I’ll probably continue to bounce around a bit as I go through the pencil scans in my K-Files. I’m attempting to contact the Kirby Museum to see if we can access more pencil scans and hopefuly view them at higher resolution. I’ll let you all know when I have more info. Above is an image recently posted on the Kirby Museum Facebok page: a scan of a full-size photocopy of Jack’s pencil work for page 14 of “The Angel of Death!”, first published in Pacific Comics’ Silver Star # 6 (Jan 1984).
I’ve mentioned before the image reminds me a lot of this one: William Blake’s “The Great Red Dragon and the Woman Clothed with Sun” (1805).
Here’s a quick screen cap of the images side-by-side.
I can’t say for sure if Jack consciously used this William Blake composition as the inspiration for his Silver Star artwork — initially I thought it was pretty obvious that this image was the influence, but I think it’s important never to assume anything. Unless Jack spoke about this in an interview we need to be careful — it may be that we’re simply looking at a rare image: a character’s back; the Kirby character having wings is coincidental; and that X-composition is accidental, unconscious, or simpy Blake’s image was one of a thousand influences on Kirby.
I’d still wager Blake’s image influenced Jack which is interesting because it might mean Jack was studying his artwork during this period, but ultimately we can never know for sure. Artists are constantly exploring similar themes and since Jack created almost 200,000 individual image in his life, surely he’s going to create imagery similar to other artists either consciously, unconsciously, or independently.
Here’s an example where the Blake image was clearly the inspiration: Ralph Fiennes, Red Dragon (2002).