Category Archives: Guest Post

Guest Post – Meeting the Kirbys


Meeting the Kirby’s
by Steve Cohen

rozjack.jpgI am glad to say that I was fortunate enough to meet Jack and Roz Kirby in 1987, at The San Diego Comic Con.

My long-time friends, Carol Kalish, then in charge of the direct sales division at Marvel Comics, and a big fan of Jack Kirby’s, and Richard Howell, also a Kirby fan, as well as a talented cartoonist-writer-editor and packager of comic book material; and Mark Evanier, well-known biographer, friend, and editorial assistant of Jack Kirby, very kindly arranged for me to attend the by-invitation-only 70th Birthday party for Jack, which was held during the convention weekend, despite being a month before his actual birth anniversary. Along with my then-partner in the comic book retail business, Lou Wysocki, I went shyly in to Jack’s party.

There were so many famous comic book writers, editors, cartoonists, and many animated cartoon makers, and science fiction writers and illustrators there, it was almost overwhelming, but it was a wonderful flurry of activity.

I was standing a short distance away from Jack and Roz, hanging quietly around to see what nuggets of interest I could soak in from the conversations they were having with the various guests, and never expected to actually speak with The Kirbys, but Jack and Roz both made sure that they spoke with everyone who was there. This is my testimonial to the “real” nature of that man: We know that he was an immensely talented. creative force, but, wow, he was so nice to me. When Jack came over to me and asked who I was, I quietly said that I wasn’t “anybody”, well, Jack and Roz would not hear of tis, and told me that “everybody is somebody”. I told The Kirbys that I was a big fan of Jack’s and had been one for over twenty years, and it was just amazing: Jack was so pleased that I had gotten pleasure from looking at the comic books he drew, and he and Roz talked with me for almost a half hour.

I really can’t recall what we specifically talked about, but it was such an uplifting conversation, as I had been feeling “down” prior to the party. After experiencing meeting comic book celebrities many times since 1972, I have to list Jack and Roz Kirby as being among the nicest. To me, Jack will always be “THE KING”, but he was, first and foremost, to use a word he would certainly have been familiar with, a “mensch”.

Thank Goodness I still have the program for that event, it will always be a treasured keepsake.

Guest Post – Jimmy Olsen #141


by Russell Payne

name.jpgMr Jack Kirby produced more single pieces of art in his lifetime than the entire populations of some countries produce in a generation. So finding just one panel, one page, one issue, even one title that sums him up is like trying to find just one fish that adequately represents and sums up all the other fish in all the oceans, seas, lakes and rivers of the earth, it’s impossible, and you’ll get very wet trying.

What I can do is write about a Kirby comic cover that I recently re-discovered. It was a favourite of mine as a kid, before I really knew who Kirby was; I just knew I liked it. It came out September 1971, the year I was born, so the battered copy I stored in a shoebox under my bed was probably my older brothers originally. Someone gave me a copy again just last week and I fell in love just as hard the second time round with Superman’s Pal (the new) Jimmy Olsen issue 141.

Edited, written and pencilled by Jack Kirby, cover Inked by Neal Adams, interior inks by Vince Coletta and Joe Simon. It was a great issue, packed to the brim with ideas. It had a mad, wild story about comedian Don Rickles and Goody Rickels, his twin. It had Superman, Guardian, Para-Demons, the Newsboy Legion reprint, a splash page of Kirby himself sat at his drawing board, there was even a bit of Jimmy Olsen in there.


Forget the inside though, look at that cover. It’s just mad. Superman and the Guardian are running towards you, inexplicably holding a giant photo of Don Rickles with Jimmy Olsen and Goody Rickels chasing behind them. Where are they going? The cover tells you – “Rushing towards the greatest climax ever seen in comics”. Ok then.

There’s no mention on the cover of who the guy in the photo is, an interesting marketing ploy if ever there was one, but it worked for me, I imagined as a kid this Don Rickles character must be incredibly famous in America, which he was to some lesser extent, he was a stand up comic and actor, known for humorous insults, but as a kid in seventies Britain he was a total unknown to me except for his appearance in this comic book. I didn’t know then that he’d appeared a couple of months earlier in SPJO#139. When I found out years later he didn’t really have a twin brother called Goody, my world was rocked.

