Zack sez, “Why is Jack Kirby so often called ‘The King’ of comics? This Flickr page, compiling dozens and dozens of his double-page splashes from the 1970s, including sequences from 2001, the New Gods books, Kamandi, the Demon and more, provide a pretty compelling argument – pop art masterpieces, one after the other.” READ THE REST
It’s hard to justify the title of “the King of Comics” with spreads. Absolutely great, mind-blowing art, but it’s like using a series of 1 minute sequences to justify a “Best Movie Director” title, or five pages to dub someone “King of the Novelists”. Kirby was the King because he could draw stories like no one else. I’ll repeat: draw stories. Writing with the pencil, drawing the pictures that tell his story.
A lot of it’s the hats and the costumes. It’s not just Galactus that got a Cosmic Beanie: Kirby could casually crank out a panel showing a row of henchmen each of whom were wearing something on their heads never before conceived by the mind of man. You’d never see these guys again but next issue there’d be two or more such panels with entirely different sets of headgear.
And look at those costumes! Today everybody takes the easy way out and just pencils everyone nude and then inks them in with their characteristic colour and icon. Looking at Kirby’s stuff you’re convinced that you’re looking at a clothing catalogue from some foreign country which you’ve never heard of.
But what was really inimitable was the kinetic nature of the art: there’s so much forceful action going on that it seems inevitable that it’s going to spill off the page and whack you on the nose. Kirby was called “an athlete of the easel” because of the way he drew. Most of the time he was waving his arms and implements around so much that your life was in danger if you got too close while he was working. When Captain America is bashing someone with his shield on the page Kirby is above that page bashing it with a pencil in the same manner. This would seem to indicate that he was using the extra-pyramidal ganglia (the portion of the brain co-ordinating large muscle arrangement with emotional and intellectual states) to draw. Which, of course, no one can do… no one Human that is!
In my opinion there is no overstating Kirby’s talents, and they are many. You hear about comic artists who have difficulty with fingers… Kirby does great fingers, but in these two page spreads take a good close look at the teeth! Some amazing chompers.
Thanks for that link! Those spreads brought back a chunk of my youth. I had many of those comics and Jack’s art was at least partly responsible for expanding my mind.
Gotta admit, I miss the New Gods period (and Marvel’s response to it). Yeah, it was very 60’s… but it built an interconnected set of characters and plots in a way that the ordinary superhero comic didn’t. And while the characters were another notch up the epic scale, they were paradoxically more human in some ways than the supers.
Never mind the flying car – where’s my Mother Box?
IMO it’s a shame the uploader didn’t do a bit of histogram tweaking first, eg:
Some folks may disagree, but I’d say it’s a question of context; maybe you want to preserve the yellowed paper and faded ink on an old ad, but not on colourful art IMO.
Obviously, to avoid moire patterns, the work has to be scanned at a high enough DPI to resolve the printing pattern… the question then, is should it be blurred out, or is it an inherent component of the art form? I’m inclined to ignore Warhol’s contribution to the subject and just make the colours solid like the artist’s originals.
Scanning double-page spreads like this is a bitch; even if the book or comic is disintegrated and you can lay it all flat and capture the whole page so you can stitch it together properly, as can be seen in this example the printing is almost always inconsistent : (
BTW, black mark for Imgur; it changed my png to a jpg.
Kirby seems to have a grudge against ears also.
Always good to see Kirby appreciation, but this is only giving half the picture. Kirby’s great hat trick is that the first page would be a gorgeous splash page, with depth and color and grandeur that almost no one could match (only Ditko and Steranko at their peaks came close)… and then you’d turn the page and get the double splash, which built and amplified the single-page splash by an order of magnitude. And he’d do it every month.
Kirby didn’t just draw, he invented characters. Sure Stan thought up the character, but he left design to Kirby. Doctor Doom was magnificent. Galactus, Thor Xmen, Fantastic Four, Daredevil, the Hulk. All these characters were designed from Kirby’s brain and penciled onto paper. Stan even let him write some of the stories. No disrespect to Stan, but Kirby made everything so interesting to look at you couldn’t wait to turn the page. I quit collecting Marvel around Fantastic 4 issue 100, when Kirby left. Jack was the “Frazetta” of comics. Having a different artist was like changing actors for the same character in the same TV series. It just isn’t the same and loses the magic.
It really is unbelievable that Kirby gets absolutely no credit in today’s huge blockbuster mega film franchises for creating the characters and stories that are being used. Hell the guy really created the concept of F’n darth vader, and that Luke was his son and instead of calling it the Force he called it the Source. And never saw a nickel from any of it.
I’ve always wondered about the title myself, as I’ve always found Kirby’s work to be godawful. Just have never been able to get into any comic that he’s worked on.
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