You’d be forgiven if you thought that DC’s reprints of golden age Simon&Kirby comics in their vaults was going to remain incomplete with nothing after the three volumes (SANDMAN, NEWSBOY LEGION and BOY COMMANDOS) published in 2009/2010. Apparently not the case, as DC now has scheduled a second BOY COMMANDOS book in October. Someone appears to have mistakenly titled it as “Vol. 1” in all the available on-line listings, but the contents listing of “stories from Boy Commandos #3-5, World’s Finest Comics #10-13, and Detective Comics #74-83 and 85” make it clear that it picks up where the first book left off. There’s still quite a bit more Kirby left after this, enough for at least a third book, so hopefully they won’t wait another five years to continue.
I guess the big Kirby event of the year was outside of the comics, the settlement between the Kirby family and Marvel that had the immediate visible effect of a co-creator credit appearing in many Marvel books. We’ll see in a few months if this also results in more prominent and more explicit credits in the films based on his creations.
In print, it was also a big year for Kirby:
Pretty tough choice for book of the year. I’d lean towards the S&K LIBRARY: HORROR from Titan, with a big chunk of prime 1950s Kirby, a lot of it never properly reprinted before. The ART OF THE S&K STUDIO from Abrams isn’t far behind, though, with about 240 pages of Kirby work reproduced from the original art, plus another 120 pages by other S&K Studio artists. And certainly the NEW GODS ARTIST’S EDITION from IDW is worth a look if you can afford it. Jeremy Kirby’s JACK KIRBY: A PERSONAL LOOK is an interesting look into Kirby’s family life, with a large selection of never before seen photos, plus Jack Kirby’s manuscript “Frog Prince”. And of course a lot of interesting stuff in the two issues of THE JACK KIRBY COLLECTOR published in the year.
As usual, Marvel had a large number of Kirby reprints. Mostly stuff that has been reprinted multiple times before in whatever their latest format is (the newest being “Epic Collections”, colour softcovers featuring about 500 page runs of a title, numbered but published out of order). I think the only substantial material not previously reprinted in a bookshelf format are the NOT BRAND ECHH stories, and those are currently only available in a $500 box set (the book will be released as a standalone in June, 2015). But the Marvel highlight, especially if you missed the prior hardcover, was obviously the DEVIL DINOSAUR collection.
Just for fun, three versions of one of my favourite Kirby/Ayers giant monster images.
That’s “A Monster At My Window” from TALES TO ASTONISH #34 , the splash page of the story and the slightly touched up version on the cover of that issue, and a radically altered version (which kind of misses the point of the story) by John Romita from MONSTERS ON THE PROWL #29 .
Just got a copy of the Abrams published THE ART OF THE SIMON AND KIRBY STUDIO, a big 384-page book jammed with reproductions of the original artwork Joe Simon (and others) saved from the 1940s and 1950s, most of it by Jack Kirby, some by others in the studio like Mort Meskin, Leonard Starr and Bill Draut. Looking forward to going through it, but it’s already pretty clearly the Kirby book of the year, in what’s been a pretty good year. It’s especially good to see a lot of western (about 70 pages of BOYS’ RANCH and others) and romance work.
Here are a few additional images of the book from the publisher’s site.
Just got a copy of JACK KIRBY: A PERSONAL LOOK, the recent book by Jack Kirby’s grandson Jeremy. It’s available print-on-demand from Amazon, and I have to say, print-on-demand has come a long way in the last few years, especially in reproducing images. It looks a lot sharper than I expected.
There are two main components to the book. First it’s a photo album, with dozens of family photos, from the earliest photo of Jack Kirby they have through the war years and early days of comics through to photos with the grandchildren in the 1980s. You can see a sample of the photos on the original Kickstarter page for the book.
The bulk of the book is the original typewritten manuscript to a screenplay that Jack Kirby wrote, “Frog Prince”, a 99-page 3-act drama. There’s no hint about when it was written, I’m guessing maybe the 1950s, when you might see a one-hour standalone drama done for TV. Bits of it feel like WEST SIDE STORY, combined with what you’d expect one of Kirby’s romance or crime comics might be if he had more than a dozen pages to develop them. There are a few thematic connections you could make with some other Kirby work, especially Orion. I’m guessing the cigar-chomping diner owner is the role Kirby saw himself in. It’s definitely something different, but very Kirby, and it’s good to see it in a pure form (I think every excerpt of Kirby’s novel “The Horde” made public has been filtered and adapted by others instead of being Kirby’s original).
In other news, I just got shipping notification for my copy of THE ART OF THE SIMON AND KIRBY STUDIO, so hopefully that’ll be in my hands sometime next week.
So apparently we now have the first tangible evidence of the Kirby family settlement with Marvel from a month ago, as several comics published this week include an explicit creator credit for characters that Kirby created in the 1960s, including the Inhumans, the Fantastic Four and the X-Men (in coming weeks we’ll probably see something in Thor, Hulk, Avengers, Iron Man and perhaps others). Previously the only regular creator credit appearing for Kirby in Marvel comics was for Captain America (with Joe Simon), ever since a settlement Simon negotiated about a decade ago.
We’ll see if this extends to a more visible and explicit credit to Kirby in films based on his creations.
Mark Evanier comments briefly on the announced settlement between the Kirby family and Marvel, which comes just ahead of when the Supreme Court would have made a decision on whether or not to hear the case. No details on the settlement are forthcoming from him, but “real happy” is good news. While I don’t expect financial details to come out, I’m pretty sure that any settlement that Evanier feels would have made the Jack and Roz Kirby “real, real, real happy” would include a noticeable increase and the presence and prominence of Jack Kirby’s credits in conjunction with characters he created or co-created at Marvel appearing in print and on screen (credits which usually currently range from “completely absent” to “buried and weakly worded as ‘based on comics by…’ or ‘special thanks to…'”), so keep an eye on that in months to come.
Also good news is another post indicating that recent events mean he can finish his long-awaited biography of Kirby. Until then, don’t forget that THE ART OF THE SIMON AND KIRBY STUDIO is out soon (Evanier recently reporting he already has his copy and describing the book).
Diamond Comics has released their sales charts for May 2014, and I’d just like to highlight one thing:
The top ranked book on their “Graphic Novels” chart by dollars is the JACK KIRBY NEW GODS ARTIST’S EDITION from IDW. I’m sure IDW will be selling a lot of those direct mail and at conventions over the summer, as well, so hopefully that’ll mean a big payday for Mike Royer and for the Kirby Estate.
Chris Ryall of IDW posted these photos of the NEW GODS Artist’s Edition on his Tumblr page. Normally I’d just link to the post, but I can’t figure out how to link to a post on Tumbr. Looks good, especially the foldouts of the colour presentation pages, which must be huge. Ordering info in this post.
Apparently out in comic stores this week and shipping direct from the publisher now is the NEW GODS ARTIST’S EDITION, reproducing the artwork for six issues of NEW GODS (1, 2, 5, 6, 7, and 8. Apparently the first issue was added sometime after the original solicitation) at the originally drawn size. If you want your comic shop to get it, use the order code DEC130371, or you can get it direct from the publisher over here for US$125 plus shipping. I think IDW also sells them direct at major conventions. Note that “A variant cover edition of this title will be made available at a later date”, according to the publisher page. I don’t know what that means, either. Generally the variant editions seem to be signed versions, which in this case I guess would have to be by Mike Royer, inker of four of the issues included, but it could be something else.