Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Jack Kirby's Spirit World



One of the many ways Jack Kirby tried to drag comics kicking and screaming into the future while at his time at DC, was the idea for a new magazine line. Not just with larger scale Black & White versions of their characters like Marvel's, or just horror like Warren, but a whole line of all kinds of genres, and with higher production values, more comparable to National Lampoon than Creepy or Monsters Unleashed.
The creative people at DC loved the idea, the people with the purse strings weren't so keen.
Eventually, the concept morphed down to just one issue each of gangster book in The Days Of The Mob and this, probably one of Kirby's strangest projects. Both magazines were released disinterestedly in 1971, and promptly vanished without trace.
With assistants Mark Evanier & Steve Sherman, Kirby produced the entire book solo ( the DC bean counters stating there was no money for other writers or artists for the venture ), and though at the time, especially compared to the variety you got in a Warren book, it realistically wouldn't've stood a chance, now it's a welcome mess of Kirby at his bat-shit craziest.
Behind a Kirby / Neal Adams cover, you get a bunch of comic strips, not all of them completely successful. The ostensible host of the book, Dr. Maas, isn't in the same league as DC's horror hosts Cain or Abel, nor is he meant to be, though the best stories ( The Screaming Woman, House Of Horror ) do have some wonderfully creepy imagery in Jack's blocky Fourth World style, and are actual stories rather than brief incidents.
Of course, Kirby had done mystery comics before, Black Magic for instance, but this is a step beyond those kinds of books, and anyone who has trouble with Kirby's writing style is going to have a tough time here, as this is pure, undiluted Jack, and an unwary reader not skilled in comics styles would struggle even more, I think.
The fumetti and collages are even more insane, my favourites being the telepathic journey to another planet Children Of The Flaming Wheel and the beautiful, eerie poster Souls. Imagine what Jack would've done with our technology now.
Oh that's right, you can't imagine that. You're not Jack Kirby.



















































3 comments:

Anonymous said...

All hail the King!!
Great post, Pete. Haven't seen this stuff before, and I am nothing if not a Kirby fan. It's pretty wild stuff!
Thanks, pal.
mp

David Holman said...

Kirby looks better in black and white:)

Harmonious Dischord said...

I've never read this although I've sold a few and still have a nice copy stashed away. I would never part with it as there is certainly something special about it in the same way as 2001.