All characters TM & © DC Comics.
JACK KIRBY COLLECTOR
Kirby AT DC! OPENING SHOT . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .2 (DC for me!) RETROSPECTIVE . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .4 (key 1970s DC moments) KIRBYLOGUING . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .7 (the return of the X-files)
ISSUE #62, WINTER 2013
JACK F.A.Q.s . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .14 (Mark Evanier explains why Jack didn't fit in at DC) GALLERY 1 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .18 (fave Fourth World images) KIRBY OBSCURA . . . . . . . . . . . . .26 (Barry Forshaw knows too much) KIRBY KINETICS . . . . . . . . . . . . . .29 (Norris Burroughs on super soldiers past and future) OVERVUE . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .32 (Big Brother meets Captain America in OMAC) BOBBY BRYANT . . . . . . . . . . . . . .36 (Kirby & the Watergate [T]apes) JACK KIRBY MUSEUM PAGE . . . .38 (visit & join www.kirbymuseum.org) WORKMANSHIP . . . . . . . . . . . . . .39 (John Workman takes us behind the scenes at ’70s DC Comics and his Kirby Kobra Konnections) INCIDENTAL ICONOGRAPHY . . . . .44 (the many beards of Dr. E. Leopold Maas) FOUNDATIONS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .46 (Kirby’s best genres, ’40s vs. ’70s) KIRBY AS A GENRE . . . . . . . . . . . .56 (Allred and Scioli transform Jack) BOYDISMS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .60 (Jerry Boyd presents Part 2 of Fascism in the Fourth World) THE SOURCE? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .64 (Mike Breen compares the FF and Challengers like never before) GHOST WRITING . . . . . . . . . . . . . .70 (why did Jack draw pages differently for some scripters?) TRIBUTE . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .80 (2013 Kirby Panel with Evanier, Gaiman, Isabella, and Levine) COLLECTOR COMMENTS . . . . . . .91 PARTING SHOT . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .96 Front & back cover inks: MIKE ROYER Front cover color: TOM ZIUKO If you’re viewing a Digital Edition of this publication,
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Circa 1974 Kirby commission piece, beautifully inked this year by Mike Royer for this issue’s cover. Thanks, Mike! The Jack Kirby Collector, Vol. 20, No. 62, Winter 2013. Published purt-near quarterly by and © TwoMorrows Publishing, 10407 Bedfordtown Drive, Raleigh, NC 27614, USA. 919-449-0344. John Morrow, Editor/Publisher. Single issues: $14 postpaid ($18 elsewhere). Four-issue subscriptions: $50 US, $65 Canada, $72 elsewhere. Editorial package © TwoMorrows Publishing, a division of TwoMorrows Inc. All characters are trademarks of their respective companies. All artwork is © Jack Kirby Estate unless otherwise noted. All editorial matter is © the respective authors. First printing. PRINTED IN CHINA. ISSN 1932-6912
COPYRIGHTS: Alien Thing, Aquaman, Arin, Atlas, Batman, Big Barda, Big Bear, Black Canary, Black Racer, Boy Commandos, Challengers of the Unknown, Clark Kent, Darkseid, Deadman, Demon, Desaad, Dingbats of Danger Street, Dr. E. Leopold Maas, Fastbak, Flash, Forager, Forever People, Green Arrow, Green Lantern, Green Team, Guardian, Hawkman, Highfather, House of Secrets, In The Days Of The Mob, Infinity Man, Jimmy Olsen, Kalibak, Kamandi, Kobra, Lightray, Lonar, Losers, Manhunter, Manhunter, Metron, Morgan Edge, Mister Miracle, New Gods, Newsboy Legion, OMAC, Orion, Outsiders, Richard Dragon Kung Fu Fighter, Sandman, Secret Society of Super Villains, Spirit World, Super Powers, Superman, Teekl, Vigilante, Virmin Vundabar, Witchboy, Wonder Woman TM & © DC Comics. • Bucky, Captain America, Falcon, Fantastic Four, Inhumans, Loki, Silver Surfer, Thor, What If? TM & © Marvel Characters, Inc. • The Avenger TM & © Conde Nast • Black Magic, Boy Explorers, Boys' Ranch, Fighting American TM & © Joe Simon & Jack Kirby Estates • Soul Love, True Divorce Cases TM & © Jack Kirby Estate • Destroyer Duck TM & © Steve Gerber and Jack Kirby Estates • Conan TM & © Conan Properties.
Key 1970s DC Moments by John Morrow
© Marvel Characters, Inc.
(above) Stan says “adios” to Jack in July 1970. (throughout) You can’t say DC didn’t promote “Kirby,” even if some of the ads were vague.
ontinuing our look at key moments in Jack’s life and career from TJKC #59 (which covered Marvel in the 1960s), we present this timeline of key moments that affected Kirby’s tenure at DC Comics in the 1970s. Of invaluable help were Rand Hoppe, past research by Mark Evanier and Steve Sherman, and of course, the “X” list of Jack’s DC production numbers (an updated version is shown elsewhere in this issue). This isn’t a complete list of every important date in Kirby’s DC 1970s history, but should hit most of the main ones. Please send us additions and corrections. Next issue, I’ll work on pivotal moments in Jack’s return to Marvel in the 1970s and beyond. My rule of thumb: Cover dates were generally twothree months later than the date the book appeared on the stands, and six months ahead of when Kirby was working on the stories, so I’ve assembled the timeline according to those adjusted dates—not the cover dates—to set it as close as possible to real-time.
• Kinney National Company buys DC Comics, and Carmine Infantino is appointed Art Director. He initiates the era of “artist as editor,” bringing new talent and ideas in. Also, editor Jack Schiff retires from DC Comics, opening the door for Kirby to possibly return.
• January: The Kirby family moves to California, taking a loan from Martin Goodman. • Mark Evanier and Steve Sherman become acquainted with Kirby through working on Marvelmania projects, and Mike Royer inks his first Kirby piece. • Kirby meets with Carmine Infantino at a Los Angeles hotel to discuss the possibility of joining DC Comics, and Mort Weisinger retires from DC Comics, removing the last obstacle for Kirby returning.
• January: Kirby receives a “onerous” contract from Perfect Film to continue working at Marvel Comics, telling him “take it or leave it.” • February: Carmine Infantino signs Kirby to a DC contract. • Early March: Kirby turns in Fantastic Four #102, his final story for Marvel, and resigns. On March 12, Don and Maggie Thompson publish an “Extra” edition of their fanzine Newfangles announcing Kirby is leaving Marvel. That Spring, Mark Evanier and Steve Sherman become Jack’s official assistants. 4
• May-June: “The Great One Is Coming!” ad (left center) appears in various DC comics, trumpeting “The Boom Tube,” but does not mention Kirby by name. • July (September cover date): The “Stan’s Soapbox” (left) in Marvel’s comics tells of Jack’s resignation from Marvel, and Jimmy Olsen #132’s letter column (bottom left) announces Kirby will start in the following issue.
• Summer: “Kirby is coming” blurb appears in various DC comics. Also, Kirby’s three new core books are mentioned (with bullet art) in the 1970 San Diego Comic-Con program book. • August (October cover date): Jimmy Olsen #133 published with Kirby’s first work for DC Comics. • October (December cover date): “The Magic of Kirby” house ads appear in DC comics, heralding the first issues of Forever People, New Gods, and Mister Miracle. (right) • November (January 1971 cover date): Kirby stories in Amazing Adventures #4 and Tower of Shadows #4 published by Marvel, the same month as Jimmy Olsen #135 at DC Comics. • December (February 1971 cover date): Forever People #1 and New Gods #1 published at DC Comics.
• January (March cover date): Marvel’s Fantastic Four #108 published from Jack’s original rejected FF #102 story, the same month that DC Comics publishes Mister Miracle #1 and Jimmy Olsen #136. • January 31: Kirby and Infantino are interviewed for Comics & Crypt fanzine in the DC offices, during Jack’s trip back to New York City. Around this time, Carmine Infantino is promoted to publisher of DC Comics. • May (July cover date): Lois Lane #111 is published, with a non-Kirby story that used his Fourth World concepts. Also,
Return of the X-Files
Original list compiled by Jon B. Cooke, and updated by John Morrow & Rand Hoppe of the Jack Kirby Museum (www.kirbymuseum.org)
(below) Jack drew this pencil cover for a “proposed New Gods tabloid comic” according to the 1979 Jack Kirby Masterworks portfolio. Was it to be for a $1 oversize DC reprint of Fourth World material, or something more elaborate to placate an increasingly restless Kirby in the mid-1970s? No one seems certain:
he following is a fully updated list of Kirby’s DC Comics production numbers for his 1970s work. As editor, Jack was given the prefix “X” since Joe Kubert was already using the “K” prefix. These codes were used for DC’s internal accounting, and printed on the final books. They make an accurate listing of the order in which Kirby produced his 1970s DC material. Reprints in Kirby’s issues also received a code, leaving a fair number already assigned when DC pulled the plug on those 25¢ issues, so those already prepared reprints were likely reassigned, usually to E. Nelson Bridwell’s “B” codes. The few listings in PINK are ones that we are unable to confirm, unless some unpublished artwork surfaces with a number on it (but we’re reasonably sure they fit where we put them). Items in PURPLE are Kirby work for other editors, and we’ve tried our best to place them chronologically within the listing. Reprints are GREYED OUT. While our previous version of this list hinted at the possibility that—like Dingbats— unknown Atlas or Manhunter issues might exist, based on the chronology and the patterns that emerge in Jack’s workflow, it seems unlikely they were produced, even if they were assigned one of the missing “X” numbers. We’ve added a basic timeline of when he produced each issue (which should be accurate within one month either direction), and some interesting details emerge: • The first two issues of New Gods, Forever People, Mister Miracle, and
MARK EVANIER: I am pretty sure it was not done right after New Gods was cancelled. There’s another piece that was. Jack was told that the book publisher New American Library was going to reprint New Gods in paperback—this was at a time when no one did things like that—and that if it sold well, the storyline would continue in that format with new material. He drew up an ad but the project never went forward, and I don’t think Infantino ever told him why.
