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Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Break time

You know what the mushroom soup means. Going to be busy for the next few days or weeks, might show up with a few quick entries or cover galleries if possible, but don't bet on it.

I'm going to be updating an old Kirby FAQ that I had to add to the sidebar. Anyone have any suggestions for questions that should be on it? Also, I'm curious, what's the favourite Kirby era of regular visitors here? The early golden age with Simon at Marvel and DC? The later S&K for various publishers? The post-Simon stuff at DC and Marvel? Early Marvel silver age heroes? Later silver age? 1970-1975 at DC? 1976-1978 at Marvel? The 1980s stuff? (those are, by the way, roughly how I divide the eras when deciding what to post, trying to keep at least one representitive of each era on the "recent posts" list)

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Captain Victory and the Galactic Rangers Special #1 - The Space Musketeers

"Victory is Sacrifice". Truer words were never spoke. It can be quite a sacrifice to read Captain Victory sometimes. While obviously I'm a big fan of Jack Kirby (for those of you who haven't picked up on that yet), no one can do 25,000+ pages of comics and hit everytime, and I'd say this special is one of those rare mis-steps (I do like some other CV stuff, of course).

Normally I'd recount the plot of this issue here, but I'm not sure that's possible. Something about PFC Egghead inventing a time-travel device that takes some of the crew back to an Dumas-inspired France where there's a bomb of some sort. There's also something about Egghead playing the Hunchback of Notre Dame. I dunno, look at the art.

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That is a pretty cool gargoyle, and some of the other art in here is nice. It's just all very strange. Plus it's the first issue printed on upscale paper stock, and there were still some bugs in the system, so that looks weird.

25-page lead story plus three pin-up/profile pages on different Ranger sections and how they might have inspired Earth myths. All that and the cover inked by Mike Thibodeaux. The text page by the publisher mentions the unpublished MIDNIGHT MEN book that Kirby was working on with Roger McKenzie (Kirby was supposed to do the 48 page first issue before another artist took over the series).

Published 1983

Monday, April 25, 2005

New Kirby - Marvel Milestones with Hercules

The second in the new series of Marvel Milestone one-shots has been released, MARVEL MILESTONES: VENOM & HERCULES. The Hercules half of the book is the first Thor/Hercules story from JOURNEY INTO MYSTERY ANNUAL #1 (1965), along with the cover and map of Asgard from that issue. The cover was really badly reprinted, but the story looked okay. The other half of the book is an out of context chapter from a 1980s mini-series and various 1980s Spider-Man covers.

Friday, April 22, 2005

Fighting American [Harvey] #1

Harvey comics published a single issue of FIGHTING AMERICAN in 1966, with a few reprints of the mid-1950s series as well as a few unused stories from that time by Simon & Kirby, including a new cover.

Bit pressedfor time, so I'll write more on this later. For now here's a page from "The Secret of Yafata's Moustache".

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Published 1966

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Prize Cover Gallery

Another cover gallery, this time scattered genres by S&K published by Prize in the early 1950s.

PRIZE COMICS WESTERN #83, 1950. A very nice detailed cover, with a nice dynamic layout.

JUSTICE TRAPS THE GUILTY #22, 1951. And some good violent fun on this one, with some nice inking.

BLACK MAGIC #12[v2n6], 1952. Sorry the scan isn't so good for this one, but still a nice cover, especially with the typical Kirby scientist type.

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Upcoming Kirby - Marvel digests

Marvel is starting a line of digests that will sell for $1 each, 64 page black and white books, some of them will be edited for the format. The first set are out in July and there's Kirby artwork in four or five of them (depending on if they include covers)


Collects FANTASTIC FOUR #1-#3

Collects AVENGERS #1-#3

Collects AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #3,#4,#5

Collects HULK #1-#3

Collects X-MEN #1-#3

Monday, April 18, 2005

Harvey Cover Gallery

Here are a trio of covers that Kirby did published by Harvey over the years.

