[Video] Jack Kirby: Storyteller

Posted in Video.

I rented the recent 2-DVD release with the extended version of the 2005 FANTASTIC FOUR movie in order to see the one hour JACK KIRBY: STORYTELLER documentary included among the special features. It’s a very enjoyable feature, with original interviews with a wide variety of comic book types who were involved with or influenced by Kirby, including Mark Evanier, Mike Royer, John Romita, Walt Simonson and a few dozen more, giving a good overview of his place in comic book history, and well illustrated with a variety of images both from published work and from original art and photocopies of pencils. As you might guess from the fact that I run this weblog, I’ve read a lot of interview with and about Kirby, so none of the information was really new to me, but it was nice to see it all in one place like this, and see the effect that Kirby had on others.

Two of Kirby’s children, Neal and Lisa, are also extensively featured, giving a more personal perspective on the man, as well as talking about their mother Roz’s role in his life (as do many of the other interviewees). They also provide an opportunity for the use of a lot of photographic material in the visuals, in addition to the comic book art, and a lot of that I don’t think I’d seen before.

There are a few minor flaws, a few comments in the interviews seem to get the chronology slightly askew, and sometimes the choice of artwork to go with a particular discussion is perplexing (discussion of the 1960s material featuring 1970s covers). And of course with Kirby’s lengthy and complicated career, one hour isn’t going to cover close to everything, especially when the focus is, properly for this venue, going to be on the FF. A proper Kirby documentary would have to have a lot more on Joe Simon (and ideally an interview with him), for example.

Well worth a rental, though, and if it was released as a standalone feature, maybe with some longer unedited interviews as extras, I’d be happy to drop $10-$15 on it.

Anyway, as long as I have it here I guess I might as well watch the movie, too. But that’ll be a topic for another weblog.

7 thoughts on “[Video] Jack Kirby: Storyteller

  1. Robert

    I’m afraid the feature leaves a great deal to be desired, while I enjoyed listening to all the artists and writers talk so fondly of Jack’s life and work and how it effected them, I thought the feature ran a bit too long and only gives just a very passing idea on Jack’s work in comics.

    It would be a lot more interesting to have actual video interviews that Jack made in which he talked about his work himself. Which is I understand being used for the documentry that the Kirby Museum and Research Center is putting together at this moment.

  2. dave

    I’d love to rent this, but the local video store isn’t carrying it and Netflix doesn’t seem to have it either. Maybe I’ll just have to haunt the DVD bins at the used record store. I agree, if it were released on its own, with extended interviews, it would be more appealing as a purchase.

  3. Bob Post author

    Yeah, it’s a bit of a shame that the documentary wasn’t released on the higher profile original release instead of with this “extended cut”. I only found it for rent in the third video store I checked, and even they only had one copy so I had to wait for it to be returned. As compared to almost a half-section of shelving they had for GHOST RIDER.

    It would have been nice to see some actual video of Kirby somewhere in the hour, I agree, but they seem to have made a decision, whether for rights clearance or other reasons, to only use interviews conducted expressly for this feature, which unfortunately precludes any actual video of Jack or Roz.

  4. Nick Caputo

    I thought the doucumentary did a fine job of relating Jack Kirby’s overwhelming contributions to the comic book industry. For those who know nothing about comics in general and Kirby in particular, this should shed a little light.

    While it would have added something to have Kirby’s dsitinctive voice or some video of him, I thought overall this was a very worthwhile presentation. I now eagarly await the Ditko doccumentary from the BBC.

  5. Robert

    That’s the problem I have when Fox does a DVD on the Marvel Movies that they have done, they cover the movie production well, but the comic book story roots of the characters always seem to get pushed to the side.


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