(above) Kirby traced the photo at top left to create his likeness on this intro page for DC’s Golden Age reprints. (If you lay it on top, it’s an exact match!)
• Jimmy Olsen, plus In The Days Of The Mob #1 and True Divorce Cases #1 were all drawn before Jimmy Olsen #133 was published. • Upon hearing the news that the Fourth World books were being cancelled, Jack quickly swapped the stories he’d assigned for Mister Miracle #9 and #10, so he could get #9’s “Himon” into print. • OMAC replaced Mister Miracle on his work schedule, and most issues didn’t see print for 8-10 months after they were drawn; Jack was fulfilling his contracted page rate by stockpiling issues. • After drawing OMAC #6, Jack drew 7 issues of Kamandi and Our Fighting Forces before drawing OMAC #7. Perhaps he was too far ahead, or perhaps DC was considering cancelling OMAC after #6. DC had him draw Atlas and Manhunter, before resuming work on OMAC #7 ten months later. • After Jack drew three issues of Dingbats (which didn’t see print), DC assigned him Our Fighting Forces to fill out his contract. • After drawing OMAC #8 (the last issue), DC had Jack draw Kobra #1 to fill that slot on his schedule. • Jack apparently drew Kamandi #38-40 after he’d begun working for Marvel again, to finish out his DC contract one month before Captain America #193 hit stands. ★
STEVE SHERMAN: I don’t recall hearing anything about a tabloid size comic. I suppose it’s possible since DC was publishing those oversize editions. Jack would’ve been up for it. Stuff got tossed around a lot that never happened. We’ll keep digging for details!
CODE X-100 X-101 X-102 X-103 X-104 X-105 X-106 X-107 X-108 X-109 X-110 X-111 X-112 X-113 X-114 X-115 X-116 X-117 X-118 X-119 X-120 X-121 X-122 X-123 X-124 X-125 X-126 X-127 X-128 X-129 X-130 X-131 X-132 X-133 X-134 X-135 X-136 X-137 X-138 X-139 X-140 X-141 X-142 X-143 X-144 X-145 X-146 X-147 X-148 X-149 X-150 X-151 X-152 X-153 X-154 X-155 X-156 X-157 X-158 X-159 X-160 X-161 X-162 X-163 X-164 X-165 X-166 X-167 X-168 X-169 X-170 X-171 X-172 X-173 X-174 X-175 X-176 X-177 X-178 X-179 X-180 X-181 X-182 X-183 X-184 X-185 X-186 X-187 X-188
JOB DESCRIPTION PAGES “In Search of a Dream” 24 Cover 1 Cover 1 Cover 1 “The Forever People” pin-up 1 “Beautiful Dreamer vs. Darkseid” pin-up 1 “The Infinity Man” Pin-up 1 “Orion Fights for Earth” 23 “Lightray” Pin-up 1 “Kalibak the Cruel” Pin-up 1 “The Newsboy Legion” 22 Cover (2 versions) 1 “Jack Kirby, Continued” Text 1 “Murder Missile Trap” 22 “The Mountain of Judgement” 22 “Super War” 22 “The Whiz Wagons are Coming” Text 1 “O Deadly Darkseid” 22 “X-Pit” 22 “A Visit with Jack Kirby” (Marvin Wolfman) Text 1 “Welcome to Hell” 41 Cover (no #) 1 “The Breeding Ground” (ME/SS) Text/collage 3 “Funeral for a Florist” (ME/SS) Text/Illo 2 Dillinger poster 1 “Kill Joy Was Here” 1 Table of contents 1 Cover (B-994) 1 “The Kirby That Jack Built” text feature (B-1006) 3 “The Maid” 13 “The Twin” 7 “The Model” (reused for Soul Love) 10 “The Other Woman” 10 “The Babies” photo feature 3 “Hollywood Divorce” article by Evanier & Sherman 2 Table of Contents (collage) 1 Inside Back Cover 1 “The Cheater” 3 “Hairies, Super-race or ...?” Text 1 “Evil Factory” 22 “Life vs. Anti-Life” 22 “The Teacher” 10 “Death is the Black Racer” 23 Cover 1 Cover 1 Cover 1 “The Saga of the D.N.Aliens” 22 “The Newsboy Legion Returns” (ME/SS) Text (likely meant for #136) 1 “Miracle Talk” (ME/SS) Text 1 “Fears of a Go-Go Girl” 10 “Dedicated Nurse” 7 “Paranoid Pill” 22 “Buzzing In The Boom Tube” 1 “To and From the Source” (ME/SS) Text 1 “The Four-Armed Terror” 22 “Diary of the Disappointed Doll” 5 “Kingdom of the Damned” 22 “The Big Boom” 23 Poster (Roberta Flack)• photo and text features 8 “Old Fires” 2 Cover 1 Cover 1 “O’Ryan Gang and the Deep Six” 22 “The Guardian Fights Again” 22 “The Closing Jaws of Death” 22 Cover 1 Cover (2 versions) 1 Cover 1 Cover 1 “The Screaming Woman” 10 Letter column 1 “House of Horror” 12 “Will the Real Don Rickles Panic?” 22 Letter column 1 “Sonny Sumo” 22 “Amazing Predictions” 10 Cover (unpublished) 1 “Cancel His Trip!!! Or the President Must Die!” 10 Cover 1 Cover 1 Cover 1 Cover 1 Letter column 1 “The Man from Transilvane” 22 Letter column 1 “Children of the Flaming Wheel” Text 3 “The Spirit of Vengeance!” Text 3 Table of contents 1 Letter column 1
TITLE The Forever People The Forever People The New Gods Mister Miracle The Forever People The Forever People The Forever People The New Gods The New Gods The New Gods Jimmy Olsen Jimmy Olsen Jimmy Olsen Mister Miracle Jimmy Olsen The Forever People Jimmy Olsen The New Gods Mister Miracle Forever People/New Gods/Mister Miracle In The Days Of The Mob In The Days Of The Mob In The Days Of The Mob In The Days Of The Mob In The Days Of The Mob In The Days Of The Mob In The Days Of The Mob Super DC Giant Super DC Giant True Divorce Cases True Divorce Cases True Divorce Cases True Divorce Cases True Divorce Cases True Divorce Cases True Divorce Cases In The Days Of The Mob/Spirit World True Divorce Cases Jimmy Olsen Jimmy Olsen The Forever People Soul Love The New Gods Mister Miracle The New Gods The Forever People Jimmy Olsen Jimmy Olsen Mister Miracle Soul Love Soul Love Mister Miracle The Forever People The New Gods Jimmy Olsen Soul Love The Forever People Jimmy Olsen Soul Love Soul Love Soul Love Jimmy Olsen The New Gods Jimmy Olsen Mister Miracle Mister Miracle Jimmy Olsen The Forever People The New Gods Spirit World The Forever People Spirit World Jimmy Olsen The New Gods The Forever People Spirit World Spirit World Spirit World Jimmy Olsen The New Gods The Forever People Mister Miracle Mister Miracle Jimmy Olsen The Forever People Spirit World Spirit World Spirit World The New Gods
ISSUE 1 1 1 1 4 4 4 1 4 4 133 133 133 1 134 2 134 2 2 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 S-25 S-25 n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a 1 n/a 135 135 3 n/a 3 2 2 2 136 141 2 n/a n/a 3 2 2 137 n/a 4 138 ? n/a n/a 137 4 139 4 3 138 3 3 1 3 1 141 3 5 1 1 1 139 4 4 4 3 142 4 1 1 1 4
COVER DATE Mar 1971 Mar 1971 Mar 1971 April 1971 Sept 1971 Sept 1971 Sept 1971 Mar 1971 Aug 1971 Aug 1971 Oct 1970 Oct 1970 Oct 1970 April 1971 Dec 1970 May 1971 Dec 1970 May 1971 June 1971 Mar 1971 Fall 1971 Fall 1971 Fall 1971 Fall 1971 Fall 1971 Fall 1971 Fall 1971 Aug 1971 Aug 1971 n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a Fall 1971 n/a Jan 1971 Jan 1971 July 1971 n/a July 1971 June 1971 May 1971 May 1971 Mar 1971 Sept 1971 June 1971 n/a n/a Aug 1971 May 1971 May 1971 April 1971 n/a Sept 1971 June 1971 n/a n/a n/a April 1971 Sept 1971 July 1971 Oct 1971 Aug 1971 June 1971 July 1971 July 1971 Fall 1971 July 1971 Fall 1971 Sept 1971 July 1971 Nov 1971 Fall 1971 Fall 1971 Fall 1971 July 1971 Sept 1971 Sept 1971 Oct 1971 Aug 1971 Oct 1971 Sept 1971 Fall 1971 Fall 1971 Fall 1971 Sept 1971
TIMELINE March 1970
August 1970 September 1970
November 1970 December 1970
January 1971 February 1971
A column of Frequently Asked Questions about Kirby
(this page) DC put little effort into integrating Kirby’s Fourth World concepts across their line, relegating nonKirby appearances to several Lois Lane issues from #111-119, for which Nelson Bridwell was editorially involved. The “Morgan Edge Clone” subplot was a nice adjunct to the saga, but once Kirby was off Jimmy Olsen, the tie-ins ended...
he theme of this issue of The Jack Kirby Collector seems like the perfect time to deal with this question from Van Woods...
