JACK KIRBY COLLECTOR SIXTY-EIGHT
KEY CHARACTERS! OPENING SHOT . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .2 (the five keys to Kirby’s character) KEY 1: PATRIOTIC . . . . . . .4 INNERVIEW . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .6 (Jack’s Hour 25 interview) KIRBY KINETICS . . . . . . . . . . . . . .24 (Norris Burroughs on Sgt. Fury #13)
C o l l e c t o r
ISSUE #68, SUMMER 2016
2016 EISNER AWARDS NOMINEE: BEST COMICS-RELATED PERIODICAL
KEY 2: DEDICATED . . . . .28 SCENERY . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .30 (seven panels of incidental brilliance) KIRBY OBSCURA . . . . . . . . . . . . .34 (Stan Lee was dedicated too) EMOTION . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .36 (Jack’s romance work, hiding in plain sight) GALLERY . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .39 (images of Jack’s character traits) JACK KIRBY MUSEUM PAGE . . . .45 (visit & join www.kirbymuseum.org) KEY 3: OBSERVANT . . . . .46 INCIDENTAL ICONOGRAPHY . . . . .48 (what’s behind the Panther’s mask?) MYTH . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .50 (the perfection of Thena) WORDS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .56 (decoding the road to Armagetto) KEY 4: INNOVATIVE . . . . .62 ?! . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .64 (what if JHS@M&WtNGi2tMU?) TECH . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .70 (Jack Kirby: writing “Machine”) KEY 5: INSPIRATIONAL . .74 KIRBY AS A GENRE . . . . . . . . . . .76 (Adam McGovern explores Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur) JACK F.A.Q.s . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .80 (Mark Evanier moderates the 2015 WonderCon Tribute Panel, with Neal Adams, Darwyn Cooke, Len Wein, Crystal Skillman, Fred Van Lente, and Paul Levine) COLLECTOR COMMENTS . . . . . . .92 (cause you can never get too much Hidden Harry) PARTING SHOT . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .94 (about that Spidey figure from FF Annual #3...) Cover inks & color: PAUL CHADWICK
If you’re viewing a Digital Edition of this publication,
Imagine Jack Kirby decided to draw a sketchbook, filled with more than 125 single-page illustrations of all his key characters. Now imagine his family letting you borrow it, to scan for posterity. They were either crazy or far too trusting, but we’re grateful they did!
PLEASE READ THIS: This is copyrighted material, NOT intended for downloading anywhere except our website or Apps. If you downloaded it from another website or torrent, go ahead and read it, and if you decide to keep it, DO THE RIGHT THING and buy a legal download, or a printed copy. Otherwise, DELETE IT FROM YOUR DEVICE and DO NOT SHARE IT WITH FRIENDS OR POST IT ANYWHERE. If you enjoy our publications enough to download them, please pay for them so we can keep producing ones like this. Our digital editions should ONLY be downloaded within our Apps and at
The Jack Kirby Collector, Vol. 23, No. 68, Summer 2016. Published more or less quarterly by and © TwoMorrows Publishing, 10407 Bedfordtown Drive, Raleigh, NC 27614, USA. 919-449-0344. John Morrow, Editor/Publisher. Single issues: $14 postpaid US ($18 elsewhere). Four-issue subscriptions: $45 Economy US, $58 Expedited US, $67 International. 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: A.I.M., Adventures Into Weird Worlds, Balder, Black Bolt, Black Panther, Black Widow, Blue Diamond, Bucky, Captain America, Captain Mar-Vell, Devil Dinosaur, Dr. Doom, Enchantress, Eternals, Executioner, Fantastic Four, Hawkeye, Herbie, Human Torch, Ikaris, Inhumans, Jimmy Woo, Karkas, Karnilla, Loki, Love Romances, Machine Man, Makarri, Marvel Girl, Maximus, Moon Boy, Moon Girl, Mr. Hyde, Mr. Little, My Own Romance, Nick Fury, Odin, Recorder, Reject, Rick Jones, Sgt. Fury, Sif, Silver Surfer, Spider-Man, Sub-Mariner, Teen-Age Romance, Ten-For, The Changeling, Thena, Thing, Thor, Warriors Three, Wizard, X-Men, Zuras TM & © Marvel Characters, Inc. • Bekka, Ben Boxer, Big Barda, Black Racer, Brooklyn, Count Dragorin, Dan Turpin, Darkseid, Demon, Desaad, Dr. Bedlam, Dr. Canus, Esak, Fastbak, Flippa Dippa, Forever People, Glorious Godfrey, Granny Goodness, Highfather, Himon, Hunger Dogs, Jimmy Olsen, Kalibak, Kamandi, Lightray, Losers, Mantis, Mark Moonrider, Metron, Mister Miracle, Newsboy Legion, On The Road To Armagetto, Orion, Shilo Norman, Slig, Sonny Sumo, Superman, Ted Brown, Toxl TM & © DC Comics • Captain Victory, Egghead, Klavus, The Ship, The Visitor On Highway Six TM & © Jack Kirby Estate • Futuremen, Harry The Head, Hidden Harry, Turbo Teen TM & © Ruby-Spears Productions • Fighting American TM & © Joe Simon and Jack Kirby Estates • Destroyer Duck TM & © Steve Gerber and Jack Kirby Estate • Avenger, Justice Inc. TM & © Street & Smith or successor in interest • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles TM & © Mirage Studios • Iron God, Uncle Sam TM & © the respective owner
(Below) A late 1930s political cartoon by Jack. (next page, top left) Fighting American, from Jack’s sketchbook. (next page, far right and bottom) Jack Kirby during basic training at Camp Stewart, Georgia and a clipping from the camp newspaper, dated October 9, 1943. From Jean Depelley, courtesy of Neal Kirby)
He presented his readers with his take on a military-industrial complex gone awry in A.I.M., and secret government conspiracies with Hydra. But he mostly stayed away from politics in his comics, save for an occasional dalliance—such as the fight between pacifist son and hawkish father in “The Glory Boat” in New Gods #6 in the 1970s. That’s as close to a comment on the Vietnam War as he ever made in comics. (He did indirectly serve his country with the Lord of Light presentation artwork, which was used without his knowledge by the CIA, as a cover-story to rescue hostages from Iran in the 1970s, as depicted in the Academy Award-winning film Argo.) At his core, Kirby was a believer in justice and fundamental fairness, who stood up for what he felt was right. Faced with needing to support his family and a business deal he thought was unfair, he fought editor Jack Schiff over Sky Masters, even though it cost him work at DC Comics for a decade. In the 1980s, when Marvel Comics withheld original art to get him to sign over rights to his work, he again fought against an onerous situation, until it was resolved in a manner in which he could hold his head high. During that dispute, he volunteered his services to help Steve Gerber in his own battle against the company over ownership of Howard The Duck. The result was the waterfowl patriot Destroyer Duck, a series that helped Gerber financially, so he could eventually reach his own settlement with Marvel. That fighting spirit lives on through his family, and their recent dispute over copyrights on the Marvel characters. Taking the battle all the way to the steps of the Supreme Court, the Kirbys held out against the corporate might of Disney/Marvel. Now, Jack’s finally receiving proper credit in comics and film—a patriotic legacy that Jack and Roz would’ve been proud of.