CHAMP COMICS #23, 1942. In the early 1940s, around the same time the DC work was launching, Kirby did a bunch of covers published on various Harvey books, signed "Jon Henri" when they were signed. No interiors, though. The CHAMP covers feature a pair of kids who I think are the "Liberty Lads", going heavy on the war propaganda patriotism. Anyone know who did the stories for those characters?

FIRST LOVE ILLUSTRATED #69, 1956. This is a nice goofy romance cover, probably the only comic to have a pirate, rabbit, knight and cowgirl.

WARFRONT #30, 1957. Very intense war cover, with an interesting inking style.

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Sunday, April 17, 2005

My Greatest Adventure #28 - We Battled the Microscopic Menace

This is one of the stories Kirby did for the DC fantasy/sci-fi books in the late 1950s, the same era he was also doing Green Arrow, Challengers of the Unknown and the Sky Masters comic strip.

In this 8 page story, two scientists discover a destructive microbe in their lab. To destroy it, they try a positive ion beam on it. Unfortunately, the next day they find it has grown to huge proportions, destroying everything in its path and continuing to grow, threatening untold havoc if unchecked.

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They notice that the creature doesn't seem to be able to affect glass, leading to some lovely pseudo-science revealing that a negative ion charge will shrink the creature.

A fairly standard story, but some nice art like the image of a hypothetical city-sized microbe on the loose.

Published 1959

Saturday, April 16, 2005

Forever People #3 - Life vs Anti-Life

Interestingly, Kirby decides to open this issue with a quote from Hitler, about how the members of his movement are uniform in both ideas and facial expression. This is an ideal sought by another minion of Darkseid, Glorious Godfrey, who Mark Evanier explains was somewhat based on evangelist Billy Graham. Some great Kirby writing Godfrey's extolling the virtues of "anti-life" in the service Darkseid and being a faceless "Justifier". "The right to point the finger or the gun".

One of those "Justifiers" attempts to kill the Forever People, who then use Mother Box to trace them back to their "revelation tent" lair. Meanwhile the "Justifiers" are on the loose, rounding up undesirables and burning libraries, painting offending stores with an "S" for scapegoat. The Forever People transform to the Infinity Man to destroy Godfrey's equipment. Unfortunately, he runs into a more powerful force.

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Darkseid is able to easily bring back the Forever People easily enough, and DeSaad knocks them out to take to his prison camp. There's some interesting interplay between Darkseid and two of his chief minions at the end, with onen of Darkseid's classic lines, "when you cry out in your dreams -- it is Darkseid that you see!"

The villains definitely have the best scenes in this issue, and it's interesting to see how Kirby modified and interpreted things he saw around him to use in his fantasy setting.

Vince Colletta inks the cover and 22-page story.

Published 1971

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Upcoming Kirby - July 2005

Looks like only a few things to mention, one fanzine, one Marvel book with two short stories and two comics from AC, one with a lot of Kirby. Weird how Marvel goes from a half-dozen books for the past two months to one almost trivial book this time.

Image Hosted by ImageShack.usJACK KIRBY COLLECTOR #43
80 pages - Tabloid Format
It’s an Extended Family Affair in JACK KIRBY COLLECTOR #43, spotlighting the recipients of the Jack Kirby Award at the 2004 San Diego Comicon! Behind sterling Kirby covers featuring the Silver Surfer (inked by Joe Sinnott) and Silver Star (the original presentation drawing, never-seen and hand-colored by Kirby himself), we present our most personal issue yet, as those closest to the Kirbys share memories, anecdotes, momentos, photos, and never-seen art from Jack and Roz! Included are former Kirby assistant STEVE SHERMAN and his brother GARY in an uproarious feature interview, plus contributions from RAY WYMAN, MIKE THIBODEAUX, and many others! Plus: A never-published 1966 interview with KIRBY himself! Our regular columnists and features, including MARK EVANIER answering Frequently Asked Questions about Jack! A SURPRISE ANNOUNCEMENT that will change Kirby collecting forever! And a special 1960s Gallery showcasing a Kirby pencils-to-Sinnott inks comparison of TALES OF SUSPENSE #93, featuring Kirby in his penciling prime, and at whopping TABLOID SIZE!

