Jack Kirby Collector #81 (magazine review).

The ‘Jack Kirby Collector’ is a magazine published quarterly that celebrates the life and work of Jack Kirby. What I’m reviewing here is Jack Kirby Collector volume 28 # 81, issued in Fall 2021 which could be yours for the princely sum of $10.95.

If you don’t know who Jack Kirby was then you haven’t been reading American comics. While he will always be remembered foremost for his work at Marvel in the 1960s he also had a spell in the 70s at their arch-rival DC Comics. Even Superman benefited from the touch of Jack Kirby!

The magazine is edited by John Morrow, who I believe has been doing this for quite some time. There’s a comment from him about making a change to the style of the magazine’s cover back in 2002 and that’s a long time ago. What Morrow does is bring together articles and interviews alongside rare Kirby art. What I particularly liked were the un-inked pencil drawings.

During his career, Jack Kirby worked with a lot of people and probably through his work had an impact on a lot more. We get a feel for this as editor Morrow includes interviews and articles of Kirby’s contemporaries. Indeed the first thing after the obligatory editor’s note is an interview from 1964 with the rather young Stan Lee. The interview provides a window to a different age when to be successful you had to sell printed copies of the comics. This was long before the introduction of electronic book readers such as the Kindle.

The magazine is 82 pages in length and so there is a lot of content. I will have to cherry pick the items that caught my eye otherwise this review will a very long review indeed.

My first choice is ‘The Electric Bursts Of Genius’ by Shane Foley on page 12. There are three lists here with the first list being Personal Transport, Kirby Style, where 9 modes of personal transport from Kirby’s archive are depicted. There’s some very odd ones. The second list is versions of Control Rooms and the third list is Floatsam and Jetsam (yes, I know it’s an odd spelling but that’s how it is). The third list has some very odd characters.

Amidst all the articles there is a reprint of ‘You Can’t Forget a Killer’ on pages 30-37 which was first published in Headline Comics way back in 1947. This is a treat in itself. The artwork certainly looks early Kirby to me. The accompanying text credits the comic strip to Joe Simon and Jack Kirby but doesn’t enlighten any further. This is important as apart from being a talented artist, Kirby also wrote and invented a lot of the characters that we all recognise. Silver Surfer and the X-Men are good examples but there are many more.

Producing a comic is a team effort with at least a writer, pencils (artist), inks (colourist) and letters (draws/writes the text). There are some really good examples in the magazine where Kirby’s initial pencil drawing is contrasted with the final product once the inks and letters have been added. Some elements of Kirby’s original drawing might be left out or subtly changed.

There are a lot of contributors to this magazine, too. Some articles are short while others are longer but they all relate to Jack Kirby and his contemporaries. A nice example of this is the short article about Steve Sherman, who sadly died in June last year. He became an assistant to Kirby in 1970 and had quite an interesting and varied career. Other articles to be found include:-

  • The Maddening Mystery Of Magneto
  • Beta ReDux (a cover image gallery)
  • The Kirby Museum Newsletter
  • Incidental Iconography
  • Kirby Obscura
  • Marvels Mighty Man-Monster
  • The U.F.O Sage

There is of course a letters page which shows there is an international audience for the magazine. Its not all letters from the USA as Spain and Italy get a mention, too.

  While the magazine is devoted to the life and work of Jack Kirby, it does not set out to make him a deity we should worship. It’s just an honest look back on the life and work of Jack Kirby. It also gives a very good view of how the world was changing from the 1960’s onward. I found it fascinating and well worth the cover price.

Andy Whitaker

March 2022

(pub: TwoMorrows Publishing. 84 page magazine. Price: $10.95 (US). ISBN: 919-449-0344. Direct from them, you can get it for $10.95 (US))

check out website: www.TwoMorrows.com and https://twomorrows.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=98_57&products_id=1562

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