Thursday, March 15, 2018
Sunday, August 27, 2017
You're going to see the names Jack Kirby and Jacob Kurtzberg a lot today. Jack Kirby is the pen-name of the greatest comic artist and creator to grace this orb we call planet Earth.
Here, on the centennial of his birth (August 28th, 1917), it's possible to suggest that Jack Kirby may be one of the most important artistic and literary figures of the past 100 years. The recognition came late, decades after his passing, and, still, his name is hardly a household word. But the creations he unleashed upon popular culture from the 1940's to the 1990's would either be taken up directly by the public (at long last), becoming part of the parlance, or influence generations who could never produce that same spark of imagination, but built either directly or indirectly upon what he had done before.
There are Kirby bio sketches out there a-plenty (but no definitive monograph that I'm aware of), a magazine dedicated to the study and fan-splosion around his work, and Mark Evanier - who apprenticed under him - has become the living memory of his professional life while his grandchildren have taken up the cause of preserving the memory of the man. Now there's a virtual museum (which deserves a physical location), and a charity it's worth considering giving to sometime. And a slew of collections and books celebrating Kirby's influence and work.
Kirby was not first in when comics became a way for kids from the rougher neighborhoods of New York picked up a pencil or ink brush to start bringing in bread, but he was there really early. He was a workman who put everything he had into the work, comic by comic, year by year, becoming better and better. As they tell you in art-school, master the rules before you start breaking them - and that's what he did, finding his own unique style, his own way of creating action and drama, and eventually shattering what it meant to create a comics page.
Taking from mythology, from science-fiction, from films, from his colleagues and the bottomless well within, Kirby created whole universes, pockets within those universes, and held the lens to each character, bringing the internal life of gods, men and monsters to life.
Thursday, August 10, 2017
It has been a long, long time since I've talked much about Mister Miracle by Jack Kirby, but when I came across a black and white collection back in late 90's, one of that series one of New Gods, the comics hit my psyche like a runaway freight train.
I'll talk more about Kirby's Mister Miracle and New Gods soon (I'll be doing my own salute to King Kirby before his 100th), but today I want to suggest you guys get onboard with the new Mister Miracle series by Tom King and Mitch Gerads, which hit shelves on Wednesday.
I admit, I've not read the duo's other work to date, though I've been meaning to pick up their Vision series for at least a year. But...
As comics keep relaunching with new #1's, I'd suggest that both publishers and creators take note: this is how one starts a series.
Wednesday, February 6, 2013
I guess today is the 19th Anniversary of Jack Kirby's passing.
I've attached an image of a cover to an issue of Mister Miracle, a comic I've alluded to over the years, and which I hold close to my heart. If you've never read the Kirby Fourth World material, I can only tell you: man, you are missing out on one wild ride.
Of course, mostly, we talk about the Man of Steel around here, but as a concept, ideal and character, the themes of Superman's mythology differ greatly from those of anything else in the Fourth World books, and especially Mister Miracle, an interesting conundrum when Kirby originated so much of the Fourth World while including Superman and using metropolis as a backdrop. If the underlying theme of Superman, as a character and mythology, exemplifies using the gifts bestowed upon you for the betterment of the world, Mister Miracle is the hope for escape from the seemingly inescapable and an avatar for the promise of freedom - especially by one's own hand. Whether it's the X-Pit or a runaway rocketsled, Scott Free always, always lands on his feet with the manacles unlocked and the trap in splinters.
Thursday, February 9, 2012
I don't dislike the 80's Superman comics. The Byrne/ Wolfman-era relaunch was something that maybe didn't need to happen, but it gave the Superman books an escape hatch from a corner they had painted themselves into somewhat methodically during the 1970's as Julie Schwartz also modernized the Man of Steel.
In the early days of the post-COIE relaunch, much as they're doing now, DC began inserting Kirby's New Gods into the DCU. For a while there, Mister Miracle and Big Barda were sort of the stepping stone into the New Gods franchise. The push led to at least two New Gods titles, a couple of mini's, a Mister Miracle ongoing and, eventually, Walt Simonson's kick-ass Orion series right about when I was graduating college.
I love the Schwartz stuff for one reason, I love the 80's era relaunch for another. Its part of why, in the DC relaunch, I feel quite zen about the Superman reboot.
Because it makes me terribly, terribly uncomfortable, I have never spoken about Action Comics #593.
But then there's Action 593, which features the time Superman was mind-controlled into making a dirty movie with Kirby-character-fave Big Barda. Comics Alliance discusses the issue here, if'n you're interested in details of what happens in the issue and Superman's near-miss with Peter North-styled glory. I should mention the issue also gets covered about once a year as someone accidentally discovers the issue in a back issue bin and goes ape-@#$%, which is not the incorrect response as... seriously, DC.