Posts Tagged ‘Jack Kirby’

What’s Wrong With this Picture?


Friday, August 6, 2010

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Well here we are in 2010 and there is a new book called The Thin Black Line: Perspectives on Vince Colletta, Comics’ Most Controversial Inker, by Robert L. Bryant, Jr. One hundred and twenty-eight pages full of decent black-and-white reproductions of Colletta-inked artwork, a good bit of Kirby pencils, and some very astute before-and-after comparisons.

For the uninitiated: In the wondrous world of superhero, etc., comic books there were and are pencillers and inkers. The pencillers drew the story in pencil, rendering to greater or lesser degrees. The inkers would then draw on top of those pencils in ink, thus preparing the page for photography. Inkers overlaid their own drawing style on whomever they were working over. Some inkers faithfully executed, in ink, the intentions of the penciller; others rendered those intentions in their own style. And still others just drew what they viewed as most essential and moved on as quickly as possible. Inking is no mean feat. (more…)

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Walt Wasn’t Available: Dapper Dan’s SuperMovies Column #1


Wednesday, July 14, 2010

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Odin Smiling After a Particularly Noxious Release

Geoff Boucher reports about the Thor movie over at the LA Times. I know, I know, it’s just a movie. It has nothing to do with the many things I like about 1960s Thor. And I don’t even care about this stuff, except… C’mon guys, you couldn’t have designed even slightly better costumes? Honestly? It’s just lazy looking. There are many cool things about circa 1960s Thor, most of them beginning and ending with Jack Kirby’s literary and visual ideas. But among the coolest were the costumes! Mind-bendingly intricate mythological armor and sets with a nearly psychedelic color palette. Where is all that? These pictures look kinda like Iron Man. Or X-Men. Or whatever. Point, is, where’s the color? The scale? The imagination? It’s a movie, natch, and things have to somewhat simplified, and it’s Hollywood and blah blah. I know it all already. But… No one thought to call Walt Simonson? Hell, if I were them I’d call CF! Or William Stout! Or Moebius! Call somebody! Anyhow, thus endeth my pointless afternoon rant. Sigh.

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Interviews and Autodidacts Notebook


Tuesday, July 6, 2010

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Gil Kane, an artist whose interviews are always worth reading.

A notebook on comics interviews and autodidacts:

Autodidacts. I often think William Blake is the prototype for many modern cartoonists. Blake was a working class visionary who taught himself Greek and Hebrew, an autodidact who created his own cosmology which went against the grain of the dominant Newtonian/Lockean worldview of his epoch. The world of comics has had many such ad hoc theorists and degree-less philosophers: Burne Hogarth, Jack Kirby, Steve Ditko, Gil Kane, Neal Adams, Robert Crumb, Art Spiegelman, Gary Panter, Lynda Barry, Howard Chaykin, Chester Brown, Dave Sim, Alan Moore. These are all freelance scholars who are willing to challenge expert opinion with elaborately developed alternative ideas. The results of their theorizing are mixed. On the plus side: you can learn more about art history by listening to Gary Panter and Art Spiegelman talk than from reading a shelf-full of academic books; Robert Crumb’s Genesis deserves to be seen not just as an important work of art but also a significant commentary on the Bible; Lynda Barry’s ideas about creativity strike me as not just true but also profound and life-enhancing. On the negative side: Dave Sim’s forays into gender analysis have not, um, ah, been, um, very fruitful; and while Neal Adams drew a wicked cool Batman, I’m not willing to give credence to his theories of an expanding earth if it means rejecting the mainstream physics of the last few centuries. Sorry Neal!


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Some More Thoughts on Kirby and Fumetto


Thursday, May 6, 2010

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Silkscreen, edition of 100. Available online soon from The Kirby Museum. All proceeds benefit the Museum.

Since I’m procrastinating a bit here on another rainy day in Lucerne, getting ready to pack up and head out to Toronto tomorrow, I thought I’d add a few more thoughts on Fumetto and the festival.

Ben Jones opened a very fine exhibition last week, consisting of large cardboard sculptures, some paintings, and a couple of wall drawings. It’s a good way to see what Jones is up to these days. We did a talk together on Saturday afternoon, walking through the show and tossing around arguments about form and hierarchies. I’ll post it when I’m back. Ben took off for Athens yesterday for yet another art show. Busy boy.

