Archival Site 2004-2006 see See http://kirbymuseum.org/blogs/kirby/

Friday, December 31, 2004

New Kirby - Smithsonian Book...

Just confirming the recent release of the previously mentioned anthology, THE NEW SMITHSONIAN BOOK OF COMIC BOOK STORIES: FROM CRUMB TO CLOWES (ISBN 1588341836). As promised, it has a reprint of "The Hate-Monger" from FF #21, in black and white. Looks very sharp, though I again question the choice given the less than stellar story and one of the lesser Kirby inkers

Amazon and presumably other online sellers have a pretty decent discount on it right now, and it should be showing up in most library systems.

Year-end weblog tally

I know I've gotten some new readers recently thanks to plugs at Fred Hembeck's site and others, and I wanted a quick reference page for posts I'd made, so here it is. To date, for those who care about such things:
178 posts in 111 days
204 Kirby books posted about
(plus two card sets)
116 of those books Kirby just did covers for
88 had Kirby interior content
15 posts announcing new/upcoming publications
19 posts of links to other sites
7 assorted administrative posts, like this one

Main Posts
100-Page Super Spectacular #DC-15
1st Issue Special #6 - Dingbats of Danger Street
2001: A Space Odyssey #7 - The New Seed
A DC Universe Christmas - Santa Fronts For The Mob
Adventures of the Fly TPB
Amazing Heroes #100
Best of DC #22 - The Seal-Men's War on Santa Claus
Black Magic (DC) #7 - "The Cloak" and "Freak!"
Black Magic (DC) #9 - The Woman in the Tower
Black Panther #10 - This World Shall Die
Black Panther #7 - Drums
Blast-Off #1
Brave and the Bold "Annual, No 1" - The Invasion of America
Buried Treasure #1 - The Mad White God of Palm Island
Buried Treasure v1#2 - "Inky" - proposed S&K strip
Captain America #112 - Lest We Forget
Captain America Collectors' Preview #1 - The Case of the Hollow Men
Captain Victory and the Galactic Rangers #1
Challengers of the Unknown #79
Chamber of Darkness #7 - I Found the Abominable Snowman
Classics Illustrated #35 - Last Days of Pompeii
Comic Reader #100
Dead of Night #10 - I Dream of Doom
Demon #4 - The Creature From the Beyond
Destroyer Duck #1 - It's Got the Whole World...in Its Hand!
Devil Dinosaur #1 - Devil Dinosaur and Moon-Boy
Eternals #1 - Day of the Gods
Fantastic Four #51 - This Man, This Monster
Fantastic Four #78 - The Thing No More
Fantasy Masterpieces #2 - Fin Fang Foom
Forbidden Tales of Dark Mansion #6 - The Psychic Blood-Hound
Forever People #4 - The Kingdom of the Damned
Giant-Size Chillers #3 - The Monster
Giant-Size Defenders #1 - Surfer / Hulk reprints
Giant-Size Master of Kung Fu #3
Giant-Size Spider-Man #1 - On The Trail Of The Amazing Spider-Man
Gunslingers #1
House of Mystery #199 - He Doomed the World
Jack Kirby Checklist
Jack Kirby's Heroes and Villains
Jimmy Olsen #141 - Will the Real Don Rickles Panic?
Jimmy Olsen #144
Journey Into Mystery #59 - I Unleashed Shagg Upon the World
Journey into Mystery v2 #18
Journey into Mystery v2 #19 - When the Mummy Walks
Justice, Inc. #4 - Slay Ride in the Sky
Kamandi #32 - Me
Kamandi #40 - The Lizard Lords of Los Lorraine
Ka-Zar #2
Kirbyverse cards
Kobra #1 - Fangs of the Kobra
Machine Man #1 - Machine Man
Marvel Tales #123 - The Reason Why
Marvel Tales #193 - The Fabulous FF Meet Spider-Man
MGC #43 - Klaw - The Murderous Master of Sound
Mighty Marvel Western #44 - Doom in the Desert
Millennium Edition - Young Romance #1
Monster Menace #3 - Zzutak
Monsters on the Prowl #15 - The Thing Called... It!
New Gods #2 - O' Deadly Darkseid
New Gods #7 - The Pact
Not Brand Echh #3 - The Origin of Sore
Our Fighting Forces #155 - The Partisans
Our Love Story #12 - He Was Perfect - But I Lost Him
Rawhide Kid Special #1
Sandman #1 - The Sandman
Satan's Six #1
Shocking Tales Digest #1
Silver Surfer 1978 Graphic Novel
Strange Tales #120 - The Torch Meets the Iceman
Strange Tales #136 - Find Fury or Die
Strange Tales #145 - Lo! The Eggs Shall Hatch
Strange World of Your Dreams #3
Super Powers v1#1
Superman Gallery #1
Tales of Suspense #19 - The Green Thing
Thor #159 - The Answer at Last
Thor #177 - To End in Flames
Two-Gun Kid #55 - The Outlaw
Unpublished Archives trading cards
Wanted #9 - The Adventure of the Magic Forest
Weird Mystery Tales #2 - Toxl the World-Killer
What If #11 - The Fantastic Four Were the Original Marvel Bullpen
Where Monsters Dwell #27
Where Monsters Dwell #36 - The Impossible Tunnel
Who's Who #15
Who's Who #16
Who's Who #17 - OMAC & Orion
Who's Who #2
World's Finest Comics #187 - The Green Arrow's First Case



Covers
Amazing Spider-Man #35 - Cover
Avengers #157 - Cover
Black Cat Mystery #57 - Cover
Black Goliath #4 - Cover
Defenders #44 - Cover
First Romance Magazine #42 - Cover
Hi-School Romance #54 - Cover
Iron Man #80 - Cover
Marvel Mystery Comics #12 - Cover
Sandman #2 - Cover
Skull the Slayer #8 - Cover
Tales of Suspense #36 - Cover
Tales to Astonish #52 - Cover
Thor #249 - Cover
1940s Covers
1940s Kirby covers
1950s Covers
1960s Covers
1970s Covers
1970s retro covers
A half century of Covers
Ancient Cover Gallery
Another Cover Gallery
Cover Gallery
Cover Gallery - Airboy, Two-Gun Kid, Hulk, Bombast
Cover Gallery - FF, Ghost Rider, 3-D Man
Cover Gallery Decision 2004
Covers to go
Horror/Monster Covers
Late Period Covers
Lesser Villains of the early 1960s
More 1970s Marvel covers
More 70s Marvel Covers
More covers
Number One Cover Gallery
Random Covers
Romance Covers
This Hostage Cover
This Post, This Cover Gallery
Three Covers
Trio of Cover
Various 1960s covers
Various genre covers
War Cover Gallery
Wartime cover gallery
Western covers
Yet Another Cover Gallery



Links
--Link-- 1977 Kirby con program art
--Link-- Ben Grimm and Religion
--Link-- Evanier's Kirby stuff
--Link-- Fin Fang Foom day
--Link-- Fred Hembeck
--Link-- Joe Sinnott website
--Link-- Kirby and Judaism
--Link-- Kirby Collector
--Link-- Kirby in the Marvel Universe
--Link-- Kirby interview video
--Link-- Kirby tribute site
--Link-- Kirby's Legacy at Slate
--Link-- Kirby's Monsters
--Link-- Kirby's NCS bio
--Link-- Kirby's Superman
--Link-- Lords of Light
--Link-- Monster Blog
--Link-- Oddball Comics by Shaw!
--Link-- Upcoming Ayers autobio comic



