Upcoming Kirby – SPIRIT WORLD hardcover


[update, official solicitation text below]

Quite a bit of commentary in a previous post about the SPIRIT WORLD hardcover from DC showing up on the schedule from various on-line sellers for April 2012.  Usual caveats about listings this far in advance being even more subject to change in release date, format, price, contents and existence than normal.  Mark Evanier has confirmed that, as the 108-page count suggests, the intention is to include the material intended for the unpublished SPIRIT WORLD #2, and that he is writing the introduction.

Some background for those unfamiliar.  When Kirby signed with DC  in 1970 his initial work was on the Fourth World books, but he also later developed some non-superhero material, including several magazines intended to be upscale productions to appeal to other readers. Those magazines were in genres that Kirby was very experienced in from his work with Joe Simon in the 1940s and 1950s, with a crime theme (IN THE DAYS OF THE MOB), horror/fantasy (SPIRIT WORLD) and romance (TRUE DIVORCE CASES).  DC wound up publishing only the first issues of IN THE DAYS OF THE MOB and SPIRIT WORLD in the summer of 1971, in a not-quite-so-upscale monochrome wash (greyish on MOB, a sort of sickly blue on SPIRIT WORLD) newsprint format under the “Hampshire Distributors Speak-Out Series” imprint which I don’t think was used for anything else.  Some of the contents prepared for SPIRIT WORLD #2 eventually saw print in colour in DC’s anthology comics of the time:

At least some of the stories were modified in major ways.

(I’ll see if I can get a post up on SPIRIT WORLD #1 in the next few weeks)

Some material for MOB #2 saw print in black and white several years later in DC’s short-lived in-house promotional magazine AMAZING WORLD OF DC COMICS (#1 in 1974 and #10 in 1976). TRUE DIVORCE remained unpublished by DC, although a few of the stories with black lead characters were apparently seen to fill a niche DC wanted to explore and Kirby did several other stories with similar themes for a proposed magazine called SOUL LOVE. That also remained unpublished.

A lot of the unpublished material, in various states of completion, have seen print in various fan publications over the years, especially THE JACK KIRBY COLLECTOR, which has had a few full stories from the romance books.

Anyway, still a lot of questions about this new book, most of which will be answered closer to publication.  Will the trim size be the larger format of the originals, or matching DC’s other Kirby reprints?  Will the stories be printed in full colour or monochrome, or mixed based on their original publications, and will they try to duplicate that blue shade of the original or go with straight black and white?  Will all unpublished pages be included, either restoring the original stories or separately as extras?  Will the giant collage poster from #1 (missing in many copies, including mine) be included, and will it be full size? Same for any poster that might have been intended for #2, if it was completed? And will we see the crime and romance material (re)-printed anytime soon?  I know I have my preferred answers, I’m sure you do, too, and so does whoever at DC actually decides these things, which is probably the only answer that matters.

Update, here’s the official solicitation:

ADVANCE SOLICITED • On sale APRIL 11 • 108 pg, 10” x 13.5”, B&W/FC, $39.99 US
After leaving Marvel Comics at the end of the 1960s, Jack Kirby came to DC Comics, where he soon created the series of superhero comics known collectively as “The Fourth World.” But before that came SPIRIT WORLD, a magazine that delved into the occult and the supernatural.
Now, DC reprints that hard-to-find title for the very first time in this new hardcover, including four stories completed for the second issue that appeared in WEIRD MYSTERY TALES 1-3 and FORBIDDEN TALES OF DARK MANSION #6, plus a pin-up version of the striking cover image by Kirby and Neal Adams!

Well, 10” x 13.5” is considerably bigger than the original magazine, that’s up at JACK KIRBY COLLECTOR size. That’s good, because the price is pretty steep (though fair enough considering the cost of getting SPIRIT WORLD #1 and those four comics where the debris from #2 scattered). I’m not sure why they seem to think SPIRIT WORLD pre-dated the Fourth World, that doesn’t seem to match the evidence (the editorial codes and the release dates). If anyone more expert than I cares to weigh in feel free. No mention of the original poster bound in to #1, or any planned for #2. Don’t really care about getting a “pin-up version” of Neal Adams’ work on the cover, I hope they include whatever exists of the pure Kirby (or even Kirby/Colletta) cover, which I think appeared in a KIRBY COLLECTOR (I really do need to get around to my plan to index all the art in TJKC for easy reference on occasions like this…).

