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Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Taking a break

Apparently, a can of Campbell's mushroom soup is the traditional symbol of a weblog taking a break. Well, that's what Mark Evanier says, and he's pretty much what qualifies as an unimpeachable authority for a Jack Kirby weblog. So here it is, with a Kirby twist:

Anyway, it'll be at least a few days, maybe a few weeks before I post again (though if it stretches to weeks I'll try to post at least a few cover galleries). Still a long way to go, so far I've only got entries on 138 of about 3000 potential books that could be covered here.

Check the invaluable Comics Weblog Update site for when I resume.

Challengers of the Unknown #79

This issue of CHALLENGERS OF THE UNKNOWN reprints one of the stories from #2 and one from #1, from back in 1958. They look good, except for the fact that they insisted on re-colouring the Challs outfits from the plain purple to a red and yellow combination, and more distracting they colour them with gloves, which looks odd when you have the drawings clearly being of bare hands.

"The Monster Maker" is from #2, and features the Challs going up against a criminal who has gained mental powers to turn thoughts into reality. This is a good excuse for Kirby to draw a giant gorilla, a dragon, a giant horse-riding knight and more.

"The Human Pets" is from #1, and is a goofy story about the Challs being taken captive by a giant alien child. Silly but fun, with a neat looking alien, and some nice Kirby designs on the alien child's toys.

Marvin Stein inked both these stories, and does a great job. Very clean and crisp line.

Joe Kubert draws a new cover, based on the gorilla scene in the first story.

Published 1973

Monday, November 29, 2004

Classics Illustrated #35 - Last Days of Pompeii

A lesser known sidetrack to Kirby's career is the short period that he did work for Gilberton, publishers of CLASSICS ILLUSTRATED and WORLD AROUND US, in the early 1960s, just before the Marvel super-heroes took off. One of the major books he did there was a new edition of CI #35, a 45 page adaptation of "Last Days of Pompeii" by Edward Bulwer-Lytton, replacing the previous edition. Inked by Dick Ayers, who was also doing some fine inking on much of Kirby's work at Marvel, as well as having inked the Sky Masters comic strip.

The story is, I'm assuming, pretty faithful to the novel. Lots of intrigue, back-stabbing and romance among the residents of the doomed city, with the noble Athenian Glacius as the hero and evil Egyptian Arbaces as the villain (and a great looking Kirby villain he is, with a long face, a longer goatee and a skake-headband, I could see him fitting in as a minion of Darkseid).

While far from Kirby's best, the art in here does look very good most of the time, when the Kirby elements are allowed to shine through. You can see a lot of that in the faces of some of the characters, the great clothing designs and some of the backgrounds, and when he got to cut loose with an action sequence, like the fleeing from the volcano at the end, it really shines.

Kirby's said one of the reasons he didn't like working at Gilberton was their insistance that certain details be what they considered accurate, and requiring a lot of editorial control and re-drawing. This panel, in the published version and from the original art where a paste-up fell off show this nicely:

I'd have to say, the original version of the face is just gorgeous work, and any editor who would replace it with the published version is just insane. Maybe they should have spent some of the time they wasted on that on improving their colouring or printing.

Despite all that, it's a book well worth picking up, and usually available fairly inexpensively given that it's a 45 page Kirby story from 1961 that's unlikely to ever see a decent reprinting (I believe that the current rights holders of the CI books are doing extensively re-drawn reprints, and concentrating on the CI JUNIOR and religious line).

Published 1961

Fantastic Four #78 - The Thing No More

This is a fun issue from the heart of the long Kirby/Sinnott collaboration on FF. In this issue, the boys of the FF return from their sub-atomic adventure of the previous few issues, while Sue is about to deliver her baby. Reed takes this oppurtunity to try out his latest cure for Ben, which works, but just in time for the Wizard to attack (which they should have seen coming, since the Daily Bugle headline reads "Wizard Released From Prison - Vows Vengence on Fantastic 4" in huge letters usually reserved for Presidential assassinations, moon-landings and anti-Spider-Man articles).

This leads to a great long battle, which Ben leaps into despite his lack of powers, and which has some great images.

Of course they win in the end, and Ben's in a position of wanting his powers back, but this variation of Reed's cure is a one-way street, so he'd have to become the Thing forever. Boy, I wonder which it'll be?

Very fun, fast moving, issues, with a good mix of the action and quiet moments and humour that made the FF so effective.

