Monthly Archives: August 2012

Fin Fang Foom – From Frank Dawson

Here’s an email from Frank Dawson:

Hi,

I have been a lurker of the Kirby Dynamics Site. I have in the past seen where you have put up Fanart based of The King’s work. A friend of mine and fellow artist Loston Wallace turned me on to Strange Tales, especially the first appearance of Fin Fang Foom! I did this re-imagined cover of Strange Tales 89 and I am very proud of it. I hope I captured Jack’s spirit in it!

Keep up the great work! Love the Kirby Dynamics site!

Sincerely,
Frank Dawson Jr.

Thanks for sending that in, Frank. Great work!

70s Mego Toys – From Stan Taylor

Here’s a short excerpt from the Jack Kirby biography Stan Taylor is working on.

In 1972, a small toy company leased the rights from both DC and Marvel to create a new line of action figures. Mego Corp. was a little known company that had offered an 8 inch fully pose-able doll named Action Jackson.

The toy made no ripple in the market, but Mego was convinced by a merchandiser that the body cast could be used on a new line of super-heroes. They paid $50,000 for the rights to 4 DC comic characters and released them at Christmas 1972 to much acclaim. Batman, Superman, and Robin were a whopping success. Aquaman not so much so. Aquaman was always a lower-tiered character. Oddly as seen through a merchandiser’s eyes, Aquaman made no sense. He had no spotlight series to make for a tie-in. It would have made more sense to use a character that the company was actively trying to increase customer interest. I think it made more business sense, and common sense that instead of Aquaman, a character such as Orion or Miracle Man made more sense and would have captured the buying public’s fancy and helped promote their new books. Mego quickly acquired the rights to several Marvel characters. Spider-Man and Captain America appeared in 1973 using Jack Kirby art on the advertising.


The next couple years would see the addition of more old DC and Marvel characters such as Hulk, Iron Man, Thor, and the Fantastic Four-many using Kirby’s artwork on their packaging.

They even came out with a series of villains for most of the characters. Penguin, and Joker make sense, but can one imagine a Darkseid! I shudder at the missed chances. Even for the Marvel characters we see a dumb looking Lizard, rather than a frightening Red Skull, or Dr. Doom; we see a Falcon rather than Black Panther. The choices just make no sense to me. Shouldn’t Thor have an Ulik, or Magog, even a Loki? Imagine a 12″ Galactus! This series, titled World’s Greatest Super–Heroes became a marketing miracle that catapulted the company to the height of toy companies. The quality of the sculpting and the costuming was top rate and the packaging was colorful and eye-catching. They added to their line with a series of banks, and play sets, and accessories. The action figure became a staple of the toy industry. Despite the great fees, the artists never saw a penny. It seems sad that DC did anything to push Kirby’s new concepts, while Marvel kept regurgitating unaccredited, Kirby’s old characters and art. An Orion or Darkseid among the Mego figures would have been staggering. I think both DC and Marvel missed the boat with some of the choices.

Black Panther, Silver Surfer, Star Wars, and 2001

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.

From: Stan Taylor

From Stan Taylor:

Hi Rob,

Like you I enjoyed Jack’s work on the Panther, but I think Marvel had another new project that would have really benefited by Kirby’s grandeur. Marvel had just gotten the rights to Star Wars. I often wondered why Chaykin was chosen when even Roy Thomas said that he believed Lucas had borrowed heavilly from Kirby’s New Gods work. Why not let Kirby do the new cosmic series rather than a landbased action series.

Stan

I agree with Stan, Jack would have done an amazing job adapting the Star Wars movie, I think he proved that beyond a shadow doubt with his phenomenal work on the 2001 Treasury Edition.

As far as I know this image below is the only time Jack illustrated the Star Wars characters. This is from the 1994 Star Wars Galaxy 2 trading card series. art by: Jack Kirby & Mike Thibodeaux.

Jillian Kirby’s – Kirby4Heroes campaign!

I encourage you all to support Jillian Kirby and her Hero Initiative project. Here is a video link on YouTube where Jillian discusses the Kirby4Heroes project:

KIRBY4HEROES – Jack Kirby’s Granddaughter has a message for his fans

Jillian Kirby from the Kirby4Heroes video

I’ve argued over the years that the Jack Kirby story isn’t finished — his legacy lives on — and as this recent chapter featuring the Marvel/Disney vs. Kirby legal case eventually comes to an end, a new chapter in the Jack Kirby story will begin and I think it’s great to see Jack’s granddaughter Jillian Kirby starting to write that next chapter right now. Best of luck to Jillian and I hope all of you will check out the video and support Jillian’s endeavors. What a great way to celebrate Jack’s birthday.