very comics creator has one key character that they will forever be associated with. For Jack, that has to be Captain America. Cap wasn’t the first patriotic hero in comics (the Shield claims that designation), but he was definitely the best, and most long-lasting—and is undoubtedly a reflection of his co-creator. Kirby lived the American Dream, coming from humble beginnings, to become the preeminent figure in his chosen field. It wasn’t an easy journey, but he stuck with it for the long haul. Jack was born into an immigrant family, and grew up in early 1900s America, helping his folks work their way up from poverty. Eschewing a traditional factory or nine-to-five job, he ventured out to earn a living using his artistic skills, determination, and hard work. He enlisted in the Army, and served his country overseas during World War II, nearly losing his feet to frostbite, and his life in battle. Jack’s rendition of Captain America was much like the man himself, with an earnest, unforced sense of patriotism. Kirby’s own WWII military service could well have jaded him, but instead it greatly shaped the rest of his life, and comics became an outlet to vent the never-ending rage that even combat couldn’t quell. Kirby’s own fighting characters eventually came full-circle, from Captain America’s WWII patriotism with a simple Nazi foe to destroy, to Izaya of the New Gods, who abandoned his warrior ways in an effort to promote peace with his enemies. Along the way, Jack created or worked on a small army of patriotic characters, all in some way a reflection of his own beliefs and reallife battles:
• Fighting American • Captain Victory • Pvt. Strong • Sgt. Fury • Captain Glory • OMAC • The Losers • Boy Commandos
Jack Kirby was
Hour 25 Interview
Jack Kirby interviewed by J. Michael Straczynski and Larry DiTillio on the April 13, 1990 episode of Mike Hodel’s Hour 25 radio show. Transcribed by Rand Hoppe. You can hear the audio of this interview at: http://kirbymuseum.org/blogs/effect/2012/06/27/19900413-interview/ (below) The Newsboy Legion (minus Flippa Dippa), from Jack’s sketchbook. (next page) Kirby had an uncanny ability to capture accurate likenesses, even in his iconic cartoony style. Shown here is actor Jimmy Finlayson, who Jack based the character Felix MacFinney on, from these pencils for Jimmy Olsen #144, page 15. (We’re not sure who “Ginny” was based on, but we’re smitten with her!)
J. MICHAEL STRACZYNSKI: Our guest tonight is someone whose work I’ve been reading since I could read…
you fellows seem to feel the same way toward the medium that I do, so I expect it to develop into a kind of kinship that I really enjoy.
LARRY DiTILLIO: Since you were a toddler, which is a frightening concept.
STRACZYNSKI: We’re looking forward to it. And, let me just start off going into your background a little bit with you. You came out of the Lower East Side originally, is that correct? New York?
STRACZYNSKI: It was like two weeks ago… I looked at the pictures before I could see the words, understand the words, and I began to get the stories behind the words, and that’s Jack Kirby. One of the foremost creators and writers and artists in comic book history, quite frankly, who’s given us such wonderful books as Fantastic Four, Thor, the Hulk, Spider-Man, Sgt. Fury, Captain America, Challengers of the Unknown, the list goes on forever. New Gods. And he’s with us tonight and this is a true pleasure for us to have you here, Mr. Kirby.
KIRBY: Yes, I did. New York’s Lower East Side. I was born on Essex Street and my family moved to 131 Suffolk Street, which wasn’t a big move in those days and was still the Lower East Side. I grew up there, I grew up on Suffolk Street. I went to PS 20 which was one of the schools there. But the only thing that bothered me as I grew up is, I found out I didn’t like the East Side! So, I began to take long walks. I found 42nd Street. I found 44th Street, and I went further uptown and I met the people who turned out the newspapers. I met one reporter who had upended a telephone book, and was shooting golf balls through the book, and I suddenly decided, well, that’s a job for me.
KIRBY: It’s a pleasure for me to be here and certainly,
STRACZYNSKI: [laughs] Now you say that you wanted to get out of there, but certainly in a lot of your books that came later on, the “Newsboy Legion” and Boy Commandos, you used those kinds of characters, rough street kind of characters, a lot, as kids. KIRBY: Well, you’re bound to, because I imagine they become part of what you know, what you grow up with, what life hands to you, and you react that way. And I’m glad, in a way, because later in life I had to use that as kind of an attitude in ways that probably saved my life. STRACZYNSKI: How much of Suffolk is in Yancy Street? KIRBY: Oh, all of it is there. But so is the story. I come from a storytelling family. All of the immigrants on the Lower East Side were storytellers. My family happened to be Austrian immigrants and they told their share of stories. I think the young people were closer to their parents, anyway, at that time, and they absorbed all of this. They absorbed the storytelling. Many of them used it to build a professional life. I don’t mean as writers, exactly. But let’s face it, any businessman has to tell a good story in order to sell his merchandise. And so I think that kind of thing is helpful. STRACZYNSKI: Was it a rough neighborhood? KIRBY It was a rough neighborhood, and the practice would be that, you would stand out in 6
An ongoing examination of Kirbyâ€™s art and compositional skills
Sgt. Fury #13 Ultimate Kinetics aptain America was created at a time when Jack Kirby, along with a substantial segment of this countryâ€™s citizens, realized that the evils of Nazism had to be dealt with and countered by the forces of democracy. When he returned to the US in 1945 after having served his country in France under the command of George Patton, Kirby had seen firsthand just what it took to defeat the evils that Hitler had wrought. Decades later, in 1963 working with Stan Lee at Timely/ Marvel again, Kirby created Sgt. Fury and His Howling Commandos, a team of soldiers that must have brought him back psychologically and emotionally to his days in the service. In the 13th issue, Kirby featured his super-soldier Captain America in a story that for me represents the epitome of tour de force dynamic storytelling. It is also a very compelling story. Now, some people have said that Sgt. Fury was Burt Lancaster and some have said that he was Ralph Meeker, but we can be certain that he was Jack Kirby, or at least represented Kirby as he idealized himself. The cigar of course is a dead giveaway. So we can essentially think of this story being about Kirby as a soldier in 1940s Nazi-occupied France meeting his creation Captain America, and fighting side-by-side with him. Kirby pours all of his energy into this tale. Not only are his figures exploding with kinetic energy, they are placed for the most part in complex compositions of deep space perspective. In nearly every panel there are multiple planes, consisting of background, mid-ground and foreground, and Kirby uses elements throughout the space in support of his figures to make them come alive. Deep space perspective is a subject that artist Burne Hogarth has discussed in his Dynamic Anatomy and Dynamic Figure Drawing volumes. Kirby had internalized and utilized these same concepts in his work decades ago. Ideally, the figure should be designed as a three-dimensional shape/mass moving in the confines of panel space, which must be arranged convincingly in order to be believable. Hogarth states that the position of the torso is of primary importance in the dynamism of the figure in space. The torso is composed of the rib barrel and the pelvis, and these can move in contrapuntal directions in relation to each other. The upper and lower portions of the torso, moving in opposition, can create more dynamism in the figure. Also, wherever there are joints in the body, there is an opportunity to depict more contrapuntal movement. The pivot points of the shoulder and elbow, for instance, can create elliptical arcs of motion that increase dynamism. Kirby, even more than Hogarth, was a master of this, particularly when he would also utilize a counter movement of the head. Look at this picture of Captain America on the cover of Sgt. Fury #13. Notice how the left side of his rib barrel is twisted forward and to the
Key 2: (right) Panel from Kamandi #1 (1972): Dr. Canus ended up being Kamandi’s second-best friend, after Ben Boxer, who some think was based on Jack’s own big brother Dave. It’s interesting that Jack named the character Ben “Boxer,” since Dr. Canus is obviously of the Boxer breed of dog— sort of like the theory that Jack added the Stone Men of Saturn (basically Tiki statues come to life) to Thor’s debut in Journey Into Mystery #83, because he had read the book Kon Tiki by Norwegian adventurer Thor Heyerdahl. (bottom) Kirby spent his twilight years working in the field of animation— the perfect outlet for his fertile imagination. Shown at right is Jack’s concept sheet used for background characters in the October 22, 1983 episode of the animated Mr. T series.