Published 1968

Sunday, November 28, 2004

Wartime cover gallery

From the lean times of late 1944, when Simon and Kirby were in the army, some months all the poor S&K fans had from the team were a few covers, like these three selections from the three DC/National books that S&K regularly contributed the lead story for.

It looks like, after helping out with the war effort for the past few issues, the Newsboy Legion turned to pressing homeland matters like evil duplicates. Meanwhile, the Boy Commanos and Sandman were still fighting the Japanese army, with some success it seems.


Captain America #112 - Lest We Forget

So, the story goes, Jim Steranko takes over CAPTAIN AMERICA from Kirby with #110. Shortly thereafter, for whatever reason, Kirby's asked to draw #112 on an extremely tight deadline. He's told the cliffhanger to #111 had Captain America dying. Did they want him to bring Cap back to life? No, they wanted him to keep Cap dead.

And thus was created the Kirby comic that most closely resembles modern Marvel comics, a full issue where almost nothing happens.

The story is pretty much that Cap's mask is fished out of the water, and he's presumed dead, so Iron Man is informed. Iron Man then goes over Cap's file, so we get short vignettes of Cap's original WWII adventures and villains, the classic retro-fitted "death of Bucky" bit with Zemo, Cap's thawing out courtesy of Namor and scenes from his adventures of the previous few years. I have a soft spot for this particular page:

as it features Modok, one of the Kirbyest of the Kirby villains of the 1960s, and those wacky bee-keeper minions of AIM.

So the story is light, it does at least look really good. George Tuska inks, I think the only other work he did with Kirby was finishes on some Cap stories a few years before this, but he does a good job here, presumably on as tight a deadline as Kirby was. Frank Giacoia inks Kirby on the cover, which is unfortunately Modok-free.

Published 1969

Friday, November 26, 2004

Strange World of Your Dreams #3

This short lived series from the early 1950s featured two Kirby stories in this issue. The first is "The Woman in the Tower", which has been reprinted in DC's BLACK MAGIC #9 and Pure Imagination's JACK KIRBY READER v1.

Later in the book is a two page dramatization of a dream sent in by reader "Thomas R", who has visions of coming to a tower with ladders going up the side, and climbing up as the rungs keep breaking beneath him. Apparently this has something to do with his lack of confidence despite his success.

But the Kirby highlight of this issue is probably the cover. Great images of a horned lion, eye-stalked plants and other weird beasts.

There is a story inside based on this cover, not by Kirby. Oddly, it does have the same images, though a bit less dramatic, but the script doesn't mention them (ie, the art shows a horned lion, but the script doesn't mention the horns. The art shows eyes on the plants, but the script just mentions that there are plants. Kind of makes you wonder if the art was spruced up, maybe to match the cover, after the story was finished?

Published 1952

Monster Menace #3 - Zzutak

Back in 1993, during one of their periodic attempts to flood the market, Marvel published a few reprint mini-series of their horror comics from various eras. The Atlas monster era was represented in MONSTER MENACE.

"Zzutak, The Thing That Shouldn't Exist" is a 13-page Kirby/Ditko story reprinted from STRANGE TALES #88 (1961), featuring a comic book artist who specializes in monsters for books like STRANGE TALES, given a set of special paints which bring what's painted to life. He's drawn to a remote valley in Mexico, where he finds a giant canvas and paints Zzutak, who of course comes to life.

All part of a scheme from an Aztec chief to return his people to power. The artist paints another monster to come out and fight Zzutak, leading to some nice battling monster pages.

It's a fun story, with some exceptionally nice inks by Steve Ditko, who brings some interesting textures to the monsters. Ditko's also represented in this issue with a solo reprint, plus three new pieces: a cover, a pin-up and a funny spot illustration on the text page.

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Kobra #1 - Fangs of the Kobra

The last new project Kirby initiated during his 1970s stay at DC was KOBRA (originally KING KOBRA). Unlike the trio of concepts thrown into FIRST ISSUE SPECIAL, this one was given an on-going book, with the first issue Kirby delivered (with Steve Sherman co-writing and D. Bruce Berry inking) re-scripted, re-arranged and partly re-inked (the faces of some of the characters). It lasted an impressive six more issues post-Kirby.

Pretty much all set-up this issue. Kobra is the head of a criminal cult, and we find out that he was born with a conjoined twin, kidnapped by the Cobra Cult shortly after being seperated and presumed dead, while his brother Jason Burr grew up unaware of his brother's fate. Now, years later, they find that they have a psychic link to feel the other's pain. Kobra attacks his brother, who's also been contacted by the police.

