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Jack Kirby

MatthewMatthew Registered User regular
edited July 2010 in Graphic Violence
I found myself thinking about Jack Kirby today. Kirby was a legend in the comics field, an man whose creativity and artistic style have never been copied, but I often found myself wondering about those legendary 70's works of his.

Oh sure, we all remember the Fantastic Four's early years, not to mention all the other stuff Kirby did in the beginning of Marvel's Silver Age. How he and Stan Lee redesigned how superheroes were handled, making them human and fallible, instead of unbeatable giants of good like those found at the Distinguished competition (DC didn't really pick up on this for awhile it seems).

But that was the 60's, it wasn't until the 70's that we would see some true work that was completely and totally Kirby, writer and artist. New Gods, Mister Miracle, Kamandi, Eternals, they were works of great vision and creativity. And they all got cancelled before they were done.

It was this I was thinking about today, what caused this flaw in someone who is so rightly revered among the comics industry today? I often wondered this, but I think I finally have an answer. Kirby had a vast creativity, a great mind for ideas, but his ability to put down those ideas into workable forms was limited. His writing style seemed more suited for Golden age/early Silver age then the 70's, which is why his most fondly remembered work is done in tandem with a writer. Both of these worked against him in attempting to create his great saga of the New Gods.

Is this a strike against Kirby? Perhaps a tiny one, he's still the legendary "King" Kirby, a man worthy of the highest respect. But I wonder what he would have accomplished if he didn't have these two strikes against him?

Matthew on

Posts

  • jkylefultonjkylefulton Squid...or Kid? NNID - majpellRegistered User regular
    edited July 2010
    Matthew wrote: »
    But I wonder what he would have accomplished if he didn't have these two strikes against him?

    So - just to be clear - you're wondering what more Jack Kirby, the guy who co-created most of the Marvel Universe, the guy who single-handedly created the romance comic genre, the guy who was the most prolific comic artist in the history of the profession (from a volume standpoint, it's not even close), the guy who had groundbreaking runs on comic strips like Sky Masters, the guy who created the Challenges of the Unknown and Darkseid and the New Gods and Kamandi and a bunch of other characters for DC - you're wondering what more he could have accomplished if he'd had a better talent for writing dialogue on books he worked on when he was in his mid-late 50s?

    jkylefulton on
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  • The Lovely BastardThe Lovely Bastard Registered User regular
    edited July 2010
    this is a veiled diss to OMAC

    I don't like you, Matthew

    The Lovely Bastard on
  • MunchMunch Registered User regular
    edited July 2010
    Kirby did write with a certain bombastic quality, but I feel that really only complemented his art.

    As to why his books were canceled? Who knows? Sometimes shit just plain doesn't sell. Steve Ditko had his fair share of failures. EC Comics sunk even with industry giants like Wally Wood and Jack Davis at the fore.

    Maybe it could be said that Kirby's ideas were a little too out there and ahead of their time, like a movie that flops at the box office only to become a word-of-mouth hit, years later. But I don't think his writing, which I actually quite like, was at fault.

    Munch on
  • TexiKenTexiKen Steeeve Perry Steeeeeeve PerryRegistered User regular
    edited July 2010
    One thing I've always wondered about was Kirby's take on the X-Men and how they evolved from the original premise, since it did seem like the afterthought book he and Lee worked on in the 60's.

    TexiKen on
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  • LucascraftLucascraft Registered User regular
    edited July 2010
    Matthew wrote: »
    Oh sure, we all remember the Fantastic Four's early years, not to mention all the other stuff Kirby did in the beginning of Marvel's Silver Age. How he and Stan Lee redesigned how superheroes were handled, making them human and fallible, instead of unbeatable giants of good like those found at the Distinguished competition (DC didn't really pick up on this for awhile it seems).

    This statement really bugs me. All of the so-called "perfect" and "infallible" DC heroes were created in a much different time than Marvel. Everything from that era was put on a pedestal. It was a pretty dark time in history, with the depression, two world wars and all of that.

    Every time someone dogs on DC because of this it really bothers me. A lot. Because we don't live in that time period anymore. We're looking at it through our jaded and cynical eyes of the modern world. You can't hold it against DC for writing things the same way everything else was written back then. That would be like criticizing Shakespeare for using King James style English.

