Category Archives: Non-Fiction

The World Around Us #31 [1961]


Among Kirby’s work for Gilberton published in 1961, in addition to his one full issue of CLASSICS ILLUSTRATED, were a few short bits in five issues of THE WORLD AROUND US. This issue’s theme was Hunting, and Kirby contributed 12 pages, inked by Dick Ayers.

The Kirby starts on the title page, an image of some hunters getting ready to take down a bear with spears and arrows. The archer’s pose in the foreground is especially nice.

Later in the issue is the 6-page “Early Hunters” chapter, which has a quick summary of a few thousand years of mankind, starting with hunting with clubs and wandering from place to place as hunter/gatherers, and then developing more complex weapons and hunting techniques. Then follows the discovery of farming, allowing for permanent villages, and domesticating animals.


Following some non-Kirby stuff is the 5-page “An End to Slaughter”, which starts with the story of Theodore Roosevelt, starting with a quick look at his buffalo hunting as a youth, bear hunting as President and his post-presidency African safari. The story then goes to Roosevelt’s role in expanding the National Park system in the US and inspiring similar efforts around the world, and a look at protected lands in other countries and the importance of following hunting laws, getting proper licenses and all the rest.

This isn’t a bad sample of Kirby’s art, although clearly doing short vignettes, single panels on a theme, doesn’t really play to his story-telling strengths. There are also a few bits every now and then in the art that just feel off, which are likely panels or parts of panels that the Gilberton folks had redrawn, either by Kirby or by another artist to meet their standards of accuracy. A few of the animals seem to suffer from this on Kirby’s pages.

This issue also includes a lot of art by Sam Glanzman and a few pages by Pete Morisi, so is worth checking out for more than the Kirby.

Published 1961

Argosy #2 [1990] – Street Code


This unique story from the Kirby oeuvre was drawn in 1983, but not published until 1990, in the second issue of Richard Kyle’s revival of the genre fiction magazine ARGOSY. It’s 8 pages, written and drawn by Kirby, reproduced straight from the pencils.

Kirby’s working class youth in 1920s New York obviously inspired a lot of his work over the years, in particular the kid gang classic Newsboy Legion and the various crime books from HEADLINE up to IN THE DAYS OF THE MOB, but here it was given a chance to move out of the background. This story is as rich with atmosphere as any Kirby ever drew, like the rich detail of the apartment in this page.


I like how he fills every corner of the drawing with a small detail, obviously emulating how crowded it felt, and how full of affection it is.

Latter in the story is one of Kirby’s best two-page splash panels ever, showing a street scene from his youth. Again full of details, small touches of humour and interesting action, a great image of the past.

While more a vignette, or perhaps an opening chapter in a never-produced graphic novel, than a complete story, it’s a very satisfying piece, with interesting insights into what growing up in that kind of atmosphere meant, how people related, and how the followed the self-imposed “Street Code” of the title. There are some interesting moments of violence in it, probably no worse than in his many crime, horror and super-hero stories through the years but somehow much more brutal and real because of the context.

The story was reprinted, re-lettered and with slightly better reproduction of the pencils, as the lead piece in the TwoMorrows published autobiography themed anthology STREETWISE in 2000.

Published 1990

Buried Treasure #1 [1990] – The Mad White God of Palm Island


BURIED TREASURE was a reprint anthology of various Golden Age stories prepared by Greg Theakston for Caliber Press. A few issues had some Simon&Kirby era reprints.

This story was from the Hillman book REAL CLUE CRIME COMICS v2#7, 1947, and claims to be based on a true story (in fact, it’s “so amazing because it’s true!”). I have my doubts.


The story features an island off the coast of Australia, where the natives had chased off a white garrison and threatened the mainland. In response, one man is sent in (with his wife and a doctor) to dominate the tribe, which he’s able to do until things inevitably go wrong.

As I said, I doubt the truth of most of these “true story” comics, and this particular one is more unlikely than most (and perhaps a bit politically incorrect 50+ years early). It has some great S&K action from the era, and the black and white reproduction is sharp (though some of the greyscales are a bit dark).

Published April 1990