It's an okay start, nothing special. I'm sure that given a few issues and a free hand, Kirby could have done some interesting stuff with the concept, either as presented here or, ideally, as it was originally written, and Kobra does have a neat design.

THE JACK KIRBY COLLECTOR #22 had several pages devoted to KOBRA, with an article by Steve Sherman on the evolution of the character (note that Sherman's timeline doesn't quite jibe with the version in the text page of #1), the original splash page and some some other unaltered pages (showing that the brother was originally a much older Philip Snow, Interpol agent, rather than Jason Burr, university student) and Sherman's first tries at an outline and script for the first issue (not the script for the actual art Kirby drew).

Published 1976

Monday, November 22, 2004

--Link-- Kirby interview video

Thanks to Mark Evanier for pointing out this selection of video clips at TV Party featuring a 1985 interview with Jack Kirby at a comic convention. Interesting stuff. The 10 clips run about two minutes each.

Number One Cover Gallery

CHARLIE CHAN #5, 1949. Neat S&K cover, I like that the left over Nazi has a pet monkey, because monkeys always make comics fun.

JOURNEY INTO MYSTERY #94, 1963. Dick Ayers inks, with a nicely arrogant looking Loki.

LAST OF THE VIKING HEROES #1, 1987. Mike Thibodeaux inks this, one of the bits of art that Jack Kirby did for Thibodeaux's 1980s comic. I kind of find Thibodeaux's inks a bit too slick, but it's a nice cover.

Sunday, November 21, 2004

Rawhide Kid Special #1

This double sized comic from 1971 reprints seven Kirby/Ayers stories from RAWHIDE KID issues of the early 1960s, for a total of 47 pages (with a non-Rawhide solo Ayers 5-pager thrown in as well).

This much Rawhide Kid in one go kind of gets old fast, with the constant theme of just how good a gunman the Kid is, and how revered/feared an outlaw he is. But there is still some interesting variety within the genre.

"Gun Duel In Trigger Gap" (RK #19) features the Kid actually falling in love and wishing he could settle down, but of course his outlaw status gets in the way, and he acts heroically in the end to beat some bad guys and leave his potential sweetheart behind.

"Fight Or Crawl, Kid" (RK #19) has the Kid confronted by someone who thinks he can outgun him, demonstrating some impressive shooting, which of course the Kid out-does with no effort.

"The Little Man Laughs Last" (RK #29) has a great splash of the Kid jumping from his horse to a stage-coach. In this one, he demonstrates his bravery compared to some bigger men, but apparent fear of women.

"The Fallen Hero" (RK #29) is the Shane-variation, where the a young boy admires the Kid above his own father. I think anyone who's read/watched enough westerns knows where that leads.

"The Trail Of Apache Joe" (RK #29) has the Kid given one of his periodic chances to clear his name, if he helps bring in the outlaw of the title. If you don't guess that he manages to do the bringing in, but not the name-clearing, you really need to read more westerns...

"The Guns Of Jasker Jelko" (RK #28) the Kid goes up against a travelling carnival's trick shooter this time, a fine enough story made memorable by the joke ending about Annie Oakley.

"When A Gunslinger Gets Mad" (RK #28) is the last story, which features the Kid walking into a bar and ordering a milk. As it almost invariably did in the old west, this led to a good old fashioned barroom brawl, as cowboys tended to take lactose intolerance to ridiculous extremes.

Dead of Night #10 - I Dream of Doom

This 1970s reprint anthology contains the 7 page Kirby/Rule story from STRANGE TALES #96, "I Dream of Doom". In this story, a man goes to a doctor with a story about being haunted by a giant Kirby monster in his dreams, always escaping just in time. In a stunning breach of professional ethics, the doctor says he'll give the man something to stay awake, but slips him a sedative instead. This leaves the man to become a victim of the monster, and reveals a twist ending that calls into question the nature of reality.

Just about all the Kirby monster stories of this era look good, and this one is no exception, with some a nice looking monster, some very good storytelling in and out of the dream sequences and some very nice inking. Pleasantly, this is also one of the better written of the stories, with a fairly clever resolution and several interesting bits. I'd love to see it reprinted in a more permanent edition some day (as I put together a dream MARVEL VISIONARIES JACK KIRBY v2 in my head...).

