Tuesday, 6 May 2008
For all you JACK KIRBY fans out there, the new Mark Evanier book KIRBY: KING OF COMICS is finally out.

I've already read most of it in one sitting. It's got lots of wonderful Kirby artwork, and good description of his life and times. It's interesting to me that his work just kept getting better. I had always thought his peak was the silver age Marvel stuff, but the
later DC and after, is just as good. It feels very modern, even the crazy 'hipster' dialogue! At the time though, in the 70's, I remember Kirby was considered old hat... But he really was doing some of his most creative material in that period. I mean, just check out that OMAC mini series! Talk about "out there"! Obviously, the stuff for Pacific Comics, when he was getting too old, is a bit dodgy... But, as Barry Windsor-Smith noted, Kirby really was the 'Picasso of comics'. He stayed strong and vital almost right to the end.

The book reminds you of how good Stan Lee was too. All the original Marvel characters created in the early 60's were definitely a product of the two of them. Jack's creative imagination in the later DC New Gods stuff was just as strong, but Stan's way with character dialogue was magic and Jack could never reach that level on his own. It would be interesting to speculate on the possibilities of the New Gods if they had been by Lee/Kirby at Marvel!

Some of my favourite Kirby stuff is that really bizarre late run on the Black Panther (King Solomon's frog etc) and Captain America and the Falcon (the Perfect Man stuff) for Marvel... and let's not forget the "monster" material from the late 50's, pre-Fantastic Four.

The only thing that casts a depressing cloud over his wonderful career is the incredibly shoddy way he was treated by the comics' companies themselves. What a bunch of total shysters! It is truly disgusting... Just as Jack Kirby is remembered with genuine love and affection, the crummy little accountants and lawyers who screwed him over are, rightfully, totally forgotten.

But leaving all that aside, the incredible power of the artist and his singular vision is inspiring. His creative legacy is monumental.

Long Live The king: JACK KIRBY!


PS By the way, there's a big new STEVE DITKO book coming out in a few months from Fantagraphics. I shall be first in the line for that one!


lactus said...

Been looking forward to getting my hands on this book for a while now. Sounds good although I don't quite agree on Stan Lee's great dialogue. All too often there was too much of it covering up that mind buggering Kirby artwork.

Incidentally, I've reviewed Kirby's greatest helmets over at minlessones.com

X Gary Lactus.

Dan said...

This is one of the few positive reviews of this book I have seen. Most others have commented on how poorly it is written and how the examples of artwork are ill-chosen.

nick said...

I think that the Kirby book is fantastic!

True, it does not read like a formal biography, but almost like listening in on Mark Evanier speaking Kirby's history aloud - which I found to be even more engaging.

The somewhat eclectic portfolio that Evanier has put together for the book is both beautiful (as expected) and refreshing, finally giving an audience to images not as widely seen as the usual pieces used when Kirby is lauded.

I expect that if Stan Lee had had a hand in writing New Gods, the results would be his standard Marvel fare a la the formula... so I for one am glad he did not.

Don't get me wrong: I love Lee's work and classic Marvel, but I am glad The King was able to rule alone for a while.

Brendan McCarthy is one of Britain's most talented comic book creators and designers. His unique and distinctive style has influenced a generation of artists and writers. He has produced some classic UK graphic novels, written and designed some ground-breaking TV series and worked on many successful Hollywood movies

The Strangeness of Brendan McCarthy site was created in 1999 by John Kirkham and aims to provide a comprehensive guide to the work of Brendan McCarthy. This website is the official fansite and is put together with the cooperation of Brendan. So we will be bringing you the latest news, exclusive artwork and all things McCarthy related


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