New/Upcoming book announcements
New Kirby - Adventures of the Fly
New Kirby - Essential Iron Man #2 etc
New Kirby - Jack Kirby Reader Volume 2
New Kirby - Jimmy Olsen v2
New Kirby - Marvel Masterworks Avengers v4
New Kirby - Marvel Visionaries Jack Kirby
New Kirby - Unleashed, Collector, Hulk
New Royer - Radioactive Man #9 [#197]
Upcoming Kirby - March 2005
Upcoming Kirby - March 2005 Marvel
Upcoming Kirby - Marvel early 2005
Upcoming Kirby - Marvel Visionaries Stan Lee
Upcoming Kirby - Modern Arf
Upcoming Kirby - Panther and FF reprints
Upcoming Kirby - Smithsonian Book...



Admin posts
2004 - A Kirby Odyssey
Cheap Attention-Grabbing Contest
Comments
Kirby inking
Taking a break
Welcome

1st Issue Special #6 - Dingbats of Danger Street

What better way to end a year?

Definitely the oddest piece to come out of Kirby's five year stay at DC in the 1970s (at least among the published works) is his try at an updated kid gang, the Dingbats of Danger Street. This is strange by Kirby standards, and this is a guy who created a flying cosmic surfer.

The Dingbats are Good Looks, Krunch, Non-Fat and Bananas, as they announce to us on the first page. Orphans all, who have formed their own gang to get by on Danger Street. In their debut adventure, the unintentionally help cop Terry Mullins capture the villain Jumping Jack, and in the process Non-Fat almost chokes on the film strip canister Jack was smuggling and hid in his hot dog. And then Jack's partner the Gasser shows up, and things get really kooky.



It all has an odd charm, but I think it does deserve most of the mockery that's been heaped on it over the years. I did find Lt. Mullins kind of interesting, and wonder if he'd have become a gruffer version of Jim Harper to the Dingbats with time.

Mike Royer inks on this one, so that always looks nice.

The job codes (as documented in the JACK KIRBY CHECKLIST) suggest that Kirby drew the first issue shortly after MISTER MIRACLE and THE DEMON were cancelled, while he was also working on the middle issues of KAMANDI and the early issues of OMAC, and he drew at least three issues in a few months (some have suggested even more exist, but I don't think pages have ever turned up). For some reason DC didn't rush it into print, and only published the first issue as one of the "1st Issue Special" one-shots some time later. About half the pages from the other two issues have seen print in the various fanzines, mostly THE JACK KIRBY COLLECTOR, and are actually even more fun than the first, if you can judge based on such a random sampling of pages scattered across a half-dozen books. The second issue had a great two-page spread. I'm sure someday soon we'll see a deluxe hardcover collecting all three issues.

Since I know you'll want more, you can read the Scott Shaw! take on this issue here.

Published September 1975.

Thursday, December 30, 2004

Journey into Mystery v2 #18

This mid-1970s reprint book has two Kirby/Ayers classics from the early 1960s. From TALES OF SUSPENSE #31 is "The Monster in the Iron Mask", a 7 page story. In this one, an invading alien race sends an advance scout to soften up Earth before their full force attacks. The alien is first seen by the son of a struggling stage magician, and (seemingly foolishly) announces to the boy that his one weakness is gas, which he's protected from by his mask.



The military keeps trying and failing to defeat him, hoping to get him to remove his mask, including an attack with an A-Bomb (they were pretty cavalier about A-Bombs in these stories). They fail until the magician from the beginning realizes that the alien's announcement was a bit of mis-direction, and he was fully vulnerable to gas and the "mask" was his real face. Those aliens are tricksy.

Cool monster, although coloured a bit silly in this reprint. I also liked the boy's dog who appears throughout this story, even if he didn't have a story purpose.

From TALES TO ASTONISH #30 is "The Thing From the Hidden Swamp", a 6 page story. A plain-looking woman unhappy with the lack of romance in her life goes on a cruise and then goes rowing alone in a swamp, where she finds a space-ship and an alien monster. Nice scene where we have both her and the alien's thoughts for a few panels, as the alien is as afraid of her. She ends up helping the alien, and later finds that he's made her attractive. Not a very satisfying story, but the art has several nice scenes, including the moody opening page.

New non-Kirby cover for this issue, allegedly illustrating "Hidden Swamp", but amusingly completely missing the point of the story on several levels.

Published 1975

Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Amazing Spider-Man #35 - Cover

Here's one that always fascinated me. The Spidey figure on the cover of AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #35 is a Kirby figure (usually attributed to Ditko inks, but I never quite saw that). Don't think it's ever been reprinted in any other version in English (unlike some other covers with paste-ups which reverted in reprints), but someone dug up this foreign reprint. Click for a closer look at both covers.



  


I will say that the modified version is the more attractive cover, with a great Spidey figure. I'm not sure exactly why the original was seen as needing altering, though. Too unflattering a pose for the hero? Did it make Spidey's butt look too big?

MGC #43 - Klaw - The Murderous Master of Sound

MARVEL'S GREATEST COMICS #43 offers an almost complete reprint of the story from FF #56 in 1966, including the cover. Joe Sinnott inks, of course. In the main story, Klaw, from the recent Black Panther storyline, returns to attack the FF with new powers and a new costume, hoping to lure in the Panther. He seals off Reed and Ben in the lab while attacking Sue. There's some great Reed/Ben interplay in their scenes this issue, like Ben asking "How come ya never cook up any gizmos that work better on guys who can stretch?".



The FF prevail in the end, thanks to a remote assist from T'Challa with a delivery of vibranium.

As all this occurs, the Inhumans remain imprisoned, with Black Bolt becoming injured trying to escape, while Johnny and Wyatt Wingfoot continue their search for the Inhumans with Lockjaw, the teleporting dog. God, I love all these characters introduced in just the previous year of the book.

Unfortunately, this issue removes the last tier of panels from the final page, which set-up the Surfer/Doom storyline, since they were skipping it in this book, having reprinted it in MARVEL TRIPLE ACTION the previous year (which, looking at the dates now, is odd. They were reprinting the second major Surfer story in one book while reprinting the first one in another).

Published 1973

Tuesday, December 28, 2004

Lesser Villains of the early 1960s

A trio of Kirby-on-the-outside books from the early Marvel Universe, showing not everyone was a Doctor Doom, Magneto or Modok.

STRANGE TALES #112, 1963. Inker unknown, possibly Ayers? Nicely drawn figure, but the Eel has one of the dullest costumes ever. Which I guess is fine for his profession, but doesn't make for splashy comics.

TALES OF SUSPENSE #45, 1963. Don Heck inks. I dunno, I just find it amusing that Happy and Pepper got such a big build-up on their first appearance. Well, they probably did deserve it more than Jack Frost.