Published 1975

Saturday, November 20, 2004

Shocking Tales Digest #1

A bit of an oddity, for some reason in 1981 Harvey published a single issue of SHOCKING TALES DIGEST, containing reprints of late 1950s horror/fantasy stories, primarily by Jack Kirby and Bob Powell. I don't think they published anything else in the period like it, most of their comics at the time being the humour books like Richie Rich and Casper.

The Kirby contents are nine stories that add up to 42 pages, all of his work (except one cover) from the first two issues of ALARMING TALES in 1957. It's interesting stuff, with great art and stories with a lot of themes that Kirby would show an interest in throughout his career, although of course dealt with in a cursory manner with no more than six pages per story.

"Logan's Next Life" is a two page short about re-incarnation. Apparently you keep your birthmarks between incarnations.

"The Cadmus Seed" (also recently reprinted in THE JACK KIRBY READER v2) is a silly little story with some interesting use of cloning, echoing some later JIMMY OLSEN stories. I also just noticed that there's a line in here which sounds suspiciously like one of the best lines in an Alan Moore Swamp Thing story and a scene which looks like it could have inspired the Gaiman/McKean version of Black Orchid.

"The Fourth Dimension is a Many Splattered Thing" is goofy, mostly notable for Kirby getting to draw some nice cubist/surrealist landscapes for a few pages.

"The Last Enemy" is probably the most interesting story in here from a "Kirby's other work" perspective, since there are clear hints of Kamandi's world. In this version, a man goes to the future in a time machine, to find a world where men have been destroyed by atom bombs and intelligent animals have taken over, all of whom would fit in perfectly in a Kamandi story.

Also interesting is that the villains of the piece are the rats, who have dug a tunnel system under the earth as part of the plan their eventual takeover, which resonates with themes in Kirby's unfinished novel, THE HORDE.

"Donnegan's Daffy Chair" features a flying chair, which of course evokes Metron of the New Gods and his Mobius Chair. The rest of the story doesn't, but it's some goofy fun, with a good sense of humour.

"Hole in the Wall" features an old newspaper employee who dreams of fanciful travel, gets fired and finally realizes his dreams. This is, I think, the best of the stories here, with some wonderfully evocative images of the times, as well as some nice fantasy images.

"The Big Hunt" goes back to merely silly, with a story about a man who goes to the fifth dimension in an experiment and hunts there. The big interest is Kiry dreaming up some wild fantasy animals.

"The Fireballs" is a UFO story, with people seeing mysterious balls of flame in the sky. I'm still not sure I understand exactly what happens in this story.

"I Want to Be a Man" giant robots, Kirby style, in a fun little story which seems to be inspired by Asimov's short stories of this period. Great splash page of the robot, which was also used on the backcover of the digest.

Lots of other fun stuff besides, and fairly well printed given the digest size, this probably isn't too easy to find, but worth picking up if you do. A shame Kirby's other work for Harvey from the era (including a few more ALARMING TALES stories, several issues of BLACK CAT MYSTIC and some science fiction and war comics) hasn't been reprinted.

Friday, November 19, 2004

This Hostage Cover

Some more random covers from scattered years. Did you know that there are about 400 Jack Kirby covers for books that didn't have Kirby interior work? Just so you don't think there's any danger of running out...

GREEN HORNET #9, 1942. Gorgeous early cover done for Harvey Comics, with a nice "ugly mobster" type and an interesting composition.

AVENGERS, THE #12, 1965. Great looking Chic Stone inked cover of the team. I especially like the classic Kirby pose of Giant-Man's hand there.

CAPTAIN GLORY #1, 1993. From the "coulda been a contender" file, this illustration dates from the same time as the concept art that would evolve into the Fourth World characters, apparently at some point known as Captain Victory. The character remained unused, although his name did go on to bigger things in the 1980s. Finally, when Topps licenced some Kirby concepts in the 1990s for their shortlived "Kirbyverse" line, this great looking piece of art saw print, with some fine Ditko art inside.

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Forbidden Tales of Dark Mansion #6 - The Psychic Blood-Hound

Another story originally meant for SPIRIT WORLD #2, this one is about a man who has psychic abilities, and uses them to help the police solve crimes.

This is an interesting story, reads like something out of a 1950s issue of BLACK MAGIC, with a few pretty gory scenes and sudden violence. The art is what makes it, with sharp inks by Mike Royer really capturing the setting and the dark mood.

Also in this issue is a one page text feature on the subject of psychic mysteries, with a Kirby collage on the borders.

