A nice honor came my way a couple of weeks ago, when Marvel Comics asked me to write an essay for the upcoming second Fantastic Four Omnibus collection. I get the plum job of penning my thoughts on FF #51’s story “This Man, This Monster”, one of my (and apparently everyone else’s) favorite Lee/Kirby stories. It’s really nice to know that, after 13 years of cranking out the Jack Kirby Collector, people haven’t forgotten our efforts.
Yeah, it’s “work for hire”, so I’m basically signing away my life to the House That Jack Built, but it’s a great opportunity to (hopefully) point out to new readers some of the subtleties that both Stan and Jack added to that remarkable story. I believe it ships this summer, so look for it (not for my meager contribution, but for the great FF stories contained therein).
Fantastic Four TM & Â©2007 Marvel Characters, Inc.
The Von Sholly Bundle, containing Comic Book Nerd, his parody of the comics fan press (including the TwoMorrows line), plus both issues of his Crazy Hip Groovy Go-Go Way Out Monsters spoof of old monster mags, is available for those who like to laugh. But then, you knew that already.
Above is the final cover art for WRITE NOW! #16, shipping in July; you’ll see this listed on our home page shortly. This is different cover art than what’s printed in our catalog, because frankly, once we came across this amazing Silver Surfer painting by Mike Zeck and Phil Zimelman, and knowing that the issue’s release will follow right on the heels of the big-budget FANTASTIC FOUR 2: RISE OF THE SILVER SURFER film, we decided it made more commercial sense to switch the cover. Plus, it gives us an opportunity to feature a Surfer-writer’s roundtable in the issue.
Plus, Frank Cho (who did the beautiful Avengers art we’d originally planned to use) will already be getting plenty of exposure in our upcoming Modern Masters volume on him, due out in September (not to mention his section in Comics Gone Ape!, due out next month).
The long completed, but never released, documentary Jack Kirby: Storyteller is finally coming to DVD on June 5th! This hour-long look at the life and career of the King was hailed with cheers when we screened a short excerpt of it at the Kirby Tribute Panel at last yearâ€™s Comicon International: San Diego, and features a whoâ€™s who of top comics pros telling the world why Kirby matters (plus a few seconds of me putting my foot in my mouth, unless it ended up on the cutting room floor). The documentary is part of the Fantastic Four: Extended Edition DVD from 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment (a 2-disc set that contains the 106-minute theatrical version of the film as well as a 111-minute extended cut), which is being released just two weeks prior to the big-screen debut of Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer on June 15th.
I’m slowly slogging through production on the new issue of the Jack Kirby Collector (#48, out at the end of April), and am currently working on a great article by Robert L. Bryant, Jr. on the Making of Kirby’s Collages. Anyone who read Kirby’s 1965-72 work at DC and Marvel probably remembers these mind-blowing spectacles. No one in comics then (or since) attempted adding collageâ€”an accepted fine art techniqueâ€”to comics. Jack had a large collection of magazines like National Geographic and Life, and in his spare time (you know, those milliseconds left over between eating, sleeping, and drawing 5 pages a day), he would sit down, clip interesting photo images from different sources, and combine them together to create some really awesome pieces of art.
The one above was used in his one-shot (actually two-shot, but the second issue wasn’t published) Spirit World magazine. Profoundly influenced by his WWII Army experiences, Nazis and Hitler often made their way into work, as shown here. Unfortunately, printing techonology of the time made it difficult to reproduce these collages in color, so they always ran in black-&-white, usually with some comic figures cut out and overlaying them. (In Spirit World, they ran in BLUE-&-white, because somebody up at DC thought blue ink would be more effective than black for a supernatural magazine…)
Alas, in the Jack Kirby Collector, we’re forced to run them in B&W also, but at least I can give you a color preview of this one here. Enjoy!
Sometimes the best laid plans of mice and action figures hit a (small) snag. Our upcoming book Mego 8″ Super-Heroes: World’s Greatest Toys! now has new cover art, shown above. For internal reasons, our friends up at DC Comics politely asked us to modify ours to remove the Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman action figures. So here’s the new, final design.