TALES TO ASTONISH #47, 1963. Dick Ayers inks. Ah, menaced by a giant piano playing hand. Is it any wonder that they added growing powers just a few issues later?


















Monday, December 27, 2004

Super Powers v1#1

The first SUPER POWERS mini-series was five issues, with Kirby doing all the covers, plotting the first four and writing and pencilling the last issue. In a bit of an coincidence, when this series came out, Kenner released a line of action figures that had the same eight heroes and four villains that are featured in this book. What are the odds.

In addition to the cover of this issue, Kirby also drew an ad for the series that, kind of reduntantly, appears in the first issue. Both cover and ad are inked by Mike Royer.



I like how the play it coy about who the master villain is in the ad and in this first issue. It's pretty subtle, that shadowing figure in blue and grey whose minions appear with a loud "Boom".

I'd be curious to read what Kirby's actual plot for this issue was. It's not a bad first issue, given the extended ad nature of the book. Pretty much just Darkseid sending his minions to give extra powers to various Earth villiansThe art by Adrian Gonzales and Pablo Marcos is nice, except that there's too much of an attempt to make it look like Kirby on the surface elements. Lots of squiqqles and cosmic energy dots, while shades of their own style seem to bubble through at times.

Worth a look, but not too long a look.

Published 1984

Sunday, December 26, 2004

2004 - A Kirby Odyssey

A quick survey of Kirby related releases in 2004. I still have to pick up a few of them, and I don't get the Marvel Masterworks volumes, but I think I can safely say my personal pick of the year is THE JACK KIRBY READER v2, for its volume and variety of choice material I haven't read before in a nice format. Second place, and more recommended for casual fans for whom more of it will be new-to-them, is MARVEL VISIONARIES - JACK KIRBY.



Archie's entry in the Kirby derby was ADVENTURES OF THE FLY. Mostly excellent reproduction, some questionable layout choices, fun late 1950s material.

DC had two entries, finishing up the Kirby runs of two major series, JIMMY OLSEN BY JACK KIRBY v2 and CHALLENGERS OF THE UNKNOWN ARCHIVES v2. I prefer the format of the JIMMY OLSEN book, and hope they do more like that in the future. The only semi-concrete Kirby on their future schedule seems to be KAMANDI, in the Archives format.

Greg Theakston's Pure Imagination published THE JACK KIRBY READER v2, an excellent selection of pre-1960 material from a variety of publishers, showcasing the various genres Kirby worked in nicely. Possibly more books from Theakston will follow in 2005.

Marvel had some nice stuff this year.

In the trivial department, only two new books in the Essential line had any Kirby, both trivial. One cover and an FF crossover issue (#73) in ESSENTIAL DAREDEVIL v2 and several covers and 10 pages of a Namor crossover issue (from TtA #82) in ESSENTIAL IRON MAN v2 (the covers duplicating those already in ESSENTIAL CAPTAIN AMERICA v1). Next year should be better, with new Thor and FF volumes likely.

The Marvel Masterworks line finally finished re-releasing old volumes (often with some corrections, additions and shuffling from the original printings, plus some being released in softcovers exclusively to Barnes&Noble) and added some new ones. Trivial Kirby content in AVENGERS v4 (one partial cover) and X-MEN v4 (three covers), major Kirby content in FF v7 (everything) and HULK v2 (about half the book in pencils or layouts). Next year should see more FF, Golden Age CAPTAIN AMERICA and maybe more.

Marvel also did a paperback reprint of the MADBOMB storyline from Kirby's mid-1970s return to CAPTAIN AMERICA. At least a BLACK PANTHER book will follow in this format next year.

The big one from Marvel was MARVEL VISIONARIES - JACK KIRBY, of course. Good format, excellent price, mostly good reproduction, fair story selection. Future volumes in the series will include Stan Lee and Steve Ditko (with some Kirby art in the Lee volume).

Fan publisher TwoMorrows had a good selection, with two tabloid issues of THE JACK KIRBY COLLECTOR, a fourth volume of THE COLLECTED JACK KIRBY COLLECTOR reprinting earlier issues and the re-issue of KIRBY UNLEASHED. Also of note from TwoMorrows, ALTER EGO #36 had a section on Joe Simon, with some Kirby art and information, and #39 had a page with some of the DC S&K stuff, including a neat house ad from 1943 touting the team and their various features. I suspect some other fan publications like COMIC BOOK ARTIST or BACK ISSUE might have had some minor Kirby content, but I didn't get those. Same with any AC Comics publications. Feel free to follow-up with any info on those if you got them. Nothing too minor to warrent a mention.

Also this year, Ronin Ro's biography of Kirby, TALES TO ASTONISH, was published. Still haven't read it so no opinion offered. The only Kirby art in it was the cover with detail sections of an early 1970s Kirby drawing that's been printed in TJKC.

And editing to add a late edition here, THE NEW SMITHSONIAN BOOK OF COMIC BOOK STORIES also came out in 2004, with a black and white reprint of FF #21.

And, I only just found this looking for other Kirby publications, Graphitti Designs did a t-shirt with some Kirby/Royer art, featuring the Galactic Bounty Hunters, which apparently someone might be doing as a series for Dark Horse in the future.

New Kirby - Unleashed, Collector, Hulk

More when I actually get copies, but just a quick note that within the last few weeks the following Kirby items were released:

KIRBY UNLEASHED, a new edition of the early 1970s volume that had a biography of Kirby (updated for this release), along with various rare artwork, and the plates from the GODS portfolio and other extras.

THE JACK KIRBY COLLECTOR #41, focussing on the 1970s Marvel period, and you know what that means: Devil Dinosaur!

MARVEL MASTERWORKS: THE HULK v2 (which oddly I can't seem to find on any of the major on-line bookseller sites). Collecting Hulk stories from TALES TO ASTONISH #59 - #79, so a lot of Kirby covers (17 of the 21 assuming they include non-Hulk covers which they usually do), plus three stories he did the pencils for, nine others he did layouts, with Esposito/Kane/Powell/Everett/Romita finishing. Plus work by Steve Ditko and Dick Ayers.

Later, 2004 in review for the Kirby fan. At least 12 major releases. Feel free to post your favourites.

Black Magic (DC) #7 - "The Cloak" and "Freak!"

More reprints from the S&K Prize horror series of the 1950s in this issue. Starting off with the cover, a reprint of the cover to the original #17 (v2#11), a moody piece with one of the classic horror setpieces, a dark attic, with a chained freak. The 8-page story from that issue, "Freak!", is reprinted in here, featuring art credited to Kirby/Meskin in the updated Kirby checklist. The Meskin part is heavy, which is probably why the story was missing from earlier Kirby checklists, but the Kirby parts are definitely there, especially in how some of the characters hands are posed. A decent short story, although the cover kind of gives away too much.

Also in this issue is "The Cloak", a 7 pager from the original BM #2.
This is sort of a modern urban gothic horror story. An unemployed man in Budapest gets a chance at a job, but needs to look good for the occasion. He has one good suit left, and goes out to rent a cloak to wear for it (this is back when men wore cloaks. And hats). It gets delivered to him by a mysterious guy, it has a label "Asmodeus", and still he doesn't get the hint. He wears it, and it attempts to kill him several times before he ditches it, giving it to a derelict. Our man Paul then calls the tailor offering to pay for the cloak, and finds out it wasn't from the tailor, the cloak he ordered is still waiting to be picked up. Now he looks up "Asmodeus", realizes the guy he gave the cloak is in danger, and tries to save him. He fails, and the cloak vanishes. And that's it. Dead vagrant, and no idea if Paul got a job.



