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Watch: Brad Bird’s 1980 Pencil Test for ‘The Spirit’

Pencil test “trailer” created by Bird and several of his CalArts classmates for an adaptation of Will Eisner’s ‘The Spirit’ shows what could have been.

Here’s a treat: decades before Frank Miller’s adaptation of The Spirit landed in theaters, a group of young filmmakers that included Brad Bird, Gary Kurtz and John Lasseter hoped to bring Will Eisner’s crime fighter character to life in an animated feature.

Now, thanks to producer Steven Paul Leiva, we finally get a glimpse of what could’ve been in a 1980 pencil test “trailer” drawn by Bird along with several of his classmates from CalArts:

Leiva, who wrote about his involvement in the project in 2008 for the Los Angeles Times, explains on YouTube, “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.”

Want more? Head over to the LA Times’ Hero Complex for the whole story.

(via Animation Scoop)

Jennifer Wolfe's picture

Formerly Editor-in-Chief of Animation World Network, Jennifer Wolfe has worked in the Media & Entertainment industry as a writer and PR professional since 2003.