    If you go back now and re-read all those old Lee and Kirby comics, they are so naive, so completely childish by today's standards that they are every bit as "faulty" as the DC comics were that are 30 years older.

    Its pretty hypocritical to hold one on a pedestal for being ground-breaking and criticize the other for being old fashioned, when they are both old fashioned now days. And Superman and Batman were revolutionary during their time. Why do you think they're still around today.

    Lucascraft on
  • jkylefultonjkylefulton Squid...or Kid? NNID - majpellRegistered User regular
    edited July 2010
    TexiKen wrote: »
    One thing I've always wondered about was Kirby's take on the X-Men and how they evolved from the original premise, since it did seem like the afterthought book he and Lee worked on in the 60's.

    It almost had to have been a cultural thing in the air or some such, as the Doom Patrol was developed and published a few months prior to the launch of the original X-men.

    jkylefulton on
    tOkYVT2.jpg
  • SolarSolar Registered User regular
    edited July 2010
    Lucascraft wrote: »
    Matthew wrote: »
    Oh sure, we all remember the Fantastic Four's early years, not to mention all the other stuff Kirby did in the beginning of Marvel's Silver Age. How he and Stan Lee redesigned how superheroes were handled, making them human and fallible, instead of unbeatable giants of good like those found at the Distinguished competition (DC didn't really pick up on this for awhile it seems).

    This statement really bugs me. All of the so-called "perfect" and "infallible" DC heroes were created in a much different time than Marvel. Everything from that era was put on a pedestal. It was a pretty dark time in history, with the depression, two world wars and all of that.

    Every time someone dogs on DC because of this it really bothers me. A lot. Because we don't live in that time period anymore. We're looking at it through our jaded and cynical eyes of the modern world. You can't hold it against DC for writing things the same way everything else was written back then. That would be like criticizing Shakespeare for using King James style English.

    If you go back now and re-read all those old Lee and Kirby comics, they are so naive, so completely childish by today's standards that they are every bit as "faulty" as the DC comics were that are 30 years older.

    Its pretty hypocritical to hold one on a pedestal for being ground-breaking and criticize the other for being old fashioned, when they are both old fashioned now days. And Superman and Batman were revolutionary during their time. Why do you think they're still around today.

    Especially since both Marvel and DC have expanded their characters to make them more modern and give them more depth. I don't think you could say that modern DC characters are that much more flawless than modern Marvel ones, look at heroes such as Thor, Captain America and Nova, real champions of liberty types with very little flaws in their character, how different is Captain America and Superman's viewpoint?

    Yes the setting for Marvel was arguably darker in the past, but with Brightest Day being so grim and the Heroic Age actually setting off that's almost turned around right now. The only big difference you can really see is that DC citizens tend to be a lot more supportive of heroes than Marvel ones, though that has been mostly since the Civil War and often it was regarded as stupid by the readers.

    Anyway, as far as Jack Kirby goes I think his stuff was awesome, but I can see how later on in life when it got increasingly far out it would be harder to sell. His cunky sci-fi artwork though still maintains it's appeal to this day and is in many ways only matched by JrJr, it's probably no coincedence that he was chosen to the Eternals series with Gaiman (which, by the way, is very cool and should be read by everyone).

    Solar on
  • Jason00Jason00 Registered User regular
    edited July 2010
    Kirby's DC stuff from the 70's is actually my favorite stuff that he did. (Part of that may be because I have a hard time rereading anything by Stan Lee -- the fact that every sentence ends in an exclamation point! bugs me! after awhile!)

    I love Kamandi so much, and all of the Fourth World books are amazing. I think part of the problem honestly was that they could be so absolutely bizarre that it turned readers off. Even his more mainstream superhero stuff from those days like Jimmy Olsen is just so out there. It's pretty hard to go from 1970's Spider-Man to Mister Miracle, there is just such a difference in tone and outlook.

    Jason00 on
  • DouglasDangerDouglasDanger PennsylvaniaRegistered User regular
    edited July 2010
    I have not read a lot of the early Kirby stuff, but his fourth world stuff is amazing and OMAC is totally awesome. I need to buy the third and fourth volume of the Fourth World Omnibus some time soon.