Anyhow, Kirby:

What has struck me about the current show is how much can be told even without displaying some of his “iconic” pieces, as has been noted elsewhere. For this, and for any audience really, it’s almost more important to see the work as work, rather than as propping up iconic properties. It’s easier to take in as comics qua comics, or in the case of his collage and pencil drawings: as highly personal mark-making.

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Sunday in Lucerne


Sunday, May 2, 2010

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It’s a rainy Sunday morning here in Fumetto. The Kirby show is up, three floors and around 150 pages later. Here are some photos from the weekend thus far. I should note that not shown here are the superlative 1940s and ’50s pages we have on display, including the cover to Boy Commandos 23, unpublished Black Magic and Foxhole covers, the entire “City of Ghouls” from Fighting American 2, and more. I’ve so enjoyed walking through Kirby’s career, watching his visual world change and expand. Paul and I have also been lucky enough to be joined by two of our lenders, Tom Morehouse and Tom Kraft, as well as Rand Hoppe of  The Jack Kirby Museum. Just having spitballing history and theory with these guys has been an incredible education. Now I need to see the rest of the festival.


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It’s a State of Mind


Thursday, April 29, 2010

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Another morning here in Lucerne. A couple pix to illustrate my current state of mind.

Jones Underway. Some unstretched canvases on the table, and some unorthodox activity on the wall. We've all felt that way sometimes.

Kirby, from 2001. We've all certainly felt this way, too.

No more of these until the shows are up! Almost there…

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Fumetto Day 1.5


Wednesday, April 28, 2010

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Mommy, is this heaven?

Here I am, back in beautiful Lucerne for Fumetto. The sun is shining, the sandwiches are fried and the beer is delightful. Oh yes, and there are comics, too! Many, many, many comics. Also, one Ben Jones. I’m here for my and Paul Gravett’s Jack Kirby show and Ben is here for the Ben show. There are various shows coming to life, including artists like Brecht Evans and Thomas Ott, whose life-size anatomical scratchboard (!) images are stunning and horrifying. It’s all pretty fun. The whole schlemiel opens on May 1. If you’re anywhere near Switzerland I must insist that you attend. If nothing else to take in some damn fine Kirby art. We have close to 200 pages (including all but two pages of Fantastic Four 54) and the site of all them has turned even me, cynical, grumpy, altogether jaded me, into a quivering lump of a fanboy. Gravett and I keep nudging each other like, “Can you believe this shit?” Anyhow, here are some pictures…

Oh, just an insane Devil Dinosaur spread. Only 150 more pages to go!

A detail from a Spirit World collage, 1971. He did some nice brushwork on this one, too.

Detail of a Spirit World collage by Kirby. Check out the brushwork. 1971.

You haven't lived until you've seen the originals for an entire Soul Love story.

And this is all before we’ve even hung the show. Sorry to brag. It’s just too much fun. More tomorrow, including some Ben Jones candids, more gushing and more Kirby!

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Jack Rules


Wednesday, March 31, 2010

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Coming May 1, 2010: “The House That Jack Built”. Over one hundred pieces of art by Jack Kirby (and co.) from the 1940s to the 1980s on display at Fumetto in Lucerne, Switzerland. I put this exhibition together with Paul Gravett and we’re both extremely excited about what we believe is the largest Jack Kirby retrospective ever mounted, and his very first in Europe. Among the treasures on display: A complete Fighting American story; stories from the unpublished Soul Love comic, a complete Fantastic Four story, numerous covers and splashes, pencils, remarkable character sketches from the 1940s, paintings, and a lot more. And yes, the credits will be fully visible, as will a brief essay on his past (and his estate’s present) difficulties with Marvel. I’ll say more on this later, but I want to publicly thank Rand Hoppe and the Jack Kirby Museum for so much help. That museum web site is a wonderful overlooked resource. Check it out.

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The Kinkiness of Russ Manning & Other Notes


Friday, March 26, 2010

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Who Wears Short Shorts? Robot Fighters, That's Who.

