Category Archives: Video

[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.

[Video] Thundarr – Secret Of The Black Pearl

Posted in Video.

This was the first episode of THUNDARR, from back in 1980. In this story Thundarr and friends get a mysterious black pearl that they must take to the ruins of Manhat, since it can hopefully be used as a weapon against the two-faced wizard Gemini.

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They’re pursued by Gemini’s groundlings on motorcycles, and when Ariel is taken prisoner Thundarr and Ookla take a helicopter to rescue her. Later Gemini brings the Statue of Liberty to life, but Thundarr is able to use the pearl to cancel out his magic.

Unlike the other episodes I’ve seen, this one didn’t have one of those bits that just came across as pure Kirby. I’m not sure exactly when he became involved in the series, but I wonder if production on this one started before he came aboard? Gemini is a pretty cool villain, though, and his odd two-face design seems slightly Kirbyesque, as did a few backgrounds in his lair. On the other hand, the vehicles are just plain motorcycles and helicopters. They really could have used a Kirby punch-up like vehicles in other episodes got. Oh course the ruins of Manhat, with the collapsed Statue of Liberty, almost certainly intentionally evoke Kirby’s KAMANDI #1, whether he had an actual hand in those designs or not.

Just for fun, here’s a scan of the credit screen.

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[Video] Thundarr – City of Evil

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See this earlier post for more background on THUNDARR.

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“City of Evil” is a second season episode, opening with Thundarr and company chasing an evil wizard to retrieve a guantlet of power. The gauntlet is the most Kirbyesque element of the episode, with one close-up that seems to be taken straight from Kirby’s design. I’ll try to get a screen capture of it. Anyway, they defeat the wizard and return the gauntlet to its rightful owner, but the wizard then finds a shrunken city full of scientists and plans to use the power of the gauntlet to restore the city and rule the world. Another good Kirbyesque element in the episode shows up later when the shrunken residents of the city attack in tiny flying sleds.

Fun episode, with some clever ideas and neat visuals.

[Video] Prisoners of Gravity – Kirby episode

Posted in Video.

PRISONERS OF GRAVITY was a half-hour TV show hosted by Rick Green that was produced for the public television station TVOntario from 1989 to 1994 and discussed various topics from comic books and science fiction. In 1993 they ran a full show devoted to Jack Kirby.

The highlights of the episode are obviously the clips from an interview with Kirby. He looks a lot frailer than he did in the earlier interviews I’ve seen, and talks a bit more hesitatingly, but he still seems sharp and seems to enjoy talking about his experiences. He talks about his childhood, the creation of Captain America, his interest in mythic gods and his importance of the love of his family.

The show also has clips with various other creators talking about Kirby (full list below). Especially nice was the clip of Will Eisner telling the oft-repeated (including in Eisner’s THE DREAMER) story about Kirby standing up to the mob towel service back in the Eisner/Iger studio days. Max Allan Collins also tells a nice story about getting to play his tribute to Kirby song “King Jack” with his band Seduction of the Innocent for the Kirbys in San Diego. It’s a nice selection of clips giving a range of reactions to Kirby and his influence.

Repeats of the program currently run in Canada on BookTV, although it’s an edited version to allow for commercials, so part of the Kirby interview is removed in thie episode. I know the show has been syndicated to American markets in the past, although I don’t know if it is currently. They also used ciips from the Kirby interview on a few later episodes.

Producer Mark Askwith singles out his Kirby interview as one of his favourites, and talks about the experience, over on this retrospective article about the series.

A full episode guide is available, and contains this original episode description.


This week’s episode of Prisoners of Gravity pays tribute to Jack Kirby, the man whose dynamic art style redefined superhero comics when he co-created Captain America in 1941. In the early 1960’s Jack Kirby and Stan Lee created The Fantastic Four, The Incredible Hulk and Thor — characters who now form the core of the Marvel Comics Universe. Kirby and his work are praised by Will Eisner, creator of The Spirit; Walt Simonson, the writer/artist who inherited Thor and The Fantastic Four at Marvel Comics; and Scott McCloud, writer/artist of Zot! Also featuring comic book creators Max Allan Collins (writer, Ms. Tree), Kevin Eastman (co-creator, The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles), Len Wein (writer, The Uncanny X-Men), Dave Gibbons (artist, Watchmen), with Canadian fantasy writer Charles de Lint (Spiritwalk) and science fiction writer Samuel R. Delany (Dhalgren).