A good, if simple, story. And the art just has to be seen. The various accidents that Paul runs into with the cloak are great, like being dragged by a train. And the backgrounds are excellent. I don't know if Budapest actually looked like this, but it should have.

Published 1975

Saturday, December 25, 2004

Upcoming Kirby - Modern Arf

Amazon has more details on the previously mentioned MODERN ARF from Fantagraphics. It will have a complete Kirby story. To add to the details below, it's a 5 page story from Harvey's ALARMING TALES #1, 1957. The bit about not being reprinted isn't strictly true, but that was just a digest and not that easy to find. The added incentive about it being reprinted from the original art (not clear if it'll be colour or not, I'd be happy with either) in a large 9x12 format makes this very attractive.




Modern Arf
by Craig Yoe

About the Author
Craig Yoe operates YOE! Studio from a mountaintop castle overlooking the Hudson River with his partner, Clizia Gussoni. YOE! creates toys to theme parks, animation to advertising for MTV, Nickelodeon, Cartoon Network, Microsoft, and MAD Magazine.

Product Description:
An irreverent new journal devoted to the art of the comics.

Modern Arf is the first in a series of volumes in which the award-winning artist and editor, Craig Yoe, explores the unholy marriage of Modern Art and the Funnies in a bombastic and entertaining way.

The first blast features material created just for this book as well as classic material by Rube Goldberg, Jack Kirby, Hy Mayer, Winsor McCay, and Patrick McDonnell at the zenith of their wacky, surreal, and innovative best.

Patrick McDonnell rarely draws outside popular daily strip Mutts, but for the first volume of Arf he has contributed an exclusive four page strip of of surreal comics. They're fun, they're cool, they're wordless, and they're sublime.

Jack Kirby's story, "The Fourth Dimension is a Many Splattered Thing," reprinted from the original art, is Kirby at his most surreal, surely informed by cubism and certainly the inspiration for Steve Ditko's later work on the exotic 1960s comic, Dr. Strange. It is published here for the first time since its original publication in the mid 1950s.

Hy Mayer, a forgotten cartoon surrealist, is represented with an astonishing series of mind-blowing "worm's eye views." It's M.C. Escher meets Charles Schulz! Antonio Rubino is an early 20th century Italian cartooning master, whose breathtaking work was infused by cubism, futurism and art deco. Modern Arf will present a rich sampling of his work, including bookplates, paintings, and comics.

Did you know Salvador Dalí drew comics? You'll be able to see them in this first volume of Modern Arf accompanying an essay exploring his influence on comics, his animated cartoon, and examples of comic artists such as Steranko and Crepax who paid homage to the Spanish surrealist. Modern Arf is stunningly designed in an oversized format to give justice to the incredible art collected between its covers. The Arf series will delight both comic and fine art lovers. Both will be sure to exclaim, "I don't know much about Arf, but this is what I like!" 120 pages black-and-white illustrations throughout and 48 pages in full color, 9" x 12".

Buried Treasure v1#2 - "Inky" - proposed S&K strip

In the late 1940s, while they were working on the successful line of romance comics, Simon&Kirby put together a six week proposal for a comic strip, Inky, featuring cartoonist Inky Spotts and his struggles to establish himself. The strip didn't sell, although a few years later they did make use of parts of it for the romance comic IN LOVE #3. In 1986, Greg Theakston published BURIED TREASURE v1#2 and included the 36 strips in nine pages.

The story is incomplete, unfortunately, just the first chapter in a longer story. As it begins, Inky is an assistant to a successful older cartoonist, who dies (killing his character in the process). After that he tries to pitch his own strip, but while he's technically good the syndicate editor says his work lacks soul. Eventually he gets suckered into working with Donna Dreame, a society columnist who plans to use him to make a fortune (in comics?), but passes off a stolen concept as her own. As the six-week sample closes, Inky has a confrontation with the editor, who knows the strip was stolen and wants to find out who's responsible.

I'm not sure I can disagree with the syndicates for not buying, since I have trouble seeing the set-up, at least based on what was done, holding up a strip for the years that would be required for a daily strip after the initial storyline was over. How many action-filled adventures could you credibly put a cartoonist into? Still, it would have made a good extended opening story, and the art is spectacular.






Click on the panels for those full strips.

Also in this issue, a short essay with quotes from Joe Simon about the history of romance comics, plus a colour backcover with the cover of IN LOVE #3 reprinted. Non-Kirby work includes reprints of Alex Toth and Bill Ward comics.

Published 1986

Friday, December 24, 2004

More 1970s Marvel covers

JUNGLE ACTION #18, 1975. Klaus Janson inks, which works better than I expected (but then I'm mostly familiar with Janson from a few years later). This is shortly before Kirby would re-claim the character for his solo series.

AVENGERS, THE #148, 1976. Al Milgrom inks, and Kirby's chance to draw the Squadron Supreme. I'm kind of disappointed they didn't get Murphy Anderson to re-draw Hyperion's face...

THOR #250, 1976. Joe Sinnott inks. Ah, Balder, Sif, the Warriors Three and Mangog. That's some good stuff. Makes me very grateful that Marvel got Kirby to draw all these covers in the 1970s.



















Devil Dinosaur #1 - Devil Dinosaur and Moon-Boy

Ah, one of Kirby's final contributions to the Marvel Universe, Devil Dinosaur and Moonboy. The brief nine-issue run of the book, ending when Kirby left Marvel to devote his time to animation, is often maligned, mostly by those who haven't read it. Certainly I didn't really approach it with any expectations when I got around to getting the back issues. Turns out it's a fun adventure comic, where Kirby was free to let his imagination roam, with some genuine heart. One of the charming things about Kirby comics is his almost complete lack of pretension and his obvious enthusiasm for the work, which manages to sell some of the wildest concepts that wouldn't work with less.

In this debut issue, we meet Devil Dinosaur, a bright red dino, presumably a T. Rex (although Kirby wisely doesn't use actual dino names), and his young companion, Moon-Boy of the Small-Folk, residents of the dangerous Valley of Flame, a heavily volcanic area. After a battle with Thunder-Horn, Moon-Boy remembers how he first met Devil, when the Killer-Folk killed Devil's family and seared his flesh, and they rescued each other. After that, Moon-Boy's people fled in fear of Devil, while the Killer-Folk plot revenge.

This all works a lot better in comics form, of course, and later issues got even weirder, as Kirby threw in science-fiction concepts with wild abandon.



  


Mike Royer inks the story, Frank Giacoia inks the cover and Kirby also writes a text page introducing the series.

Published 1978

Thursday, December 23, 2004

A DC Universe Christmas - Santa Fronts For The Mob

DC did a collection of Christmas stories a few years ago, including this 10-page S&K reprint from ADVENTURE #82.