More notebooks, mostly relating to The Comics Journal:

Panter as Talker, Manning’s Kinkiness. Gary Panter was in Toronto last night speaking at our local art’s college and of course I went to hear him. Among his many other talents, Panter is, along with Lynda Barry and Art Spiegelman, one of the greatest talkers in the comics world, indeed one of the world’s great talkers period. He’s lived a great, rich life and has a storehouse of stories but more importantly he can, like Barry, talk about creativity with a directness and honesty that forces you to rethink all your fundamental assumptions. And, like Spiegelman, Panter knows more about the history of art than the entire faculty of your typical Ivy League university. During the talk, Panter mentioned that as a kid he was attracted to Magnus, Robot Fighter in large part because of the kinky short shorts (or was it a proto-mini-skirt) Russ Manning had the hero wear.

This reminded me of the great Arn Saba interview with Manning which ran in the Comics Journal #203. During the interview Manning asks Saba if he’s read the Tarzan novels. Saba says no and the following exchange occurs:

Manning: It is a superb novel. And in it, Jane is about to be raped by the big ape and that’s just the theme he used all the way through it.

Saba: I was aware of that from reading the comic versions of it, yours included. Yeah, I think it’s a fantastic thing, that imagery, because in this primeval jungle you can take primeval sexuality and symbolize it through all these various creatures: the women with the hairy brassieres and all these things … [laughs] I’m embarrassed to say I notice these things and react to them.

Manning: Well, I hope my readers do.

Saba: The fact that all the women in Opar have these strange, long, pendulous, fur things hanging down between their legs – they’re very penis-like things! [laughs] That’s what they look like to me, anyway.

Manning: Just cloth.

Saba: Cloth, but they’re so long and sinuous. [laughter]

Manning: I don’t know if that came out in just a design sense or instinctual or what. They probably look right, so I drew it that way.


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E-Z Post #Infinity


Friday, March 12, 2010

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A Pile of Kirby Originals for Fumetto

A few odds and ends today.

1) Via Sammy H., artist and Frank-favorite Kevin Nowlan has posted a couple of interesting accounts of learning the craft of storytelling.

2) Patrick Ford passed along these choice passages from Jim Amash‘s excellent Alter Ego interview with Jack Katz, covering Kirby and Mort Meskin.

Katz on Kirby at Timely: Jack would work at his own desk there and Joe would come in during the morning and subtly stare at us. Jack would go for lunch, and when he came back Joe would leave for the day. You know how I learned to ink? Jack sat me down one day, He said, “This is what you do.” He took one of my drawings, and he inked it with a brush. I’d never seen inking that good in my life. I said, “Jack if you could ink so good, why do you let—?” He said, “I don’t have the time.” He said, “This is what I want you to do. You apply the blacks like this. This is this is what you do with your camera angle to make the background stand out. Jack would fill in all kinds of black areas in the background. As an inker, I don’t think there could have been anybody better if he had done his own stuff himself. One of the things they had in the office was the Sunday Hal Foster Tarzan strips, almost from it’s inception…everyone in the office was using them for swipes. Kirby never used swipes. I’m being very straight about that. If he did it was for reference, I never saw him erase anything either. Jack would get in early, he was always there before I came in. He left late. Jack wrote as he drew, he also worked from scripts, but he would use them as a template.

Katz on Kirby and Meskin:

Jack represented a boss who was handling a very unusual art form. He was very much in command. The only one who could say stupid things to him was Mort Meskin. Mort had a window seat. He’s say, “Get up!, Get up!” and a girl would be walking around in a bathing suit. And Jack would say, “Would you sit the F**k down.”This happened almost every day. One day Mort brought in some pornographic toys, Queen-sized fake breasts. He shows them to Kirby. Jack says, “What are you doing?” Mort puts the breasts on the floor and starts jumping up and down on them. Jack told him to stop, and get back to work. Mort said, “I can’t because I had a date with a disgusting pig, and I’m taking out revenge.

Katz on Kirby and the War:

Jack was involved in horrific situations where he had to do the ultimate thing. He wasn’t ashamed, but he felt deep regret over the fact that he had to kill people. When he talked to me about these things, his eyes were very deep in the past. It was extraordinary. Sometimes I noticed him staring out the window, and from the look in his eyes it was apparent that he was reliving the war.

3) And finally, I really enjoyed this account of Kirby’s war experiences from Jack Kirby Collector 27, as posted by early biographer Ray Wyman. Like Jeet, I think Kirby’s war experiences are crucial to his output and kind of underplayed in contemporary accounts of his life.

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