Editorial Director Irwin Donenfeld, frustrated by this, came up with the theory that the readers were obviously confused: They were accidentally buying Marvels when they meant to buy DCs. To rectify this horrible situation, he had them slap those “go-go checks” on all DC covers, the premise being that they’d make DC books more identifiable as DC books. Didn’t help. All those kids who were stupidly buying Fantastic Four when they really wanted Superman’s Girl Friend, Lois Lane kept right on buying the wrong comics by mistake. Now, in fairness, Team Spirit is not uncommon in comics. Just as if you live in San Francisco, you probably think the Giants are better than the Dodgers, there’s a strong rooting interest if you work for Company X to think your employer kicks all butts in the comic shops. But there does come a point when folks carry it so far they lose connection with reality... and it can be jarring when things change. I know folks who practically experienced whiplash when they changed companies and had to start spinning wildly in the opposite direction. So when Jack “King” Kirby was suddenly a DC asset, a lot of people there had trouble shifting gears. It was hard to segue from being glad you didn’t have that primitive art style in your books to embracing it as a key part of your future. It was also a difficult time there. When Carmine Infantino ascended to power at DC, he did something that hadn’t happened in a long time at that company: He started firing people. Previously, it was a very secure place to work. Once you were in, you usually stayed in. It was something the company could offer its people in lieu of good money... and to a staff and talent pool of former kids who’d grown up in the Great Depression, important. Stability—not having to worry about not having a paycheck at all—mattered a lot to those people. If you’d been writing, drawing or editing for DC Comics in 1965, you probably thought you had a job for as long as there were DC Comics... which at the time seemed like forever.
I was intrigued by a comment you made in an article once that Jack never fit in at DC Comics in the Seventies. I’ve always felt that too but never knew quite why I felt that. Could you elaborate? Sure. Jack was never an ideal fit for DC for a number of reasons, not the least of which was that before his arrival, most folks up there had spent a lot of time hating on Marvel. A prevailing sentiment in the offices was that DC’s books were great, Marvel’s sucked and there was some cosmic injustice occurring when a Marvel outsold a DC.
...culminating with a quick Newsboy Legion back-up in Jimmy Olsen #150, and a hasty wrap-up of the Edge clone saga in #152 (next page, top).
Then things took a downturn and Infantino became Editorial Director, displacing Donenfeld who’d thought he had a job for life. Being the son of the guy who founded and once owned the company hadn’t saved Irwin... and a lot of other folks went with him. Carmine was charged with shaking up the company, trying to reinvent it and turn things around. As I’ve said elsewhere, I don’t think Infantino did a very good job as Editorial Director and later as Publisher. I also don’t think he had an easy job. The conglomerate that would later be known as Time Warner had recently acquired DC and there were those in that company who thought the wisest thing they could do with its comic book division was scale it way back. There was at least one exec there—and maybe more—who felt they’d gotten what they wanted because they now owned the nation’s leading magazine distributor, Independent News. About DC, there was this suggestion: Get rid of most of the staff, scale things back and just publish a dozen or so comics per month—primarily reprints—to keep Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman and other licensable characters in print. Other ideas for drastic downsizing were floated. DC’s distribution was then crumbling and the folks at Independent News had little confidence in anything. New books were being started left and right, and a high percentage of them expired after five or six issues... meaning the decision to abort was made based on the sales figures of one or two issues. Joe Simon’s Brother Power, the Geek outdid most of them: It got cancelled before they had any sales figures on #1. So this was the environment Jack walked into: A company full of nervous people who were acutely conscious that their once-guaranteed employment was now on probation and that whatever they were working on might get the ax or be handed over to others at any time. It was, as they say, a brand-new ball game: A lot of longtime DC staffers (including Mort Weisinger and Jack Schiff, who’d not-so-long-before been their two most powerful editors) were gone. So were other longtime freelancers like George Papp, Jim Mooney, George Klein and Wayne Boring. And the Marvel/Kirby look, which was once the look DC was proud wasn’t theirs, was now the look of their most important new publications. Some there were horrified. I’m sure I mentioned this before but on our first visit to the DC offices in 1970, Steve Sherman and I were
welcomed as Jack’s assistants. Then Sol Harrison, who ran the production department, sat us down and asked us if maybe we could urge Jack to draw more like Curt Swan. In later years when I encountered Mr. Harrison, I seemed to always find him debating his contention that DC’s output inarguably made all others look sick. Everyone else who wasn’t in the production department and wasn’t Robert Kanigher respected Jack’s contribution to the field, but a lot of them didn’t like that kind of art. And they really didn’t like that their company’s new superstar was not them or some other longtime DC person. It was an outsider. It was like Jack was being rewarded for past service to the enemy. Jack gave it his all. Jack always gave it his all. That was one of
Kirby’s short back-ups had astounding potential. Pencils from Jimmy Olsen #143.
A few of the editor’s favorite Fourth World images
The Fourth World had nearly limitless potential, but DC underutilized it. Any one of these characters could’ve been spun off into their own Kirby series. Instead, Jack only gave us brief glimpses of the tip of his creative ideas through maddeningly short back-up (many only two pages) in his Fourth World books. Lonar and Fastbak at least got two short back-ups each, while poor Infinity Man got forgotten about till the final Forever People issue—but he came back with a vengeance! Arin the Armored Man is somewhere out in the cosmos with Superman’s DNA, while Kirby’s rendition of Deadman is still seeking his killer, whose hook turned out to be on the other hand.
(next page) Kirby introduced Forager, “The Bug” in New Gods #9-10, in a story that seemed to be the pilot episode for some kind of spin-off series, based on the amount of play he got. It was a fine read, but after epics like “The Glory Boat” and “Death Wish of Terrible Turpin”, it left us wishing Jack had concentrated more on Orion and Lightray in those two issues—something he’d probably have done if he’d known sooner that New Gods was nearing cancellation.
Many people recall Forever People as the Fourth World component with the least slam-bang action, due to the main characters’ passive nature. But while they spent their share of time running away (as shown on these pencils from #7 and #8), Jack gave us shocking sequences like the “Happy Land” torture park and the brutal killing of “Billion Dollar Bates”— and Beautiful Dreamer in several cheesecake scenes.
foregrounded—they look singularly harmless here, pushed over to the left of the frame.
A regular column focusing on Kirby’s least known work, by Barry Forshaw
Next up in Titan’s S&K Library series is “Horror” in March 2014, which will include stories from Black Magic and Strange World of Your Dreams published from 1950 to 1954— 320 pages, with more great art reconstruction by Harry Mendryk.
TM & © Harvey Comics.
“Forbidden Journey” had never been reprinted until Titan’s recent S&K Science Fiction volume. “The Cats Who Knew Too Much” was reprinted in Unexpected #127 in 1971.