Some mobsters get the questionably great idea to hire a wrestler to play Santa at a mall in order to rob the place. Fortunately, the wrestler finds the Christmas spirit and helps out Sandman and Sandy in the end. A light but decent holiday story.

Published 2000

Best of DC #22 - The Seal-Men's War on Santa Claus

This story was originally intended for SANDMAN #7 in 1975, before that series was cancelled. A few years later it was uncomfortably squeezed into an issue of KAMANDI, which was cancelled before that issue, and only "published" in the photocopied CANCELLED COMIC CAVALCADE #2 in 1978. Finally, in 1982, it was included in this digest of Christmas stories.

Santa is unusually sarcastic on the last panel of this page:



Like all 1970s Sandman stories by Michael Fleisher, it doesn't make much sense except in a dream-logic kind of way. In this one, Sandman's young friend Jed gets a rich man to promise to give a million dollars to charity if he can prove Santa Claus exists. Jed enlists Sandman's help, and it turns out he's a friend of Santa, so they head off to the North Pole, pursued by the rich man's nephew, who isn't about to see his inheritance given away. At the North Pole, they find Santa has been kidnapped by the usually friendly Seal-Men, and go to rescue him, finding out that the Seal-Men were upset at the Christmas gifts they were getting, such as gloves (useless with flippers). They accept an apology for the mix-up, then Santa and Sandman take care of the evil nephew and everyone has a Merry Christmas.

Mike Royer inks the 18 page story.

Published 1982

Giant-Size Spider-Man #1 - On The Trail Of The Amazing Spider-Man

This issue of GIANT-SIZE SPIDER-MAN has what is still the only semi-decent reprint of the 18-page lead story from STRANGE TALES ANNUAL #2 (1963), an early team-up of the Human Torch and Spider-Man pencilled by Kirby and inked by Steve Ditko (there is a reprint of it in the recent ESSENTIAL HUMAN TORCH, but it's a pretty splotchy reprint, unlike most of that book. The text page of this issue, which explains how the promised SUPER-GIANT 100 page line became the GIANT-SIZE 68 page line, mentions that they'd "only recently located the blamed artwork" for this story, so I guess they lost it again in the interim).

In this story an art thief, The Fox, decides to frame Spider-Man for the theft of a newly discovered da Vinci piece. Spidey goes to the Torch for help in clearing his name, just as the police call the Torch to ask if he can help capture Spidey. So of course they fight. Then, in the plot twist heard around the world, they team-up. Their meeting on top of the Statue of Liberty:



is one of the classic moments of the Marvel Universe. Ditko's inks as usual complement Kirby's pencils nicely, and keep Spidey looking on model perfectly as well. That last panel on the page above is excellent.

It's a fun story, one that hopefully will see a decent modern reprint at some point (it would be a natural for the upcoming MARVEL MILESTONES series, especially with the upcoming Spidey/Torch team-up mini-series).

Published 1974

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Tales of Suspense #36 - Cover

Here's a nice late 1962 cover, from shortly before all of the Atlas fantasy books were taken over by the super-heroes. Very pretty cover, I like the police-officer and the car. The interior art for this story is by Don Heck.

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Where Monsters Dwell #27

A Kirby/Ayers reprint spectacular issue of WMD this time. First up is a reprint of "From Out of the Black Pit Came... Grogg", from STRANGE TALES #83. Note that his reprint seems to have some lettering changes from the original. I'm guessing the "small dictatorship in central Europe" was more explicitly the USSR first time around. Anyway, a freedom-loving scientist is captured in said dictatorship, and forced or work on a bomb test in Asia. The test ends up waking up Grogg, who seems to be the bigger, non-speaking brother of Fin Fang Foom. The scientist eventually manages to escape to America, leaving Grogg to take care of the commies, and we find out that he knew about Grogg, and it turns out he knew about Grogg, and he had earlier found proff that the Great Wall of China was built to keep out dragons. Who knew? Very cool panel of a bunch of monsters attacking the wall. Grogg's a very fun looking monster, so much so that he's one of the handful of the monsters to get a sequel, four issues later.



Also in this issue, "Follow the Leader" from JOURNEY INTO MYSTERY #76, which has a story that would have fit in Kirby's 1950s sci-fi work like RACE FOR THE MOON (and some of the art looks a lot like the Kirby/Ayers SKY MASTERS strips), with a group of explorers finding a planet that turns out to be populated by a variety of monsters. Over the protests of the peace-loving member of the expedition, they kill the lead monster, only to find out that he was the only thing keeping the other monsters in check, so they flee the planet.

The cover is from the Kirby/Ayers cover of STRANGE TALES #83, with a bunch of figures added clinging to and falling from Grogg's hands. It's kind of weird, since some of the figures don't seem like the kind you'd find in the Chinese countryside (like the blonde woman in a green mini-skirt and heels).

Published 1974

Monday, December 20, 2004

New Gods #2 - O' Deadly Darkseid

This is one of those big cosmic issues of the Fourth World books, with a bunch of splash pages establishing New Genesis and Apokolips, their history and relationship. The double page spread of young gods playing on some sort of techno-cosmic device on the surface of New Genesis is gorgeous. There are also full pages plugging storylines that were appearing in FOREVER PEOPLE and JIMMY OLSEN.

The main storyline focuses on Orion's first adventure on Earth, bringing back the humans he rescued from Apokolips the previous issue, briefly confronting Darkseid and then foiling one of his schemes.

We also meet DeSaad this issue, one of several great villains among the minions of Darkseid. We get a nice Kirby extreme close-up of him here:



I kind of like the clues about Orion's true identity in this issue. By the time I first read them I already knew the secret, so I always wonder how quickly people reading it off the shelf picked up on the clues. I'm also amused by how one of the humans suggests that Orion use "O'Ryan" as a human identity. How exactly did he know that it wasn't "O'Ryan" having just heard the name?

Inks by Colletta. Yeah, I know...

Published May 1971

Sunday, December 19, 2004

Romance Covers

HI-SCHOOL ROMANCE #57, 1956 & FIRST ROMANCE MAGAZINE #41, 1956. At a certain point romance covers really do become variations on a theme, don't they? A lot of them are the couple in the foreground with the potential jealous rival looking on from the background, like these two Harvey issues. Still look nice, though.

LOVE ROMANCES #106, 1963. Some of Kirby's last work in the romance genre, as the super-heroes were soon taking up all his time. I like the attention to detail in the furnishing of the room in the background, as well as the usual sexy female leads.

















Justice, Inc. #4 - Slay Ride in the Sky

Of the handful of Kirby's books with other writers that he did to fulfil his page quota in his final days at DC, my favourites are the ones that Denny O'Neil wrote, including three issues of JUSTICE, INC, based on the pulp hero Richard Benson, The Avenger. Kirby's style works well with the fast moving pulp action, with the toughs in suits harkening back to the classic S&K crime comics.

This issue features the men of Justice, Inc. investigating some planes that are mystriously blowing up, tracing it to exploding birds. They trace the explosives back to the owner of the airline, who takes them prisoner aboard a blimp, which, as all blimps in comic books eventually must, ends up blowing up. Along the way you get a battle aboard a bi-plane and a mid-air rescue. All good pulp stuff.



