New Kirby – The Best of Simon & Kirby’s Mainline Comics


I used to keep closer track of what was coming out related to Kirby, but it’s been a fallow few years for Kirby reprints, with DC and Marvel having gotten most of the material they claim the rights to and intend to reprint back in print and now just re-issuing it all in various combinations and other formats (usually with the same flaws as previous reprints).

Fortunately, there has been some material from TwoMorrows, such as JACK KIRBY’S DINGBAT LOVE (with some unpublished romance and kid-gang material from the 1970s) and DESTROYER DUCK GRAPHITE EDITION (featuring his 1980s collaboration with Steve Gerber reproduced from the pencils, wherever possible). And usually something unreprinted in most issues of THE JACK KIRBY COLLECTOR.

But now is the big one, THE BEST OF SIMON & KIRBY’S MAINLINE COMICS, a big 262-page hardcover look at the short-lived publisher (17 comics in four series from 1954-1955, with some additional material in 1955 as the books continued from Charlton) founded by Jack Kirby and Joe Simon. This book has all the material attributed to Kirby from the four books (BULLSEYE, FOXHOLE, IN LOVE and POLICE TRAP), plus some highlights of the non-Kirby material (in particular Mort Meskin).

See the link for an extensive preview and ordering information, or check with your favourite bookstore using ISBN 9781605491189.

This was probably the biggest hole in the Kirby reprint library (at worst tied with a proper edition of at least the best of the Prize romance work, a complete run of which would fill up at least eight books like this), so good to finally see it available. I guess this moves 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY up a rung on that ladder…

Upcoming Kirby – DESTROYER DUCK Graphite Edition


I don’t really pay that much attention to upcoming releases these days, so this one slipped by me, but I’d be remiss in not mentioning it here. Scheduled for release in May, TwoMorrows has DESTROYER DUCK GRAPHITE EDITION, a reprint of the five issues of the series Jack Kirby and Steve Gerber created from 1982 to 1983, initially as a one-shot to finance Gerber’s litigation with Marvel over Howard The Duck.

This edition will feature reproductions of Kirby’s original art and new lettering. The original series was inked by Alfredo Alcala, and looks good (certainly would be far down on my list of Kirby work needing to have the inking removed), but it’ll be interesting to see it in the original form, and among the extra features will be a look at Alcala’s inking compared to the pencils. Also samples of Gerber’s scripts and features by Mark Evanier and Buzz Dixon.

US$31.95 in print from the publisher (includes digital copy), US$13.99 for just the digital from the publisher

ISBN: 9781605491172 / 1605491179 to order from the bookseller of your choice, or JAN231911 for a retailer ordering from Diamond.

JK 105


Hm, time flies.

Just wanted to once again revive this place to note Jack Kirby’s 105th birthday. Threw something together quickly to look at the scope of his career.

(check out here for a bigger version)

And that only covers a few highlights of a long career.

Going to try something different this time and pretty much guarantee I won’t get back to regular posting here, since every time I plan to I never do. For one thing, it looks like I’d have to learn WordPress all over again. So take care, and always remember, “Don’t Ask! Just Buy It!”

JK 104


Hm, dusty…

Yeah, been a while. Didn’t want to let another Kirby birthday pass without at least a quick update. 104 years ago today, in New York City, Jacob Kurtzberg was born. By the time he moved on, 76 years later, he had left an indelible mark on the world of pop culture, which only continues to grow deeper and more profound with every passing year. When I started this weblog almost 17 years ago there was a bit of a gap in the internet on details about the full width and depth of Kirby’s career. Fortunately that’s changed quite a bit, for various reasons, and he’s probably better known now than ever.

Anyway, no promises, but in the next few weeks I want to get in here, tie up a few loose ends on this weblog, maybe decide if there’s a direction I can take it that fills a need that may exist, either in the world at large or in my own head. As they say, stay tuned. But don’t hold your breath. That would be unhealthy.

Kirby 100


Today marks 100 years since the birth of Jack Kirby on August 28, 1917 in New York City. You can go through the archives of his weblog, or all over the web, to see a sampling of the thousands of pages of comics art he created in the 76 years of that century that he lived, and the unending source of inspiration for creativity he sparked in others.

The photo above is part of my own collection of Kirby comics, mostly consisting of single issues published while he was alive. That’s the first thing in my eyeline when I wake up. Leaving my room, the first thing I pass is the bookshelf seen below, which is mostly filled with stuff published after his passing (and is only a small sampling of everything published, as I don’t have most of the colour Marvel reprints, or the original art sized IDW books).

Anyway, there’s Kirby stuff all over the place today, so I’ll keep it short here. As you may have noticed my plan to post 100 post about 100 Kirby stories leading up to the day (// didn’t quite pan out, though I do hope to continue it and get all 100 done in the calendar year. Here’s just a sample of what’s still to come:

“20,000 Lugs Under The Sea” (k048)

Posted in K100.

“20,000 Lugs Under The Sea” is a 6-page movie parody comic by Jack Kirby, published by Charlton in FROM HERE TO INSANITY #11 [1955]. It’s based on the 1954 Disney film adaptation of 20,000 LEAGUES UNDER THE SEA, starring Kirk Douglas, James Mason, Paul Lukas and Peter Lorre.

There’s quite a bit of Kirby material published by Charlton in 1955, most of it obviously done for the short-lived Mainline publishing venture Simon & Kirby did in 1954/1955. so this particular story (and the other Kirby stories in this issue) was probably meant for an unrealized Mainline humour title and used in Charlton’s name-changing MAD inspired mental health journal (also known at times as EH! DIG THIS CRAZY COMIC or CRAZY, MAN, CRAZY or THIS MAGAZINE IS CRAZY. Never just CRAZY, which was published by Marvel).

