Thanks to Daniel XIII, who was helping me move some crates that the Projectionist brought back with him from his trip to Haddonfield, we got to talking about the Will Eisner’s legendary sequential art icon The Spirit.
After we had securely stored the crates inside one of the vaults…I still think it sounded like something was whimpering inside one of them…Daniel XIII asked if I had ever had the pleasure of seeing the pencil-tests that were done for an abandoned 1980 animated feature film for The Spirit.
I believe the look on my face gave him all the answer he needed because before I knew it he had pulled up the test footage on his laptop. To say this is incredible is putting it mildly. This was uploaded by Steven Paul Leiva(Stay Tuned, Space Jam) on his YouTube Channel who not only tried to get the film made back in 1980 but was working with Gary Kurtz (Star Wars) and Brad Bird (The Iron Giant, The Incredibles)!
From his YouTube upload:
“In 2008 as Frank Miller’s live action feature film based on Will Eisner’s “The Spirit” was being released I wrote a piece for the Los Angeles Times on the time, back in 1980, when I became involved with Brad Bird and Gary Kurtz (producer of the first two “Star Wars” movies) in trying to get into production an animated feature based on “The Spirit”. I spoke of a pencil test “trailer” for the our proposed film that was made by Bird along with several classmates from Cal Arts, most of whom were working at Disney at the time. Quite a few people who read the article contacted me about seeing the film. I did have it on an old VHS, but it was deep in storage at the time plus as I did not really own the film, I told them they would have to look elsewhere to find a copy. Later, I found the VHS and put it aside. Recently Andrea Fiamma, an Italian journalist writing on the subject for the website Fumettologica,” asked again if the film could be seen. As it is a small piece of animation history, I’ve decided to post it here.”