|Edited by John Morrow||Jack Kirby Collector celebrates the life and career of the "King" of comics through interviews with Kirby and his contemporaries, feature articles, and rare & unseen Kirby artwork. Now in tabloid format, the magazine showcases Kirby's art at even larger size.|
Keeping The Light On
by and © Jack and Roz's granddaughter Tracy KirbyFrom Jack Kirby Collector #23
Bedtime was my favorite part of the day at my grandparents' house because I knew Grandpa would be in full swing at the drawing table. Each time I fought to sleep on the big, yellow, "smushy" couch in the living room so I could easily sneak into Grandpa's studio. Now, I'll admit, I was afraid of the dark. However, I never needed a nightlight because the glow from his studio would always prevail over the evil, threatening shadows. This was the time I had Grandpa all to myself. I would just look through the crack of the door and watch him draw.
In my early years, a pen would be in one hand, a pipe in the other. What a wonderful smell! Many times, I came into the studio, sat on the couch, quietly watching. If I was really lucky, he would take a break and tell me one of his amazing mystery or World War Two stories (in the style of Boy Commandos, of course!). Those were the nights I could stay awake forever, just listening and watching. At my age he wasn't a famous comics artist. I never knew how truly important he was to the world until much later. To me he was magical, my own personal Merlin. He was the greatest storyteller a kid could ask for-and a great grandpa.
While duking it out in Hollywood to put Grandpa's name on the big screen and try writing myself, all the stories and memories keep flooding into my mind. I don't see the images of Captain America, the Thing (well, except maybe for the "Jewish Thing" on the wall in the studio), Thor, or even the original Boy Commandos page they had on the kitchen wall. I see his beaten-up drawing table, his pipe tray, his entire National Geographic collection and sci-fi books on the shelves, a really dorky picture with him and costumed characters, the Yankee baseball cap he always wore, and the glorious backyard. (The backyard itself requires a separate novel regarding all the wonderful and funny things that happened back there over the years. The UFO story pops into my mind vividly.) So as I start writing and developing the Kirby stories, I can't help but think back to those precious moments when staying up late was a reward.
For me, in those starlit hours, dreams became real and imagination was allowed to run free. I will always thank him for letting me listen and be a part of his creations, and not to mention... for keeping the light on.
(Shown in out Twentythird Issue is the cover to perhaps the rarest and most unique document ever to feature Kirby art: Tracy's seventh grade report on UFOs, from May 16, 1985. She was twelve at the time, and while the cover art is by Tracy, Grandpa Jack did three drawings for her report, as shown here. Tracy credited her grandfather in the report's bibliography, but we're unsure how much the art contributed to Tracy's "A" (she got a 98 out of 100!). While the teacher did write "Loved the artwork" in the margins, the report itself was remarkably well-written for a twelve-year-old, detailing several UFO sightings and the US Air Force's Project Blue Book investigation of the "flying saucer" phenomenon. In addition, she outlined the three most common descriptions of aliens by people who've claimed to see them:
1) "Space Brothers" (handsome, golden-haired humanoids who come to Earth to give a message to humans-think of "Him" from Fantastic Four #66)
2) Little green men (or "LGMs", not to be confused with Big green men like the Hulk)
3) Hairy, smelly monsters (à la Bigfoot, and many of Jack's Atlas monsters)
Like something out of one of her grandfather's first-issue text pages, Tracy's report ends by asking questions, and leaving it up to the reader to draw their own conclusions:
"Many scientists have come up with theories trying to find out where these UFOs come from, but the best theory of all comes from you. Do you believe in UFOs? Have you ever seen one, or an alien? If you have, then there just might be intelligent life out there. If you haven't, then UFOs don't really mean much. But try looking up at the sky one night-or even day-and maybe, just maybe, you will see [one], and help explain the yet unexplained phenomenon of the UFO."
It appears Tracy inherited the Kirby fascination with the unknown-our thanks to her for sharing this rare keepsake with us.)
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