he dedication Kirby put into his work is easily spotted by perusing his prolific output. No other artist in the history of comics comes close to him in quantity or quality—just browse through the Jack Kirby Checklist. After publishing this magazine for 22 years and 68 issues (plus books, collections, let alone other publishers’ Kirby projects), we still haven’t run out of interviews with him, and previously unseen Kirby art keeps turning up all the time. But he was also a dedicated Family Man, intent on providing for his wife, children, and grandkids. Jack Kirby was driven (and no we don’t just mean how wife Roz had to tote him around everywhere, because he’d get too distracted by his imagination to drive a car safely). To call him a hard worker is putting it mildly. His work ethic was unrivaled. An inveterate nightowl, he’d stay up till the wee hours drawing page after page, sleep till noon, be there when the kids got home from school (and to spend time with the never-ending stream of fans who’d stop by), then be back at the drawing board after dinner, doing it all over again, seven days a week.
As the expression goes, Jack worked like a dog. He couldn’t stop creating new characters, even during times of disillusionment at whatever company was employing him. Even in his sixties, when other men were getting a gold watch and a pension check, Jack was cranking out dozens of new concepts a week for animation studios—in many ways, a most fitting end to such a creative career.
© Ruby-Spears Productions.
Jack Kirby was
Seven Panels of
by Shane Foley
his little piece of Kirby appreciation was inspired by one panel in particular in one of Jack Kirby’s least respected Fantastic Four issues. Every time I see it I am in awe of the man who, even when coasting along
and not feeling particularly inspired, could not help but throw in artistic wonders. A man who couldn’t help but draw evocative elements into ordinary scenes to inspire a feeling of awe and wonder. As I thought about this little panel I thought of six other panels that have inspired similar feelings of wonderment. Not just feelings of “Gosh! This guy’s good!” but feelings of “Why on earth did he bother?” I could have called this piece “Unnecessary Brilliance”— because most of what I’ll describe could be left out of the story and it wouldn’t matter. But then, this sort of brilliance in the incidentals of stories is yet another element of what made Kirby the standout giant he is. So in that sense, what I’m describing is not ‘unnecessary,’ but they are certainly in the ‘Incidentals’ of the drawing. And I don’t know why these seven panels in particular leap out at me in this particular way more than most others. But leap out they do. I think a similar type of wonderment was described in TJKC #36 (2002) on page 57, where the writer calls our attention to Morduck’s houseplant in Thor #118. Kirby did not have to include that plant. The story would not have suffered a whit if he drew a geranium! And a geranium (or some such) is about what 99% of the most brilliant artists on Earth would have drawn—and who could blame them? But (usually) not Kirby. Here are my seven examples. That they are all from ’60s Marvel books is perhaps because the ’60s were the time when Kirby combined his new approach, which flowered in the ’70s, with his equally powerful yet so different ’50s work. Perhaps. I don’t really know. With my first inspiration left for last, here they are: THOR #141, ”TALES OF ASGARD,” PAGE 1 (left) Counting the idol, there are 19 figures on this page. 19! It would have worked very well with only 10! There’s a lot of background detail too. This panel delightfully surprises me every time I see it. (We note that this page was inked by Vince Colletta, so the question could be asked: “Did Kirby actually draw more than 19 figures?” But surely not! This is great inking by VC!)
Obscura my feeling—make the rivalry with the competition at least diplomatic. But that simply was not in Jack’s nature. And then, ironically he was lured back to DC by Carmine Infantino—the company he had attacked so rigorously.” I drew something of a blank when I asked Lee about another comics subject that most interested me personally: Lee’s Trojan output for such legendary Atlas horror comics as Adventures into Terror, Menace, Astonishing and (before it became a super-hero title) Journey into Mystery. Lee was notably less voluble on this subject that he had been on others.
A regular column focusing on Kirby’s least known work, by Barry Forshaw
TALKING TO STAN Barry Forshaw is the author of British Gothic Cinema and The Rough Guide to Crime Fiction (available from Amazon) and the editor of Crime Time (www.crimetime.co.uk). He lives in London.
(below) Stan Lee hard at work in the 1950s Timely offices. Like Jack, he too was a prolific, dedicated worker, responsible for an entire line of comics each month.
Unlike my co-contributor to this journal, Mark Evanier, I never met Jack Kirby. However I once had the opportunity to interview his long-term collaborator and ‘frenemy’ Stan Lee (at the time of the UK release of Sam Raimi’s first SpiderMan movie), and it was soon clear to me that Lee was both tired and (though thoroughly professional) somewhat on autopilot in terms of his responses. In any case, I was far more interested in the Marvel writer/editor supremo’s pre-super-hero work (he had discussed Daredevil and Co. a million times in exhaustive detail), and decided to ask him about the things I really wanted to know about—I already had enough about the Spider-Man-related things required for the interview, in any case. Jack Kirby was always on the agenda, of course, but I began by asking Lee why he still put himself through such punishing schedules (when with the money he was making from the Marvel films he could be sitting on a Californian veranda sipping a martini); I asked about his English wife; about nearly working with French director Alain Resnais (a comics fan), and several things that he had not been asked before. Lee notably perked up, and I began to get some really fresh and interesting responses. These included a lengthy discussion of the credit wars between himself, Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko (half of which I knew I could never put into print!), but I can report one thing he mentioned concerning his and Kirby’s very different personalities: “Whenever Jack and I would do some event in public together,” he told me, “a radio interview, for instance, he was always more direct and less diplomatic than me. I always felt the need to be the friendly public face of Marvel. I remember one example of his uncompromising nature—something he once said in an interview we were doing. When our rivals at DC Comics were mentioned, Jack said, with a hot emphasis, leaning forward: ‘We’re really going to stick it to those guys!’ I later said to him that was too aggressive a statement—we were rivals with DC, certainly, but I tried to keep the rivalry light; and any insults I used, I tried to make humorous. That was
THE HORROR, THE HORROR “Actually,” he said, “Publisher Martin Goodman and I didn’t really do much in the horror comics line before the start of the monster books—and then we really hit paydirt with the super-hero titles.” What was I to say to this? Lee was obviously being as truthful as one could wish—was this an example of memory changing the facts to more suitable proportions? I certainly wasn’t going to argue with Lee (particularly as we were getting on so well) and remind him that Atlas had produced more horror comics than any of its rivals (even the market leaders, the much-acclaimed EC line), and that (along with such professionals as Hank Chapman) he had written the comics equivalent of War and Peace in terms of sheer word count. He did, however, admit to me something which I also heard from the lips of SF writer Harry Harrison when telling me about his days at EC (when he was the less talented half of the Wally Wood/Harry Harrison art duo): he didn’t admit at parties that he wrote for the comics in the days when anticomics hysteria was at its height—better to admit to being a criminal or terrorist than being one of those creatures who were corrupting the youth of America (and, at one remove, the youth of Britain—such as this writer, via the sporadically available material we eagerly consumed in the UK).
