Today’s Guest: Steven Paul Leiva, filmmaker, “Will Eisner’s The Spirit” cartoon; author, Searching for Ray Bradbury
I know a thing or two about comic book artist and American master Will Eisner and his best known character, “The Spirit.”
I spent almost three years researching and writing the only biography of the man – Will Eisner: A Spirited Life. And in the course of that, I spent a great deal of time with Will, in person and by phone.
Because of that time and intimate knowledge, I’ve been dreading the Frank Miller-directed movie, The Spirit, which opens on Christmas Day, December 25. Will’s attitude toward the many attempts at making a movie based on “The Spirit” was simple; he loved collecting the annual rights option checks but hated the idea of anyone actually making a movie on his beloved character.
He described the first effort, an ABC television movie of the week, as “cardboard.”
STEVEN PAUL LEIVA podcast excerpt: “Will Eisner was, as I remember it, intrigued, but reluctant. He definitely wanted to see this animation. We arranged a meeting; Brad Bird and I flew to New York and took a train to White Plains and met Will at his house — ver Cheever. We showed him the trailer; he was very impressed. Brad talked about the kind of story he wanted to do. Will had maybe some minor criticisms of the trailer; they were all drawing issues. But he really liked it.”
You can LISTEN to this interview with STEVEN PAUL LEIVA, producer of THE SPIRIT animation test, by clicking the audio player above!
And I don’t think he would ever have approved Frank Miller as a director for The Spirit if it were up to him. Read the book Eisner/Miller and see if you get the impression he would want Frank doing the creative for his pride and joy.
Anyway, I tell you all that as way of introduction to tonight’s guest, Steven Paul Leiva. Several years ago, Leiva worked with Brad Bird in the early stages of development for a Spirit animated film. Bird, of course, is best known for creating and directing The Incredibles.
Unfortunately, I couldn’t get an interview with Bird in time for my Eisner biography so I never learned much about the never finished Spirit animated film. Until early December 2008, that is, when Steven Paul Leiva wrote about the project for the Los Angeles Times. It’s a great story and fills in a major gap in the Eisner cinematic story.