Sounds like some good stuff. Anyone know what the "surprise announcement" is going to be? Hopefully something regarding reprints of Kirby's work.


by Various
Special Kirby Heroes, Monsters & that 'ol Black Magic issue! This month, the America's Greatest focus is on the 1950's efforts of the classic Simon & Kirby creative team, with three fantasy stories from Prize Comics' Black Magic title; Davey Crockett, Stuntman Revisited, sci-fi rarities, and more.
52pgs, B&W SRP: $6.95

by Various
The finest Western stories of the 1950's, starting off with Davey Crockett, as drawn by Jack Kirby. Then, it's Redmask, by Frank Bolle; The Haunted Horseman by Dick Ayers, Wild Bill Pecos, The Durango Kid, and more. Top quality reprints of the best of the era.
44pgs, B&W SRP: $6.95

Hopefully the AMERICA'S GREATEST issue will have some stuff that hasn't been included in other reprints. Lots of good stuff from that era that hasn't seen print since.

The Defenders have their day! In honor of this month’s DEFENDERS #1, Dr. Strange faces death in the unreal dream world of Nightmare in a story from MARVEL PREMIERE #3! Plus: the Silver Surfer vs. Quasimodo from FANTASTIC FOUR ANNUAL #5, the first appearance of the Sub-Mariner from MARVEL COMICS #1 and the origin of the Hulk from HULK #3.
48 PGS. / $3.99

No, that Hulk story hasn't been reprinted too much, not at all. I think this will only be the 11th or 12th time it was reprinted. The Surfer story will be nice to have, and Bill Everett reprints are always good.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Captain America #197 - The Rocks are Burning

Following the "Kill-Derby" battle of the previous issue, this story has Cap and the Falcon battling in the underground lair of the New Society in their search for the "Big Daddy" Madbomb.

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While they fight inside, General Argyle Fist leads the US Army squad looking for the enemy in the desert above. This is a bit of a placeholder issue, though it reads well as part of the overall eight issue story, with a lot of action and one of those great big Kirby devices in the form of a sonic gun. I also like the General, who has some funny overblown dialogue in these issues.

Frank Giacoia inks the story and cover, a great job as usual.

Published 1976

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Who's Who #5 - Crazy Quilt

One of the more obscure of his characters Kirby was called upon to illustrate for DC's first WHO'S WHO series was Crazy Quilt, a villain who first appeared in a few post-war BOY COMMANDOS issues with some different costumes.

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From the write-up, he appears to have returned as a semi-regular Batman villain at some point, which I didn't know, hence Batman and Robin appearing in the drawing rather than the Boy Commandos. It's a pretty good drawing, although the main image is a bit plain, but the background drawings are nice.

Greg Theakston inked this piece.

Published 1985

Monday, April 11, 2005

Amazing Adventures #3 - Pawns of the Mandarin

One of Kirby's few full-scripting jobs at Marvel during his longest stay there was the Inhumans half of AMAZING ADVENTURES for the first four issues. In this one, the Inhumans are observed by the Iron Man villain the Mandarin as they attack a digging site too close to the Great Refuge. The Mandarin attacks them and is defeated by Black Bolt, but the attack raises his curiousity about the site, as the Mandarin (who actually sent in a robot version of himself) planned.

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The Inhumans finish the excavation, finding an ancient statue containing the Eye of Yin, which the Mandarin wants to use to rule the world, and the Eye comes to life.

This is pretty good, although as people would learn soon enough Kirby had much more imaginative ideas that he was waiting for the right venue to explore at the time.
When I first read this I wondered if maybe Kirby intended the villain to be Doctor Doom originally (did the Mandarin ever use robot doubles before this?) and wasn't allowed to use the character, who was just given a solo series in the other half-book ASTONISHING TALES.