10 thoughts on “Upcoming Kirby – SPIRIT WORLD hardcover

  1. John S.

    Excellent, informative posting, Bob. Thanks, particularly, for providing that list of places where the material originally intended for SPIRIT WORLD #2 could be found.
    As I mentioned in my previous comments, I wholeheartedly concur with Patrick Ford’s suggestion to reprint ALL the Kirby magazine work in one large, omnibus volume, thereby piggybacking the unfinished romance stuff onto the finished — and thus more commercial — crime and horror material. Is there anyone at the Kirby Museum who could suggest to DC that they do this — either through someone like Mark Evanier or directly to a contact person at DC? I truly believe a larger book featuring all the magazine stuff would be a much more attractive package for Kirby fans, and the higher cover price would bring in more money for DC as well.

  2. patrick ford

    Evanier has said the very first job Kirby turned in at DC was Forever People #1.
    An obvious clue is Olsen is in his “cub-reporter uniform” in that issue, and Clark and Jimmy are still at the Daily Planet. Kirby never again drew Olsen in the sweater-vest and bow-tie.
    Another indication are the lousy looking inks by Colletta on Forever People #1. Compare to Spirit World, and In the Days of the Mob #1 where Colletta did a nice (relatively speaking) job on the inks. That would indicte those jobs were done after Kirby scolded Colletta.
    This collage was intended for Mob #2

  3. Steve Sherman

    “Spirit World” and “In The Days of the Mob” were done concurrently. Jack still lived at his first Thousand Oaks home. Pages were coming off his drawing board at an incredible pace. I didn’t quite know what to make of it at the time. Both magazines were incredibly difficult to find, at least in Los Angeles. As soon as the first issues were finished, Jack started on the second, plus Soul Love and the Divorce Book. Mark and I wrote another fumetti, this time with a young couple having a fight. We photographed it in my parent’s bedroom!

  4. John S.

    Patrick: Thanks for the link to the collage. I wonder where that drawn face was taken from. It’s quite out of place on this piece. Looks like a Wally Wood picture to me.

    Steve: Does that fumetti still exist? It’d be cool to see it. By the way, thanks for your part in helping Kirby create all those great comics at DC in the seventies. I still love ’em today. You had every Kirby fan’s dream job!

  5. Bob Post author

    Thanks, Steve. Always good to hear from one who was there, feel free to weigh in any time. When did the Kirby’s move from their first Thousand Oaks home, if you remember?

    And thanks Pat for that link. Don’t think I’ve seen it before. I’m also curious about the illustrated face. Definitely looks like it’s intended to be a drawing of a real person, but I can’t seem to place it.

    In addition to what Mark Evanier has said about the order Kirby drew his first DC work, the story codes (X-###) back that up, with MOB and SPIRIT WORLD coming only after several issues of each Fourth World book.

    By the way, I was double checking some things and I may have been wrong about “Burners” being 12 pages, so I’ve cut that out of the original post. I have to go over a few loose notes and scans to see where I got that idea and if it still sounds right.

  6. patrick ford

    Bob, I think we can assume the stories intended for Spirit World #2 which were published in regular colour comic books had some cuts made. Perhaps “The Burners” had a three page collage introduction like the the Spirit World #1 story “The President Must Die.”

  7. Steve Sherman

    I used to have the proof sheet and prints for the fumetti but I can’t find them. I don’t remember if I gave the negatives to Jack or not. They would be in his files, so Mark might know. We also shot a cover for “Days of the Mob” #2. We photographed it in the empty lot next to Jack’s house. It involved Jack in his NY homburg and trench coat, my brother Gary in a hat and coat, and Mark on his knees bound and gagged with Jack and Gary pointing guns at him. It was an up shot, and pretty dramatic. I don’t know if the negative for that is in Jack’s files too.
    He only lived in the first house for less than a year, before he moved across the valley.

  8. John S.

    Hopefully someone can dig up that cover! It sounds very cool — reminiscent of the photo covers from the old S&K crime comics!

  9. boB

    Regarding Spirit World predating Fourth World:
    Apparently, someone at DC using the Wyman “Art of Jack Kirby” as a reference.
    Wyman places the magazines as being done before Jack left Marvel and simply writes Hampshire Distributors off as “a small publishing company” with no mention of any connection to DC.

  10. John S.

    THE ART OF JACK KIRBY is a nice book to look at, but it’s absolutely LOADED with mistakes. When I first read it, I was stunned by the number of obvious errors it contained — with the misinformation concerning Jack’s DC magazines being particularly blatant. I’m sure its authors meant well, but their knowledge of their subject matter was grossly inadequate and very seriously flawed. For anyone searching for accurate information on Kirby’s career, it is, unfortunately, an exceptionally untrustworthy source.


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