldn't be generally accepted.

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                • #23
                  I just finished reading The Spirit #2. Now it seems a little more obvious, that apart from updating Ellen's image, there's a story reason for her being on the City Council (and she ran and was elected, not appointed). She's on the City Council because Councilman Palmer is Commissioner Dolan's nemesis, and is angling to take his job as Police Commissioner of Central City. That means there will be a power struggle between the two to sway the rest of the City Council to their side.

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                  • #24
                    Originally posted by MajorHoy View Post
                    Yeah, Ebony is . . . complicated.

                    The way Ebony was drawn was quite common in comic books and other forms of entertainment at the time.
                    That's why I have 'no problem' with the way Ebony was drawn. It's the way things were. To many people try to apply today's standards on what has come before. If they tried to draw him that way today I'd have an issue.

                    It's part of the reason I have a problem with a black Human Torch in the new movie. I understand that you want to be politically correct and diversify the cast but that's a little to forced.
                    Always remember, Murphy was an optimist
                    Munchkin 1, 2, 4, 7 Super Munchkin 1&2, Munchkin Bites 1&2, Munchkin Fu, Star Munchkin Deluxe and Star 2
                    http://ghornet.deviantart.com/

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                    • #25
                      Originally posted by pulphero View Post
                      I just finished reading The Spirit #2. Now it seems a little more obvious, that apart from updating Ellen's image, there's a story reason for her being on the City Council (and she ran and was elected, not appointed). She's on the City Council because Councilman Palmer is Commissioner Dolan's nemesis, and is angling to take his job as Police Commissioner of Central City. That means there will be a power struggle between the two to sway the rest of the City Council to their side.
                      Wagner may plan to use Ellen Dolan's position on the City Council as part of his story, but that doesn't mean it makes all that much sense to have her elected to the City Council in the 1940s in the first place.
                      Maybe if one of Wagner's issues deals with specifically why / how Ellen wound up on the Council he can make it seem a little more reasonable, but right now it doesn't quite work for me back then.

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                      • #26
                        Originally posted by MajorHoy View Post
                        Wagner may plan to use Ellen Dolan's position on the City Council as part of his story, but that doesn't mean it makes all that much sense to have her elected to the City Council in the 1940s in the first place.
                        Maybe if one of Wagner's issues deals with specifically why / how Ellen wound up on the Council he can make it seem a little more reasonable, but right now it doesn't quite work for me back then.
                        Of the hundreds of unrealistic/improbable/unlikely things that occur within the framework of the Spirit stories, this one rates pretty low on my annoyance scale. It hardly violates any previously-established level of strict adherence to reality that Eisner abided by. I don't expect Ebony to be dealt with realistically within the context of the social structure of the 1940s, so why should Ellen have to be.

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                        • #27
                          Originally posted by pulphero View Post
                          . . . I don't expect Ebony to be dealt with realistically within the context of the social structure of the 1940s, so why should Ellen have to be.
                          Ebony had to have changes; these aren't the days where a show like Amos and Andy would be socially acceptable. And I don't think the changes made to his character are necessarily unrealistic. There were negroes / blacks / African Americans with businesses back in the 1940s.

                          In Ellen's case, I have questioned why her changes were made and how necessary they were . . . her character could have been used in many ways that didn't involve her suddenly being on the City Council. And until / unless Wagner explains in-story more about her transition, I won't feel like it was a needed change and will question how likely it would have been back in the 1940s. (It wouldn't have been impossible for her to be an elected official, but I don't know how common it would have been, especially without knowing when and how it started.)

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                          • #28
                            Originally posted by MajorHoy View Post
                            Ebony had to have changes; these aren't the days where a show like Amos and Andy would be socially acceptable.
                            And thank God for that.

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                            • #29
                              I think that with the Spirit gone Ellen felt she had to do something to try and carry on his legacy and this was something she could do.
                              Always remember, Murphy was an optimist
                              Munchkin 1, 2, 4, 7 Super Munchkin 1&2, Munchkin Bites 1&2, Munchkin Fu, Star Munchkin Deluxe and Star 2
                              http://ghornet.deviantart.com/

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                              • #30
                                Originally posted by Ghornet2 View Post
                                I think that with the Spirit gone Ellen felt she had to do something to try and carry on his legacy and this was something she could do.
                                That's the case for Ebony and Sammy as well. "Suddenly" doesn't fit here because it's obvious some time has passed for these characters since the Spirit's disappearance. I doubt that Ebony will be treated realistically in the social context of showing him facing prejudice at every turn from 1940s white society, just as Ellen probably isn't going to deal with the sexism of 1940s male society. It may be that Eisner's stories never hinted that Ellen had any inclination towards politics, but then Ebony was never shown as having the skills to pursue private investigator work. Realistically, it might have been very hard in the 1940s for a woman to be elected to City Council, but realistically, it would be very hard for a P.I. who was black to make a living in a white, prejudiced 1940s society. The people most likely to hire him, other blacks, are also too economically disadvantaged to be able to afford his services (to Wagner's credit, he at least hints that the business hasn't exactly been booming). In either case, there may be no law against it, but it would have been difficult in real life, unless we grant the writer some suspension of disbelief.

                                Ellen needed something added to her character to be taken seriously by modern audiences, in the same way that Ebony required changes to be taken seriously (apart from the cartoony caricature of how he was drawn in the 1940s stories). Ellen can't just be the commissioner's daughter, the pretty good girl who needs rescuing or is pining away with thoughts of marriage for the missing hero, she needs to take an active role. With all the femmes fatale in the Spirit's life, how is it that Ellen even rates a second glance from the Spirit? What qualities make her a worthy romantic interest for him? Very few in the 1940s stories. The changes made to both characters are showing them to both be inspired by the 'spirit' of The Spirit to pursue social justice, each in their own fashion, and carry on in his memory. A position on the City Council is a logical choice for Ellen because city politics are already 'in the family'. At least it makes more sense than having her become a policewoman, or putting on a costume and calling herself Lady Luck.
                                Last edited by pulphero; 08-15-2015, 02:18 AM.

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