Chic Stone inks the 10-page story, and does a good job, although I didn't like it quite as much as some of the work he did when he was briefly inking almost all of Kirby's output for a few months back in the mid-1960s.

Published 1970

Sunday, April 10, 2005

Fantastic Four #46 - Those Who Would Destroy Us

In the middle of the big Inhumans introductory story in this issue, starting with Ben going head-to-head with Black Bolt, being slightly unnerved by Black Bolt's silence. In the middle of the fight Triton is forced to retreat to the water, where he's taken prisoner by the Seeker, who also breaks into the Baxter Building to capture the sedated Dragon Man, who he mistakenly thinks might be an Inhuman.

After Black Bolt depletes his energy with one big shot at Ben, Karnak calls up Lockjaw to hold Ben back while they retreat, and of course any scene with both Ben and Lockjaw is worth seeing.

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The Inhumans escape, and returning to the Baxter Building the FF see that the Dragon Man was taken and follow the trail to the Seeker's lair. He gives them a quick and not entirely reliable history of the Inhumans, then the Dragon Man wakes up, enraged, and escapes, with Triton's water-filled cage collapsing leaving him dying without water.

Some quick mile-a-minute plotting going on here, and lots of new characters being introduced. It's interesting seeing how minor changes would be made in the Inhumans from one story to the next, really streamlining and improving their looks. Joe Sinnott inks story, on his third issue as regular inker, definitely settling in quickly. The Kirby Checklist lists the cover as Kirby/Giacoia/Sinnott (it's Black Bolt surrounded by floating heads of the FF and other Inhumans), not sure what the division there is, but Ben's almost definitely inked by Sinnott, and I'm pretty sure about the rest of the FF too.

Published 1966

Friday, April 08, 2005

Monster Menace #1

Two vintage Kirby stories, plus other neat stuff, in the first issue of this reprint series from a decade ago.

The first Kirby story is "What Lurks on Channel X?" from JOURNEY INTO MYSTERY #73 (1961), inked by Dick Ayers, previously covered in another reprint from FEAR #5.

Next up is "I Fought the Molten Man-Thing", 5 pages inked by Steve Ditko, from TALES OF SUSPENSE #7 (1960). It features a pilot, Frank Harper, who loses his nerve after an emergency landing. Taking a tropic vacation to recharge, he witnesses a volcano eruption out of which a creature of lava emerges.

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He leads the creature to an airfield, where he puts it straight in the path of a wind-tunnel, where the intense cold forces it back and it retreats to the volcano. Apparently he reasoned that there must have been a creature under the lava that needed extreme heat to survive, and would retreat from the cold. This also restores his self-confidence so he can fly again.

It's a bit of a quickie, so nothing is really fleshed out, but the Kirby/Ditko combination always looks nice. I especially like the third panel of the page above, with Harper leading the Man-Thing away from the village to the air field. Unfortunately this reprint isn't from the best source material, so a lot of the finer line-work vanishes. Reportedly Marvel is planning a reprint of the early TALES TO ASTONISH, which would have a lot of nice Kirby and Ditko work, hopefully they'll be able to reconstruct them better than this (I know some of the original art from that era still exists, I've seen a lot of them in auctions, but I don't know about those specific stories).

Also in this issue, two Ditko solo reprints from the same era, a weird brand-new Ditko pin-up page and a Kyle Baker monster cover.

Published 1993

Thursday, April 07, 2005

Black Magic (DC) #3

Two S&K reprints from 1952 issues of Prize's BLACK MAGIC in this issue. "Nasty Little Man" (from #18[v2#12]) features three bums riding the rails who run afoul of a leprechaun. After teasing them with treasure, one of the men chokes the little man, who curses them and causes a rockslide to de-rail the train.

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The crash kills the man who actually did the choking, and the leprechaun then pursues the other two men, capturing one as the other escapes, only to wake up to find his legs amputated and the leprechaun catching up with him.

"The Angel of Death" (from #15[v2#9]) is a story about a mysterious illness running through a small french town, accompanied by visions of an "angel of death". The investigating doctor traces it back to an archaeological dig, where they've unearthed various ancient animals, some still living encased in amber, including a giant mosquito-like creature which escaped when the amber cracked. Eventually they manage to hunt it down.