KIRBY CURTAIN-RAISER But turn to the first story in the comic, “Forbidden Journey”, and we are in an artistic world some considerable distance from Joe Simon’s likeable but by-the-numbers efforts. It’s classic Kirby. A boy in a futuristic suit holds his hands up in alarm at the sight of a truly surrealistic creature—a thing with six legs, a strange fin-like growth on its neck and three separate sections of leopard-like coverings on its otherwise green, striated back. It’s the kind of absolutely outlandish and unique monster that only Jack Kirby could create, so fecund was his imagination. What’s more, any long-term Kirby aficionado will be well aware that when this creature reappears in the story, it will be shown in a very different fashion—not just because Kirby was careful
REDRESSING THE BALANCE It’s sometimes hard to discern who did exactly what in certain artistic partnerships. When that artistic partnership bears just a single name (as in the case of Batman’s ‘Bob Kane’—in inverted commas, as the latter was a portmanteau exercise almost from the beginning), it’s not surprising that the unheralded lesser-known silent partner in such job-sharing wants their achievement recognized, however belatedly. In the case of Batman’s joint creators, we now know just how important Jerry Robinson was—in fact, he told us (and we believed him, as we were sceptical of Kane himself), as Robinson was always one of the most articulate historians of the comics genre as well as being one of its most talented practitioners (and it’s thanks to people like Robinson that we are also aware of the undervalued contribution of the legendary comics writer Bill Finger). So how does this compare to the famous partnership of Joe Simon and Jack Kirby? Now that the dust has settled (and now that both men are scribbling away on the great drawing board in the sky), it’s clear to see—if there were any doubt—that Simon was the businessman as well as being an efficient (though journeyman) Illustrator, while Kirby was undoubtedly the stellar talent (something Simon was well aware of, though Kirby was by no means as articulate as his partner—Joe was the chronicler of the partnership, not least in his illuminating writing). And proof of the striking gap between their achievements may be found in a particularly delightful book from March 1958, Harvey’s Alarming Tales #4. The cover is very obviously a workaday Joe Simon effort, with a man reaching into a chest containing rag dolls and looking alarmed as seven other dolls come to ambulatory life and approach him. Okay—it’s a perfectly serviceable cover that does the job (just), but as Jack Kirby is present in this book, it’s impossible not to speculate on how he might have drawn the cover differently, and how much more effective it would have been. Admittedly, within the constraints of the relatively young Comics Code (Alarming Tales is, of course, a post-Code book) the dolls could not be grotesque (it was no longer acceptable to frighten the kiddies), but Kirby certainly would have made them stranger and more disturbing—and the composition would have been more striking, perhaps with the dolls
not to repeat himself (and would always choose a different angle and approach), but simply because he couldn’t help himself. His visual imagination was like a firework, spluttering out bright and startling sparks by the second. There are other elements in this splash panel which are pleasing—for instance, the flying vehicle (a sort of air-sled with a control console) which has brought the boy into the strange land in which the grotesque creature lives; and (I’m sure like most of the writers in this magazine), I find myself marvelling at the simplicity and imagination in even minor details such as the vehicles Kirby was able to create. Take, for instance, the time cube in the classic tale inked by Wally Wood, “The Wizard of Time” for Challengers of the Unknown—absolutely 26
An ongoing examination of Kirby’s art and compositional skills
(below) Classic Simon & Kirby from Timely’s Captain America Comics #5 (August 1941).
Super Soldiers: Captain America to OMAC ack Kirby, almost from the start of his career, was
Joe Simon and Jack Kirby, Captain America exploded on the scene in early 1941, nearly a year before America declared war on the Axis powers of Germany, Italy and Japan. Clean limbed and wholesome, a pristine and forthright demi-god, the star-spangled hero represented everything that was good about the ideals of American democracy. Transformed from the scrawny but earnest Steve Rogers into a steel-muscled athlete, Captain America was not a heartless killing machine, but an example of what an American should be in a time when righteousness and moral fiber were as crucial to overcoming evil as was military might. In issue #5 of his magazine, the Captain faced the Nazi threat of the German American Bund, where that organization was engaging in seditious activities on American soil. At the beginning of the 1941 story “Killers of the Bund,” members of the nefarious organization savagely beat a German-American, Heinrich Schmidt, when he refused to join them. The good Captain, standing up for patriotic Americans of all races and creeds, lays waste to the Bund minions in this spectacular page. Sadly, apart from the splash pages beginning the stories, there is very little quality Kirby to be found in the run of Golden Age Captain America #1-10, but this page is a notable exception. The figures here are lithe and muscular, moving in a way that exemplified the sinuous best of early Kirby art. From the three-quarter back twist of Cap’s position in panel one, the eye moves to panel two and then down to the middle wide-angle shot of the hero slamming his adversaries with his arms fully extended. What is also impressive here is the sheer profusion of intricately entwined figures thrown in all directions. For me, the most wonderful figure is Cap’s in panel four. It is an artistic revelation of contrapuntal motion, as our hero, his right leg extended out of the panel and towards us, whips a roundhouse right that torques his body so extremely that much of his torso is obscured. One senses the force of the blow by the prominent cocked left elbow and the fist that emerges below the head. As noted, Kirby abandoned the book after ten issues, and the end of World War II more or less ended Captain America’s reason to exist, with his magazine folding in 1949. Timely’s successor, Atlas Comics, tried briefly to bring Cap back in 1953 as a Commie-smasher, but the idea was ill-conceived and failed quickly. (Later it was determined that this was not the actual Captain America, who had been frozen in suspended animation shortly after the war ended.) In 1954, Kirby, again with Simon, created another
fascinated with the idea of a super-soldier, engineered by a high governmental authority to counter the enemies that besieged it from within and without. What changed over the years were not only Kirby’s perceptions of heroism and authority, but obviously the perceptions that society had of these subjects as well. It would be difficult to imagine a time when the world would be more in need of a Super-Soldier than the cataclysm of World War II. Created by the team of
Jack Kirby’s OMAC, published in 1974 and 1975, is an overlooked landmark in the evolution of sciencefiction. Though the series lasted only eight issues over the course of a year-and-a-half, it packs far more information into its 176 pages than many comic books that drag on for over a hundred issues. With its full-fledged explorations of man’s total merging with the electric environment, it points the way to the cyberpunk movement a decade later.
Captain America meets Big Brother Jack Kirby’s OMAC examined, by Robert Guffey
(below) OMAC gets parents in issue #3.
twisted inverse of Kirby’s own archetypal hero Captain America created back in 1941, OMAC is a super-soldier living in a dystopian future. His real identity is named Buddy Blank, an employee of a multinational corporation called Pseudo-People, Inc. Blank is chosen by the Global Peace Agency to undergo an experiment that will transform him into a superhuman One Man Army Corps, OMAC. A scientist named Dr. Myron Forest performs “electronic surgery...! ...a computer hormone operation...” on Mr. Blank, which connects him, body and soul, with a sentient orbiting satellite known as Brother Eye. The intimidating symbol on OMAC’s chest is the all-seeing eye, symbolizing the fact that a target, once chosen, cannot easily escape OMAC’s field of vision. For eight issues OMAC flies around the world at the behest of the Global Peace Agency, attempting to combat “man’s own capacity for self-destruction.” The classic models for futuristic dystopias are, of course, Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World (1932) and George Orwell’s Nineteen EightyFour (1949). Such works, and all their illegitimate children, usually feature a main character who’s fully aware he’s trapped in a dystopia and heroically does everything he can to burst free of it. OMAC reverses this cliché completely. OMAC is, without a doubt, trapped in a dystopian world; the signs are all around him. And yet despite the fact that his mind is linked to the most sophisticated artificial intelligence program ever created, he appears not to be aware of his situation at all. This is no oversight on Kirby’s part. This is the point of the whole series. If you were living in a dystopia, a subtle dystopia that dispenses with the “boot-inyour-face” treatment of Nineteen Eighty-Four, would you really be aware of it, or would you be so used to your total lack of freedom that you would simply accept it as a normal way of life? You might, in fact, walk around everyday being very proud of your privilege, despairing the lack of freedom in other parts of the world, as Winston Smith’s neighbor does. OMAC is literally a slave to a fascist police agency that appears to have locked down the entire world except for a few eccentric terrorists hell-bent on creating destruction for destruction’s sake. OMAC’s controllers, those who feed him his missions, never reveal their identities to him. 32
Kirby & Kobra by John Workman
Kirby was literally out the door at DC when Kobra #1 hit the stands. DC editorial staffers at the time felt Jack’s final new concept for the company needed a lot of help, and dramatically altered the artwork for publication. Here, John Workman gives us a peek inside DC’s 1970s production department, and shown below is the published splash page, compared to Jack’s version.
© John Workman
ll the people who worked in the DC Comics (or, early on, the National Periodical Publications) Production Department when I was on-staff there in the 1970s were multi-talented individuals who were more than capable of making a piece of comic book art better by way of a tweak of the penciling, the inking, the writing, the lettering, the coloring, or any combination of those things. Sol Harrison and Jack Adler who, in tandem, headed up that part of DC, aside from being master colorists, were also more than capable as inkers and letterers, and their knowledge of printing techniques went beyond the limited range of letterpress and pulp paper. Joe Letterese and Morris Waldinger, both a part of the company for nearly a quarter of a century, were each adept at lettering and art corrections. While Joe was always most proud that it was his sound effects that were such an important part of the hugely successful 1960s Batman TV series, Morris could point to the group of one-page “public-service” features that he had drawn for DC. He’d also received special dispensation that made it possible for him to draw entire stories for Richard Hughes at the American Comics Group, an ostensibly competitor company that had some legal ties
with DC that had nothing to do with the fact that DC (through its Independent News subsidiary) was the distributor for the ACG books. Anthony Tollin and Todd Klein were both completely at home with art and writing. Both of them made solid inroads into writing, respectively, historical prose related to pulp magazines and comics and actual comics material. Of course, Tony also made a name for himself as a colorist and, later, a publisher. Todd became, quite possibly, the greatest letterer in the history of comics. Bob LeRose, then new to DC, was of the same age group as Joe Letterese and Morris Waldinger. I remember that he had such trouble with lettering. He never did master that art, but his knowledge of design and color made him invaluable to the company. Bob also had the
An ongoing analysis of Kirby’s visual shorthand, and how he inadvertently used it to develop his characters, by Sean Kleefeld
© Marvel Characters, Inc.