This sticks pretty close to the parody formula that Harvey Kurtzman and his collaborators had been doing at MAD for a few years at this point, with names like “Captain Screamo” and “Dirk Cutlets”, and lots of the slapstick and little gags in the backgrounds.  I’m not sure what the origin of the bullet-hole gag is, I think Al Capp did that a lot in Li’l Abner.  Some of the visual elements are similar to earlier Kirby humour work in some comic strips in the 1930s, and a few comics in the 1940s.

Overall an interesting example of Kirby in a less familiar genre, making some good use of his frantic energy.

“The Partisans” (k047)

Posted in K100.

“The Partisans” is the fifth of Kirby’s dozen stories of The Losers, running in DC’s OUR FIGHTING FORCES #155 [1975], an 18-page story inked and lettered by D. Bruce Berry.

The Losers continuing travels through the various theaters of operations in WWII brings them to Yugoslavia this time, with a story that focuses almost purely on Sarge, with just short cameos by the other members. This has the effect of making it read like it could be a story about a cigar-chomping Nick Fury or Ben Grimm during the war just as easily as anything else (or maybe Dan Turpin, or ultimately Kirby himself). Like the other classic Kirby tough guys, Sarge faces injury and impossible obstacles to accomplish his mission, as part of a story about a strange group of Yugoslavian resistance fighters, led by the silent but powerful leader “Fur Hat”. This is classic Kirby, one of the best of this very good run of comics.

“Sky Masters 1959.11.22” (k046)

Posted in K100.

Kirby worked in syndicated newspapers strips a few times in his career, some published strips and several other proposals.  The most successful was the science fiction strip Sky Masters of the Space Force, which lasted for two and a half years as a daily strip, from September 1958 to February 1961 (between the first orbital satellites and the first manned space flights). There was also a Sunday version, which ran for one year, from February 1959 to February 1960.  This strip is from Nov 22, 1959, probably written by some combination of Kirby, Dave Wood and Dick Wood and inked by Dick Ayers.

While some of the adventures of Major Sky Masters would take place in space, where we quickly go from the first space flights to a manned space station to the moon, a lot of them are set on Earth, with stories about the training for space flights, and various espionage schemes which have to be broken up. That’s the case in this storyline, as Sky have to pursue a stolen gyroscope right into a storm. These storylines make for a decent conventional action strip, but sometimes it really does feel like this is two different strips between the space stuff and the Earth stuff.

“The Coming Of The Hulk” (k045)

Posted in K100.

“The Coming Of The Hulk” is a 24-page Kirby story inked by Paul Reinman and first published in THE INCREDIBLE HULK #1 [1962], introducing the long-running (after a rocky start) Kirby creation.

“This is the often re-told and embellished origin of the Hulk, with the introduction of Bruce Banner, Rick Jones, Betty Ross and General Thunderbolt Ross. Banner is a scientist testing a gamma bomb for the army, under General Ross, but when teenager Rick Jones trespasses on the testing site Banner is caught in an explosion of his own device, thanks to a Soviet agent in the lab.  The radiation causes him to turn into the monstrous Hulk whenever the sun goes down, a creature of brute force who has contempt for his alter ego. Banner and Jones go on the run, winding up captured by a deformed communist genius named the Gargoyle and taken behind the Iron Curtain.

A pretty decent introductory story, with a lot of the elements that would define the series. Some of the art is excellent, including the classic gamma bomb scene, with Banner trying to rescue Jones, Banner catching the explosion just on the edge of the protective trench and the hours long scream that follows. There are several good sequences of the tranformations to and from the Hulk, especially the one when Banner is driving a jeep and we just get a close-up of the hands for three panels. Reinman is far from my favourite Kirby inker in this period, but this is definitely one of his better jobs.
MARVEL MASTERWORKS #8 [H-001] [1989]
MARVEL FIRSTS – THE 1960S [2011]
(among others)

“Brother Eye And Buddy Blank” (k044)

Posted in K100.

“Brother Eye And Buddy Blank” is the 20-page debut story from OMAC #1 [1974], a debut for a new character by Jack Kirby, inked and lettered by Mike Royer.

Brace yourselves for “The World That’s Coming”.

OMAC #1 is some strange stuff even by 1970s Kirby standards. What can you make of a book that opens with a full page splash of a disassembled robot woman “Build-A-Friend” in a box saying “Hello — Put me together and I will be your friend”?

Also, kind of an unusual story structure for Kirby, as he opens with the climax of the story, then has a flashback to the origin building up to the first scene and then the conclusion. It works pretty well, as it moves the action right up to the front and sets up the rest of the issue nicely.

After seeing OMAC bring down the Build-A-Friend shop, we flashback to his origin, as the faceless Global Peace Agency tell Dr. Myron Forest that they have selected Buddy Blank to be the subject of the OMAC Project, leaving Forest to activate the sleeping satellite Brother Eye. After a view of Buddy’s life at the offices of Pseudo-People, Inc. and some bizarre scenes of their “psychology section”, we see that he was befriended by the previously revealed to be a Build-A-Friend Lila, as part of an experiment in making lifelike beings. As Buddy stumbles onto the secret section and finds out the secret of Lila and the nefarious assassination plans she’s to be part of, Brother Eye transforms him to OMAC.

A wonderful issue, brilliant in its almost pure expression of imagination, Even the artwork seems like a heightened pure version of Kirby.