The Jack Kirby Collection Sixty-Nine (magazine review).

November 23, 2016 | By | Reply More

The Jack Kirby Collector Sixty-Nine’ is the usual mix with a few interesting articles, a few minor pieces about Kirby trivia, many accolades for Jack and lots of lovely pictures.

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In ‘Prospeak’, Steve Sherman, Mike Royer, Joe Sinnott and Lisa Kirby discuss Kirby. ‘Jack F.A.Q.’s’ is the conversation of a Comic-Con tribute panel on which some other people discuss how great Jack was, notable perhaps for the creators of ‘Ninja Turtles’ being on it. They have done well. In ‘Fanspeak,’ a select group of fans discuss our hero with the usual questions about when they first saw his work and how he inspired them. They also chat about the Kirby Estate’s settlement with Disney when that mighty conglomerate bought Marvel. Kirby’s heirs foreswore all future claims to the characters created for an ‘undisclosed sum’ that most people think must have been quite large. One good thing is that since that event, Jack has been credited as co-creator on the movies. He would have liked that.

In the aforementioned ‘Jack F.A.Q.s, that nice man Mark Evanier makes a plea for people on-line to stop being so nasty to Stan Lee. Mark is to Jack as Saint Paul was to Jesus but even he admits that Stan did actually have a hand in the creation and success of the Marvel characters.

Wow! Jack Kirby was great! is the theme of the magazine but dig deep and you will find some analysis, too. Not that you will necessarily agree with it. Last issue, ‘Kirby Kinetics’ by Norris Burroughs gave a good insight into the techniques used on some Kirby pages from ‘Sergeant Fury And His Howling Commandoes’. This issue, he looks at Wally Wood’s inks on Kirby which were sadly limited to a few issues of ‘Challengers Of The Unknown’ and a short stretch on ‘Sky Masters’, the newspaper strip. According to Burroughs. ‘Woods obsession with the meticulous arrangement of spatial relationships reinforced a similar tendency in Kirby.’ Well, I don’t see how. Kirby drew it before Wood inked it so how did Wood influence the composition? Burroughs also argues that ‘Wood’s use of black spotting affected Kirby’s use of dark and light in his pencils’ and he got better at it. This is possible. I remember a Gil Kane interview in which that artist waxed lyrical about Jack’s pages in the late 60s and the masterful use of black spotting. Maybe Kirby looked at ‘Sky Masters’ after Wally Wood inked it and was influenced by what was done. Kirby certainly left the shading to Woods as is shown by examples here of his bare, linear pencils and the finished job and there’s no doubt that Jack had great respect for Wally Wood, as do we all.

On the other hand, he was infamously indifferent to who inked his stuff and the sins of Vince Colletta were only bought to his attention by others. This is mentioned on page 87 of the current issue by Mark Evanier. Colletta’s major offence, though, and the reason he was dropped was that he took copies of Jack’s DC pages and showed them around the Marvel offices. Jack was terrified of Marvel getting wind of his ideas and rushing out a copy first. Such practices were not unknown in the cut-throat world of comics.

I’m not saying that Burroughs is wrong in his analysis, just querying. He does point out that Kirby’s work changed in the 50s from those lean, sinewy figures to a more blockish approach and that is indubitably true. There was also more evident interest in shapes and how they worked together. It’s the work from the mid-50s to the mid-60s that was his best if you ask me. Then it got too blockish and then it got so blockish it was a parody of itself, as Gil Kane said, but even then he could tell a story with it and it had a certain charm. Anyway, I continue to enjoy Norris Burroughs’ thoughts on Kirby and I hope he keeps delivering them.

‘Sculpted’ is about some sculptures made from Jack’s drawings by a chap called Glenn Kolleda. ‘Jack In 3-D Land’ is a long feature about a 3-D comic Jack was commissioned to do for a company that eventually went bust. This resulted in a one-off comic ‘Battle For A Three Dimensional World’ and a few posters. Interesting, Kirby always did his best to make his two-dimensional pictures leap off the page at you with exaggerated foreshortening that he probably learned in his early animation work, though it didn’t come out in his comics until later.

‘Kirby Obscura’ is a column that finds lost bits of Kirby art which are for some reason interesting. Here Barry Forshaw examines a story called ‘The All-Seeing Eye’ from Tales Of The Unexpected # 12 (April 1957), a DC fantasy/SF anthology. There are mad Kirby fans who would say that a picture of an All-Seeing Eye in 1957 ‘proves’ that Kirby created ‘Doctor Strange’ because he had one. Forshaw focuses on the dramatic composition of some panels in this minor work and gives a bit of general information on the horror comics of that era.

Way back in 1971, there was a letter in one of the ‘Fourth World’ titles, ‘New Gods’, I think, complaining about the letters and the golly gee whiz Jack we luv you tone of them. It was from Martin Pasko, I believe and he said: ‘You are great Mister Kirby but not that all-fired, galaxy spinning, cosmos spanning great’ and he was right. The excessive exuberance of TJKC for its hero can be…well, excessive, but I guess it’s just part of the package. I still love his work. If Mark Evanier and John Morrow are Jack Kirby’s Peter and Paul then the writers for TJKC are Popes and I am a humble parish priest in a remote faraway land, occasionally doubting their interpretation of scripture or picture but generally willing to believe it’s true.

Eamonn Murphy

November 2016

(pub: TwoMorrows Publishing. 94 page magazine. Price: $10.95 (US). ISBN: 919-449-0344. Direct from them, you can get it for $ 9.31 (US))

check out websites: http://www.twomorrows.com/ and http://twomorrows.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=98_57&products_id=1257

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Category: Comics, Magazines

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Eamonn Murphy is a science fiction and fantasy writer and reviewer who lives in the south west of England. If you want to know more visit his website: https://eamonnmurphyblog.wordpress.com/

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