Below is an article by Rand Hoppe posted over at the Kirby Museum front page where Rand discusses the project some more.

Join the Kirby4Heroes campaign!

13 August 2012 – 3:01pm — Rand HOPPE

Jack Kirby’s youngest granddaughter, 16 year old Jillian Kirby, has announced Kirby4Heroes in a video on the LA Times’ Hero Complex, accompanied by an article from Geoff Boucher.

Jillian Kirby

Jillian’s idea is that on her grandfather’s 95th birthday, which is on August 28th, comic shops in California, as well as Midtown Comics in NYC, will donate a portion of sales to the Hero Initiative. The Hero Initiative is a wonderful non-profit organization that creates a financial safety net for yesterdays’ creators who may need emergency medical aid, financial support for essentials of life, and an avenue back into paying work.

If you can’t make it to a participating comic shop, a direct donation to the Hero Initiative tagged with Kirby4Heroes would be very welcome.

“Inked by Roz Kirby” by: Mark Evanier

Thanks to Mark Evanier for his posting on the Captain Victory piece with the “Jack Kirby ’82 & Roz Kirby ’97” signature on it.

“Inked by Roz Kirby” By Mark Evanier

I thank Mark for once again shedding the light on another piece of Kirby history, in addition to all of his other hard work as a Kirby historian over the years. His first-hand knowledge of the subject and comprehensive knowledge of comics history have been invaluable over the years, and like many people I’m sure we can’t wait to see his unabridged Kirby biography.

Here’s the image I posted  earlier in the week, again. You can click on it to zoom in and look at the details.

I’m glad Mark corrected me on this. I should have taken a moment to add that just because the piece is signed by both Jack and his wife, that does not necessarily mean that represented an accurate reflection of a 50/50 penciler/inker division of labor, so my thanks to Mark for taking the time to set the record straight on that.

When I posted that image, I thought about raising questions as to whether or not Roz Kirby inked 100% of that image as well. When I initially looked at this artwork I found myself thinking: maybe Jack had an assistant do this? Years later, maybe Roz found it, then spotted a few blacks and maybe she filled in some details somewhere to flesh out the piece? But I didn’t want to get into the “did Jack use an assistant” debate again so I didn’t comment on the art.

Plus I also wondered if maybe this piece was inked by Jack himself because I did feel like I saw some “Jack Kirby” in the inking — it is a very well-crafted piece — I just didn’t know why Jack would trace his own work and I didn’t know enough about his inking during this period to know for sure if that was his ink-work. Plus I wondered what this was for. If it was a commission, why would Roz still have it in 1997? Or maybe this was a commission piece from 1982 and a fan had Roz sign and date it at a convention or in person in 1997?

Ultimately I think this piece will probably still be a bit of a mystery unless an assistant, or an associate who was around when this piece was put together, or someone who commissioned this piece steps forward and fills us in on what happened. But what Mark Evanier says makes a lot of sense to me, especially if we do know for sure that Jack did these types of commissions, and Mark is almost always right on this stuff, so my guess is we are probably looking at a piece where Jack and Roz collaborated on inking the piece. Jack started it in the 80s, Roz finished it in the 90s.

It’s definitely one of the most unique Kirby pieces I’ve ever seen, and because of the love Jack and his wife shared for each other, this signed piece of Jack Kirby/Roz Kirby artwork is pretty special. Roz Kirby was obviously Jack’s greatest collaborator.

Jack and Roz Kirby

Again my thanks to Mark Evanier for taking a moment to give us all a glimpse into the history behind that piece of art. His insights and observations are always interesting and enlightening.

Black Panther # 1, Page 7 Original Art

Original art from Black Panther # 1 (Jan 1977), page 7. Royer inks. Classic late-70s Kirby brawl. I enjoy the art in Black Panther, but I think Jack would have been better off doing a more cosmic storyline like a Silver Surfer series.

A Jack Kirby/Roz Kirby Piece of Original Art

Here’s an interesting piece. It’s the image from the Captain Victory # 9 cover (probably light-boxed onto the artboard in pencil), and it’s inked by Jack’s wife Roz, dated, what looks like, 1997. Pretty impressive inks by Roz. Makes me wish they would have worked together like this more often.