Kirby’s Animation Career, by: Stan Taylor, Part 3

2013-02-05_185929Kirby’s Animation Career, by: Stan Taylor, Part 3

To round out his soon-to-end contract at Marvel Comics, the last Kirby series was built around a big red dinosaur and the scruffy little kid who controlled him. Stan Lee heard that DC was pushing a Kamandi cartoon to CBS, so Stan approached Jack about a similar child’s title that he might be able to pitch to animators. Devil Dinosaur was Kirby trying to regain the kiddie market — much like Kamandi had been an antidote to Kirby’s super-serious New Gods trilogy.  Though childish in nature, Jack nevertheless delved into his vast cache of scientific knowledge.

Art from Amazing Adventures #3 Aug. 1961 Jack’s first red dinosaur:

nnnJack explained, “One guy published a theory that we are descended from killer baboons.” He was referring to what is called the “Killer Ape Theory” as espoused by Dr. Raymond Dart, a noted anthropologist who proposed that man was evolved from bands of killer apes and that the aggressive behavior of man came from the natural need to kill for food. As laid-out in his thesis in 1953, Dart’s ideas were met with disbelief but also much curiosity.  It became fodder for sci-fi writers and filmmakers — books and movies such as Planets of the Apes, and the opening sequence from 2001-A Space Odyssey borrowed heavily from Dart’s theories.

Kirby had explored the man vs. red dinosaur concept as early as 1961. He used pieces in books like 2001, Eternals, and Kamandi.  “I believe that… forty years ago we just got through shoving people into ovens—on a very flimsy reason,”  Kirby continued. “Man has a drive for domination,” and Kirby extracted this and imbued it to his aliens.  “The dinosaur was on Earth for 750 million years.  Do you mean to tell me that it didn’t have the intelligence of …a dog? When I did Devil Dinosaur, I did a thinking dinosaur. My belief is that dinosaurs were intelligent.  I mean, if we acquired the intelligence we have, say in a short period of about 4 million years, what might the dinosaur have accomplished in 750 million years?”  One story arc proposed that UFOs visited man and dinosaur. He even threw in an astro-techno telling of the Adam and Eve story.

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The book was scoffed at by the older kids, but it was a great thrill ride for younger ones. It was a cartoon in book form. Though never picked up by animation studios, this series has become a cult classic — pure kitsch.

Science teaches us that man and dinosaur never interacted — they say that there was a period of 65 million years between the two species, and they laugh at Jack’s story as absurd and farcical.  Yet it has only become known to us recently that history and religions are full of depictions of man and dinosaurs coexisting.  Though parts of the series seem childish, the series is still important as a continuation of Kirby’s exploration of man and where man fits into the universe.

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This debate arose most prominently in the late Seventies when Dr. Javier Cabrera Darquea, a Peruvian physician wrote The Message of the Engraved Stones of Ica. A recounting of his uncovering thousands of carved stones and potteries from a local riverbank.  These 11,000+ carvings were full of dinosaurs, man, and other lifeforms living together; signs of advanced medicine, and astronomy.  The sheer number of items was astounding. For once there was graphic evidence to back up multiple accounts of man and dinosaurs interacting. Problems arose when some claimed they were forged by local peasants.  Yet they never explained how peasants of no technological or archeological teaching could and would have forged these pictures of the futuristic, and amazing, and why.  These were not antiquities being sold by peasants to tourists — there was no reward for the peasants to waste their time. Why would a peasant draw a dinosaur and man together? There was no money trail leading to the impoverished natives.

Supposedly Dr. Cabrera even admitted to have forged them.  Though he now denies it and even presents these carvings in a museum in Peru. The AAT fanatics claim there are so many artifacts that one man could never have made them in a dozen lifetimes. Plus there are first-hand accounts of these stones that predate Dr. Cabrera and his writings. A museum in Peru had carved stones in their possession for dozens of years prior to Dr. Cabrera’s writings. Is it possible that Devil Dinosaur was Jack Kirby’s nod to the debates swirling around at the time?  One note, Dr. Cabrera’s book was not translated to English until 1984.

Is this the first meeting of dinosaur, man, and UFO’s?

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