Collected Jack Kirby Collector Vol. 7
Ed. by John Morrow
It’s already been written elsewhere that it was his love of Jack Kirby that prompted comics enthusiast John Morrow to start his Kirby Collector zine, an enterprise that expanded outwards into the Twomorrows publishing imprint. To Morrow’s doubtless glee, the Kirby Collector attracted the attention of the Kirby family, who have been kind enough to open up their personal archives for publication, and offer more personal memories of Jack. On the other side of the spectrum, the Kirby Collector became a cult favorite not only amongst comics fans but amongst pre-eminent comics creators, still hopelessly in thrall to that first fantastical glimpse that they spied of a Kirby cover, probably Fantastic Four or maybe Mr. Miracle, in a pharmacy rack as a child. This collection, reprinting issues 27-30, features lengthy interviews with titans of the industry (and fan-press-phobes) like Alan Moore (!), Keith Giffen, Jon Kricfalusi, Moebius, and Mark Allred, all offering effusive praise of the King. Oh, and Mark Hamill. It’s quite a testament to the abilities and imagination of Jack Kirby, self-described as just some working-class kid from the Bronx (?), who passed away in 1994 yet still casts a broad shadow over comics. We’re still catching up to the concepts embedded in his work (he’s like the Kraftwerk of comics), and there is still so much art left in his archives that has never even been seen by the public at large.
The four issues here are, as is custom, packed with interviews, pseudo-scholarly/analytical pieces, and of course, metric tons of artwork. And I know I always praise the abundance of original art made available in Twomorrows publications, but it’s never so cherished as it is with the Kirby Collector. Frankly, looking at his art is a fucking treat — the crackles of energy, the pointy fingers, the bizarrely detailed machinery, the frenetic action, the bent and broken villains — it’s heady stuff. And seeing Kirby’s original pencil art — without the often interfering hands of inkers (no slur on Joe Sinnot or others) — is just like a rush of pure creation and feverish imagination. The last two issues will be of particular interest to fans of Kirby, as they follow later eras of his career that haven’t been as closely documented as the early Marvel years (’60s) and his Fourth World exploits at DC in the early seventies. Issue 29 is devoted to Jack’s ill-starred return to Marvel Comics in the late seventies, after he soured on DC in the aftermath of his Fourth World titles being canceled — a time when a rush of ideas (Machine Man, Eternals, Devil Dinosaur, Black Panther) were derailed by petty office politics and Kirby’s slow realization that you really can’t go home again. Issue 30, luckily, ends this volume on a valedictory note, going in-depth into late-period Kirby leaving comics for animation (with shows like Thundar the Barbarian), where he was rightfully embraced as an ideas machine, with only occasional (and rewarding) forays into indie comics. Feed your head.