Category Archives: Other

Dark Horse Presents #103 [1995]


This issue of Dark Horse’s long running anthology series promises an “exclusive never-before-seen Jack Kirby centerfold” on the cover, and indeed we do get this Kirby image from 1970, inked by Mike Royer, on a two-page spread in the middle of the book.  This is one of several religious themed images that Kirby did and displayed in his home.  Dark Horse published this and the other images in the series in a portfolio the following year, signed and with commentary by Roz Kirby, and I think they’ve all been seen in various issues of  The Jack Kirby Collector and other places in the years since.

It’s a fascinating image of God turning his back on the world, very open to interpretation on the exact meaning, and an showing a few of the visual motifs that he used in his comic book work in a more pure form.

A nice look at some of the work that Kirby did when there was no real commercial aim or deadline (remember, he did these kinds of things while maintaining his regular comics work at several pages per day).

Richard Dragon, Kung Fu Fighter #3 [1975] – Claws of the Dragon


Another of the books Kirby just penciled in the last days of his DC contract. At this point the comic Dennis O’Neil was still adapting the RICHARD DRAGON novel written by O’Neil and Jim Berry under the name “Jim Dennis”. The series apparently couldn’t hold an artist, with five pencilers in the first four issues (the last, Ric Estrada, did stick with the book).

As you’d expect in a martial arts book, this is pretty much just a series of fights. First Dragon fights a mob to rescue Carolyn from men of the Swiss, who wants some information from her. Carolyn manages to get captured again while Dragon is distracted fighting three guys who think they have martial arts training. We get a flashback to Dragon’s teacher, the O-Sensei, who gave him the Dragon’s Claw pendant for Finally the Swiss lures him into a trap, where he fights various hired weapon-masters.


I suspect that a few pages were cut here, as there are a few hired hands show up in the initial scene that Dragon doesn’t actually fight. Anyway, Dragon is able to defeat them all, but the Swiss still manages to blow up the place and escape with Carolyn.

Obviously a bit of a trivial entry in the Kirby career, but he has a pretty funny way of drawing martial arts, very kinetic. D. Bruce Berry inks the 18-page story.

Published 1975

Giant-Size Master Of Kung Fu #4 [1975] – Yellow Claw reprints


Two short reprints from YELLOW CLAW #2 in the back-up slot this issue, the first of three issues of the series Kirby had drawn during his brief stint at Atlas in 1956. It’s possible that these are among the stories Kirby inked himself. Whoever inked them did a great job. The stories are, as is typical for the YELLOW CLAW stories, too short and formulaic to really develop much, but have great visuals.

“Temujai the Golden Goliath” has a couple of naming connections. “Temujai” is an oddly similar name to “Tegujai”, the conqueror of Kirby’s unfinished novel THE HORDE (presumably both based on Temujin). And even odder, Jimmy Woo’s pilot is named “Rocky Davis”, published just before the Challengers debut. Anyway, in this story the Yellow Claw has constructed a giant robot in the form of of Temujai, hoping to use it to take control of Asia using people’s superstitions.


Jimmy Woo is sent to investigate, gets captured and thrown in with the scientist who invented the artificial skin on the robot, and with the Claw’s traitorous neice Suwan takes control of the robot. At the end we find out that the fake skin only lasts a short while anyway, so I guess the Claw’s plan was futile.

The next story is “The Mystery of Cabin 361”. I guess a page was edited out here, but the plotting on these stories is so jumpy that I can’t tell where. In this one, Jimmy spots the Claw and Suwan boarding a cruise ship and goes undercover as a steward. He gets captured again (not the best agent, is he, although I guess it’s a genre standard from James Bond or Maxwell Smart), but manages to foil the Claw’s plan. In an entertaining variation, the Claw takes the effort to drug Suwan so she can’t betray him, but even in that state she’s instrumental in his defeat.

As usual in these reprints, lettering is changed so Jimmy Woo is changed from an FBI agent to SHIELD.

Published 1975

The Conversion of Tegujai Batir


In the 1995 anthology DAVID COPPERFIELD’S TALES OF THE IMPOSSIBLE, you’ll find the short story “The Conversion of Tegujai Batir”, which was “extrapolated” by Janet Berliner from Kirby’s unfinished novel THE HORDE, one of two such stories published (the other was in a sci-fi magazine called GALAXY in 1994). If you want to know more about the complicated history of the novel and the various attempts by others to complete/expand/adapt it, check out the 32nd issue of THE JACK KIRBY COLLECTOR, or this page on the TwoMorrows website.

This chapter isn’t really an easy story to read. I got the book several years ago, and it took me a while to get past the first few pages. After that it opens up a bit, either because I got used to the rhythms of the writing or because the plot moved to more interesting things. This story tells how the Mongolian youth, Tegujai Batir, came to be possessed by a jinn, then exiled from his home to join the Russian army in WWII, returns home to conquer as part of the Chinese army after the war, and began his plans for conquest that involve tunnels under the earth.

