I was cleaning out my office and stumbled across a copy of the ‘Jack Kirby Collector’ magazine. It’s issue # 84 from summer 2022 so I’m rather late with this review. I’m not sure how I missed it as the cover has a very striking Captain America running towards us accompanied by a rather strange military band.
At the top left of the cover is a picture of Steve Sherman and indeed issue # 84 is a tribute issue to him. The editorial, ‘Opening Shot’, is title ‘In Praise Of Steve’ and provides a lot of background information not only on Steve Sherman, but his relationship with the magazine’s editor John Morrow. Sherman’s connection with Jack Kirby started when he hired him as an assistant during his stint at DC Comics.
A big feature of this edition is Mark Evanier’s interview with Steve Sherman. It was conducted during August 2020 during the Covid lockdown. Although it is a long feature, there are some really interesting nuggets of information here. Jack Kirby was known to encourage people to do things they were interested in and that’s certainly true here. It’s probably why Steve Sherman became such a good friend to Jack Kirby and his family.
Along side the articles about Steve Sherman, there are wonderful notes, initial drafts, sketches and photographs from the period. They are from a time over 50 years ago where things where somewhat different to the technical age we live in today. I wonder what people born this century will make of it. Of course, historians will love it but it’s really telling the story of how American comics evolved. Without this evolution we wouldn’t have the modern comics and the super-hero films we have now.
Of particular interest (lest be honest: delight) was the Link Thorne (the Flying Fool) comic strip from ‘Airboy Comics’. It’s dated as October 1947 and imaginably titled ‘Larceny In Old Lace!’ There’s a note that Chris Fama did some art reconstruction and colouring. I’m not sure what he did as the comic strip looks very authentic to me. A very intriguing tale taking 8 pages that was published over 75 years ago!
Another feature I found fascinating is the transcript from an online video chat hosted by Tom Kraft and Rand Hoppe of the Jack Kirby Museum. Their special guest was’ of course’ Steve Sherman who provides some wonderful insights into Jack Kirby’s experimental comicbook line. This particular chat focuses on the American mobster magazines. The title of the show was ‘In The Days Of The Mob’.
This isn’t a facet of Kirby’s work I was familiar with, so I found it totally engrossing. While it’s all about the mob, they still manage to get a couple of stills in from ‘Star Trek’ and a cover from the ‘Fantastic Four’. They do have gangster connections, but you need to pick up your copy of the ‘Jack Kirby Collector’ to see what they are.
The problem I have with the ‘Jack Kirby Collector’ magazines is that they are jam-packed with features by different contributors which are all worthy of a mention. For practicable reasons, I can’t do that so have to cherry pick. The reason why I’m picking the ‘Kirby Kinetics’ feature by Norris Burroughs is because he has managed to pick out various bits of Kirby’s work which feature roofs. Not surprisingly the feature is subtitled ‘Up On The Roof’ which is rather apt.
As someone who’ when much younger’ used to try and do pencil drawings’ I was naturally drawn to the very last Gallery feature titled ‘Steve’s Jobs’. It features pencil art from Kirby which for the most part is uncoloured. The lettering also looks very draft to me but I might be wrong about this. Anyway, Shane Foley provides some very insightful comments on each panel. There are panels from ‘Kamandi’, ‘Jimmy Olsen’, ‘Our Fighting Forces’ and ‘First Issue Special’ featuring Manhunter.
Shane ends his piece by asking questions about the placement of speech balloons. He’s contrasting the initial drafts against the published panels. In this case, they are from a comic published in August 1975 and a lot of time has passed since then. It’s doubtful we will ever know. Either way it’s a good insight into how the process of producing a panel in a comic worked. From the story writer to the pencil artist (Kirby in this case) and the letterer and the inker.
One last word from me. Every edition of ‘The Kirby Collection’ I have seen as always struck me as a top-quality magazine. This goes for the styling, the content and even the quality of the paper they use. It’s worth setting aside some quality time just to immerse yourself in it.
(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))