PRE-MONSTER DAYS Ironically, while Lee is certainly the most influential editor in comics (closely followed by Julius Schwartz and his work on DC super-heroes and such SF classics as Mystery in Space and Strange Adventures), I got the impression from talking to Lee that he was most proud of his writing skills— and it’s certainly true that they were fully exploited in his Atlas horror comics days. Admittedly, he never matched the EC team of Feldstein and Gaines in terms of invention and elegance, and many of his scripts were banal and clichéd. But (at his best) he created—along with the matchless team of artists available to him at Atlas—some of the liveliest and most gruesomely entertaining comics of the 1950s before the censorship axe decimated the industry. And my failed attempts to discuss with him the books he worked on back then were frustrating, particularly as he would swerve onto the post-Code monster books with Kirby and Ditko, as if they were far more interesting than the horror titles (despite the presence of the inestimable Jack and Steve... they weren’t). Certainly, Lee had not the slightest memory of a particular book that I invoked: Adventures into Weird Worlds #26. It was 34
Hiding In Plain Sight
Jack Kirby’s Atlas/Marvel Romance work (1960-1963), by David Schwartz ike a lot of us, I grew up an avid reader of all things Marvel Comics—and especially all things Jack Kirby! After discovering Jack’s super-hero work, I searched throughout New York City (where I grew up) for everything I could find. I searched out each issue of The Mighty Thor, The Fantastic Four, Captain America,
The Incredible Hulk, and everything else by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby. During my travels I found quite a few things that I had been previously unaware of. I discovered the prehero comics, with all of the incredibly creative monsters with all those funny names: Fin Fang Foom, Goom, Metallo, Blip, Gorgilla, Trull, Groot, Googam, and so many more. These comics all had incredible artwork, bursting with Jack’s creative energy. Shortly after discovering the monster comics, I found Jack’s westerns. I never cared much for westerns on television, but boy, did I love Jack’s western comics. The Rawhide Kid was a real gem. He was a good guy being persecuted by just about everyone around him and he still stood up to do the right thing—talk about integrity. Then there was the Two-Gun Kid. Jack’s revamp of that character completely revitalized the series. It seemed that everything Jack touched was bursting with creativity. So… after years of searching for everything Jack was involved with at Marvel, I was confident I had found it all—that I had seen just about every comic Jack had worked on during those years. But I was wrong. It wasn’t until nearly 20 years after my initial searching that I discovered Jack had also done a whole genre of comics I knew nothing about. These were his romance books. Now, I’m not talking about the romance comics he created in the late 1940s and early 1950s with Joe Simon; I’m talking about his romance comics of the early 1960s that were done at Marvel. Somehow, this entire body of work had slipped right by me—it was a whole genre of comics that Jack Kirby and Stan Lee had been creating at the same time as their super-heroes! I don’t know how I’d missed these comics. During my childhood I, along with my brother Howard, amassed a pretty good collection of Marvel comics. Yet neither of us had seen any of these romance books. How was this possible? We had gone to conventions… talked to dealers… looked through hundreds, if not thousands of back issue boxes for everything Kirby… and yet we hadn’t a clue that these even existed.
Key 3: (below) Jack consults his reference shelf in the 1950s. (right) Though we could’ve used the Watcher, we felt the Recorder best symbolized Jack’s desire to document what he observed—in his own unique way, of course.
best convey this aspect of Jack would be the Black Panther (showing his awareness of the Civil Rights movement), Atlas (just when we thought he’d mined all the myths he could...), Big Barda (his first Feminist), the Forever People (his reflection on the Youth Culture of the hippie generation)—and The Recorder from Thor, who symbolized Jack’s own thirst for exploration.
ack Kirby was a keen observer, perhaps to a fault—he couldn’t safely drive a car, because he was so easily distracted. But through all eras of his life and career, he took in what was all around him. From mythology books and pulps, to TV and movies, Kirby would soak it all in, and spit back out concepts that may’ve had a genesis in something he heard, saw, or read, but would be wholly his own. The dichotomy is that, Jack was not highly educated, at least in terms of having a college degree. But what he lacked in formal education, he more than made up on his own. He was a voracious reader, having been influenced early-on by sci-fi pulps, as well as the popular comic strip artists of his day like Hal Foster and Alex Raymond (and he had a garage full of old National Geographic magazines he saved for reference). The hours he’d spent chained to his drawing board afforded him time to become a deep thinker. He was astutely aware of the times he lived in. His longtime partner Joe Simon taught Jack to spot trends and exploit them commercially, but once on his own, Jack took it a step further in his work. Key characters that would
Kirby’s World That’s Coming The King talks in future tense—written and transcribed by Jerry Boyd [Some of the most astounding notions about the challenges mankind of the future will face in technology, lifestyle, space travel, and alien worlds are present in comics magazines. Inventions once used in ’30s comic strips featuring early starblazers Buck Rogers and Flash Gordon (and either marveled at or contemptuously dismissed) have become reality or adopted/researched by the nation’s space programs. Concepts explored by Jules Verne, H.G. Wells, Burroughs, Asimov, Bradbury, and more have found their way into retooled tales by Thomas, Lee, Feldstein, Moore, Binder, and Kirby, to name a few. Jack Kirby’s affinity for things pertaining to superscience could be put into a category all its own. And it has. In TJKC #15, a number of the King’s inventive oddities from times and zones futuristic spilled out like so many gadgets from Mr. Fantastic’s storage closet. Naturally, Jack had opinions on how we’re going out into the wild blue yonder and its dark, mysterious depths and what type of mechanisms will aid us in the endeavor.
OBSE Jack Kirby was
Incidental Iconography An ongoing analysis of Kirby’s visual shorthand, and how he inadvertently used it to develop his characters, by Sean Kleefeld
f you’ve read my column before, you’ll know that I usually take a look at how Jack would modify character designs on the fly, sometimes changing them from panel to panel, creating what ultimately become iconic visuals. If you’ve read my column before, you’ll also likely be familiar with Jack’s original sketch of the Black Panther: a watercolor design he entitled Coal Tiger. So why would I spend time-travelling over well-trod ground? Despite that original sketch being relatively wellknown (including having been reprinted in this very magazine repeatedly, and again below), I don’t think many people have really looked at it in comparison to Jack’s evolution of the design. I think people see it and think, “Wow, that’s… yellow!” without going much further. But we have some additional steps to examine before getting to the Panther’s formal debut in Fantastic Four #52. We of course start with Jack’s original watercolor—a non-atypical Kirby design, although he tended to avoid capes as a general rule. If Jack hadn’t made the character dark-skinned (which in 1966 was virtually unique) the cape is probably the most outstanding design element from Jack’s perspective. Take a moment, though, to picture the costume without the color. The changes between this design and the final Black Panther costume are minimal—aside from the mask, the types of changes Jack might make absent-mindedly on any design from issue to issue. Really, besides the removal of the stylized “T” on the belt and the vertical stripes on the tunic, the only change to the costume is in the coloring. Note that, although difficult to see in the final published comics with color, the stripes on Panther’s gloves and boots remain in place.