Out of this hatred was born the concept of the army that he would form., the one that would become known as the great worm. Its guiding will lived with him and among those who surrounded him

I’m not sure how much of Kirby’s own version of the story is in this extract, but it does have a few moments that seem to distantly echo themes he explored in other ways in his comic book work. Hopefully, if/when any of the attempts to complete the story reach fruition, we’ll at least get to see the 1979 five-page outline mentioned in the JKC article, or ideally one or more of the complete unfinished manuscripts that Kirby wrote.

The story is 18 pages, plus a short introduction by Copperfield and a chapter illustration by an artist who seems to be uncredited in the book. There’s also a brief bio of Kirby in the back.

Amazing Heroes #100 [1986]


Back in 1986, the Fantagraphics published fan magazine AMAZING HEROES celebrated its 100th issue in style, devoting most of the magazine (except for regular features like the upcoming release list and letter column) to Jack Kirby. Over 60 pages of material on the Kirby, from today’s perspective, with over 50 issues of Kirby dedicated fanzines and several books available it might not seem much, but back then it was pretty unique, and still holds up well, giving an overview of his whole career. The biggest weakness compared to the more recent Kirby publications is that they didn’t have access to the copious amounts of uninked and/or unpublished material, so the visuals are mostly taken directly from printed comics.

Steve Rude opens up the show by inking a Kirby cover featuring Kirby and many of his most famous characters, from the golden age right up to Captain Victory. Very eye-catching cover, coloured by Tom Luth.


Several dozen comic creators then supply a few (or sometimes many) words and/or images about Kirby. I especially liked the contributions of Scott Shaw!, Michael T. Gilbert and Larry Marder.

Greg Potter then has a long article, starting with a quick biographical sketch of Kirby (with a few odd errors, like treating CHALLENGERS OF THE UNKNOWN as a golden age S&K book), then looking in-depth at “The Pact”, with a dozen pages from the story reproduced at half-size in glorious black and white, the best art reproduction in this magazine.

Mark Evanier supplies the interview for the issue, a nice casual conversation with Jack and Roz Kirby touching on many aspects of his career, including the classic Kirby line “I’ve always found that naked women never paid any attention to me”.

Richard Howell provides the highlight of the issue, a look at 10 great Kirby stories from throughout his career. A good selection, and fortunately, unlike when this was published most of them have seen a reprint in recent years (or will soon in the case of the “Tales of Asgard” sequence he cites), so more people can now compare their opinions with his. Some interesting insights. I did wonder about his reference to George Papp as the inker on SHOWCASE #12, since this is the only place I’ve seen that credit. I’ve seen that credited to Stein or Premiani or Kirby himself, and those sound more likely than Papp. He also says nice things about Colletta inks, and regular readers can guess how that makes me feel, but I forgive for the interesting comments about the romance stories and Boys’ Ranch.

Greg Theakston is up next with a closer look at Kirby’s art, with some interesting insights into both his page composition and his use contrast and lineweight to lead the eye. Some interesting comments about the Don heck inked figure of Heimdall from the Gods Portfolio.

Finally their then-regular reviewer R.A. Jones provides his own overview of Kirby’s work, which isn’t nearly as good as Howell’s, and can be safely skipped. He also says good things about Colletta, among many other incorrect things he says, but I’m far less forgiving.

Well worth digging up if you have a copy buried somewhere, or picking up if you’re lucky enough to find one.

Published 1986

Jack Kirby’s Heroes And Villains [1987]


This book, published by Greg Theakston’s Pure Imagination in 1987, is a reproduction of a sketchbook that Jack Kirby did as a gift for his wife Roz in the 1970s. It features 129 full page images reproduced from Kirby’s pencils of characters he’d drawn (mostly created as well, although a few like Conan and the Yellow Claw are in there too) in his decades in the comic biz, from as early as Blue Bolt and going as late as his last few Marvel books like Devil Dinosaur and Machine Man. A few odd omissions (at least one of which, Odin, was included in the inked version, mentioned below, so maybe there were a few pages missing for some reason), but then Kirby could have filled two or three more such books given all his characters.

The drawings range from simple head-shots to full body portraits to complete scenes with detailed backgrounds.


The reproduction is really good (and apparently there’s a deluxe signed edition that looks even better, but I’ve never even seen that one). It captures the look of penciled originals nicely, to the point that it almost looks at a quick glance like a sketchbook.