    DouglasDanger on
    I play games on ps3 and ps4. My PSN is DouglasDanger.
  • LanglyLangly Registered User regular
    edited July 2010
    Matthew wrote: »
    But I wonder what he would have accomplished if he didn't have these two strikes against him?

    So - just to be clear - you're wondering what more Jack Kirby, the guy who co-created most of the Marvel Universe, the guy who single-handedly created the romance comic genre, the guy who was the most prolific comic artist in the history of the profession (from a volume standpoint, it's not even close), the guy who had groundbreaking runs on comic strips like Sky Masters, the guy who created the Challenges of the Unknown and Darkseid and the New Gods and Kamandi and a bunch of other characters for DC - you're wondering what more he could have accomplished if he'd had a better talent for writing dialogue on books he worked on when he was in his mid-late 50s?

    Uh, yeah kyle, that's exactly what he means. Maybe if you and Jack Kirby didn't rest so heavily on his laurels you could both make something of your lives.

    Langly on
  • Spectre-xSpectre-x Registered User regular
    edited July 2010
    The only strikes Kirby had against him were that he was perhaps too far ahead of his own time, and the fact that people have no taste. His stuff's pretty universally great. Even the stuff he did that's really out there is great in just so many ways.

    He wasn't a bad writer at all. He was a very particular kind of writer, though, that not everybody likes. That's not a strike against him, that's just who he was. Jack Kirby was Jack Kirby, and if he'd been different, comics would have ended up different, and probably in a bad way.

    His stuff wasn't that marketable in the 70s, is all. People were probably expecting more Fantastic Four and Hulk and Thor and such, but what they got was this insanely motivated, creative guy just pouring out his entire brain onto the paper, and it likely put people off because it was so unexpected.

    Spectre-x on
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  • Linespider5Linespider5 ALL HAIL KING KILLMONGER Registered User regular
    edited July 2010
    A big part of Kirby's situation is that the man was an unbelievable force of nature when it came to creative output. Sometimes I'm not sure how much he really cared for the business aspect of things. There were some posts a few months ago about concepts he made in his spare time working for other companies-he'd finish so far ahead of the deadline, the man would actually make new things that were never even asked for, and basically gave them away to who he was working for at the time. Apparently there's a considerable trove of unmade Kirby concepts slowly being unearthed by the people that technically own them. I'm probably under-informed, but I get the sense that he was overgenerous with his talents and a number of people in the industry never gave back.

    Linespider5 on
  • DMACDMAC Moderator mod
    edited July 2010
    This is pretty rad: Jack Kirby designs Julius Caesar.

    DMAC on
  • WildcatWildcat Registered User regular
    edited July 2010
    Man, I love Kirby art. Combine the Roman era with that artist and it's just fantastic.

    Wildcat on
  • TexiKenTexiKen Steeeve Perry Steeeeeeve PerryRegistered User regular
    edited July 2010
    A big part of Kirby's situation is that the man was an unbelievable force of nature when it came to creative output. Sometimes I'm not sure how much he really cared for the business aspect of things. There were some posts a few months ago about concepts he made in his spare time working for other companies-he'd finish so far ahead of the deadline, the man would actually make new things that were never even asked for, and basically gave them away to who he was working for at the time. Apparently there's a considerable trove of unmade Kirby concepts slowly being unearthed by the people that technically own them. I'm probably under-informed, but I get the sense that he was overgenerous with his talents and a number of people in the industry never gave back.

    And these days artists are too busy posting on message boards and tweeting to finish one damn story arc.

    I love Kirby's simplicity in design, yet it was still able to be so fluid. Let's use those Caesar sketches as an example. He makes so much use out of so little in terms of lines, and it is much more appealing than the artwork of a VanSciver or Gary Frank. And I always liked that Kirby never tried to make too much depth in his art, he knew he had another panel to continue the story. I guess the best person who represents that art technique today would be Dustin Nguyen. Clean and simple, yet the emotion is so much better than those who try to cross-hatch or make a 2D drawing appear as 3D.