Now, here’s some interesting considerations. We also have a rejected cover for FF #52 featuring the Panther, now named as such, wearing basically the Coal Tiger costume, minus the stripes plus a half-mask. Since the final cover features a Panther costume that completely covers the character’s face, I think it’s safe to presume that either Stan Lee or Martin Goodman made a request to change to a full mask out of concerns of a potential backlash. Again, we’re talking about 1966 here, squarely during the Civil Rights movement—a year after the assassination of Malcolm X and two years before Martin Luther King, Jr. A good many people were uncomfortable with Black people getting increasingly equal rights, and those who supported them sometimes found themselves facing arrest, imprisonment, or worse. Here’s another consideration, though: Jack usually drew his covers last. It wasn’t part of the story he was telling, so he’d dash something off after he did the last page because a comic needed a cover. Which means that we’ve got a 20-page story featuring the Black Panther in a half-mask basically done before someone suggested that maybe showcasing a Black person on the cover was too risky. This suggests to me that it was Goodman’s concern. Wherever you fall on the who-did-what debate between Lee and Kirby, Stan was certainly aware of the story being told beforehand, and he would’ve had ample time to mention to Jack that showing a Black man on the cover might be risky if that was a concern of his. Goodman was less involved in the day-to-day operations and probably only noticed the cover shortly before the book was ready to go to press. But changing the costume for the cover produces the additional problem of having to adjust the interior art to match. If you look at the story, you’ll notice that Panther’s mask—
The Perfection of Thena by Mr. MacLean (we’re sorry, we don’t know the author’s first name—please contact us for credit!)
(below) Thena from Jack’s sketchbook. (next page) The gang’s all here, led by Thena in Eternals #6 (Dec. 1976). Jack always depicted her as a strong leader, as on the pencils from issue #10, page 12 (shown on page 52).
ack Kirby’s Eternals series, created at Marvel in the mid ’70s, is often seen as one of his lesser efforts, at least in comparison with the multi-title Fourth World epic so unfairly aborted at DC; it has even been referred to as a sort of “Fourth-World-lite,” a relatively uninspired rehash of ideas which he had given a more profound treatment in that earlier set of books. My view is that The Eternals occupies a unique position in the Kirby canon, one at a level equal to that of the Fourth World, with which it does have some interesting parallels, but to which it gives up nothing in terms of depth and resonance. This essay is an attempt to articulate why I
feel this way about the series, via an analysis of one of its most fascinating and overlooked characters, Thena, particularly the three-issue story of which she is the protagonist (Eternals #8, 9, and 10). Thena is for me one of the most attractive and interesting characters ever to appear in Marvel comics. Kirby was quite subtle in his portrayal of her, and since he is usually seen as anything but subtle, it is not too surprising that, in my view, later Eternals writers did not understand or simply didn’t notice what he was doing. In order to give some idea of what I believe Kirby was attempting with this character, it will first be necessary to go into the background of her mythological namesake, Athena.
Athena The goddess Pallas Athena is in many ways a unique individual among the twelve Olympians of Greek myth. In the very patriarchal ancient Greek culture she was for some reason given special status, often being the only Olympian, with Zeus, to be honored alongside regional gods in the rites dedicated to those local deities. Karl Kerenyi describes her as second only to Zeus in the ancient religion of which the surviving Greek myths are our main source of information [The Gods of the Greeks 7.2]. She often appears with Zeus and a (variant) third god or goddess as part of a trinity of specially honored gods at many locations in the ancient Greco-Roman world. Athena is described by Robert Graves in his exhaustive compilation of Greek myth [The Greek Myths 25.1] as follows: “Although a goddess of war, she gets no pleasure from battle, as Ares and Eris [Strife] do, but rather from settling disputes and upholding the law by pacific means. She bears no arms in time of peace and, if ever she needs any, will borrow a set from Zeus. Her mercy is great… Yet, once engaged in battle she never loses the day… Many gods, Titans, and giants would gladly have married [her], but she has repulsed all advances.” Athena was born from the head of Zeus, fully-grown and clad in armour. She is the only god, besides Zeus himself, who is both capable of and permitted to wield Zeus’s Cyclops-forged thunderbolts. According to one myth, she was the only god to stand her ground before the initial onslaught of the monstrous Typhon; all the rest, Zeus included, fled to Egypt in animal form (incidentally enabling the story to provide an explanation for the 50
Decoding “The Road” On understanding some of Kirby’s meaning in “On the Road to Armagetto,” by Shane Foley
(throughout) Mike Royer’s original, unaltered inks for “On The Road to Armagetto,” Jack’s original 23- (later 25-) page story that was to be his wrap-up to the New Gods saga, before morphing into the Hunger Dogs graphic novel.
reckon Hunger Dogs has some wonderful and unexpected moments in it. Better still, to my mind, is “On The Road to Armagetto,” that wonderful 25-page piece that ended up being split in two, reorganized and absorbed into Hunger Dogs. How I wish the original plan had been followed—with “Road” left intact and the new Hunger Dogs story following on after it. But again, like so many, and despite my love for the material, I often find Kirby’s scripting grates. At times it is really clunky and unnatural—a ‘tin ear’ Steve Engelhart called it. Other times, it is beautifully poetic and epic in character. These two characteristics can sometimes be found together in the same panel. And there are times, whether he’s at the ‘clunky’ end of the scripting spectrum or at the poetic, or somewhere in-between, where the reader simply goes “Huh? What does that mean?”... ...especially in the ’80s. Mike Royer confessed to this in a 1997 interview, when speaking of working on Silver Star from the same period, saying, “…sometimes, while lettering, I would go, ‘I don’t really understand this!’” (Jack Kirby Quarterly #8, page 10—in an interview with Chrissie Harper) (And while mention has been made of Mike Royer, I want to say that his original lettering on “Road,” and most especially his open, emboldened words, is sheer lettering brilliance!) As I said, I love so much of “Road.” But there is that frustration in the script that sometimes makes me say, “What?” But I want to understand it! So here is a short piece written about trying to make sense of some of “On the Road to Armagetto”’s script.
“Road,” page 6 is where I begin. (This became Hunger Dogs, page 12.) This page has four captions. The first is great—it speaks of Armagetto: “Did not the Elder Gods, on the eve of their doom, leave the warning of Armagetto behind them?”
Did they? I’m happy to take Kirby’s word for it. It all sounds very philosophical— it has a great ring to it. (In the jettisoned caption from page 4 [HD page 10] which originally preceded this one, Kirby had already introduced the concept of Armagetto and defined it in this way:
“The slum and its inhabitants are a universal concept…on Apokolips, the place called Armagetto shelters the ‘Lowlies’.”..
...but this caption stands without needing it.) 56
• Taking “nothing” characters like Green Arrow and Jimmy Olsen and making them “something.” • Helping launch the first syndicated television program (Thundarr the Barbarian, for which he submitted a wealth of concepts and characters that are yet to be mined)
n innovator does what hasn’t been done before; builds on what others began to create something new; and never dwells on the past. If that doesn’t describe Kirby, we don’t know what does (his obsession with telling World War II stories aside). Here are a few of the ways Kirby was innovative:
And perhaps his most innovative concept:
• Exploring new formats for comics (such as his original plans for the 1970s DC “Speak-Out Series”) • Introducing collages (even though printing processes of the time weren’t up to the task of reproducing them) • Developing the first overarcing multibook epic (The Fourth World) • Pioneering the Romance and Kid Gang comics genres with Joe Simon • Launching the Direct Market of comics shop distribution with Captain Victory • Popularizing artistic techniques like breaking panel borders, using doublepage splashes, and others • Injecting futuristic technology into his stories as pivotal elements (and even as characters)
• The Silver Surfer (up to that point, only Siegel and Shuster’s Superman was so unlike whatever had gone before it—both changed the industry forever. The Surfer turned “comics” into “cosmic.”)
