1983: John Law Detective

John Law Detective (1983) #1 by Will Eisner

This is a bit of an historical oddity. Will Eisner had been looking into starting a comic book series called The Adventures of Nubbin in 1948, changed the name to John Law, and then given up on the project. He then chopped the pages up a bit and changed John Law into The Spirit, and ran the reformatted pages in the Spirit newspaper inserts.

catherine yronwode happened onto the black-and-white proofs while working as Will Eisner’s cataloguing assistant and had them coloured by Klaus Janson, and here we have the book.

There’s very little actually new in this book (if you’ve read The Spirit), but it’s an interesting little artefact.

I think Klaus Janson’s colouring job is rather nice.

It’s been a few years since I last read The Spirit (as in… at least 30 years), so I didn’t recall how violent it was. Here we have a thug gunning down a roomful of sea urchins. I mean street urchins.

yronwode tells the story behind the book… and, yes, discovering this version of these already-published stories is just like discovering Troy.

And that’s what the book originally was going to look like back in 1948 when it was going to be centred around Nubbin the Shoeshine Boy.

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