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The Spirit is crucial to modern comic books. Here's the movie it could have been.

Alex Abad-Santos is a senior correspondent who explains what society obsesses over, from Marvel and movies to fitness and skin care. He came to Vox in 2014. Prior to that, he worked at the Atlantic.

Will Eisner and his comic The Spirit were integral to the creation of the modern comic book. Eisner was playing around with elements of storytelling that were novel for the time but proved hugely influential to future writers — the Eisner awards, basically the Oscars for comic books — are named after him.

Unfortunately, there hasn't been a successful adaptation of The Spirit for the big screen, though there was a pretty terrible 2008 live-action version.

On April 14, producer Steven Leiva gave the internet a taste of what could have been. Leiva shared a pencil test "trailer" for a proposed Spirit film on YouTube. The trailer hits a sweet spot between the nostalgia of hand-drawn animation and the possibility of what a Spirit animated film could be.

"I spoke of a pencil test 'trailer' for the our proposed film that was made by [Brad] Bird along with several classmates from Cal Arts, most of whom were working at Disney at the time," Leiva explained on YouTube. "As it is a small piece of animation history, I've decided to post it here."

Bird went on to a great career in animation, working on the early seasons of The Simpsons, then directing the films The Iron Giant, The Incredibles, and Ratatouille. He has since gone on to make the live-action films Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol and Tomorrowland.

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