The Ship by Steve Sherman The Ship was one of those things we worked on around the time of Captain Victory and Silver Star. I had just read Arthur C. Clarke’s Rendezvous with Rama. We were trying to find another market for Jack Kirby. When I told Jack about the story, he started to talk about spaceships and aliens, and pretty soon he’d concocted this great multi-episode adventure as a TV series. We went for a walk up the hill outside of his house, all the while Jack puffing on his pipe and coming up with each episode. This was ten years before Flight of the Navigator. I have this vivid picture of a pencil drawing of this big mountain with these four figures climbing, and this huge Kirby spaceship. Now I can’t tell you if Jack actually did a drawing like that or not. It’s one of those things that Jack kept in the back of his head for later use! The other idea he had was for a Twilight Zone type show where each week someone would encounter a UFO and it would change their lives in some way—for good or for bad, depending on the person.
INNOVAT Jack Kirby was
What If... JHS@M&WtNGi2tMU*? (*Jack Had Stayed At Marvel and Worked the New Gods Into the Marvel Universe?) by Jeff Deischer
(below) Cover corner “bullets” for the Fourth World titles, including an unused one for Jimmy Olsen, with inks by Vince Colletta. (next page) Glorious Godfrey, inspired by reallife evangelist Billy Graham, from Forever People #6 (Dec. 1971).
t is 1970. The comics industry is rocked when Jack Kirby jumps ship, leaving Marvel for DC. If you’re a regular reader of The Jack Kirby Collector, then you’re probably aware that in the late 1960s Jack Kirby became dissatisfied with the recognition and compensation he was receiving for his work at Marvel. For those of you who don’t know, in the Spring of 1968, Jack began decreasing the amount of creative input he gave stories, resulting in larger (and therefore fewer) panels, and shorter and less spectacular tales; his longer stories took on a tendency to ramble at times. Jack also began holding back his better ideas for a stage of his career that would give him what he wanted. The most famous of these is his Fourth World saga, which included New Gods, Mister Miracle, Forever People, and a run in Superman’s Pal Jimmy Olsen. So, what if Jack had gotten what he felt he deserved, and stayed at Marvel, rather than departing for DC in 1970? How would the Fourth World have developed in the Marvel Universe?
Certainly, it could not have come about as it was shown in the opening pages of The New Gods, with the destruction of Asgard and the death of the Norse gods featured in Thor. Stan Lee, editor-in-chief at Marvel who had guided the company to the Number One spot in the industry, would not have allowed this. So how could the Fourth World have developed in a universe of old gods? Craig McNamara asked this question in TJKC #53 (“What If?”), and his answer was both interesting and reasonable. But he overlooked one logical setting for the Fourth World: the Inhumans series in Amazing Adventures (Volume 2), which Jack both wrote and drew in 1970. To re-cap Mr. McNamara’s thesis: Jack Kirby might have been given books that had failed or were failing, such as Captain Marvel, The X-Men, Dr. Strange, The Silver Surfer, etc. He posits the saga of the New Gods would fit into the adventures of a space-traveling Silver Surfer, using the Surfer’s ideological similarities to Lightray; the counter-culture material of Jimmy Olsen and The Forever People would dovetail nicely with the exploits of the teenaged X-Men, while Dr. Strange would pick up the leftovers of The Forever People and Mister Miracle. The matching of the X-Men to Jimmy Olsen’s adventures seems a natural fit—but I think there are better choices for the rest of the Fourth World saga. Specifically, the New Gods could have been adapted to cover the history of the Inhumans, which Stan and Jack had started in the back pages of Thor (#147-152, 1967). They went from the first super-powered Inhuman, Randac, in the first installment, to the birth of Black Bolt in the second, some twenty-five years before the beginning of the Marvel Age. Four more chapters in the recent past, and the strip was over. That left lots of room for untold tales, such as the first evil Inhuman. I have to confess that this idea came to me while reading Shane Foley’s article in TJKC #56. “Subploticus Interruptus?” discussed unfinished storylines of Stan and Jack in the MU, specifically that of the Inhumans. Among other things, he pointed out the long and awkward gap in the “Origin of the Inhumans” back-up strip in Thor, and suggested that this was one instance of Jack pulling back, contributing
Jack Kirby: Writing “Machine” by Michael Aushenker
(below) Machine Man (a.k.a. Mr. Machine) from Jack’s sketchbook. (next page) Psychiatrist Dr. Peter Spalding sports a pipe, which, in Jack’s day, imbued a character with having knowledge and sophistication. Nowadays, not so much. Pencils from Machine Man #2 (May 1978).
or many, Jack Kirby’s writing might be the bottom of the Living Totem that was his towering legacy: his unbridled imagination. Above all, Kirby was known for his powerful and distinctive artwork, his ideas and concepts, and his prolific output (of course, the very reason you’re reading this piece in the post-60th issue of The Kirby Collector). While his text and dialogue could be alternately corny, clumsy, naïve, long-in-the-tooth, fatiguing, obvious, and heavy-handed (not to mention peppered with too many exclamation points!!!), his writing sometimes coalesced perfectly with his blockbuster visuals. Machine Man was such a series. In terms of Kirby’s writing and philosophies,
Machine Man best captured several facets of the master: his humor, his hopes and fears regarding technology, his immigrant cloth-cut American patriotism, and his faith in humanity, against all odds, despite Kirby’s own healthy dose of worry regarding the future of our species. At the risk of overreaching, Kirby (born Jacob Kurtzberg) may have even intended elements of Machine Man to resonate as an indirect allegory of Jewish persecution during Nazi-occupied Europe. Long before Inspector Gadget, there was the serious version: the robot X-51, alias Aaron Stack, also known as Machine Man. Originally an offshoot character from the shortlived Kirby-does-Kubrick 2001: A Space Odyssey comics, this Marvel Comics Group character took on a life of its own. In the late 1970s, Machine Man lasted 19 issues in a glorious run started by Kirby (the first nine) and completed by Steve Ditko with writer Marv Wolfman. In a letters’ column editorial, Kirby sold Machine Man this way: “He’s just another dude—who happens to have a body of impenetrable armor, electronic eyes, and a deadly hand-weapons system.” In the pantheon of Kirby’s post-Silver Age output, the Machine Man series— which blended Kirby tropes from Captain America, Fantastic Four’s Silver Surfer, and The Incredible Hulk—may rank just behind his Fourth World books as his most satisfying. Like the lone Super-Soldier, Machine Man was the only experimental specimen of what were to be many Machine Men (created by Abel Stack) to survive. As with the Incredible Hulk, X-51 was wanted by the Government and was hounded by an ersatz Captain Ahab obsessed with destroying him: the eye-patch-wearing Colonel Kragg, playing Gen. “Thunderbolt” Ross to Machine Man’s Hulk. Finally, the emotionless Machine Man, as with his cosmic counterpart Norrin Radd, was an alien among us, at once baffled by humanity and fighting for it, while awkwardly trying to find a humanity of his own. In Machine Man #1 (April 1978), Kirby the writer adeptly kicks off the series by throwing us into the middle of the adventure before launching into the obligatory origin. A rescue of a hiker lets Kirby start off our story with an exciting, action-packed prologue that lets him demonstrate the mechanical capabilities of his new hero in the process, as Machine Man shows off his “gravity cancellation” techniques and stretching, mechanicaltentacle arms while retrieving the distressed young man. “Look! His arm is extending like a ladder!” exclaims a female witness as
ome key characters Jack created or cocreated:
(bottom right) 1992 outtake photo by Susan Skaar, for Ray Wymanâ€™s Art of Jack Kirby bio. Thanks to Ray for making this photo publicly available!
