2004 – A Kirby Odyssey


A quick survey of Kirby related releases in 2004. I still have to pick up a few of them, and I don’t get the Marvel Masterworks volumes, but I think I can safely say my personal pick of the year is THE JACK KIRBY READER v2, for its volume and variety of choice material I haven’t read before in a nice format. Second place, and more recommended for casual fans for whom more of it will be new-to-them, is MARVEL VISIONARIES – JACK KIRBY.

Archie’s entry in the Kirby derby was ADVENTURES OF THE FLY. Mostly excellent reproduction, some questionable layout choices, fun late 1950s material.

DC had two entries, finishing up the Kirby runs of two major series, JIMMY OLSEN BY JACK KIRBY v2 and CHALLENGERS OF THE UNKNOWN ARCHIVES v2. I prefer the format of the JIMMY OLSEN book, and hope they do more like that in the future. The only semi-concrete Kirby on their future schedule seems to be KAMANDI, in the Archives format.

Greg Theakston’s Pure Imagination published THE JACK KIRBY READER v2, an excellent selection of pre-1960 material from a variety of publishers, showcasing the various genres Kirby worked in nicely. Possibly more books from Theakston will follow in 2005.

Marvel had some nice stuff this year.

In the trivial department, only two new books in the Essential line had any Kirby, both trivial. One cover and an FF crossover issue (#73) in ESSENTIAL DAREDEVIL v2 and several covers and 10 pages of a Namor crossover issue (from TtA #82) in ESSENTIAL IRON MAN v2 (the covers duplicating those already in ESSENTIAL CAPTAIN AMERICA v1). Next year should be better, with new Thor and FF volumes likely.

The Marvel Masterworks line finally finished re-releasing old volumes (often with some corrections, additions and shuffling from the original printings, plus some being released in softcovers exclusively to Barnes&Noble) and added some new ones. Trivial Kirby content in AVENGERS v4 (one partial cover) and X-MEN v4 (three covers), major Kirby content in FF v7 (everything) and HULK v2 (about half the book in pencils or layouts). Next year should see more FF, Golden Age CAPTAIN AMERICA and maybe more.

Marvel also did a paperback reprint of the MADBOMB storyline from Kirby’s mid-1970s return to CAPTAIN AMERICA. At least a BLACK PANTHER book will follow in this format next year.

The big one from Marvel was MARVEL VISIONARIES – JACK KIRBY, of course. Good format, excellent price, mostly good reproduction, fair story selection. Future volumes in the series will include Stan Lee and Steve Ditko (with some Kirby art in the Lee volume).

Fan publisher TwoMorrows had a good selection, with two tabloid issues of THE JACK KIRBY COLLECTOR, a fourth volume of THE COLLECTED JACK KIRBY COLLECTOR reprinting earlier issues and the re-issue of KIRBY UNLEASHED. Also of note from TwoMorrows, ALTER EGO #36 had a section on Joe Simon, with some Kirby art and information, and #39 had a page with some of the DC S&K stuff, including a neat house ad from 1943 touting the team and their various features. I suspect some other fan publications like COMIC BOOK ARTIST or BACK ISSUE might have had some minor Kirby content, but I didn’t get those. Same with any AC Comics publications. Feel free to follow-up with any info on those if you got them. Nothing too minor to warrent a mention.

Also this year, Ronin Ro’s biography of Kirby, TALES TO ASTONISH, was published. Still haven’t read it so no opinion offered. The only Kirby art in it was the cover with detail sections of an early 1970s Kirby drawing that’s been printed in TJKC.

And editing to add a late edition here, THE NEW SMITHSONIAN BOOK OF COMIC BOOK STORIES also came out in 2004, with a black and white reprint of FF #21.

And, I only just found this looking for other Kirby publications, Graphitti Designs did a t-shirt with some Kirby/Royer art, featuring the Galactic Bounty Hunters, which apparently someone might be doing as a series for Dark Horse in the future.

3 thoughts on “2004 – A Kirby Odyssey

  1. Anonymous

    I’m curious as to what about the contents of MARVEL VISIONARIES: JACK KIRBY makes you rate the contents as “fair”–largely because I lined the book up myself, so I’ve got something of a vested interest.

    Tom B

  2. bob

    Hi Tom. I meant “fair” more in the “gives a fair profile of Kirby’s work at Marvel” sense than the “comic grade just above poor” sense. I had some minor quibbles as to my own tastes (I’d have liked more non-hero Atlas stuff, at least one “Tales of Asgard” short, and come on, dude, no Devil Dinosaur?) and exposure (there were a total of two and a half stories I didn’t have copies of already, and they were short ones. And I know it’s hard to do such a sampler and not include stuff I’ve seen, but that’s why I rated it higher for people not already as well exposed to Kirby).

    I’d still leap at a second volume, regardless of the contents, and hopefully with the big page consuming elephant of FF#48-#51 out of the way (I accept you can’t do a book called MARVEL VISIONARIES – JACK KIRBY without those, but they really do eat up the pages) there’ll be room for more stuff that hasn’t been printed in over 40 years.

  3. Anonymous

    Fair enough. The trick, though, with lining up a volume like this one is balancing out the two fan groups. I don’t know which stories in particular you hadn’t read before, but the inclusion of stuff like the Rawhide Kid origin, the Dr. Droom story, UFO and the Pildoor stories was meant to target the more hardcore Kirby fans, as most of them haven’t seen the light of day again in years. That, though, had to be balanced against a fair representation of Jack’s 60s and 70s work for Marvel. There’s also the question of what stories we have good reproduction materials for, which can sometimes be a limitation.

    Tom B


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