It’s currently available for preorder on Amazon.com, and we’ll have it up on our site for preorders shortly. It doesn’t ship until October (making it the perfect holiday gift for the Mego collector, or guys like me that used to have a bunch of those figures as a kid), and it’s already pre-selling a lot of copies.
And wait’ll you see the full-color layout of this book…
More Von Sholly hilarity can be found in the Von Sholly Bundle, containing Comic Book Nerd, his parody of the comics fan press (including the TwoMorrows line), plus both issues of his Crazy Hip Groovy Go-Go Way Out Monsters spoof of old monster mags. Please buy them, so we can afford to get this guy some help!
I’m absolutely thrilled to announce that we’re roughly 98% complete scanning the over 5000 pages of pencil xeroxes in the Kirby Archives! This has been a long, tedious task, as many of the images had faded pretty severely over time. We started it back in 2003, and by summer, we should have rounded up and catalogued the last of the straggler images, and the task will finally be complete.
For those not familiar with what we’re doing, Jack Kirby xeroxed most of his pencil art, prior to inking, from the early 1970s-on, in case anything ever got lost in the mail on the way to the inker, or his publisher. Jack had xeroxes of some of his 1960s pencils in his files as well, and we’ve been scanning and archiving them for several years. There’s a level of urgency to it, because xerox machines of that era weren’t like today’s; they used technology much like the old Thermal Fax machines, with that greasy-feeling gray paper, and the copies are suseptible to fading when exposed to light over long periods. So this amazing record of Kirby’s pre-inked art was slowly fading away.
We’ve done basic tonal adjustments on each 11″ x 17″ scan, to restore the images to a viewable level, and these images are available for viewing to members of the Jack Kirby Museum & Research Center (www.kirbymuseum.org), so consider joining. As for the pencil images we print in the Jack Kirby Collector, those are each manually cleaned-up by hand for optimal reproduction.
A special thanks to Eric Nolen-Weathington for his dedication (and wear and tear on his scanner) in seeing this project to completion. I know I’ll rest easier knowing that this great material will be preserved indefinitely, so future generations can discover Kirby’s penciling wizardry.
To give you an idea, and in memory of poor old Steve Rogers who bit the dust this week, here’s pencils from Kirby’s cover to Captain America #194 (February 1976). Click on the image to see it larger.
I’m liable to be a bit slow posting to this forum over the next three weeks or so, as I’m in the midst of what I affectionately refer to as “Kirby Hell.” It’s that exhilarating, but demanding, and occasionally frustrating time every three months or so, when I try fruitlessly to put aside my day-to-day tasks of running TwoMorrows, to work on the new issue of The Jack Kirby Collector (in this case, #48, cover shown here).
Don’t get me wrong; doing TJKC is still the highlight of my worklife. Each issue I produce is something that is so satisfying, I wish I could do nothing but this. Alas, it doesn’t pay the bills, and so my labor of love often gets pushed aside for more menial tasks, like cutting checks to our printer and contributors, and making sure Diamond Distributors has enough copies of our stuff to fill their orders.
Anyway, as time permits, I’ll try to use this blog to give you fine folks an idea of the day-to-day process of putting together an issue of TJKC, and give sneak peeks at some of the art. It’s generally a three-to-four week process from start to finish on an issue, which is considerably less than it used to be, thanks to having so much art scanned and archived. (It does vary though, depending on how many other things keep me from working on it.) As it stands now, I’ve got all the articles, and all but one of our columns in. Also, I’ve got a wealth of great Kirby art, much of it already scanned, accumulated through years of doing the mag, and from the wonderful Kirby Pencil Archives on loan to me from the Kirby family.
Been a busy week here at TwoMorrows, with non-stop deadlines, particularly in light of Chris Irving being gone to Wondercon for the last few days. The con went great, and thanks to our many loyal readers who stopped by our booth to chat and pick up the newest copies of ours stuff. We’d sold out of many of our items by opening time on Saturday morning, and ended up giving out all the copies of our new catalog we’d brought with us.
By all accounts, our new issue of Back Issue (#21) is a big hit, as copies almost literally flew off the table as fast as Chris could unbox them. Traffic was steady the entire show, and downright hectic at many points, so this is definitely becoming a show we’ll consider attending every year. Thanks to the great folks from Comicon International for putting on such a smooth-running event. See ya next year!