In August of 2012, we published a re-worked translation of Jean Depelley’s article about Jack Kirby’s ghosting of the Davy Crockett, Frontiersman comic strip. What was notable about the article, originally published in French earlier that March, was that Jean and Bernard Joubert found evidence that the work was, in fact, a comic strip reworked to comic book size in Marvelman (UK) , and digest size in Zoom (France).
Samples and cover from Marvelman 230
Examples and covers from Zoom 15/Zoom Album 4 – 1968
Since then, Hans Kiesel sent the Museum an email in late 2015, letting us know that he and fellow comics researchers in Germany found a Crockett Sunday strip in black and white translated into German that was obviously by Kirby. Hans also included a mention from Allan Holtz’ Strippers Guide stating that Kirby had ghosted two Sundays. I continued, on-and-off, researching the strip, along with Kirby’s Blue Beetle daily strips in the 1940s, on the internet without any results regarding Davy Crockett.
In early 2018, however, meticulous comics researcher Michael J. Vassallo, also known as “Doc. V”, shared on Facebook and his blog the color version of the same Sunday strip we’d had in German. Doc. V had embarked on an ambitious project involving scanning and cataloging the Sunday comics sections of the New York Daily News. Finding the strip in a big NY newspaper felt somewhat ironic after I’d scoured obscure daily newspapers on newspapers.com. This raised the question, though, “Did the daily strips also run in the NY Daily News?”
The Kirby Museum has had a pleasant relationship with collector, scholar and collage artist Tom Morehouse since our formation in 2005. In fact, Tom allowed us to scan his copies of the Crockett reprints in Marvelman in 2011 (see above). Since I’m comfortable researching newspaper microfilm at the New York Public Library – you know, the big one with the lions in front on 42nd St. & 5th Ave – Tom suggested we go there together and look at the Daily News microfilm. And, voila!
Kirby ghosted three weeks of daily strips from January 14th through February 2nd.
But what about that other Sunday strip? Well, on one of the Facebook comics groups where Doc V. shared his discovery, Mark Evanier mentioned that the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum has a large collection of comic strips. I dove into their search engine, and found that they did, indeed, have both Sunday strips, courtesy of the San Francisco Academy of Comic Art Collection of Bill Blackbeard.
Courtesy of Bill Blackbeard’s San Francisco Academy of Comic Art Collection at the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library and Museum at Ohio State University
And, it seems it is complete: three weeks of dailies, and two color Sundays.
It wouldn’t be right to end this article without mentioning Matthew Gore. You see, Matt posted Crockett scans from Marvelman #231 on his website all the way back in 2002! Can anyone provide reasonable guesses when the Marvelman issues 231, 232 & 233 were published? Seems that information is currently unavailable.
Hopefully, I’ll provide some comparisons between the versions, showing how the art was extended for the different formats in France and the UK.