Mike Royer inks, doing a good job of bringing out the period feel, at times looking quite like a 1950s era inker.

Published 1975

Jimmy Olsen #141 - Will the Real Don Rickles Panic?

Ah, the second half of the Don Rickles / Goody Rickels story from the middle of Kirby's JIMMY OLSEN run. Mark Evanier has discussed how this came about at various times, growing from a planned brief cameo by Rickles, who I guess was inexplicably popular at the time, to a two issue story featuring Rickles, his twin Goody, so I'll assume everyone knows that.

It's a fun story, although a trifle disjointed thanks to its genesis. You have one thread where Clark Kent is captured in a ship going to Apokolips (with three pages of collages by Kirby at the start of the issue), only to be met on the way by Lightray who sends him back to Earth. On the more exciting part of the story, you have Jimmy, Goody and the Guardian about to spontaniously combust, with the Guardian racing for a cure while Jimmy and Goody head back to Morgan Edge's office, where Edge has a meeting with Don Rickles.



The Rickles/Edge interplay is surprisingly good ("You can hide a platoon of assassins in a complex deal" is probably one of the most intelligent phrases ever to be put in Rickle's mouth), and the whole Goody Rickels thing is silly, but in a charming way.

I also really liked what we saw of the Guardian (or Golden Guardian, but that name didn't really stick) in this issue. He's a clone of the original, and had some story potential that didn't really get realized. And unfortunately, some combination of Kirby, the inker and the colourist never could quite figure out how his helmet was designed.

One odd thing this issue is that Superman never appears in costume. He's dressed as Clark Kent throughout, which I'm not sure ever happened in any of the Superman family books up until then.

The story is inked by Colletta, with Murphy Anderson handling certain parts.

This issue reprints the first Newsboy Legion story from STAR-SPANGLED COMICS #7 from 1942, with the cover for that issue. That story has rookie cop Harper being ambushed, putting together his Guardian costume, because, I guess, that's was the style at the time, and later arresting and being appointed guardian of four orphan boys. Pretty much lays out the groundwork for the series, where Kirby captures the look and feel of his childhood neighbourhoods perfectly.

The cover to this issue is Kirby inked by Neal Adams, with an inset photo of Rickles, and the epitome of Kirby cover catchphrases, "Kirby Says: Don't Ask! Just Buy It!". Also in this issue is the Kirby self-portrait that appeared in all the Fourth World books that month, introducing the reprints, and a one page text about the updating of the Newsboy Legion by Evanier and Sherman.

Published 1971

Saturday, December 18, 2004

1940s Kirby covers

Another trio of covers from the 1940s

CHARLIE CHAN #3, 1948. These S&K Charlie Chan covers really look cool. It's almost a shame he apparently didn't do any full stories (apparently just a splash page or panel in two issues).

GREEN HORNET #10, 1942. A Killer Clown is always a winner. They seem unusually common in comics, compared to reality. Kind of like pirates.

BOY COMMANDOS #8, 1944. That's an awfull big porthole, isn't it? Anyway, as Kirby was off to Europe, the Commandos were off to Japan.


















Kamandi #40 - The Lizard Lords of Los Lorraine

This is Kirby's final issue of KAMANDI. He didn't write the last handful at all (and was heavily rescripted on the few before that), so it doesn't really feel right in the story, and that comes through a bit in the art as well.

I did like Kamandi's battle with a giant parrot in the opening pages, though.



It's mostly downhill from there, with the new character Arna being a little annoying and a race of lizard men who are pretty blandly designed compared to the earlier animal races. One odd thing is the talking burros, physically unchanged from pre-Great Disaster animals. Horses were always one of the types of animals unchanged, still used as riding animals, in the earlier stories.

Mike Royer was back on the inks for the last few issues, so that was okay, while Joe Kubert drew the cover.

Published 1976

Thursday, December 16, 2004

Strange Tales #120 - The Torch Meets the Iceman

After drawing seven of the first nine solo Human Torch stories in STRANGE TALES, Kirby returned for three issues (including an Annual), all of which featured crossovers with other characters. The last was #120, which had the Iceman of the X-Men showing up, when that book was only at its fifth issue.

Bit of a light story, as it opens with the Torch (with the rest of the FF, giving Kirby a chance to draw another of Reed's crazy devices) reading one of those convienient front page headline stories about the X-Men and wondering about this Iceman guy who papers are calling "a frozen version of the Human Torch". As luck would have it, he goes on a cruise with his girlfriend Doris Evans, the same cruise that Bobby (Iceman) Drake goes on when Professor X suggests he goes out. And wouldn't you know it, the ship gets boarded by pirates (pirates seem to be unusually common in the 1960s Marvel Universe).



The Marvel formula was obviously still in its infancy at the time, so they don't do the traditional fight and then team-up before taking on the pirates (although Iceman does quietly freeze the Torch's soda).

Dick Ayers inks the story, while George Roussos inks the cover.

Published 1964

Comic Reader #100

Here's a neat rarity. In 1973 one of the earliest and longest running fanzines, THE COMIC READER, at that point edited by Paul Levitz (though not for much longer), reached #100, and ran front and back colour covers by Jack Kirby to celebrate (at the time they usually had black and white covers, art on the front only). The front had Superman and Captain Marvel, while the backcover had, well, these guys:

Black Panther #7 - Drums

This issue of BLACK PANTHER brings to a close T'Challa's adventures with Abner Little and his society of "Collectors", putting him on the road back to Wakanda. Little was a pretty funny character, bringing a lot of charm to the first half of this series. It's also nice how Kirby has T'Challa acting very much as a king in this story.



This issue also gives some background of the history of Wakanda and the Vibranium Mound which forms the basis of the Panther Cult and the Wakandan royal family, also introducing some more of the family and setting up the next story.

Mike Royer inks the story while Ernie Chan (or is the proper name Ernie Chua? I never could remember) inks the cover.

Published January 1978

New Royer - Radioactive Man #9 [#197]

See, this weblog isn't as monomaniacal as all that. I'm more than happy to cover major Kirby inkers as well as Kirby...

Anyway, Mike Royer makes a rare return to comic books by providing the inking, over Batton Lash script and layout and Mike DeCarlo pencils, for the lead story in Bongo's RADIOACTIVE MAN #9 (numbered #197 on the cover), which has a story featuring RM going up against Obrian of the New Guards. There's even a story of the golden age "Radio Man".



Something about this seems familiar, but I can't quite put my finger on it. Oh well, as the cover says, "Dont Speak! Don't Think!! Just Buy It and Shaddap Awready!!!".

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Machine Man #1 - Machine Man

Leaping out of the pages of his origin in the last three issues of 2001 - A SPACE ODYSSEY, X-51 got a new name and his own series in 1978 (though the 2001 connection isn't mentioned anywhere in #1, despite it being footnote-happy 1970s Marvel, presumably for some sort of trademark or copyright reason).

This issue opens up with Machine Man rescuing a hiker who somehow wound up hanging on a cliff. I like this page, which is a layout one doesn't associate with Kirby, but which works nicely here.



It's a layout that doesn't work if overused, but it does fit the situation here, and gives a nice feeling of vertigo in the first panel, and danger in the next two.