The plots in these two are a bit weak, but they have some nice scripting and some really nice art, in particular the splash pages of each.

Published 1974

And thanks to Tony Isabella for the plug in his most recent column, which led to a spike in daily visitors. Welcome, all. And Tony's been looking at several of Kirby's 1950s DC covers for the past week, with some interesting observations, so be sure to check that out.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Weird Mystery Tales #1 - Horoscope Phenomenon

Another of the stories intended for SPIRIT WORLD #2, "Horoscope Phenomenon or Witch Queen of Ancient Sumeria?" is a 10-page Kirby/Royer story. The first page is reduced slightly to make room for an introduction by Destiny, host of the book, drawn by Bernie Wrightson.

It's a pretty disjointed story, with three vignettes of people seeing visions of a mysterious woman with a form representing their zodiac sign that helps them, from a copy given a clue how to get out of a volatile stand-off, a woman who finds a hidden treasure in a house she inherited and a man who avoided a rockslide that would have been fatal.

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We find out that these are among the stories collected by our friend Dr. E. Leopald Maas, all linked to a Sumarian priestess/witch-queen whose temple he unearthed.

While the story seems like it was cut off and meant to be more, the art is really stunning, with Kirby tossing off odd imagry and action (especially in the police vignette) and Royer's inks complementing it perfectly.

Also in this issue is a 2-page text feature by Evanier and Sherman, also intended for SPIRIT WORLD #2.

For the other three books containing stories intended for SPIRIT WORLD #2, check these prior posts:

Forbidden Tales of Dark Mansion #6 [1972]
Weird Mystery Tales #2 [1972]
Weird Mystery Tales #3 [1972]

Published 1972

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Rawhide Kid #136

Two reprints from RAWHIDE KID #20 (1961) in this issue, both Kirby/Ayers artwork.

"Shoot-Out With Blackjack Borden" is an amusing 13-page story where Borden tricks the Kid by getting a phony marshal to offer him a fake pardon on the condition he give up his guns. The Kid briefly enjoys his freedom before Borden decides to make his reputation as the man who cowed the Rawhide Kid.

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Of course it's not long before the Kid figures out the hoax, storms back into town and takes care of Borden.

"The Defeat of the Rawhide Kid" is another one of the Shane variations, where the Kid, exhausted from a long chase, comes across a father and son. The son is full of hero worship and wants to ride off and live the outlaw life with the Kid, so the Kid pretends to go along with that, saying they'll have to kill the father as a witness before they leave. The Kid throws the ensuing fight, teaching the Kid that it's braver to live an honest life.

Two fun stories, with the usual great art from Kirby and Ayers, especially on the first story with its mix of shoot-outs and fist-fights.

Published 1976

Super Powers #3 - Amazons at War

More Kirby plots for others to finish, topped off by a Kirby/Thibodeaux cover. Not one of my favourites, honestly, as the faces seem a bit off.

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For the story, the last of the villains given a power boost, Brainiac, attacks the Amazons on Paradise Island, making them regress to a more primitive warlike state (oddly, one scene showing their more peaceful pursuits shows an Amazon caring for a baby, which makes me think someone was unclear on the concept). Brainiac then blows up a nuclear plant close to where Paradise Island would be in the real world to prompt them to attack, under the leadership of Wonder Woman who returned to the island and regressed with everyone else. A meeting of the Justice League (or those members who were part of the toyline) convenes and decides to put a stop to this, while Superman goes to contain the nuclear plant. Brainiac then decides to shift his powers from the Amazons to Superman, regressing him to a barbaric state and sending him to attack the others.

I don't know about you, but at this point I'm getting impatient for Darkseid to show up.