Abner Little Abominable Snowman Absorbing Man Ace Morgan Actor Adam Warlock (HIM) Agatha Harkness Agent Axis Aginar Agon Agron Aireo Ajak Alicia Masters Amphibion Anelle Annihilus Ant-Man Ares Arishem the Judge Arnim Zola Artemis Athena Atlas Avengers Avia Awesome Android
Dingbats of Danger Street Dino Manelli Dionysus Doctor Bedlam Doctor Canus Doctor Doom Doctor Druid Doctor Faustus Dorrek VII Doughboy Dragon Man Dreaming Celestial Dredmund the Druid Dromedan Druig Dubbilex Dum Dum Dugan
Batroc the Leaper Beast Ben Boxer Bernadeth Betty Ross Big Barda Black Bolt Black Panther Black Racer Blastaar Blob Bolivar Trask Bombast Boomerang Bor Boy Commandos Boy Explorers Brother Tode Brotherhood of Evil Mutants Bruno Mannheim Brute Bucky Burner
E Egghead Ego the Living Planet Elektro Enchantress Enclave Erik Josten Esak Eson the Searcher Eternals Etrigan the Demon Executioner
C Captain 3-D Captain America Captain Glory Captain Victory Celestials Challengers of the Unknown Circus of Crime Contemplator Crazy Quilt Crusaders Crystal Cyclops Cyttorak
G Gabe Jones Galactus Gammenon the Gatherer Gargoyle Gilotina Glob Global Peace Agency Glorious Godfrey Golden Girl Goody Rickels Googam Goom Gorgilla Gorgon Granny Goodness Gregory Gideon Grey Gargoyle Groot Growing Man Guardian
H H.E.R.B.I.E. Hank Pym Happy Sam Sawyer Hargen the Measurer Hate-Monger Heggra Heimdall Hela Hera Hercules Hermes High Evolutionary Highfather Himon Hippolyta Hogun Hulk Hulk Robot Human Torch
Balder Baron Strucker Baron Zemo
Fafnir Fandral Fantastic Four Fastbak Female Furies Fenris Wolf Fighting American Fighting Fetus Fin Fang Foom Fixer Fly Forager Forbush Man Forever People Forgotten One Franklin Richards Franklin Storm Frightful Four Funky Flashman
Dabney Donovan Dan Turpin Danger Room Darkseid Deep Six Desaad Destroyer Duck Deviants Devil Dinosaur Devilance Diablo
Iceman Idunn Ikaris Immortus Impossible Man Infinity Man Intergang
Jack Kirby was
Adam McGovern Know of some Kirby-inspired work that should be covered here? Send to: Adam McGovern PO Box 257 Mt. Tabor, NJ 07878
(this page) A dizzying Amy Reeder cover (top right) and dynamic Natacha Bustos page-thumbnail (bottom left) from Moon Girl & DD’s pre- (and re-) historic adventures. (next page) Line and tone art for a kinetic Bustos layout (left) and style-sheet for Moon Girl’s many phases (right). (page 78) Proof of evolution: Moon Girl goes up against the humanoid “Killer Folk” in these three stages of a dramatic Bustos/Bonvillain design. (Do Marvel lifers recognize that orb as the “Omni-Wave Projector” from the original KreeSkrull War?)
As A Genre A regular feature examining Kirby-inspired work, by Adam McGovern
The Goodguy Dinosaur obody can forget Devil Dinosaur—even though most people can’t believe it ever happened. One of Kirby’s last works for Marvel in the late 1970s, this gonzo tale of a hominid boy and his pet thunder-lizard was both a kid’s fantasy and a folkloric fever-dream. In a series taking place before history began, Devil Dinosaur and Moon Boy were trapped in a wild, dreamtime childhood. In Marvel’s current phase of eccentric, original reinventions of intriguing second-string characters, two of comics’ most seasoned timetravelers, writer Brandon Montclare and artist Amy Reeder of Rocket Girl fame, were called on to bring Devil to the present day with a new kid partner, precocious science-geek Lunella Lafayette, in Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur— this time with Montclare and Reeder as co-writers and Natacha Bustos as the vibrant artist and Tamra Bonvillain supplying the joyous, cinematic colors. The Collector spoke in-person with Montclare and Reeder in New York on February 27, 2016, and by e-mail with Bustos from Spain on March 6.
THE JACK KIRBY COLLECTOR: Devil Dinosaur is infamously one of Kirby’s most kitschy concepts, but it does hold a fascination for many sophisticated creators both in and outside of comics. Was it a series you always enjoyed, or did you just welcome the challenge of updating this crazy idea? AMY REEDER: Honestly, our editor Mark Paniccia is a huge Devil Dinosaur fan; he’d been trying for years to bring it back. I guess the timing was right? Hopefully we brought something to it that made them want more, and they approved it. Brandon and I were just looking for a character, and we really wanted to revitalize something, because there’s a lot less pressure in that, and then you can do a lot of creative things. BRANDON MONTCLARE: Amy’s working on another pile of Rocket Girl issues so we can release them in sequence, but we still wanted to have something on the shelf, and we thought it would be nice for Amy to co-write and do covers. Marvel said, “Why don’t you come by and we’ll talk about what you want to do.” Certainly within the first ten minutes, if not the very first thing that was mentioned, was Devil Dinosaur. Which got me excited, ’cuz, “Oh, it’s such a cool, it’s such an oddball thing,” and like Amy says, nobody really bothers you when you’re doing something so obscure. So about another minute after that, [Mark] said, “How about Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur,” and then you could do something totally different… the idea being, you bring it to modern times instead of setting it in The Valley of Flames and the dinosaur world… REEDER: I think part of his thinking was also that I would be on the project, because, to be honest, at first when he said Devil Dinosaur I was just like, kinda rolling my eyes… inside [laughs], not outwardly, but then as soon as he said, like, “Girl” I was like, ooooh, that’s fun, because… I wasn’t really a dinosaur person growing up. I mean, they’re interesting enough, but, I did not see the possibilities in that. MONTCLARE: And just the idea that you can do a companion for this dinosaur, and from complete scratch. REEDER: That’s really the part that’s exciting, the fact that the story is really intrinsically about two characters, just those two, and their relationship as it grows. That’s really something special that I think sets it apart from other books for sure. TJKC: I just like the sassiness and outsidery-ness of Lunella—how much of each of you is in that character? It feels very contemporary and very true to a young girl who isn’t the play-with-Barbie type… 76
Jack F.A.Q.s A column of Frequently Asked Questions about Kirby
(below) “What’s a ‘Brooklyn?’” one of Jack’s basic training compatriots asked in this issue’s interview— here’s the answer from Jack’s sketchbook. (next page) Photos of Jack from a circa 1974 San Diego Comic-Con, courtesy of Shel Dorf. (bottom, left to right) Moderator Mark Evanier, and panelists: Neal Adams, Darywn Cooke, Len Wein, Crystal Skillman, Fred Van Lente, and Paul S. Levine.