Don voiced the character of Mr Potato Head in Toy Story 1 and 2, so he’s still funny and he’s still around, but I’ll always picture him being carried aloft by Supes and the Guardian. I’ve no idea why Kirby chose Rickles, or if the real Rickles had any idea who Intergang are, but even in the photo he looks a bit like Kirby drew him so it fit, it fit in that magical way that some juxtapositions just, inexplicably, do. Kirby was good at that, consistently good at it.

There’s a lot to love about Jack Kirby’s work, and about Jack. He was there at the start, he created so many of the characters that still fill cinemas all around the world, he was a master storyteller, he was a good guy, he loved his wife, he worked 48 hours a day but still had time to invite fans into his home, he had a dynamic style of drawing that was all his own, leaping out of the page right at you.

It’s Jimmy Olsen #141 that shows what I love most about Jack though, he could surprise you with something totally original and off-the-wall, even once you were a fan and knew his tricks, he still came at you with a photo montage, or a lost civilization, or a cosmic concept or a real life comedian and his imaginary twin that made you stop and think. He didn’t just keep churning out what was popular; he always seemed to have 20 new ideas pushing in from the boundaries, fighting for space on the page.

This issue made me smile in the late seventies, and re-reading it twenty plus years later as a jaded adult, a grown-up with a mortgage, a family and all the associated complications, problems and joys, it still does make me smile.

And for all that, it did exactly what a cover should do, it made you want to see what on earth was going on inside the comic.

Never afraid of hyperbole, Fantastic Four claimed to be “The World’s Greatest Comic Magazine”, this one breaks it down to the basics and just has emblazoned across the top –


Possibly the finest, most direct, marketing ploy in the history of the written word.

If you see this issue, anywhere, for any price, in any condition. Don’t Ask…

Russell Payne is a writer, musician and artist. The author of “Morris Telford – A Salopian Odyssey” and the BBC weblog of the same name. See for more info.

Guest Post – Captain America’s Bicentennial Conspiracy


by Kenn Thomas

madbomb.jpgSince it is impossible to pick a “favorite” single image or story from Kirby’s vast and brilliant oeuvre, as someone who writes about conspiracies, I feel obliged to draw attention to this aspect of Kirby’s art. Much can be said about the profound impact that the Kennedy assassination had on the artist. Kirby said as much, although Kirby chronicler Mark Evanier, who shuns conspiracies in general, claims not to be able to see it in his work. Suffice it to say that a change does appear in Fantastic Four and the other comics shortly after November 1963. Rather than write that essay, however, I would like to offer Kirby’s 1976 run of CAPTAIN AMERICA to demonstrate that Kirby did indeed have his finger on the pulse of the conspiracy underground.

I often explain to people in that subculture that the good captain was fighting Nazis back in World War II, created by Jack Kirby (along with partner Joe Simon), a legendary figure in the American comic book industry who died in 1994 but who remains contemporary in part as a principle visual chronicler of conspiracy from the time of the US Bicentennial. Marvel recently released in graphic novel form Madbomb, the story arc that Kirby developed after returning to the company in 1976, the bicentennial year. Weirdly, the original run of the comic at that time ended with issue #200. Conspiracy was not a regular theme in Kirby’s work and not one actually found too often in the popular culture at all prior to the X-Files. So it is doubly surprising to discover the theme in this collection.

henny.jpgMadbomb involves a mind-control weapon, one that accurately reflected the then emerging “paranoid” complaints of the “wavies”, a large number of American citizens who felt they had been harassed and victimized by directed microwave weapons designed to destroy their minds. After the tumultuous politics of the previous decade, starting with the JFK assassination, many people in America thought they were going crazy and began attributing it to a developing new and secret technology. Kirby imagines this as a weapon of mass destruction, alludes to conspiracy on every page and includes Men In Black and underground bunkers in the “western badlands” in a way that prefigures remarkably the 1980s stories about Area 51 He even includes the master conspiracy bugaboo Henry Kissinger as a character in the tale!

My final point to conspiracy heads and comics fan alike is that Kirby knew about conspiracy. In his career, he labored under work-for-hire contracts that deprived him of the mega-billions in profits his creations, such as the X-Men, Spider-Man and the Hulk, now make for Marvel as licensing properties and block buster movies.


Kenn Thomas is the author of such books as The Octopus, NASA, Nazis and JFK, Maury Island UFO, Popular Alienation and others. His next book, Conspiracy Files, will be published by Reader’s Digest in July. He also does the magazine Steamshovel Press, see for more info.