More Simon and Kirby Robots

I have previously written on some Simon and Kirby or just Kirby stories from the late ’50s linked by the subject of a giant humanoid robot (here and here). In the comments to the first post, Luke Blanchard pointed out Eando Binder’s pulp stories about Adam Link as likely inspirations for these S&K robot stories.

Marvel Stories v2 n2
Marvel Stories v2 n2 (November 1940) “A Dictator for all Time” art by Joe Simon and Jack Kirby

I offer another image from the golden age of pulps. The table of contents list Joe Simon and Jack Kirby as the illustrators for the stories. Joe was Timely’s art editor at this time but this was before Simon and Kirby’s great success with Captain America. The illustration is a good model for the type of robot S&K would use in 1957 and 1958. Overall humanoid in shape, but blocky enough so that its mechanical nature is obvious.

Still unresolved is why robot stories became so important Simon and Kirby in the late ’50s.

2 thoughts on “More Simon and Kirby Robots

  1. Stan Taylor

    Hi Harry,

    The robot in the pulp story is similar to one Kirby drew in his Cyclone Burke strip in 1937, especially the lower arm being a gun or weapon of some sort.


  2. Luke Blanchard

    Thanks for the hat tip. To be honest, I’ve been wondering if I oversold my Adam Link theory. I’d say the parallels between the Link stories and Kirby’s Machine Man are close enough to make the influence of the former on the latter pretty certain, but the comparison to “Ultivac is Loose!” is more tenuous. Link and Ultivac are both threatened with rejection by humanity, but Link is sympathetic from the beginning, whereas the Challengers tale turns on whether Ultivac will ultimately side with or turn against mankind. “I Want to be a Man!”, which I haven’t read, strikes me as more like the first Link story in being a brief tale about a robot with an inner life who identifies as human and (I take it) comes to a tragic end. But in saying this I don’t want to imply that their plots are the same.

    I wonder if the more immediate influence on Simon and Kirby could have been Asimov’s collection I, Robot? According to the net sources I’ve checked this was first published at the start of the 50s and reprinted later in the decade (the stories, of course, having originally appeared in pulp magazines). Asimov’s robots are less human than Link, and usually subservient. Whereas in “Ultivac is Loose!” it’s possible that Ultivac might turn against mankind, Asimov mostly excludes this possibility by the three laws of robots. But one of issues in his stories is human fear of robots (the “Frankenstein complex”), and one might compare the theme in “Ultivac is Loose!” of humanity’s having to overcome its fear to meet Ultivac half-way.

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