A transcript of just the Kirby interview parts of the show was printed in TJKC #14 (reprinted in COLLECTED JKC #3).

[Video] BOB episode 15 – “You Can’t Win”

Posted in Video.

BOB was a short-lived series starring Bob Newhart that ran from 1992 to 1993. During the first season, Newhart played a veteran comic book artist, Bob MaKay, returning to the industry to draw a revival of his character Mad Dog (the comic book angle and most of the supporting cast was dropped for the brief second season before the series was cancelled for good).

The 15th episode, broadcast on January 29, 1993, was titled “You Can’t Win” and had the cast attend a comic industry awards presentation, the fictional “Busters”, and featured several real world comic creators in cameo roles, including Jack Kirby (the others were Sergio Aragones, Bob Kane, Mel Keefer, Mell Lazarus, Jim Lee and Marc Silvestri).

In Kirby’s cameo, he’s introduced as the creator of Captain America by Lazarus and shown, wearing a tuxedo, rising from his seat (with Roz Kirby sitting next to him). Later he’s shown at the podium, with a sign showing his signature and Captain Victory behind him, announcing one of the fictional characters as the winner for best cover artist. The Kirbys are also placed so they can be seen in the background of several shots of the table of the show cast.

[Video] The Masters of Comic Book Art

Posted in Video.

This 1987 documentary directed by Ken Viola features interviews with ten comic book artists. Kirby is the third of them, with a one minute introduction by Harlan Ellison followed by four minutes of Kirby talking, with a mix of Kirby artwork and video of Kirby speaking on the screen.

It’s a fun but far too brief interview, very interesting especially for those of us who didn’t get a chance to meet him. He talks about his motivations in coming up with the new and different, things that hadn’t been done in comics before, to generate sales, and the biblical inspirations behind Galactus and the Silver Surfer. As he said, he was “a guy that lives with a lot of questions”, and while he didn’t come up with any answers to the big ones, he explored them in comics better than anyone.

Well worth checking out if you can as probably the most easily available video of Kirby, as well as such odd things as Ditko doing a voice-over about his beliefs over some Mr. A artwork.

[Video] Thundarr – Wizard Wars


Probably the animation property most associated with Kirby in the 1980s is THUNDARR THE BARBARIAN, which had 21 episodes produced by Ruby-Spears from 1980-82. Alex Toth designed the main characters, and Kirby was brought in later to do character design, so many of the villains and vehicles were based on his work, sometimes quite obviously. He also worked on such things as an unsold proposal for a Thundarr newspaper strip. On the writing side, head writer was Steve Gerber, who Kirby worked with on DESTROYER DUCK around this time, and Mark Evanier was also on the writing staff.

The premise of the series is a hodge-podge of fantasy/sci-fi elements. Apparently, and I don’t know if you noticed this, about 10 years in the past (well, it says 1994) a rogue planet zoomed between the Earth and Moon, ripping the moon in half and wrecking havoc on Earth. The series is set 2000 years later, in a land of ruined cities, “savagery, super science, and sorcery”, with a group of three companions, Thundarr, Ookla and Princess Ariel, riding from town to town, righting wrongs.

I have a tape with several-generation-down copies of a bunch of the episodes, so every now and then I’ll just post a few words on them, mostly on what seems to be the Kirbyest aspect.

“Wizard Wars” was the first episode of the second season. Thundarr and company get in the middle of a battle between two wizards, the first of whom, Skullus, pretty much has to be pure Kirby. He’s a head in a glass dome, controlling four-armed magical robots. It’s not so clear in the graphic here, but he even has Kirby squiggles on his head.

That’s the clearest Kirby moment in this episode. The other wizard, Octagon, isn’t as distinctive, although he does have Doctor Octopus style arms, both on himself and on his headquarters, which look neat.

Image lifted from the Thundarr fan website,, where you can also find an episode guide with a detailed summary of this episode and more. It also has a petition to get a DVD release of the series, which seems inevitable given almost everything else is getting released on DVD these days. Hopefully if they do one, they’ll find some way to incorporate Kirby’s raw design work (and Toth’s as well), maybe as part of an insert booklet, or a video feature or DVD-ROM extra.

Broadcast circa 1981