You know, most people, their minds go from A, to B, to C, to D. Jack would start with A, and then he’d do R, and then he’d do K, and all of a sudden he would have you On Beyond Zebra someplace. His mind would just—and a lot of the great concepts that he came up with in comics I believe were a case of him putting together two things no one else would have ever thought to put together, making one coherent better idea that was better than any of the components. So we do these panels to talk about that and talk about Jack. Let me introduce the panel as it stands thus far. This is a chair which will be occupied by Neal Adams at some point, I presume. This is the fine illustrator Mr. Darwyn Cooke. [applause] This is the fine writer Mr. Len Wein. [applause] These are the fine writers and playwrights Crystal Skillman and Fred Van Lente. [applause] This is the fine attorney Paul Levine. [applause] Paul is here because I never go anywhere without my lawyer. [laughter] He’s also the lawyer for—what’s the exact name of it again? I can’t remember.
2015 Kirby WonderCon Panel Held Sunday, April 5, 2015 at 3:00pm at WonderCon, Anaheim, California. Featuring Neal Adams, Darwyn Cooke, Fred Van Lente, Crystal Skillman, Len Wein, Paul S. Levine, and moderated by Mark Evanier. Transcribed by Steven Tice. Edited by John Morrow, copy-edited by Mark Evanier. You can view a video of this panel at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4sSZOnoGKM0 MARK EVANIER: Every day of my life I find myself answering questions about Jack, thinking about Jack, talking about Jack. And if you ever met Jack, you know he had a very odd way of speaking. His mind would race from topic to topic. He would start talking about one thing, and then suddenly he’d be talking about another thing, and another thing. And he put strange associations together. He would make leaps in his logic.
PAUL LEVINE: The Rosalind Kirby Trust. MARK: Thank you, the Rosalind Kirby Trust. When people say “the Kirby estate,” they probably mean the Rosalind Kirby Trust which Paul has represented for, lo, these many years. How long have you been…? PAUL: I represented Jack from ’81 until ’87, and then when I went solo in ’92, represented him and the Estate. MARK: I ran into, what’s his name, your old law partner person? Anyway… so one of the topics we’re not going to be talking about here, because there isn’t that much to say about it, is: As you may know, the Jack Kirby Estate—i.e., the Rosalind Kirby Trust— there was this dispute between the Marvel Comics people and the Kirbys which in various forms and various shapes went on since about the day I met Jack, which was in July of 1969. And for all that time I felt that Jack was not properly compensated for his work and, he was not properly credited for his work. And I was not the only person who felt this. Insofar as I could tell, every single person who really knew the history of Marvel Comics and knew what Jack had done felt this way. And finally, it was resolved 80
with a very nice settlement. And I cannot tell you the relief I have felt to have closure on something that has been gnawing at me since July of 1969.
was one person that we kind of grabbed onto and were looking at.
DARWYN COOKE: Can I ask you, Mark… To what degree do you think the settlement hinged on Disney’s purchase of Marvel? Would you say that was a big part of it?
CRYSTAL: It was right in my mind. I had worked with him two years ago in a play of mine: Steven Rattazzi [below].
MAR RK: Yes, I think it was, definitely. Anyway, we aren’t going to talk much about that. We are going to talk about Jack, and I was hoping Neal would be here so I could start with my main thesis, but before we get to that, I want to ask each of the people on the panel to tell us a little about things they have done that have touched on Jack Kirby. Fred, you and Crystal did a project. Tell us about that.
FRED: Any of you guys here Venture Brothers fans? [audience members cheer] He plays Dr. Orpheus.
FRED VAN LENTE: Yeah, eah sure. I primarily write comics for a living because I’vve always been interested in comics. But before I even really broke into the industry, I became really interested in Jack’s life and was sort of researching a biography of him just, really, as a hobby more than anything else. This would be, like, 1999, 2000. And I was dating this lovely lady here, Crystal, at the time [C Cr ystal waves to the audience]. We subsequently got married. I’m sure that’s not a coincidence. [laughter] But she was a playwright, and so I, just sort of as a monkey-see-monkey-do thing, I adapted my research on Jack as a play. And we did a reading of it, it was fun, but we kind of put it away and it kind of sat in a drawer for a while until a theater that Crystal—[to Cr ystal] ystal well, why don’t you take it from there? IFter YOU THISinPREVIEW, There was the thea youENJOYED were involved in New York. CLICK THE LINK TO ORDER THIS CRYSTAL SKILLMA therOR e’s aDIGITAL big movement here, sometimes ISSUEN:INYeah, PRINT FORMAT! it’s called “geek theater,” “comic book theater.” And it’s not just New York, it’s kind of all over, which is really exciting to naturally see the two communities speaking to each other. So in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, they have a geek festival at a theater called Brook Theater. It’s called the Comic Book Theater Festival. And so they were fans of the idea of the play. They were very excited by it. We had done some rewrites, so we were very excited to put up the play there. And it was a really exciting experience to share the story of this incredible man’s life in this festival for, like, 50% of the audience who knew him quite well or loved him and was very excited to see this on stage, or for those who were experiencing his story for the first time, and it was cool seeing how gratified audiences were on both sides.
CRYSTAL: Yes. And because I’d been in a room with him, because I knew he had worked with incredible players, I knew the breadth of his work, and I knew that he could really transform into a character but also really have soul, had the poetry, of what I felt was the essence of capturing Jack onstage. And we were just so lucky that he was so taken with the project. He works mostly offBroadway and Broadway, so he came on down to Williamsburg. [laughs] Which was very exciting, and he did a wonderful job. There’s actually also a radio version of it as well, so you—or it wasn’t a radio version, it was— FRED: A Midtown Comics podcast. You go on their iTunes stream and get it. [Or go to: http://blog.midtowncomics.com/podcast/8544]
FRED: Our audience becomes a unique mixture of comics, cute people, KIRBY COLLECTOR play people, and thaCHARACTERS! t. It’s called King Kiirby#68 . to examKEYall KIRBY We go decade-by-decade ine pivotal characters Jack created throughout his career (includ-
MARK: Now, tell us, it howyou)! long? ing some thatran mightfor surprise Plus there’s a look at what
CRYSTAL: So you guys can actually hear that for free, you can actually hear it.
would’ve happened if Kirby had never left Marvel Comics for how Jack’s beenyrepackaged overYthe FRED: It ran inDC, June. We work gothas a ver nice New orkdecades, Times review, and MARK EVANIER and other regular columnists, and galleries of it’s going to beunseen in Sea ttle and Calgar y next y ear . W e’re super-excited. Kirby pencil art! Hopefully it’ll come to all of you. (100-page FULL-COLOR mag) $10.95
MARK: Did your actor look at videos of Jack?
(Digital Edition) $4.95
FRED: He did. He’s a classically trained actor who wanted to make the role his own. We got him some videos and audio. He definitely wanted to make the character his own. I think he did a very good job of capturing the essence of Jack.
MARK: When yhttp://twomorrows.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=98_57&products_id=1240 ou were casting the role of Jack Kirby, what did you look for? [Neal Adams arrives and the audience applauds] FRED: Jack is a very physical type, particularly in the way he is portrayed in pop culture, even subsequent to his death. We needed someone who was tough, I think, was how he came across, and there
CRYSTAL: And also played against— FRED: Based on what I…
Jack Kirby Collector #68 (100 full-color pages, $10.95) spotlights Key Kirby Characters! In it, we examine pivotal characters Jack created t...
Published on May 16, 2016
Jack Kirby Collector #68 (100 full-color pages, $10.95) spotlights Key Kirby Characters! In it, we examine pivotal characters Jack created t...