Here are a couple interesting comments on the Kirby/Star Wars post earlier today on Facebook and a few of my comments.
John Sagness: Why would Kirby want to draw a series whose premises had been ripped off from his own work? In the first place, he never particularly enjoyed simply illustrating stories he didn’t write or characters and concepts he didn’t create; and in the second place, I’m sure he was rather insulted and angry knowing that Lucas may have stolen some of his best ideas and made them into a movie! Wouldn’t you be? Do you honestly think, after all that, he would then want to abet Lucas even further by illustrating a STAR WARS comic? Kirby once did a promotional drawing (for either the final issue of the NEW GODS reprint series or for HUNGER DOGS, I can’t remember which) in which he lambasted Lucas’s story for it’s “five-buck ending,” or something to that effect. It’s clear from the copy he wrote just what he really thought of STAR WARS. As for the picture shown here, it’s actually not that great, is it? Daksei– I mean Doctor Doo– I mean Darth Vader looks like he’s wearing underpants! Thibodeaux (or the editorial people at the card company) should have caught that and corrected it. Kirby did a phenomenal job on the 2001 adaptation because he recognized and was inspired by the fact that 2001 was a genuine work of Art and a true masterpiece of science fiction, produced by a brilliant director and a brilliant author working together to create a brilliant motion picture. By comparison, STAR WARS was a crass, derivative, badly-written piece of space-opera. And Jack knew better than to waste his time on junk like that.
Patrick Ford: Star Wars would be close to the last thing on Earth I’d ever want to see Kirby work on. I saw the first movie back when it came out, thought it was horrible and that was the end of my interest in Star Wars. The drawing is most likely some old sketch Kirby had around which was heavily worked over by Mike Thibodeaux. I suspect it was a rough drawing of Doctor Doom.
My comments: I agree with John Sagness that Jack probably would have preferred not to adapt something like Star Wars into a comic, but I still would have enjoyed seeing Jack tackle that task. I think Jack was up for anything and he understandably felt he could make any project work, but dealing with a pile of movie stills would have given Jack some challenges in terms of costume continuity and Jack has stated many times over the years he preferred working on his own creations. As for the similarities between Star Wars and Jack’s Fourth Word and whether or not Kirby was a major influence on George Lucas is a topic so complex and convoluted I’ve actually advised a couple experts on the subject to write a book on the topic because it’s certainly an interesting and controversial one, but not one I have time to rehash here.
Patrick Ford also makes a good point. I think all of Jack’s fans wish he was still alive and we wish he could work on our own dream project if we could give him a million dollars. I’m sure some fans would love to see him do another book like New Gods. Others might like to see him tackle Captain America again or Silver Surfer. Others might enjoy seeing him do more autobiographical work or more historical work. So for me, I respect all opinions on this. I’d have enjoyed seeing Jack do superheroes, Star Wars, or whatever someone was paying him to do or ideally he could do whatever he wanted. Ultimately though, Jack is no longer with us so I for one appreciate the veritable mountain of work he did produce, and as I’m sure many of you agree it’s fun to imagine how Jack could have applied his unique style and sensibilities to a myriad of different genres or projects he could have potentially worked on if given the opportunity.
For the record my favorite Kirby work is the 2001 comic book series (the issues before the series morphed into Machine Man). I liked the idea of regular people interacting with the cosmos and dealing with transcendental and metaphysical transformation. I enjoyed the way Jack handled the characterizations in those stories and I specifically marveled at his explosive visuals. Here’s a scan of a 2001 page I used to own. Page 11 from issue # 4. Royer inks.
I included a few HQ zooms from the page at the top of this post and below. I really loved that close-up of those eyes in panel 4. Looking at this for the first time in a few years, I’m kicking myself now for selling this page. If I had some wall space, I’d blow this image up and hang it somewhere. Simple, powerful image. Single female face staring into the unknown. This is an HQ scan from the original art. Print it out — it will look great.
Here are some comments from Facebook regarding my post where I said I wished Jack had done more “cosmic” stories like Silver Surfer in the 1970s as opposed to the more terrestrial Black Panther series:
Andrei Molotiu: ”I think Jack would have been better off doing a more cosmic storyline like a Silver Surfer series.” Well, he WAS doing 2001 at about the same time, and that one’s plenty cosmic.
Rob Allan Falls: loved the way kirby drew the black panther,an underrated series!one of my favorite pages!is it for sale?
John Sagness: BLACK PANTHER was a great comic — much better than a Silver Surfer series would have been. Besides, we had a Silver Surfer graphic novel as well; so the way it turned out, we got both!
Drew Dobbs: I disagree with Robert here, that series was pretty ‘borderline-cosmic’ already, and the letters pages were FULL of readers complaining about the more ‘cosmic/sci-fi’ direction that Kirby was taking the series, most of them seemed put off by it (not me!). It’s sad to read the sniping mail in both this book and (even more so) in Captain America and The Falcon. There were defenders, but the detractors were SO hateful it got to where you didn’t want to read the letters page. At least THESE days there is more balanced opinion…
Drew Dobbs: Lovely page, by the way ! Looks like Mike Royer struggled with the lettering in that one panel.
Patrick Ford: I think he would have been better off never having drawn anything which was cosmic or super hero related. The association has only done tremendous damage to his reputation and continues to rob him of the respect he deserves.
John Rxb: I always saw the Nobility in the Black Panther. Kirby captured it in very subtle ways, from the beginning. With the Times, when the Panther was introduced, by Kirby, Jack’s work with the Character was a ground-breaking thing. There were many who saw only the Radical side of Blacks. Ironic that He chose to call Him The Black Panther(since that was a Radical & often Violent Faction,of the era), yet he made The Man , the King of a Land, such a Profound, Passionate & Fascinating presence. Reed Richards saw that very quickly. Growing up in San Francisco, You discovered such kinds of Wise & Powerful Black Men, if You took the time to venture out of the White-Washed walls & viewpoints. Nobility is what Won the War on Racism.