Published 1972

Monday, November 15, 2004

Who's Who #2

Kirby did four pieces for this issue of WHO'S WHO, all inked by Greg Theakston.

Beautiful Dreamer of the Forever People is up first, and is the best looking one this issue, with some nice images of her, including one of her conjuring up one of her illusions.

Ben Boxer from Kamandi is up next, showing how he transforms with his cyclo-heart.

Big Barda from Mister Miracle is here, too, although I would have expected a stronger image given some of the great Barda art from the 1970s. This one is just okay.

Another Forever Person, Big Bear, is the last Kirby entry in this issue, with some nice images of him and the super-cycle, one of those great Kirby vehicles.

Silver Surfer 1978 Graphic Novel

Kirby drew this 100 page graphic novel on his return to Marvel in the 1970s, re-uniting with his long-time FANTASTIC FOUR collaborative team. It's an interesting book, and well worth hunting down a copy for the Kirby/Sinnott art alone. There's something just so elegant and powerful about the way Kirby draws the Surfer, and Sinnott brings it out as good as anyone.

The final panel of this page, of a Surfer monument made by a tribe he passed by one his travels, is one of my favourite images from that entire era of Kirby's career.

The story re-tells the coming of Galactus story, without the Fantastic Four. In this version, the Surfer finds Earth, decides to defy Galactus, who exiles him to Earth. The Surfer explores humanity, and then Galactus attempts to win him back, using a golden female creation of his, Ardina, who both seduces him and tries to convince him of the worthlessness of humanity. Also in the mix is an interesting character, Galactus' Master of Guile (called the "Devil's Advocate" in Kirby's character design printed in THE JACK KIRBY COLLECTOR #22), who represents the evil side of Darkseid.

The biggest problem in this book is probably that the structure of the story seems to require Kirby's original concept of the Surfer, as a creation of Galactus, while the whole Zenn-La, Shalla Bal nonsense is shoe-horned in (in a two page flashback sequence that doesn't make much sense and constantly in the dialogue). It just doesn't work. Taking that out and mentally adjusting, and taking out some of the more flowery excesses of the script, and it works a lot better.

This book also has a non-Kirby cover painting, which isn't too good, based on a far better Kirby image, printed in THE JACK KIRBY COLLECTOR #9. Also in here are bios of the creators, with a great photo of Kirby, oddly with a pipe rather than the cigar he's usually associated with.

The book was reprinted by Marvel in the late 1990s, I think with a different cover based on one of the interior images, but I don't have a copy to verify that.

Sunday, November 14, 2004

Western covers

Here are a nice trio of covers for Western comics from through the years.

PRIZE COMICS WESTERN #75, 1949. From right in the middle of the S&K years, this is a nice sample of their work, with some gorgeous inking and all sorts of great classic western cliche touches.

WYATT EARP #25, 1959. Christopher Rule is the attributed inker, and it's a pretty cover. The background figures are what make it for me, especially the guy seemingly intent on climbing on top of the saloon.

RAWHIDE KID #36, 1963. Dick Ayers inks, and a great set-up for the interior story.

Thursday, November 11, 2004

New Kirby - Marvel Masterworks Avengers v4

Okay, this will be one of the most obscure new Kirby reprint mentions you'll ever see. There's a new Marvel Masterworks out, the fourth Avengers volume. The Kirby content of it is the cover of AVENGERS #33, where Kirby drew the background characters only, and the cover of AVENGERS #35, where the Captain America figure is lifted from a TALES OF SUSPENSE story.

Also, just for completeness, the recent AVENGERS #503 apparently reprints three pages from AVENGERS #16, as well as a few Kirby panels in some collage pages of Avengers history. No comment on the rest of the book, except to say there are far better ways to get those Kirby pages.

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

What If #11 - The Fantastic Four Were the Original Marvel Bullpen

One of the sillier concepts of all time, this features Kirby and others from Marvel in the 1960s transformed into the Fantastic Four. Kirby is cast as The Thing, of course.

It's all delightfully goofy, with a few gentle shots taken at the old Smilin' One. And it was good to see Kirby getting one last pseudo-shot at writing and drawing a Fantastic Four story.

Joe Sinnott inked the cover, while Mike Royer and Bill Wray inked the 34 interior pages.

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

Journey Into Mystery #59 - I Unleashed Shagg Upon the World

Steve Ditko inked the cover over Jack Kirby for this issue, while Dick Ayers handled the inks for the lead story, "I Unleashed Shagg upon the World". This is really one of the weaker Atlas monster stories, with a man finding a hidden lever next to the Sphinx, bringing it to life as the alien conquerer Shagg.