Published 1984

Sunday, April 03, 2005

New Kirby - Marvel Milestones: Iron Man

Haven't seen it yet, but a comment below mentions that the first of the new series of MARVEL MILESTONES one-shots just came out, this one reprinting the first Ant-Man story (pre-Ant-Man actually) from TALES TO ASTONISH #27 and the origin of Cap by S&K from CAPTAIN AMERICA #1, as well as the non-Kirby first Iron Man.

Note I've added a permanent page over on the sidebar to document new Kirby publications in one bookmarkable place in addition to these posts. Feel free to add a note in the comments there if you see anything I've missed.

Saturday, April 02, 2005

Destroyer Duck #3 - Pheromones

Duke Duck's battle against GodCorp continus in this issue, by the usual team of Gerber/Kirby/Alcala. The issue opens with some odd imagry and nice action as Duke finds himself awakening in a body bag in an animal control van, escaping with a wild doberman hot on his heels. He finds refuge in the home of Brad White, lonely phone company employee who has an apartment full of telephones, including one of Vanilla Cupcake™, a GodCorp owned character.

Which brings us to the corporate greed segment of this issue, as we switch to GodCorp and find out they've disavowed operative Medea from the previous issue and then distracted the press with an appearance by Vanilla Cupcake™, their latest hit merchandizing brand in the form of a little girl made to look like a doll. Back with Duke, we find out that Brad's neighbour Beryl is in fact the older sister of Vanilla Cupcake™ and find out their origin, which involves a mutation that makes the girls give off a pheromone which the Packer brothers of GodCorp were extracting to use in making irresistable merchandise. Beryl escaped and now joins with Duke in his quest to take down GodCorp in her identity as Cherries Jubilee.

Along the way we get the return of everyone's favourite company shill, Booster Cogburn. This time around he perishes in a satisfying hail of bullets proclaiming "If I want my employee rights-- I gotta make good my employee wrongs!" Oh Booster, will you never learn?

(I've gotten a surprising number of hits on this site from people searching for "Cogburn", so I might have to actually explain the joke when I cover the next issue, which has his origin. It's a bit mean, but funny mean. You can find out more in Gerber's interview in TJKC #10)

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As our intrepid squad prepares to leave for Hoqoom, site of an upcoming Vanilla Cupcake™ appearance, they're suddenly over-run by multiple Cogburns.

Lots of fun, Kirby's art seems to be getting a bit looser as this point, but there's still a lot of imagination and really strong on the action scenes. Gerber was doing some inspired stuff in this. They should really consider a reprint of this at some point, now that GodCorp seems to be finding a market for later Kirby collections.

Published 1983

Friday, April 01, 2005

Devil Dinosaur #2 - Devil's War

"Were dinosaurs as smart as men? If their kind was known on Earth for 750 million years, one of them was bound to have learned something!"

Thus begins the second adventure of T. Rex Devil Dinosaur and his young companion Moon-Boy. As this issue begins, they almost fall into a trap of spikes in a pit laid by the Killer-Folk and their leader Seven Scars. They escape that but then are caught in a rockslide which buries Devil and knocks out Moon-Boy. Moon-Boy is taken to serve as a sacrifice in the cave of Long-Legs.

Devil soon manages to dig himself partially out when he's confronted by an iguanodon.

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A short battle follows, and the victorious Devil uses his sense of smell to track where Moon-Boy has been taken. Moon-Boy is tied up as a sacrifice to a giant spider when Devil bursts in with a burning stick from the flaming forest, rescues Moon-Boy, crushes Seven Scars and forces the rest of the Killer-Folk into the cave of Long-Legs to meet their fate.

It was a rough life back in the dawn of times, and DD was clearly a take no prisoners type. This is a really fun comic, especially the way that Kirby draws Devil, with a lot of personality, and how he emphasizes Devil and Moon-Boy's mutual loyalty to one another.

Mike Royer inks the 17-page story, Frank Giacoia inks the cover and Kirby provides a text page titled "There Were Giants in Those Days".

Published 1978

Reminder dinofans, keep an eye on the PalaeoBlog for the history of dinosaur comics by Steve Bissette, sure to come to Devil eventually, and other science fun.