Saturday, 21 April 2007

The Spirit Goes Manga

Well, not quite. But look at the difference between these two pictures.

The first is the cover image that DC Comics used to solicit orders for The Spirit issue 5.

The second is the cover on the issue as it actually appeared this week.

So why the change? I’ve got no inside information, but I’d guess something like this: Darwyn Cooke probably finished the first version of the cover before he completed the interior art of the comic. The story revolves around Mr Carrion marketing ex-Russian army rations to children under the “Spirit Pork & Beans” brand. At some point, Cooke must have realised that, if it was supposed to appeal to children, then the label shouldn’t look like traditional American cartooning and lettering, but like that manga and anime stuff the kids love. Note, too, that the second version of the cover makes more use of non-black outlines than the first: this is a characteristic of a lot of recent children’s animation.

It’s a shame, in a way. The first cover not only showed you that there was a “Spirit Pork & Beans” product, but also told you the Spirit’s reaction to it, in a humourous way. The revised version is still an entertaining and striking cover, but there are fewer layers to it.

I wonder if anyone bought this issue expecting the story to be drawn in a manga style, and if so, what their reactions were.

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