Anyway, after the events of 2001, Machine Man is walking the Earth, like Cain in Kung Fu. Oddly people don't seem that shocked by his abilities like flight, extendable arms, superhuman strenght and all that, accepting that it's all experimental equipment he's wearing. Whatever. He gets a ride from a psychiatrist who asks too many questions, so he takes off, only to be attacked by the army, still under the command of Colonel Kragg.

Fun start to what would be an uneven, but interesting, short-lived series. Royer inks the 17 page story (and really, man, 17 pages of story in a 36 page book? Who thought that was a good idea?), Giacoia inks the cover and Kirby provides a text page about some of the themes of machine sentience he plans to explore in the series.

Published 1978

Thor #177 - To End in Flames

This is Kirby's second last issue of THOR (with a fill-in before ths last one), ending an epic where Loki had managed to get rid of Odin and unleashed Surtur upon Asgard. In this issue, Loki flees to Earth, while Balder and Sif go to rescue Odin while Thor and the other warriors of Asgard attempt to defeat Surtur.



A very exciting action based issue, with lots of great scenes of Thor and his army fighting against impossible odds. The ending is a bit of an almost literal deus ex machina, but when you've got a character like Odin that's going to happen.

The story is a page short, as this is from that period when Marvel was running two pages with half page ads. Annoying. Colletta inks the story, but it mostly looks good for Colletta. John Verpoorten inks the cover, which is nicer.

Published 1970

Upcoming Kirby - March 2005

A few other publishers have stuff of interest for March, in addition to the Marvel books listed in the last post. The stories in the AC book are from, respectively, BATTLE #68 and BLACK MAGIC v3#5. No idea what's in the MODERN ARF thing, if it'll have a full story or just a sample of art for an article.




AC
AMERICA’S GREATEST COMICS #11
Artists include Steve Ditko, Jack Kirby, Joe Simon, Alex Toth and writers include Joe Gill. Special Steve Ditko issue featuring seven early classics: "3-D Death," "The Night People," "Night of the Red Snow","He's Coming For Me," "Little Boy Blue" (starring Mysterious Traveler ) and "The Shadow". Plus, "Guard Duty", penciled by Jack Kirby with inks by Ditko. Also. "Those Who Are About To Die" by Simon & Kirby and "Buster Crabbe" by Toth.
52pgs, B&W SRP: $6.95

Fantagraphics
MODERN ARF VOLUME 1 GN
edited by Craig Yoe
An irreverent new journal devoted to the art of the comics, Modern Arf is the first in a series of volumes in which the award-winning artist and editor, Craig Yoe, explores the unholy marriage of Modern Art and the Funnies, in a bombastic and entertaining way. The first blast features material created just for this book as well as classic material by Rube Goldberg, Jack Kirby, Hy Mayer, Winsor McCay, and Patrick McDonnell at the zenith of their wacky, surreal, and innovative best. Did you know Salvador Dalí drew comics? You'll be able to see them in this first volume of Modern Arf accompanying an essay exploring his influence on comics, his animated cartoon, and examples of comic artists such as Steranko and Crepax who paid homage to the Spanish surrealist. Modern Arf is stunningly designed in an oversized format to give justice to the incredible art collected between its covers.
SC, 9x12, 128pgs, PC SRP: $19.95

TwoMorrows
ALTER EGO #46
This a special issue featuring the "Very Best of the 1960s-70s Alter Ego!" Behind a full-color cover by Bill (Sub-Mariner) Everett and Marie Severin (featuring all of Wild Bill's greatest creations), there's a kaleidoscopic cornucopia of the best and brightest stuff from the 1961-78 Alter Ego era! Features lots of newly-discovered art! Plus, there's a classic 1969-70 interview by Roy Thomas with Bill Everett, the creator of Sub-Mariner, Amazing-Man, and Hydro-Man. In the interview, Bill tells of the early days, from Marvel Comics #1 through his 1960s work on Daredevil, Dr. Strange, The Incredible Hulk, and more. In this issue you'll also have tons of rare vintage art by Carl Burgos, Paul Gustavson, Simon & Kirby, and many others! Plus 1960s A/E gems by Steve Ditko, E. Nelson Bridwell, Comics Code authority Len Darvin, Jerry Bails, Roy Thomas, and more. Rounding things out is Jim Amash's interview with Lou Glanzman, the Golden Age artist of Amazing-Man, The Shark, and Air. Also, special tributes to Irv Novick and Christopher Reeve.
Magazine, 8x11, 100pgs, B&W SRP: $5.95

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Upcoming Kirby - March 2005 Marvel

Three Kirby reprints from Marvel in March of 2005. This new MARVEL MILESTONE monthly book might prove interesting, especially if they don't stick with the usual suspect reprints (we needed another reprint of the first Captain America story? Hopefully it'll look nicer than the last reprint). The first Ant-Man will be nice, as I don't think it's seen a colour reprint in decades outside of a rather rare hardcover. I assume there'll be other stories in #1, as those three listed only come to 28 pages.

Another FF Masterworks is good to see. Should just be two more to complete Kirby's run (minus the cut together #108), as this has the last original material annual.

The Golden Age Cap hardcover is rescheduled from last month. Hopefully it'll look good, as I've heard very little good about Marvel's other recent hardcover of non-Kirby work from the era. For those who have the previous hardcover or softcover reprints, this will have a number of stories (mostly the non-Cap stuff) that haven't been reprinted before.






MARVEL MILESTONE: IRON MAN'S FIRST APPEARANCE
Written by STAN LEE, LARRY LIEBER, JOE SIMON & JACK KIRBY
Penciled by DON HECK, DICK AYERS, JOE SIMON & JACK KIRBY
Celebrating 65 years of titanic tomes from the House of Ideas, MARVEL MILESTONES makes its triumphant return to the comics scene! The first issue of this new monthly series features key reprints of your favorite Avengers; Iron Man, Ant Man and Captain America. Just in time for ULTIMATE IRON MAN #1 comes a true tale of suspense! Iron Man lives in TALES OF SUSPENSE #39! Plus: the first appearances of Ant-Man from TALES TO ASTONISH #27 and Captain America from CAPTAIN AMERICA
COMICS #1!
48 PGS./All Ages …$3.99


MARVEL MASTERWORKS: THE FANTASTIC FOUR VOL. 8
Written by STAN LEE
Pencils & Cover by JACK KIRBY
Pony up, True Believer, the amazing eighth manic Masterworks featuring the First Family of Funnybooks is coming your way! Collecting an ironclad cadre of consecrated classics, this one’s packed with more drama than you can shake a Skrull at! Let’s break it down: the Silver Surfer pursued by none other than the world-devouring Galactus; the FF vs. Spidey, DD and Thor in a barnstorming brouhaha; a fantastic voyage into the Microverse to battle the Psycho Man; the Thing—cured!; the first appearance of Annihilus; Crystal, the Inhuman, joins the FF, and one of comics’ most historic moments, the birth of Franklin Richards—it just doesn’t stop!
This one’s a humdinger so chock-full of excitement it’s ready to burst! And it’s all
brought to you by no less than the minds that made Marvel magnificent, Stan and Jack!
‘Nuff Said!
Collecting FANTASTIC FOUR (VOL. 1) #72-81 and ANNUAL #6
272 PGS./All Ages …$49.99
ISBN: 0-7851-1694-X


