Original artwork and the published image of page 14 from 2001: A Space Odyssey (1976). Kirby/Royer.
I’m putting my free time into some other projects so I might not be able to answer as many of your questions or post as many of the emails I receive here at Kirby Dynamics, but please keep sending in your comments because I do read them when I can and I have a lot of great Kirby art posts scheduled. Thanks to John S. for these comments on Kirby’s 2001.
Thanks for posting that beautiful original from 2001#1. Looking at it now in black-and-white really confirms what I’ve felt for so many years about this period of Kirby’s career: He was definitely doing some of the absolute best work of his life at this time, and his collaboration with Mike Royer was at its peak on books like this. Just look at the detail in those panels! No inker other than Royer could have embellished that art with so much flexibility, faithfulness and control. And his lettering was equally good–spirited and precise at the same time. People can say what they will about the relative commercial success of Jack’s seventies comics, but how anyone can look at beautiful pages like this and not be blown away is beyond me.
One other point. A number of people over the years have criticized Jack for his “overly wordy” captions. But in my opinion, those criticisms are based more on their preconceived notions of how a comic should read, rather than on the way the work in question actually doesread. Kirby always maintained that the writing and the artwork should mesh together seemlessly and complement one another in order to tell the story as thoroughly as possible. And this page is a good example of that. Jack’s copy-writing skills were at their peak during his ’70s Marvel tenure and the captions on this page work in perfect harmony with the pictures to provide all the necessary information and tell a riveting, complete story. As a Kirby fan, I’m always dismayed when others criticize Jack’s seeming verbosity with the captions, while at the same time saying nary a critical word about scribes like Stan Lee, who write panel after panel, page after page of characters explaining the story to the reader by TALKING TO THEMSELVES !! How is that technique somehow better than Jack’s?! IT’S NOT!! Kirby took a lot of flack over the years from some very narrow-minded fanboys (whom he lampooned in 2001 #5 as “White Zeros”) who couldn’t get over the fact that the way he did his comics was not the way they were used to. But if they’d just been willing to open their eyes and their minds, they would have realized that that didn’t make Jack’s comics worse…in fact, it usually made them better.