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

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Kamandi #13 - Hell at Hialeah

The action-packed middle of the "Sackers" saga in KAMANDI finds out hero enslaved at a racetrack in what was once Florida, part of the empire of the snake trader Sacker (people have read some allegorical bits into this story about Kirby's feelings towards DC at this time, and they're probably there, but at its core it's an action story). Lots of fun, as Kam goes from being almost trampled in a horse-race to witnessing a motorcycle race with an odd prize and violent rules:

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Somehow Kirby can sell dialogue like "I'd rather 'Do or Die' for Kamandi Enterprises' than the Sacker's Company".

The story just gets more exciting with Kamandi chased by helicopters while riding his giant grasshopper pet Kliklak and then finally being drawn into battle with one of the savage humans, Bull Bantam, who sees Kamandi as a rival for Spirit, the sister of Kamandi's recently deceased love Flower.

Mike Royer inks the 20-page story and cover.

Published 1974



And thanks to James Burns for the new logo uptop, inspired by Kirby's wayout tech designs

3 comments:

Michael R. Neno said...

This issue has special meaning for me because it's the first Jack Kirby comic book I bought new off the stands just because it was Kirby. I was thirteen years old, and had gotten hold of some earlier Kamandi issues and was completely blown away. I had to find out what was happening now!

The store where I bought the issue no longer exists, but the memory of buying it seems like it happened yesterday. Needless to say, I wasn't disappointed with this issue!

In retrospect, it's very clear that Kirby was commenting on his DC employee relationship in this issue (as I believe much of Kirby's work in the '70s was autobiographical in one way or another). In the page you posted, the first three panels symbolize the treatment work-for-hire cartoonists get at the hands of corporations, and how little they're willing to be paid ("...destroying each other - to win a strawberry shortcake"). Then Kamandi says, "I suppose it's time for ME to race, eh?". Kirby's a part of this game, too, and acknowledges it. He comments on the other workers ("poor, ignorant fools"), then he brings the analogy right out in the open: "I'm NOT following their example! I'd rather "Do or die" for "Kamandi Enterprises" - than the Sacker's company!" (as he did when Simon and Kirby owned their own company). Lastly, Kamandi says: "It's time I made my escape!" - as Kirby did around a year later, to Marvel.

I constantly hear older Kirby fans (i.e. born in the '50s or earlier) disparage Kamandi as just a kid's comic book, and a Planet of the Apes ripoff. But, I believe it just might be Kirby's most personal work (along with The New Gods).

James Burns said...

My first comic that I bought because of the artwork was Jimmy Olsen 144, "A Big Thing In A Deep Scottish Lake." The cover, heavily altered by Neal Adams, had such a dynamic layout that I was literally drawn to the comic carousel in the pharmacy.

Although I had read Kirby before (FF, Thor...), I think that was the first time I recognized his name, and started actively searching for his work.

Michael R. Neno said...

"A Big Thing In A Deep Scottish Lake." was one of the first Kirby Jimmy Olson comics I owned. The first was two issues later, "Homo Disastrous", #146.

Some kids had knocked on our front door, yelling that there were comic books for sale at a garage sale down the street. They knew me like a book, because I quickly ran down there, and saw a coverless copy of #146, with a Jimmy Olson I had never seen before: primitive, brutish, monstrous, compelling (and changed by "regressive gene induction"). Needless to say, I bought it!

Off topic: BTW, very nice website. I'm looking forward to reading "Detached"; I can definately see the Kirby influence in your work, and it's nice to see it used for autobiography.