The world of comics still cropped up from time to time in unexpected ways. Out of the blue, Howard Chaykin raised the possibility of representing Kings to TV producers. (Despite my respect for Howard, I passed. That book, to me, was ancient history, and I was frequently too stubborn for my own good in those days.) Kate still heard from the legion of Omaha fans, a large number of whom had formed an online group that thrives to this day. Vertige Graphic put out a beautiful – and unexpected – French reprint of Kings, and a Swedish version was reportedly in the works. And Will Eisner hired Kate and me to write a novel about The Spirit.
That Spirit project proved to be a revelation. Kate was a collaborator’s dream, turning out marvelous copy and urging me to take no prisoners in melding our alternate chapters into a uniform style. Though we were adapting someone else’s brainchild, in the process we were also doing real creative work for the first time in years, and it was inspiring to flex those muscles again. Will was happy with the final result, and our agents Denis Kitchen and Judy Hansen were urging us to write more novels of our own devising. I was shocked to find that the part of our lives that we’d packed away so unceremoniously turned out to still be exciting.
The only downside had been Kate’s inexplicable lapses in energy that slowed the process and occasionally frustrated all of us, Will included. But we’d managed to capture the essence of the feature in its late-‘40s prime, and – with an eye toward selling a series of Spirit novels – Will asked us for another. If we weren’t exactly back in comics, we were actively involved with its in-laws.