ast year, any number of readers got their first look at Jack’s Spirit World stories via the hardcover collection released by DC. The original series those tales were intended for was aborted after the first issue which only got spotty distribution—as noted by fellow columnist Mark Evanier in the reprint edition—and the subsequent stories that Jack had already worked up got thrown in to other magazines more or less as filler. Consequently, very few people saw there was any real connection between these stories until recently. But while there isn’t any underlying theme or overarching story, there is one thing that holds the pieces together: the host Doctor E. Leopold Maas. Especially given his sporadic publishing history, it’s not surprising that he’s often overlooked. He’s not named in “Horoscope Phenomenon” and the art was changed a bit to make Destiny the host, and the host convention is dropped almost entirely for “The PsychicBloodhound.” Nevertheless, Maas is still present throughout the series. Maas introduces himself early in Spirit World #1 as a parapsychologist. He appears fairly professorial, seated behind a desk decorated with old books and pens, and sporting a nondescript suit and glasses. Visually, the most distinctive thing about him is that he wears a closecropped beard and parts his hair on the right. Although it frequently appears to be a full beard, some particular angles denote that it is in fact just an extended goatee, sometimes called a Hollywoodian. It is such a full goatee, though, that this distinction is really only seen in a handful of panels. In terms of development or changes throughout the character’s admittedly short existence, there’s not much to speak of other than noting his glasses changing style pretty regularly, sometimes on the same page. So why would we want to take a look at Maas within the context of this column? The original Spirit World comic came out in 1971, pretty much in concert with the Fourth World saga. This is noteworthy because it’s in this context that we find, only a few months later, the introduction of a very similarly designed character in Mister Miracle #6. Funky Flashman, while very notably based on Stan Lee, bears a pretty striking similarity to Maas. The hair is parted on the opposite side, and the beard is a little fuller, but most of the differences are in their style of speech. We’ve looked at Funky before in the context of
Jack drawing his onetime partner, and the majority of Funky’s design comes from there. (Although it is worth noting, I think, that Lee had stopped wearing a full beard a year or two before Funky’s first appearance. Having just left Marvel, it’s likely Jack would not bother to keep up with Lee’s hairstyle, but just used what he remembered from the last two or three years he was working with him. And it happened that was only those couple years that Lee sported a full beard!) There are those out there who look at various characters and cite them as prototypes for others. Jack’s “The Monster in the Iron Mask” as the prototype for Dr. Doom, for example; Mike Gartland debunked many of these way back in TJKC #13. Now I’m not about to suggest that Maas was a prototype for Funky, by any means. Clearly, Lee himself was the inspiration there. But putting Lee down as a character, two years after Jack left Marvel—even longer since he had likely seen Lee in person, having moved to California before that—seems a curious delay. I’m sure Jack’s anger and frustration with Lee hadn’t subsided, but why choose then to mock him? Here’s my guess. Jack was more than happy churning out new ideas for DC. He’d been holding on to his Fourth World stuff for at least a few years, so he was just cranking along on all these great new ideas DC was letting him try. He started on Spirit World, decided he needed a host character like the old EC books, and designed up Maas as a character that conveyed some sense of authority and gravitas—the look of a learned man, perhaps an academic: Suit, glasses, beard. Then he, or someone who saw his art, realized that Maas looked a little like Lee. Perhaps in “The Calder House” where he grabs a pipe for a few panels, or later loses his glasses. It’s not a spitting image of Lee, but close enough that Jack realized it would be easy to write Lee in as a caricature of the man he still held a grudge against. My evidence, admittedly, is quite slim here. But the timing fits pretty well to start, and the number of bearded characters Jack drew is pretty minimal; to see two of them with similar styles in a period of a few months seems more than just a coincidence. I can’t get into Jack’s head, of course, and I actually doubt that he made a conscious connection to Lee after he designed and drew Maas. But since his mind was going a million miles an hour, it wouldn’t surprise me that he subconsciously realized the design similarity between Maas and Lee, and that started churning ideas for Funky. So while Funky himself would have come very deliberately from Lee’s own visage, the notion of creating Funky in the first place may well have been incidental to a littleseen book many fans had never even heard of until recently. ★ 44
The foundation for much of Kirby’s 1970s DC output was work he did with Joe Simon in the 1940s and ’50s. So here’s a look at the “old” Jack magic, compared to his newer takes on familiar genres.
Simon & Kirby’s crime comics weren’t market leaders in the 1940s, but they held their own, despite being toned down compared to others of the time. So when Jack developed In The Days Of The Mob for DC, he hearkened back to the gangsters he grew up with and knew about, such as Ma Barker, who was featured in a 1947 issue of Real Clue Crime Stories. DC’s recent hardcover of Mob includes the full unpublished second issue.
Romance... Joe Simon & Jack Kirby pioneered the entire romance genre in comics, so it made sense to try to rekindle it at DC in 1970. Never one to repeat himself, Jack chose an “anti-romance” concept in True Life Divorce, but it barely got beyond the pencil stage. One story, “The Model” (below) was the springboard for a second proposed title, Soul Love, which got as far as the inking stage before being likewise abandoned. One of those stories, “Old Fires,” is presented on the following pages, with inks by Vince Colletta and color by Tom Ziuko.
Mystery... Kirby’s Black Magic had been a strong seller in the Golden Age, and Spirit World #1 hoped to match that success. But poor distribution for it and In The Days Of The Mob #1 resulted in stacks of unsold copies, and the material prepared for issue #2 being divvied up among DC own mystery comics, then finally reassembled in DC’s recent hardcover collection (left). However, Jack’s own past war experience (in comics and on the battlefield) served him much better commercially in Our Fighting Forces, which reached monthly frequency during his run. ★
(left) Spirit World #2 pencil art.
Know of some Kirby-inspired work that should be covered here? Send to: Adam McGovern PO Box 257 Mt. Tabor, NJ 07878
(below) More than pops the eye: Scioli’s spectacular promo image for the new crossover series. (next page, top) Belly of the Beast (Hunter): A tense scene for Scioli’s Transformers/G.I. Joe. (next page, bottom) Kirby’s own sense of scale and grand vision (as in Jack’s NFL Pro piece) carry through in Scioli’s Transformers.
As A Genre A regular feature examining Kirby-inspired work, by Adam McGovern
from each other. That’s one of the principle story puzzles I’m trying to work out. It’s natural that there’d be characters who fear and resist the machining of man, and those that resist the fleshening of machine. There would be those in favor of it, see it as a good thing, a natural next step in our development, a chance at immortality and perfection. The resulting philosophies would naturally find themselves conflict. Whether or not that makes its way into the final story remains to be seen. If it doesn’t organically find its way into the narrative, I don’t want to shoehorn it in. I’m letting this story grow into whatever it needs to be, but there are certain things I’m trying to make work.
Two of Jack Kirby’s most prominent future selves— Tom Scioli of GØDLAND fame and Madman’s Michael Allred—have major statements of Kirby style or revivals of Kirby’s stable coming in 2014: an epic Transformers/G.I. Joe maxiseries for IDW from Scioli starting in summer (with co-writer John Barber) and a new Silver Surfer ongoing from Allred for Marvel in March (with scripter Dan Slott). TJKC sat down with both Tom and Mike to envision things soon to come.
A STEEL AMERICAN HERO
THE JACK KIRBY COLLECTOR: Kirby’s style hit the ideal midpoint between anatomy and geometry—he perceived the monumental eternity of living things and saw the blend that was underway between humanity and technology. Handling the Transformers may bring you closer to this border than ever in a career very inspired by Kirby, even while your own distinct style is emerging more than ever too. How are you applying that philosophy? TOM SCIOLI: You’re right, Kirby does fuse man and machine all the time in his work, from Silver Surfer onward, maybe even going back to his ’50s hard scifi comics. He describes his human forms and his alien god machines with an overlapping visual vocabulary. Kirby’s work prefigures the day when organic and cybernetic are indistinguishable from each other, the day which is coming soon, if it’s not here already. There will come a day when a Transformer and a G.I. Joe will be indistinguishable
TJKC: The hard-edged look you’re using in the advance cover image brings out more of the G.I. Joe characters’ nature as mechanical life-forms too—that segmented, jointed-toy look. Will this book to some extent depart from the focus of most G.I. Joe comics on the reality imagined around the toys, to give that sense of actual toy-play in some ways? SCIOLI: My goal is still the same as previous series, to create a reality for these characters that is separate from their real world origins as toys. The G.I. Joe toys as we know them, the ’80s incarnation, just barely predate the comic and a lot of the characters, themes and sensibilities were created by Larry Hama and his collaborators from just about day one. I see the Hamaera comics and the Sunbow cartoon as the primary documents that inform my approach to the Joes. In those works they make only passing references and sly winking jokes about the characters’ toy alter egos. I’ve never read a toy-based comic that didn’t at least make some references to the toy aspects of the property: Micronauts, Joe, TF, even in Alan Moore’s “Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow” he refers to the then-current Super Powers line of toys. I’m sure that will be the case with my story, too. It’s a tradition. Working on this does feel like I’ve come full circle. There’s a direct line from playing with toys to growing up to work in the narrative arts, be it comic creator or movie director. My earliest storytelling attempts were in that form, whether it was Star Wars, He-Man, G.I. Joe, or Transformers. There is definitely that part of me that relates to characters on some level as action figures. Both properties have a really nice range of designs that appeal to my aesthetic sensibilities. The blocky machine men of the Transformers always appealed to me. Making these things collide and interact with each other will be a lot of fun. I’ve now read enough comics, watched enough movies and cartoons of Transformers and G.I. Joe that 56
Fascism in the Fourth World
More comparisons between Naziism and Kirby’s godwar, by Jerry Boyd (A continuation of themes from TJKC #22)
(top) Doom and destruction are the legacies of dictators. Apokolips lay in ruins at the end of Kirby’s Hunger Dogs (pencils shown below), and this is the wrecked hall of Hitler’s Chancellory in 1945.