Shagg proceeds to rampage across Europe then onto America, before realizing that his fellow alien conquers aren't around, and he was re-animated early. So he, um, just reverses everything with his cosmo-gamma electro-magnetic waves, which also makes everyone forget him, and returns to his Sphinx position.

As I said, weak story, but the art is nice, especially the Kirby/Ditko cover. And the rest of the book has some nice Ditko and Heck art.

Published 1960

Trio of Cover

ADVENTURE COMICS #97, 1945. Very dynamic S&K cover of Sandman and Sandy facing off against aliens.

HOUSE OF MYSTERY #79, 1958. The monster on this cover is kind of weak, but the foreground figure is nice, with some nice inking from that period.

DEFENDERS, THE #43, 1977. Al Milgrom inks, with a nice big Hulk figure. Kirby drawing Doc Strange always looks a bit wrong, though.

Monday, November 08, 2004

--Link-- Kirby and Judaism

Thanks to Scott Saavedra for pointing out this article from a few years back, from the Jewish Journal of Los Angeles, about some aspects of Kirby's religious life and how it figured into his work. Fun stuff.

Check out Scott's Devil Dinosaur sketch while you're at his site, too.

Chamber of Darkness #7 - I Found the Abominable Snowman

This 1970 comic reprints a Kirby/Ditko story from TALES TO ASTONISH #13 from 1960.

Very nicely paced story about a man who comes across a photo of the Abominable Snowman, and starts on an obsessive search through the Himalayas for the mythic beast. The exotic locales come through nicely, and the story builds cleverly to the inevitable conclusion. Definitely one of the better overall Atlas stories, and the Ditko inks over Kirby are always a treat.

Published 1970

Three Covers

SANDMAN, THE #3, 1975. Gotta love the monkey with the mechanical brain. Royer inks.

JOURNEY INTO MYSTERY #53, 1959. Giant robots attack, more Atlas sci-fi fun. The actually story for this cover was drawn by Don Heck.

STAR SPANGLED COMICS #42, 1945. More from the wartime stretch when Simon&Kirby just did the covers for the Newsboy Legion stories. Y'know, they're lucky those criminals kept coming up with elaborate traps with lions rather than, I dunno, just shooting them.

Saturday, November 06, 2004

Upcoming Kirby - Smithsonian Book...

There's a Kirby story in the upcoming anthology THE NEW SMITHSONIAN BOOK OF COMIC BOOK STORIES: FROM CRUMB TO CLOWES (ISBN 1588341836). It's a reprint of FANTASTIC FOUR #21, which seems like an odd choice, not really one of the best or even representative of his career, but there you go.

Book Description
The definitive collection by the most celebrated (and notorious) comic book artists of our time.

A panorama of some of the most creative and subversive art of our times, this one-of-a-kind anthology celebrates the artistry and insight of comic book art, graphic novels, and graphic journalism from the 1960s to the present. Classics such as R. Crumb's I Remember the Sixties, Stan Lee and Steve Ditko's Spider-Man saga "The Final Chapter" (from Spider-Man #33), and Dan Clowes's Caricature are featured, plus new sequences of work by Chris Ware and Ben Katchor created exclusively for this volume.

Other sections include work by Gilbert Shelton and Paul Mavrides ("The Death of Fat Freddy"), Harvey Pekar and R. Crumb ("Jack the Bellboy and Mr. Boats"), Carol Tyler ("Labor"), Stan Lee and Jim Steranko ("The Strange Death of Captain America"), Stan Lee and Jack Kirby ("The Hate Monger"), Bob Kanigher and Joe Kubert ("Enemy Ace"), Will Eisner ("Izzy the Cockroach and the Meaning of Life"), Rick Geary ("Farewell to Charlie Chaplin"), Kaz ("Dream of the Pork Rinds Fiend"), Charles Burns ("Robot Love"), Gary Panter ("Jimbo"), Art Spigelman ("The Honeymoon" from Maus), Frank Miller with Klaus Janson and Lynn Varley ("Born Again" from Daredevil), Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons ("Dr. Manhattan" from Watchmen), Neil Gaiman with Charles Vess and Malcolm Jones III ("A Midsummer Night's Dream" from The Sandman), Joe Sacco ("Hebron"), Jaime Hernandez ("Locos"), Gilbert Hernandez ("Pipo"), Dori Seda ("The Do-Nothing Decade"), Eddie Campbell ("Nobody Left at the Café Guerbois"), and more. The book is divided into four main galleries: Underground Comics, Silver Age Super Heroes, A Raw Generation, and Dark Fiction and Deep Fantasy, and includes a special supplement of four-color work by Lynda Barry and others as well. In his lively introduction Bob Callahan celebrates the achievements of American comic book art from the late 1930s to the present. An indispensible collection. 100 color, 300 b/w illustrations.

