The first Spirit adventure appeared on June 2, 1940 in a 16-page tabloid-sized newspaper insert, and continued in the same tabloid-sized format through 1952. Everett Arnold, who was the publisher of Quality Comics, went to Will Eisner and hired him to create a character to compete with the superhero craze that had started with Superman and Batman. Newspapers used the insert as a special bonus for their Sunday editions and to draw in comic book fans. Arnold is credited with coming up with the name of the character, but Eisner designed the rest, including the mask which was Eisner's way of defining the character of Detective Denny Colt as a quasi-"superhero."
Eisner brought in a number of other assistants to work on the book during its run, especially Jules Feiffer who ended up writing most of the later stories, and Wally Wood who drew the final installments before th end of the original run.
The character was revived many times, packaged into collections and albums (especially by Kitchen Sink Press) and picked up by DC Comics in 2007 for two recurring issue runs totaling 49 issues altogether (also there was a single-issue Spirit and Batman team-up.)
Born, reborn, again and again
The Spirit Splash Pages
Selection of Splash pages from 1940s era The Spirit. Art by Will Eisner
Darwyn Cooke - Spirit #8, 2007
Brian Bolland cover Spirit #26
Neal Adams' The Spirit
More Neal Adams
Paul Smith Cover to The Spirit #17
Darwyn Cooke "Ginger Ice"
Darwyn Cooke's Ginger Ice from his Spirit revival from issue 1, Feb 2007
Will Eisner Batman 50th Art - 1989
Spirit Artwork Pages
Original Page August 10, 2012 | Updated Sept 2015