t was said about Adolph Hitler in his days as a homeless, unkempt Vienna street tramp, that despite all the failures he suffered in his youth, his eyes would blaze and his rhetoric would cower any dissenters when politics became the discussion. He had become a voracious reader, concentrating on the Europe of centuries past, with it Caesars, kings, prime ministers, and absolute rulers. It was with the latter that he felt a strange kinship. Absolute authority in the hands of the Nietzschean superman or “ubermensch” found a permanent place in the littered mind of the failed young architect, and shortly after WWI and the chaotic Germany to come, this principle would be part of a tragic doctrine to justify the end for millions of gypsies, Jews, Russians, Slavs, and Poles. If the superman wishes to amuse himself, then the niceties of polite society vanish, according to Friedrich Nietzsche. The rights of the superior man to pursue, exercise, and administer power come first and were even inherent. In this 19th century philosopher’s book, The Will to Power, Nietzsche proclaimed that “A daring and ruler race is building itself up... The aim should be to prepare a transvaluation of values for a particularly strong kind of man, most highly gifted in intellect and will. This man and the elite around him will become the ‘lords of the earth’.” As the Fuehrer’s elite—the S.S.—fanned out over the Nazi-occupied lands, so too did Darkseid’s elite explode through Boom Tubes on Earth in order to become its “lords.” As recounted in TJKC #22, there were more than a few likenesses between National Socialist Germany and the shadow planet, Apokolips. Interestingly, there are more.
“Whoever wants to understand National Socialist Germany must know (Richard) Wagner,” Hitler used to say. The Fuehrer adored Wagner’s towering operas, with its heroic myths of German antiquity. The barbaric, pagan Nibelungs and their mystic, heroic world beset by demons, violence, treachery, and blood continued to hold a fascination for the German people even up to the early part of the 20th Century. The twilight of the gods, ‘Goetterdaemmerung’, was another part of the primitive Germanic mythos (and likewise put to music by Wagner) and in it, Valhalla is set on fire by the warrior-god Wotan, in an orgy of selfwilled destruction. Jack Kirby’s Hunger Dogs, while clearly not the last word on the “twilight of the New Gods,” ended up in a scenario resembling Hitler (as Wotan). The incredible destruction Darkseid has visited upon New Genesis (with Micro-Mark) and even at home with his own subjects (the lowlies) is rebounded upon him, his devices, and loyal subjects. Like Hitler in the war’s final days, Darkseid is seen in his headquarters safely positioned below the ground (akin to the Fuehrerbunker). For the first time, Kirby has him refer to himself as an “old” man. Esak calls him an “aging, quaking Darkseid.” Hitler, by this time, was quickly deteriorating. The lack of fresh air (in the bunker), bouts of giddiness (brought on by the bomb attempt on his life in 1944), and the shock of defeats had greatly undermined his health. More and more, reason had given way to 60
2 T R PA
uncontrollable rage hammered with the harsher reality that his dreams of world conquest had eluded him. Kirby keeps Darkseid lucid in the Hunger Dogs. He remains just canny and elusive enough to further frustrate his enemies. (I liked this touch. After all, Jack never allowed Dr. Doom, Magneto, or the Red Skull to ever be completely beaten or captured. It seemed only appropriate that his “ultimate menace” escape to plot and menace anew.) Still, it’s plain that, like Hitler, the master of the holocaust has failed in his attempts to conquer “all.” He doesn’t have the Anti-Life Equation, he’s failed to subdue the warriors of Highfather, and his enemies—Himon, Lightray, and especially Orion—are in his own backyard, taking the war... to him. In Forever People #6, Darkseid slyly praised the New Agers of Supertown, explaining to his chief lieutenant, “The pups have angered me, Desaad! Put me on the defensive! A great feat!” With Orion the fierce decimating his elite guard and destroying his war machinery, he doesn’t even have the time (in the Hunger Dogs) to make that type of brief assessment. There is only time... to run. With his kingdom crumbling around him (and Lightray and Orion making like the invading Russian Army), the lord of the dark planet moves quickly to pay off an old debt... to Himon. His slaying of the great visionary is a final, futile act in a swirling series of events that have gotten out of hand. The larger goals of the war having been denied him, Darkseid seeks a small victory in his final reckoning with Scott Free’s old mentor. In Hitler’s final days, he rarely left the bomb-proof Fuehrerbunker. Fearful of being captured alive by the Russians, wracked with worry and fatigue, and a broken figure to all, the supreme warlord continued to wage war on those he could. The victorious allies were beyond his reach, but after learning that Reichsfuehrer Heinrich Himmler had betrayed him (by assuming all military control of German forces in the west and attempting to negotiate their surrender to Eisenhower), the mad dictator had Himmler’s top S.S. liaison man, Hermann Fegelein, stripped of his rank and shot. (Fegelein was the brother-in-law of Eva Braun, Hitler’s mistress, but that fact didn’t save him.) The deepseated need to inflict pain and destruction upon others is still paramount in the minds of the two dictators up to the end.
portraying the Axis militarists in as gruesome a fashion as possible. Covers/stories by Kirby, Al Avison, Alex Schomburg, Bill Everett, and others often depicted the enemy as drooling, wild-eyed, sharpfanged caricatures of humanity. Sometimes they were giants or misshapen dwarves. Some reeked with so much evil that they were colored a bloody red (Captain America Comics #5) or even a pale blue (USA Comics #1). Unknowingly, art imitated life. The torture devices and destructive “wonder weapons” dreamed up by the artists weren’t far from the real horrors going on overseas. For Jack’s “new-age gods,” the King (either consciously or unconsciously) reached back into his Forties’ repertoire and some of the denizens of Apokolips would look suspiciously like the baddies of yore. Desaad, Granny Goodness, Kalibak, Dr. Bedlam, and (especially) Virman Vundabar could’ve fit in easily on Simon and Kirby’s old Timely covers. (Jack’s cover for Amazing Heroes #47 incorporates the same type of pulp torture elements as his USA Comics #1.)
...and Monsters During the
Golden Age of comics, Timely (more than any other publisher) took great delight in
Look at the Mister Miracle #7 pencils on page 24 of this issue, then view this Hunger Dogs page right after. Though drawn ten years later, this is the logical next step of Darkseid’s oppression.
Challenging The Unknown by Mike Breen
(below) Before Lee & Kirby shrunk the Fantastic Four down to size in FF #16 (July 1963), Kirby reduced the Challs to miniscularity in Challengers of the Unknown #7 (April 1959).
Challengers of the Unknown (Showcase #6, February 1957) Four men survive a jet crash and, deciding they are living on borrowed time, band together to face any challenge, however risky, in service to mankind. In short order they find themselves confronting mad scientists, monsters, aliens and criminals, and are faced with time-travel, shrinking and various other physical changes. They adopt single-colour jumpsuits to function as a recognisable unit. Fantastic Four (Fantastic Four #1, November 1961) Three men and one woman survive a rocket crash and, using the powers granted them by the accident, band together to face any challenge, however risky, in service to mankind. In short order they find themselves confronting mad scientists, monsters, aliens and criminals, and are faced with time-travel, shrinking and various other physical changes. They adopt single-colour jumpsuits to function as a recognisable unit.
And yes, I did cut-and-paste the same paragraph twice with very minor amendments. The summary of these two groups, at least for the FF’s first couple of years, is that similar.