Thursday, November 04, 2004

Adventures of the Fly TPB

The recently released collection of the first four issues of ADVENTURES OF THE FLY from 1959/1960. The first issue is all Simon&Kirby, as is half of #2.

Mostly very good reproduction on the Kirby stories, except for one story which is clearly taken from a printed copy and is a bit wanting. The covers (only the first by Kirby) are also taken from printed copies, but look pretty good since obviously they were on better paper.

"The Hide-Out"
A quick two-page feature from THE DOUBLE LIFE OF PRIVATE STRONG #1, introducing the character. Nice preview (the first of two, the second by Joe Simon is also in here), where Kirby gets to draw his trademark thugs getting punched by a briefly seen Fly.

"The Strange New World Of The Fly"
The origin of the Fly, which is about as silly as you'd expect, with orphan Tommy Troy getting sent to live with an old couple, finding a ring which summons Turan, emissary of the Fly People, and transforms him to a super-hero. Fun stuff.

"The Fly Strikes"
The conclusion of the origin, with the Fly rounding up the bad guys who were shaking down the orphanage.

"The Fly Discovers His Buzz Gun"
Hard to believe it took him this long to discover it, it's right there strapped to his leg. Also introduces Tommy's neighbour, Dolly Lake.

"Come Into My Parlor"
Great opening, which would have been a centerfold page in the original, but is printed on a single page sideways here. Not sure about that, but it still looks nice. This is the best story in here overall, with great art and the introduction of Spider Spry, a great looking deformed Kirby villain.

"Magic Eye"
Very silly and quick story about a fight with a robot, and I'm still not sure what the title means, but this has some great fighting

"Marco's Eyes"
The only weak reproduction of a Kirby story in this collection. Still not too bad, just a bit splotchy with the linework and lettering after the double page spread (again printed sideways on one page) that opens the story is great, and it does appear to be from the original art, fortunately. Anyway, it's a nice story about a hypnotist turned evil, very much with the feel of old Fawcett Captain Marvel stories, I thought.

"The Master Of Junk-Ri-La"
This time the Fly takes on Hans Yunkman, a junkman inventor who makes a safe robbing plane out of junk. Yeah, it looks that silly, too.

Non-Kirby work includes Joe Simon (including a new introduction), Dick Ayers, Al Williamson and others, a cover by Joe Staton and Bob Smith.

Published 2004

Upcoming Kirby - Marvel early 2005

This is the Kirby stuff from Marvel's tentative schedule for the first few months of 2005, as posted to rec.arts.comics.marvel.universe.

MARVEL WEDDINGS TPB (one story, which is also reprinted in the MV:STAN LEE book)
BEST OF THE FANTASTIC FOUR HC (FF #1, #39, #40, #51 and probably the cover to #176)
ESSENTIAL THOR VOL. 2 TPB (JiM/THOR #113-#126, Annuals #1, #2)

The last one is the most exciting to me. The most odd is the BLACK PANTHER book.

Note two other books of some interest on their own merits, although the Kirby content will likely only be a handful of covers.


Details of the Kirby books:


