A Different Spirit
Recently the Digital Comic Museum posted a series of Spirit sections from 1945. It's a rare treat to see any Spirit sections in their original form. These are especially interesting because they represent the period when Will Eisner was in the service and The Spirit had been given over to other hands: notably, those of Lou Fine.
There's no question that the 1945 Spirit was not the "original" Spirit. Stories suffered the most as Eisner's carefully-structured scripts gave way to mundane, rather disjointed stories like this one. The art changed even more. Gone were Eisner's cartooniness and cinematic layouts (though some of the best of these lay in the future after Eisner returned from the Army). The new style was more like mainstream comic books. But though the style may have been different, it certainly wasn't bad art.
I believe this story is mostly Lou Fine's work. It offers a fascinating glimpse of the Golden Age great changing from his over-the-top superhero style to the handsomely-drawn conservative style he'd use for the rest of his career. The drawings of Soapy on page 4 could have come straight out of the ad comics he and Don Komisarow did for J. Walter Thompson in the 1950s. (Fans of Fine's ad art must check out this entry in Today's Inspiration about his collaborations with Komisarow.)
This might not be the famous "real" Spirit, but it's sure a bunch of nice drawings!