robably the single most important area of debate surrounding Jack Kirby’s entire 40-year plus career is the extent to which he created and/or authored the characters that formed the Marvel Universe (and, incidentally, several current series of blockbuster films). The law has weighed in to support the official company
line—Stan Lee created and wrote these stories, with Jack Kirby relegated to the role of nothing more than hired artist. The phrase ‘The law is a ass’ springs instantly to mind, and a significant percentage of TJKC’s audience remain unconvinced. Most people would agree that the debate really starts where the Marvel Universe is recognized as starting—with the Fantastic Four. Who created the FF? A much-touted apocryphal story relates how Publisher Martin Goodman returned from a golf game with a rival ‘high-up’ (damn those Kirby quote-phrases!) from National Periodicals, and tasked Editor Lee with the job of creating something to rival the success of the JLA’s premier appearance in The Brave & The Bold #28. I find this tale dubious in the extreme, given that the two series have very little in common. The only similarity, really, is in the covers to those first issues—the fledgling JLA arrayed around Starro the Conqueror, and the FF similarly surrounding one of the Mole Man’s gargantuan creatures. There the resemblance ends, and maybe it’s true that the cover idea for FF #1 came from just such a notion, but I very much doubt that anything else in that issue did. Stan Lee, with typical self-effacing modesty and a copy of the script for FF #1 (which, even if genuine, might have been written at any stage of the creative process and not necessarily at the beginning), tells how he spent long hours carefully crafting the characters who would become Marvel’s first family. Umm... that would be all well and good, Stan, but perhaps you might also explain how these characters (and the stories that formed the first couple of years of their history), bear such a marked and oft-noted resemblance to National’s previously-published Challengers of the Unknown, a series which Jack Kirby had worked on only a few years before? Jack Kirby, who is accepted as principal author of the Challengers, and who was never shy about recycling his existing ideas into new and [ahem] challenging forms? Even if Stan Lee created and ‘wrote’ the FF, how much of it was plagiarised from the Challengers? Jack Kirby left National because of the now well-documented rift between himself and editor Jack Schiff, and his work on the Challengers was the main casualty. How possible is it that he might recreate those characters and their 64
While we’re talking about the characters, I know that much has been made of how obviously the FF can be described in terms of the four elements: Reed’s water-like ductility, Ben’s rock-like exterior, and Johnny = fire and Sue = air. What about the Challengers? Maybe the comparison is not as simple as with the FF, but how about these:
has on any given day, unless his circus daredevil act was being fired out of a cannon). Could it be a case where the obvious comparison between him and Johnny Storm has been made so often that no-one has really thought it through? I don’t really mind—if you switch Red and Ace as the avatars of air and fire, you still have the same four elements which are exemplified by the FF. That was, at the time, a fairly unique theme around which to create a group of characters, even if it’s been over-used now. Another coincidence? Much has also been made of the fact that the FF are not typical super-heroes. They do not patrol the city by night like Spider-Man or Batman, proactively seeking crimes to thwart and criminals to confront, although even back in the Lee/Kirby days they responded to police alarms when required and faced criminals and supervillains. They are presented more as explorers or problem-solvers. What other group has such an atypical modus operandi? Time, I think, to review the Challengers’ adventures and see what themes get re-used... elsewhere.
FIRE: Ace, the jet/rocket pilot, willing to lead bombing raids on alien incursions (as in Showcase #11) EARTH: Rocky, of course AIR: Red, the acrobat (or mountaineer, take your pick), who defies gravity either way WATER: Who else? Prof, the skin diver/oceanographer What, you thought I’d have to go for Ace as Air and Red as the personification of fire? Maybe, but apart from his name and hair color, Red doesn’t really fit. Like I said, he’s not conspicuously hottempered and has no link to fire in his profession (whichever one he
Showcase #6, “The Secrets of the Sorcerer’s Box!”—Morelian, descendant of Merlin and self-professed sorcerer, hires the Challengers as guinea pigs to open an ancient box, which contains awesome dangers and a diamond ring which grants great power. Morelian operates from his ancient castle, shipped from Europe “...stone by stone, and rebuilt!” Fantastic Four #5 “Prisoners of Doctor Doom!”— Dr. Doom, a scientist obsessed with sorcery and black magic, coerces the FF into retrieving an ancient box, Blackbeard’s treasure chest, which contains gems once owned by Merlin3, and which grant great power. Doom operates from his ancient castle, which kind of gets lost once Doom’s Latverian connections are invented. Later stories and writers suggest it is located in America, so it too was presumably shipped from Europe, stone by stone, and rebuilt. Showcase #6, “The Secrets of the Sorcerer’s Box!”—One of the awesome dangers mentioned above is essentially a giant, animated statue which turns out to be a creature of pure thought. Fantastic Four #3, “The Menace of the Miracle Man”—The FF spend most of this issue fighting a giant, animated statue movie exhibit, which turns out to be a hypnotic illusion—in other words, a creature of pure thought. Showcase #11, “The Day the Earth Blew Up!”—Alien invaders, the Tyrans, plan to destabilise Earth’s atmosphere from their base far underground as a prelude to invasion4. Once their plan is thwarted, Ace leads a bombing raid to blow up their base. Fantastic Four #1, “Meet the Mole Man!”—The Mole Man and his legions of monsters plan to destabilise Earth’s atomic powers from their base far underground as a prelude to invasion. Once their plan is thwarted, the Mole Man decides to... blow up his own base. Actually, only the dialogue says it was the Mole Man’s idea—judging just by the artwork and his expression of grim satisfaction in the last panel, it could easily have been intended that Reed Richards was responsible. An early “failure to communicate”? Either that, or the Mole Man’s memory is especially faulty, because when he returns in FF #22 he blames the FF for destroying his island, and trying to destroy him with it. Fantastic Four #2, “Meet the Skrulls from Outer Space!”—Alien invaders, which is about the only part of Showcase #11 that got left out of FF #1. Showcase #12, “The Menace of the Ancient Vials!”—International criminal Karnak(?!), and his gang obtain ancient vials containing potions of sorcerous power, which can affect ‘air and water...and even men’ (I would suspect the word ‘alchemy’ was prohibited by the nascent Comics Code, but it shows up in Challengers #8). Oh, and the familiarly-named Karnak wears Batroc the Leaper’s moustache, so by ‘international’ I think they mean ‘European’. The potions’ power “... wears off after a while...” according to one of Karnak’s henchmen, and a final potion reverses the effect of the previous one. Fantastic Four #30, “The Dreaded Diablo!”—International, ancient criminal Diablo, vials of sorcerous power / alchemy, blah, blah, blah... European location and moustache, Diablo is defeated by Ben Grimm when one of his potions “...wore off too soon!” Diablo has a castle too, but apparently he hasn’t been revived long enough to have had it shipped anywhere. 66
by John Morrow, with assistance from Norris Burroughs, Denny O’Neil, Mike Royer, and Larry Lieber (below) 1950s Kirby unused pencil splash for Black Magic. Jack used heavy illustration board back when this was produced. His handwriting is identifiable by the way he wrote the letter “E” with the looping lower bar. (next page, top) Stan Lee would add numbered balloons that corresponded to his numbered script. (next page, bottom) Journey Into Mystery #88 was scripted by Larry Lieber, but you can still make out Jack’s handwriting that wasn’t fully erased on the original art pages.
f a tree falls in the woods and no one letters a sound effect, who cut it down? That tortured metaphor makes about as much sense as my efforts to explain something about how Kirby worked from other writers’ scripts. The usual M.O. on books where Kirby is credited as writer, is Jack would indicate word balloons on the pencil art, hand-write the dialogue in pencil, then hand it off to an inker and letterer. It’s the same process he used throughout his career, dating back to the 1940s, and it’s particularly easy to spot Jack’s handwritten lower-case “E”, which had a hooking lower bar. Pretty straightforward, right? But what about those issues where someone else is credited as writer, and Kirby is listed only as artist? For evidence, let’s look at copies of Jack’s pencils from his 1974-75 DC stuff (Justice Inc., Richard Dragon Kung-Fu Fighter, the last three Kamandi issues, and Sandman) where other people wrote
the scripts—Denny O’Neil, Gerry Conway, and Michael Fleisher. On some of those stories, Jack wrote the dialogue on the pencil art (as if he had scripted them), and on others, he didn’t. On the ones where he did, it seems to generally be what ended up as the final dialogue, other than a few minor edits—Jack even underlined the words that needed to be emphasized (ie. bolded). But on Justice Inc. #4’s pencils (mislabeled #5 on the copies), and Jack’s last couple of Kamandi issues (which Gerry Conway scripted), there’s no lettering indicated; just blank areas for dialogue, as you’d expect if he were handed a script to draw from. So if you didn’t know better, you’d think Jack did the scripting on Richard Dragon #3, Justice Inc. #2 and #3, and all his Sandman issues (since the dialogue is written by Jack on the pencil art), and was working from a full script on Justice Inc. #4 and the last three Kamandi issues (since those pencils have no lettering on them). Stylistically though, I’m not convinced Jack had much, if any, input into the writing of those stories. So my conundrum is to understand why Jack would’ve penciled the pages differently (ie. including the words on some, and not on others), if he was working from a full script on all of them. This quandary dates back to Jack’s 1960s Marvel issues which list Larry Lieber as writer. A close examination of original art pages shows Kirby’s hand-written lettering in the balloons under the inks. Lieber feels that Kirby illustrated his full scripts faithfully, rarely deviating from what Larry had written. When asked about Kirby’s lettering in the balloons, he assumed that was Jack’s way to know how much space to leave for the lettering. In other words, Kirby’s handwriting was merely Jack jotting in Lieber’s script verbatim. (Unfortunately, Larry did not have any scripts to compare the final results with.) The problem is, this isn’t consistent with Kirby’s contemporaneous 1960s work with Stan Lee. In the early days before Jack started adding heavy margin notes for Stan, Lee was presumably providing scripts to Jack, and Kirby would leave blank areas for Stan’s dialogue. Even after starting to include margin notes for Stan (when Jack definitely wasn’t working from a script), Jack still left the area for dialogue blank—Stan would scribble numbers in those areas, which corresponded to his numbered dialogue script for the letterer (a common practice among comics writers). If we take a long view of Jack’s working methods, we see he was still leaving blank areas for dialogue on his 1980s full script Destroyer Duck work with Steve Gerber, so it doesn’t make sense that he was trying to determine how much space to leave for the letterer in those earlier stories. That seems like a lot of extra work—copying the scripter’s dialogue onto his pencil pages—unless he was having some input into it. So I’m left questioning just why Jack’s 1970s work is the way it is. I asked inker Mike Royer, when Kirby wrote his own stories, how the pages 70
(above) Richard Dragon was created by Dennis O’Neil and Jim Berry in the 1974 novel Dragon’s Fists, using the pseudonym “Jim Dennis.” Kirby worked with O’Neil on only one issue of the comic book series, and included the title “The Armageddon Beam!” in the next issue blurb at the end of Richard Dragon, Kung Fu Fighter #3. The published version ends it with “A Time To Be A Whirlwind!” Was the first title by Denny, or did Jack take it upon himself to create one?