ISBN: 0-7851-1693-1
304 Hard Cover Color
“Captain America Foils the Traitor’s Revenge,” CAPTAIN AMERICA COMICS #3, Stan's first story, a two-page text piece! “The Red Skull’s Deadly Revenge,” CAPTAIN AMERICA COMICS #16, the defining Golden Age Red Skull story! “The Raving Madman,” SUSPENSE #29, Stan's satire on Frederick Wertham and the comics witch hunts of the '50s! “Your Name Is Frankenstein!” MENACE #7, a modern Frankenstein story, featuring many of the elements of the later Marvel books! “Where Walks the Ghost,” AMAZING ADULT FANTASY #11, a short, twist-ending story by Lee and Ditko! Plus: “Spider-Man,” AMAZING FANTASY #15; “A Visit With the Fantastic Four,” FANTASTIC FOUR #11; “How Stan and Steve Create Spider-Man,” AMAZING SPIDER-MAN ANNUAL #1; “In Mortal Combat with Sub-Mariner,” DAREDEVIL #7; “The Final Chapter,” AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #33; “Bedlam in the Baxter Building,” FANTASTIC FOUR ANNUAL #3; “And Who Shall Mourn for Him?” SILVER SURFER #5; “Brother, Take My Hand,” DAREDEVIL #47; “And Now, The Goblin,” “In the Grip of the Goblin,” “The Goblin’s Last Stand,” AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #96-98; “No More the Thunder God,” “When Gods Go Mad,” “One God Must Fall,” THOR #179-181; “While the World Spins Mad,” MARVEL PREMIERE #3; and “The Circle of Life,” SPECTACULAR SPIDER-MAN SUPER-SPECIAL 1995


ISBN: 0-7851-1687-7
136 Pages Trade Paperback Color
Collects: Black Panther (1977) 1-7

ISBN: 0-7851-1686-9
200 Pages Trade Paperback Color
Collects: FF Annual 3; Incredible Hulk 319; Avengers 59-60, 127; FF 150; ASM Ann 21; X-Men 30

MARCH 2005

ISBN: 0-7851-1694-X
272 Pages Masterworks HC Color
Collects: FF 72-81, Annual 6

MAY 2005

ISBN: 0-7851-1702-2
360 Page Hard Cover Color
Collects: FANTASTIC FOUR #1 - "The Fantastic Four,” FANTASTIC FOUR #39-40 - "Battle of the Baxter Building,” FANTASTIC FOUR #51 - "This Man, This Monster,” FANTASTIC FOUR #116 - "The Alien, The Ally and Armageddon,” FANTASTIC FOUR #176 - Impossible Man by Roy Thomas and George Perez, FANTASTIC FOUR #236 - "Terror in a Tiny Town,” FANTASTIC FOUR #267 - Sue loses the baby, MARVEL FANFARE #15 - Barry Smith Thing story, FANTASTIC FOUR #347-349 - "The New Fantastic Four,” FANTASTIC FOUR v3 #56 - Ben is Jewish, FANTASTIC FOUR v3 #60 - Imaginauts.

ISBN: 0-7851-1591-9
584 Trade Paperback B&W
Collects: Thor 113-126, Annual 1-2

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

Black Panther #10 - This World Shall Die

Some people seem to have a problem with the fact that, on launching the new BLACK PANTHER series in 1977, Kirby mostly went in a completely different direction from what was done with the character in the previous years. I never quite got that, but then I haven't read much of that non-Kirby stuff.

What Kirby did was a fast-paced action-adventure book, a bit silly at times, but enjoyable.

I like the middle panel on this page, it has a very nice Kirby dynamic and sense of playfulness. Plus those other members of the Wakanda royal family can be pretty funny.

Joe Sinnott inked the cover while Mike Royer inked the story.

Published 1978

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

Cover Gallery Decision 2004

WYATT EARP #22, 1959. Kirby only did a handful of covers for this book, this one is attributed to Christopher Rule inks.

TALES TO ASTONISH #53, 1964. Okay, I'm going to hope that Kirby didn't have anything to do with designing the Porcupine, and just worked with what he was given. That's just a sad looking character. Good pose for Giant-Man, though. Brodsky inks.

MARVEL TWO-IN-ONE #20, 1976. Inked by Frank Giacoia. I dunno why, but U-Man as drawn by Kirby kind of cracks me up.

Monday, November 01, 2004

Monsters on the Prowl #15 - The Thing Called... It!

This is a reprint of the Kirby/Ayers contribution to STRANGE TALES #82. I guess whoever it was who named the monsters was tired that week, so this one just got named "It". I'm sure he's mocked at the Atlas Monster reunions by Zzutak, Orrgo and Fin Fang Foom.

The story features another one of those castle owning mad scientists in an unspecified European country, driven mad with jealousy for the recognition given to a rival trying to create some artificial life. I love the bit where It starts to stand but falls. Looks like a monster who had too much to drink, especially given the odd fact that he's wearing a suit. Anyway, he eventually comes to life thanks to the magical properties of quicksand, but turns out to be useless to a revenge seeking scientist thanks to a pesky respect for life that he got with his sentience. This eventually ends happily thanks to, apparently, the timely intervention of God.

As silly as they are, I love the Atlas monster stories, which always look cool if nothing else.