    TexiKen on
    HAB3pqF.png
  • jkylefultonjkylefulton Squid...or Kid? NNID - majpellRegistered User regular
    edited July 2010
    Might have to start hitting the 'awesome moments' thread up with some Kirby action.

    jkylefulton on
    tOkYVT2.jpg
  • Bloods EndBloods End Blade of Tyshalle Punch dimensionRegistered User regular
    edited July 2010
    Bloods End on
  • DouglasDangerDouglasDanger PennsylvaniaRegistered User regular
    edited July 2010
    Those Roman costumes designed by Kirby are far-out. It looks like the soldiers have camo under their armor, camo that looks vaguely like the experimental camo the Nazis used in ww2.

    DouglasDanger on
    I play games on ps3 and ps4. My PSN is DouglasDanger.
  • The Lovely BastardThe Lovely Bastard Registered User regular
    edited July 2010
    Bloods End wrote: »

    I swear there was also an episode of the 80's series based on that same plot

    considering there was a one-shot comic that was based on it too, before both shows

    The Lovely Bastard on
  • MastaPMastaP Registered User regular
    edited July 2010
    Bloods End wrote: »

    I swear there was also an episode of the 80's series based on that same plot

    considering there was a one-shot comic that was based on it too, before both shows

    Yeah, both shows are just retelling Donatello #1

    MastaP on
  • IncenjucarIncenjucar Audio Game Developer Seattle, WARegistered User regular
    edited July 2010
    MastaP wrote: »
    Bloods End wrote: »

    I swear there was also an episode of the 80's series based on that same plot

    considering there was a one-shot comic that was based on it too, before both shows

    Yeah, both shows are just retelling Donatello #1

    Such a good comic.

    Incenjucar on
  • AlgertmanAlgertman Registered User regular
    edited July 2010
    I'll kill anyone who talks bad about Kirby.

    Algertman on
    PSN; AlbertBOMB
  • MunchMunch Registered User regular
    edited July 2010
    DMAC wrote: »
    Holy shit, that's awesome.

    And if nobody ever saw these when they were making the rounds, a treasure trove of shelved toy/cartoon concepts were unearthed a few months ago. I want a Hidden Harry toy so bad.

    Kirby also designed a theme park called Science Fiction Land, which I can only imagine would be the most horrifying place on Earth.

    Munch on
  • WiseManTobesWiseManTobes Registered User regular
    edited July 2010
    TMNT always reminds me that I lost a volume 1-5 black and white supersize trade ( thing was massive) in a house fire!

    and sadly the fire never touched it, but the fire hoses reduced it to a inky blob (

    WiseManTobes on
    Steam! Battlenet:Wisemantobes#1508
  • Linespider5Linespider5 ALL HAIL KING KILLMONGER Registered User regular
    edited July 2010
    TMNT always reminds me that I lost a volume 1-5 black and white supersize trade ( thing was massive) in a house fire!

    and sadly the fire never touched it, but the fire hoses reduced it to a inky blob (

    That's brutal. I lost my TMNT volumes to a tube of stage blood.

    Linespider5 on
  • SendingSignalSendingSignal Registered User
    edited July 2010
    Lucascraft wrote: »
    Matthew wrote: »
    Oh sure, we all remember the Fantastic Four's early years, not to mention all the other stuff Kirby did in the beginning of Marvel's Silver Age. How he and Stan Lee redesigned how superheroes were handled, making them human and fallible, instead of unbeatable giants of good like those found at the Distinguished competition (DC didn't really pick up on this for awhile it seems).

    This statement really bugs me. All of the so-called "perfect" and "infallible" DC heroes were created in a much different time than Marvel. Everything from that era was put on a pedestal. It was a pretty dark time in history, with the depression, two world wars and all of that.

    Every time someone dogs on DC because of this it really bothers me. A lot. Because we don't live in that time period anymore. We're looking at it through our jaded and cynical eyes of the modern world. You can't hold it against DC for writing things the same way everything else was written back then. That would be like criticizing Shakespeare for using King James style English.

    I'm totally with you on this. Also, a lot of those golden age books had a lot of nuance to them that is glossed over when people sum them up quickly. I've been reading a bunch of archives and chronicles lately, and things are a lot darker and subtle than people give them credit for, at times.

    SendingSignal on
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