(left) In Justice Inc. #3, the character “Allan Ash” is a pseudonym for Allan Asherman, Denny O’Neil’s assistant editor in the 1970s— so it’s likely Denny would’ve chosen that in-joke. But Jack even bothered to underline the words that needed bolding in #3 and #2 (above), which DC’s letterer followed. (For some reason, DC lettered #3, while Royer inked both issues, and lettered #2.)
2013 Kirby Tribute Panel
Held at Comic-Con International: San Diego at 10:00am on July 21st, 2013. Moderated by Mark Evanier, with guests Paul S. Levine, Neil Gaiman, and Tony Isabella. Transcribed by Jon Knutson, and edited by Mark Evanier and John Morrow • Photos by Chris Ng
(this page, top) The Black Racer’s first appearance from the cover of New Gods #3, and (below) Jack’s reimagined version for DC’s Super Powers toy line in the 1980s. (next page) Kirby pitched art for a Big Barda & Her Female Furies series prior to Barda’s first published appearance in Mister Miracle #4. Having based her image on a Playboy feature on actress/singer Lainie Kazan (shown here), Jack may’ve originally had some mildly racy themes in mind for her (Lashina and Gilotina could certainly be considered a little kinky). The character “The Head”, the shirtless “Apollo”, even “Beauty Rock” headquarters (which doesn’t in any way fit how Jack eventually used the concept) don’t seem to be exactly mainstream comics fodder. And who knows where “The Lump” came from, but his visual (colored fleshy pink) could be construed as something more fitting in Galaxy Green than Mister Miracle. Whatever the original idea was before being abandoned, other characters from the concept drawings were also worked into Jack’s strips later (“The Lump” in Mister Miracle #7, “The Head” in Mister Miracle #10, and “Apollo” in OMAC #7).
MARK EVANIER: If you never believe anything I tell you, believe the following: I’m on my way here, I am limping from knee surgery I had three weeks ago, the crowds out there are terrible, I got detained by the Westboro Baptist Church Klingons outside. (laughter) I get to this door, there’s one line of people trying to get in—it’s about an hour line to get in. I go to a door that’s closed, it’s exit only, and the man says, “You can’t come in here.” I said, “I’m a Guest of Honor of the convention.” He says, “You can’t come in here.” I said, “I’ve had knee surgery, I’m limping, I can’t wait.” He says, “You can’t come in here.” I said, “I’m hosting a panel that starts in ten minutes.” He says, “You can’t come in here.” I said, “Please, I’ve got a whole room full of Jack Kirby fans up there waiting to hear this panel,” and he says, “Jack Kirby? Come on in!” (laughter) There are occasional perks to being around Jack. (laughter) I am Mark Evanier, obviously. Who else would be running a Jack Kirby Tribute Panel at this convention? The gentleman to my right, your left, is the Kirby family attorney— full disclosure, he is also my attorney—this is Mr. Paul S. Levine. (applause) For legal reasons, Neil [Gaiman] has every moment of his life videotaped, and I have my attorney constantly at my side. (laughter) Over on the other side there is one of my best friends, one of the top writers in the comic book business; will you welcome Mr. Tony Isabella. (applause) To my left is my friend of lesser years, but still valuable ones. A New York Times best-selling author, Mr. Neil Gaiman. (applause) Let me introduce a few people in the audience; you are all subscribers and dutiful readers of The Jack Kirby Collector, published by Mr. John Morrow. (applause) My partner at the time I worked for Jack Kirby... Steve Sherman, ladies and gentlemen! (applause) Those of you who’ve read of Steve’s problems on Facebook recently will be very pleased to see that he’s here, he looks as healthy as he’s ever looked, even better! You look terrific. (applause) VOICE IN CROWD: Live long and prosper to Steve. MARK: Live long and prosper to Steve. Yes. May you last longer than Star Trek. (laughter) I want Steve to stay healthy for two reasons: one is he’s a hell of a great guy, one of my best friends, and secondly, I need a witness when I tell people some of the things Jack said. They look at me like, “He didn’t say that,” and I have Steve to corroborate most of them, because he was present. Steve was present, I believe, the time that Jack attended the second or third San Diego Comic-Con, and as huge as it was—I think there were a thousand people there— Jack said, “Some day, that convention’s going to take over the city of San Diego.” And, he said—I swear to you, this is almost a direct quote—he said, “It’s going to be the place where Hollywood comes every year to sell what they made last year, and find out what they’re going to make next year.” (laughter) Remember that, Steve? And Steve remembers this too; we gave him a look like, “Yeah, sure, Jack. Is this anything like the Black Racer, a black paraplegic guy on skis?” He was serious about it, and once 80
again, we find ourselves shaking our heads, and going, “We should’ve listened more to the guy.” Is Tracy Kirby here? Tracy is supposed to be on her way here. Who else should I introduce in the audience? Is Rand here? What is your title in the Museum?
job description in his head, and he did it very well. Jack’s job description when he was doing Fantastic Four was, “How do I turn this into a new dynasty? How do I reinvent comics? How do I take Marvel Comics to a new era?” And he approached it that way. He didn’t think of himself as competitive with the Don Hecks, the Gene Colans and so on. He loved those people. He never spoke ill of any of them. Steve, did you ever hear Jack speak ill of another artist?
RANDOLPH HOPPE: I am the director/curator of the Jack Kirby Museum. MARK: This is Rand Hoppe. (applause) Two must-stops in the convention hall are the TwoMorrows table and the Jack Kirby Museum table, which are right near each other. What’s your booth number?
STEVE SHERMAN: Uh... as long as they weren’t a Nazi, no. (laughter) MARK: Okay, that lets out five. (laughter) Let’s take our cue from that. Don’t get angry when someone says that they didn’t like Jack Kirby’s work. Nobody’s work is loved by everyone. Don’t get incensed... yes, there are some very, grandiose, fact-free claims made by some people. There are stupid stories that come to me. Sometimes they’re attributed to me. I’ve Googled myself as we all secretly do on the Internet, and I find someone saying, “Mark Evanier said that Jack Kirby would only eat radishes on a Tuesday,” or something like that. Where did that come from? But there are these twisted, unpleasant stories, people trying to make their case against Jack. Take a look at how other people approach politics on the Internet, how they will make up just about anything to support their cause. Well, people who want to support
JOHN MORROW: 1301. MARK: 1301, and from there, they can direct you to Rand. If you have any Jack Kirby original art in your possession, even if you don’t IF YOU ENJOYED THIS PREVIEW, have it here, talk to Rand it’s never been scanned CLICK THE ifLINK TO ORDER THIS for posterity. He’s doingISSUE a wonderful job of it. He’s so good at this. He puts on IN PRINT OR DIGITAL FORMAT! gloves like he’s doing surgery. He’s got this scanner and he takes such good care of the artwork. He takes better care of the art than anybody at Marvel Comics ever did. (laughter) The thing I want to talk about, just very briefly this year, is this. There’s a lot of arguing going on over the Internet; there’s a lot of people furious, there’s a lot of flame wars going on. There’s a certain amount of people who start belittling Jack, I think partly because it’s an attention-getting device, and partly because they don’t like being told what’s wonderful, and you know, “You have to love this man,” and it’s true. And I want to just impart to you all one thing that I learned from Jack. He was a very selfless man in that regard. If you came up to Jack, as I once saw someone do, and say, “Mr. Kirby, I think you’re the second-best artist in the business. My favorite KIRBY COLLECTOR #62 is Gil Kane,” Jack was not bothered byinterview, that at all.EVANIER He’d go, “Yeah, KIRBY AT DC! Kirby MARK and our other Gil is regular columnists, updated “X-Numbers” list of Kirby’s DC asgreat.” He did not feel he was competitive with other artists, signments (revealing some surprises), JERRY BOYD’s insights on Kirby’s DCOne work,is, a look at KEYartists 1970s EVENTS IN JACK’Sdidn’t LIFE for two reasons. other in comics do CAREER, Challengers vs. the FF, pencil art galleries from exactly theAND same thing Kirby NotKirby to cover belittle them, FOREVER PEOPLE,Jack OMAC, and THEdid. DEMON, inked by MIKE ROYER, anddown more! to draw his issues of but when John Buscema sat (100-page FULL-COLOR mag) $10.95 a good issue Fantastic Four, he was concerned with drawing (Digital Edition) $4.95 of Fantastic Four, so Stan Lee would say, “Fine, here’s the http://twomorrows.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&products_id=1129 next one.” John had great pride in his work, he was a lovely man, he was a brilliant and fantastic artist, but that was his
(left to right) Paul Levine, Mark Evanier, Tony Isabella, and Neil Gaiman at Comic-Con.