(Note I darkened up the scans to make them look a bit better on a low resolution scan on a computer monitor, and they aren’t anywhere near as good as the printed images)

The Loki is one of my favourites in the book, just a great brooding but supremely confident villain piece. The Yellow Claw has one of those great out-stretched Kirby hands, and that DeSaad is nicely sinister. The heroes in the book looked good, too,but the villains had many of the best pieces.


A few of the other highlights are:

Ben Grimm, shown fishing with a stogie
Fandral of the Warriors Three ready to attack
The Guardian on the streets of Suicide Slum
Angel of Boys’ Ranch going for his guns on an old west street
Modok, just, y’know, being Modok
Barda, just, y’know, being Big

Also in this book, a two page introduction by Jim Steranko about his early experiences with the Kirbys, plus a 1984 photo of Kirby and endpapers of a Kirby-tech drawing that appeared in the 1970 Marvelmania portfolio.


Theakston would later publish the “Black Magic” edition of the book, which had various artists take a swing at inking the drawings, with mixed results.

If you don’t have it already, I doubt it’ll be easy to find any edition of this other than the Black Magic one, but if you do it’s worth it.

Published 1987

Classics Illustrated #35 [HRN-161] [1961] – Last Days of Pompeii


A lesser known sidetrack to Kirby’s career is the short period that he did work for Gilberton, publishers of CLASSICS ILLUSTRATED and WORLD AROUND US, in the early 1960s, just before the Marvel super-heroes took off. One of the major books he did there was a new edition of CI #35, a 45 page adaptation of “Last Days of Pompeii” by Edward Bulwer-Lytton, replacing the previous edition. Inked by Dick Ayers, who was also doing some fine inking on much of Kirby’s work at Marvel, as well as having inked the Sky Masters comic strip.

Classics Illustrated #35 [HRN-161] [1961]

The story is, I’m assuming, pretty faithful to the novel. Lots of intrigue, back-stabbing and romance among the residents of the doomed city, with the noble Athenian Glacius as the hero and evil Egyptian Arbaces as the villain (and a great looking Kirby villain he is, with a long face, a longer goatee and a snake-headband, I could see him fitting in as a minion of Darkseid).

While far from Kirby’s best, the art in here does look very good most of the time, when the Kirby elements are allowed to shine through. You can see a lot of that in the faces of some of the characters, the great clothing designs and some of the backgrounds, and when he got to cut loose with an action sequence, like the fleeing from the volcano at the end, it really shines.

Kirby’s said one of the reasons he didn’t like working at Gilberton was their insistence that certain details be what they considered accurate, and requiring a lot of editorial control and re-drawing. Some of the original art that’s surfaced for the book shows some major changes done in paste-ups which have fallen off.

Despite all that, it’s a book well worth picking up, and usually available fairly inexpensively given that it’s a 45 page Kirby story from 1961 that’s unlikely to ever see a decent reprinting (I believe that the current rights holders of the CI books are doing extensively re-drawn reprints, and concentrating on the CI JUNIOR and religious line).

Published 1961

Jack Kirby Checklist 1998 Final Edition [1998]


Figured I should mention that a lot of the information for these entries comes from THE JACK KIRBY CHECKLIST 1998 FINAL EDITION, published by TwoMorrows. An essential guide for the Kirby fan, this 100 page book is almost sure to lead you to some Kirby story you didn’t know about, or a source for a reprint of a story. Also contains sections on Kirby’s comic strip work, magazine articles about Kirby and unpublished work and more. Liberally illustrated with dozens of sketches of his many characters.


You’d also want to get the 2001 Update of the list which appears in THE JACK KIRBY COLLECTOR #32. It lists a few corrections, new stuff published after the original list and newly discovered stuff.

Giant-Size Master Of Kung Fu #3 [1975]


YELLOW CLAW was one of the books that Kirby did during his short stint at what became Marvel in the mid-1950s, before his longer run there starting in the late 1950s. Kirby did three issues (#2 – #4), each with four short stories with FBI agent Jimmy Woo foiling the plans of the Yellow Claw, often aided by the Claw’s very conflicted niece Suwan.

The stories in #2 were reprinted in two issues of GIANT-SIZE MASTER OF KUNG FU in the mid-1970s, although changing some lettering so that Jimmy is now an agent of SHIELD rather than the FBI.

The third issue reprinted “Concentrate on Chaos”, which has the Claw using a a crew of six mutants with mental powers to create havoc in the US. Kirby gets to do a nice Dali-esque page to show that. The stories all end rather quickly and aren’t that satisfying, but they do often have great visuals.


Also reprinted in this issue is an untitled story where Jimmy is convinced to trail Suwan to the Claw’s HQ, only to be captured. For no good reason, the Claw just lets him go rather than killing him, but it’s kind of interesting that they toss him out of a boat in giant bubble, given Kirby’s later fascination with (and unfinished adaptation of) THE PRISONER.