MARVEL MASTERWORKS: GOLDEN AGE CAPTAIN AMERICA VOL. 1 HC
Story & Art by JOE SIMON & JACK KIRBY
Continuing the celebration of its 65th anniversary, Marvel Comics is proud to re-present the earliest adventures of Captain America, Sentinel of Liberty! This monumental hardcover volume re-masters and restores the first four historic issues of Captain America from 1941. Return to the Golden Age of comics as Cap and Bucky come face to face with the Red Skull, the Ringmaster of Death, Nazi minions and more!
264 PGS. / ALL AGES . . . $49.99
UPC: 5960611619-00111
ISBN: 0-7851-1619-2

Monday, December 13, 2004

Unpublished Archives trading cards

Since I had the few trading cards I have out from the posts about the Topps stuff last week, thought I'd mention these. Just about everything got a trading card set back in the early 1990s, and in 1994 one thing released was the "Jack Kirby - The Unpublished Archives" set, with art from Kirby's years working on animation design for Ruby Spears. 90 cards in all, although a handful aren't by Kirby for reasons that evade understanding (I only have about half the cards, one of them is definitely Gil Kane, another looks like Doug Wildey).

The cards are fun, with lots of wacky characters, insane vehicles and fantastic scenarios. None of these ever did get produced (though Kirby did of course work on many things that did get produced).

Some of the concepts featured are Animal Hospital, a funny animal soap opera, and Roxie's Raiders, a 1930s set action comedy, featuring Toad:



Lots of grotesque villains that I have trouble imagining animated, but look fun.



If you can pick up a set or a few packs of the cards cheap, they're good for a laugh. Obviously the small size doesn't really show off the art at all (the originals are apparently really big), and hopefully someday we'll see a decent book or portfolio of the best of Kirby's animation work (this set apparently only has a fraction of his designs) with larger images and better supporting material, but until then this is a nice glimpse at his work in his last decade.

Published 1994

More 70s Marvel Covers

MARVEL DOUBLE FEATURE #13, 1975. Kirby did a handful of new covers for this reprint book (generally for issues where the original TALES OF SUSPENSE cover featured the Iron Man story, and one featuring Modok which I'll have to post for all you Modok lovers, and I know they're out there), including this one inked by Frank Giacoia. Those dead sidekicks are nothing but trouble. The interior Cap reprint is a Gil Kane issue, from Kirby's brief gap drawing the feature in 1967.

MARVEL TWO-IN-ONE #19, 1976. Man, for an idol o' millions, Benjy got no respect, having to be rescued by Tigra the Were-Woman (a name which somewhat confused me, since a werewolf is a person who turns into a wolf, so shouldn't she be a were-tiger or something?). Anyway, Giacoia on inks again.

FANTASTIC FOUR #172, 1976. Joe Sinnott inked this cover, though it's one of those that was somewhat modified, around the faces of the non-rocky FF members. I'm not sure why anyone would think Kirby drawings of the FF need correcting, either. Pitting the Thing up against an old Thor villain. I wonder if Kirby came back to Marvel, saw every old, obscure character he created in the 1960s being brought back and wondered if anyone had created anything new in the five years he was gone. Well, other than Tigra...



















Sunday, December 12, 2004

New Kirby - Essential Iron Man #2 etc

This is one of those trivial entries in a Kirby bibliography, but I'm not going to win that award for "Most Monomaniacal Comics Weblog" with half-measures now, am I? Anyway, the just released ESSENTIAL IRON MAN #2 has about a half-dozen Kirby covers from the last bit of IM's run in TALES OF SUSPENSE. Doubly trivial because all of those covers were reprinted in the same format in ESSENTIAL CAPTAIN AMERICA #1 a few years back.

Less trivial, there should be a new JACK KIRBY COLLECTOR in the next few weeks, and hopefully the updated KIRBY UNLEASHED portfolio will be out soon.

And request for information, anyone know what Kirby work is in the recent ART OF MARVEL v2 hardcover? Is it strictly previously published and/or fairly common stuff, or did they sneak in something unpublished and/or rare?

Tales of Suspense #19 - The Green Thing

Before Swamp Thing, before Man-Thing, there was "The Green Thing". A 13 page Kirby/Ayers cover story in this issue of TALES OF SUSPENSE, featuring a scientist who goes to a remote island to test his serum, which he thinks will increase the intelligence of plants. Not finding the highly developed plant he hopes, he instead tries the serum on a weed, which grows to giant size, gains intelligence and plans to rule the world.



Fortunately, with the remaining serum, the scientist is able to bring a sample of his original choice, Ignatius Rex (and while checking to see if that was a real plant, all I found were links to websites about this story), which is a more benevolent walking plant. Lucky that worked out.

Hm, giant weed turning its own fibres into a lasso, these are some strange comics.

Published July 1961

Saturday, December 11, 2004

Who's Who #17 - OMAC & Orion

Two Kirby pieces in this issue, drawing two of his 1970s characters, both inked by Greg Theakston. The Orion piece has a fairly bland main pose, but the background has some nice stuff like his savage face, a battle with Kalibak and his astro-glider.



OMAC gets a page as well, with a very nice main pose, and a look at his alias Buddy Blank and partner Brother Eye.

Published 1986

Ka-Zar #2

This issue reprints DAREDEVIL #12 and #13, from 1966, two early appearances of Ka-Zar which establish his background and introduce his brother. Kirby did layouts for those issues, which John Romita, just recently returned to Marvel, finished. The most recent issue of THE JACK KIRBY COLLECTOR had some unused layout pages from #13, if you want to get an idea of what Kirby did. Interestingly, those pages are very different from the story as it was actually published, so I'm not sure if Kirby did two completely different sets of layouts or if what could be used from his for the original story were salvaged and adapted to the new story. There do seem to be varying amounts of Kirby in the finished product, for whatever reason, although I think we can safely credit much that's on this page to Kirby:



The story involved Matt Murdock taking a break from his law practice to go on a cruise, which is attacked by modern day pirates led by the Plunderer. As Daredevil, he allows himself to be taken by the pirates, and they go down to Ka-Zar's Savage Land, where we eventually, after battles with man-apes and killer plants, find out that the Plunderer is really the Lord Plunder (clever secret identiy, that), Ka-Zar is his long-lost brother Kevin, and they head off to England with Ka-Zar as a captive, ending on a cliff-hanger which leads into non-Kirby issues. It's all very confusing, and I have to say that I'm more interested by the story in those unused layouts, which seems to involve Plunder attempting to civilize Ka-Zar, and Foggy and Karen, thinking Matt is dead, flying to England having been hired by Plunder.

The cover is a heavily modified version of the Kirby/Romita* cover to DD #12, with some of the characters flipped, re-arranged and partly redrawn (most notably Ka-Zar's hair), and a big figure of Zabu added.

Published 1970

*see comments, apparently the cover is Kirby/Esposito, with maybe some work by Romita.**

**or maybe not.