Monday, December 31, 2007

Wishing Everyone a Very Happy & Prosperous New Year…

Best Wishes to everyone…

Hi Guys, Just a quick line or two to wish everyone all the very best, here on the Blog, for the New Year.

Please don’t forget the special offers on the Wizards Keep website end at 12 midnight tomorrow.

For all those that have taken advantage of the offer during December before the Christmas postal deadlines you should already be in receipt of your goodies.

For all those that have done so since the deadlines passed, your goods have now been dispatched on Friday 28th December.

For those of you that are taking advantage of the offer up to the end of New Years Day your goods will be dispatched on the 3rd of January.

This time of year is always a time for reflection and quite often tinged with a little sadness too, as we think about all those we may have lost, but it is also a time to make plans for the future and many life-changing decisions are made at this time too as a result of this.

I have made my New Year’s Resolution and plan to stick to it like glue, so expect a high volume of production this year from the Keep.

Have a Safe and Fun-filled time tonight and I wish you all Peace and Prosperity in 2008.

Until next time have fun!

Tim Perkins…
December 31st 2007

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Hall of Fame Launch Date: January 2008

The Upper Echelons of Comic Art…

At long last I have the chance to say thanks to many of my heroes and the guys that have had some kind of influence over my artistic development over the years from being a kid until the present day.

I am sure that you will all enjoy the brand new section on the Wizards Keep Website.

Please feel free to drop by and see a small selection of the artwork of many of the guys, whose work I have long admired, along with a brief biography and some words of my own as a fan of their work.

I am really proud of this new section to the website as it gives me a chance to let others see this wonderful set of comic illustrators and their incredible talents.

The New Section will be launching in a matter of days now, so keep looking here and on the Wizards Keep Blog for an update and then you can set your Alarm Clocks…you’ll be glad you did.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank those who gave their permission to include them on my website…I am truly honoured.

Until next time have fun!

Tim Perkins…
December 30th 2008

Friday, December 28, 2007

T-Minus Not Long Now...

Or a countdown to next year...


Okay Guys here's the deal, it's your last few days to take advantage of the Special Offer "Freebies".

The Offer is valid up to and inclusive of January 1st 2008.

For all those that have taken advantage of the offer during December before the Christmas postal deadlines you should already be in receipt of your goodies.

For all those that have done so since the deadlines passed, your goods will now be dispatched today, Friday 28th December.

For those of you that are taking advantage of the offer up to the end of New Years Day your goods will be dispatched on the 3rd of January.

We hope that everyone had a great time at Christmas and would like to wish everyone a Very Happy and Prosperous New Year!
Here's to a Great 2008.


Until next time have fun!
Tim Perkins…
December 28th 2007

Monday, December 24, 2007

Twas the Night before Christmas…

When all through the house,

Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
In hopes that St Nicholas soon would be there.

The children were nestled all snug in their beds,
While visions of sugar-plums danced in their heads.
And mamma in her ‘kerchief, and I in my cap,
Had just settled our brains for a long winter’s nap.

When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from the bed to see what was the matter.
Away to the window I flew like a flash,
Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash.

The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow,
Gave the lustre of mid-day to objects below.
When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But a miniature sleigh, and eight tiny reindeer.

With a little old driver, so lively and quick,
I knew in a moment it must be St Nick.
More rapid than eagles his coursers they came,
And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name!

"Now Dasher! now, Dancer! now, Prancer and Vixen!
On, Comet! On, Cupid! on, on Donner and Blitzen!
To the top of the porch! to the top of the wall!
Now dash away! Dash away! Dash away all!"

As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,
When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky.
So up to the house-top the coursers they flew,
With the sleigh full of Toys, and St Nicholas too.

And then, in a twinkling, I heard on the roof,
The prancing and pawing of each little hoof.
As I drew in my head, and was turning around,
Down the chimney St Nicholas came with a bound.

He was dressed all in fur, from his head to his foot,
And his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot.
A bundle of Toys he had flung on his back,
And he looked like a peddler, just opening his pack.

His eyes-how they twinkled! his dimples how merry!
His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry!
His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow,
And the beard of his chin was as white as the snow.

The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth,
And the smoke it encircled his head like a wreath.
He had a broad face and a little round belly,
That shook when he laughed, like a bowlful of jelly!

He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf,
And I laughed when I saw him, in spite of myself!
A wink of his eye and a twist of his head,
Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread.

He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,
And filled all the stockings, then turned with a jerk.
And laying his finger aside of his nose,
And giving a nod, up the chimney he rose!

He sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle,
And away they all flew like the down of a thistle.
But I heard him exclaim, ‘ere he drove out of sight,
"Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good-night!"

Poem: Copyright 1822 Clement Clarke Moore (1779 - 1863). He wrote the poem “Twas the night before Christmas” also called “A Visit from St. Nicholas" in 1822.

I have always loved the warmth of this particular seasonal poem and thought I would re-share the words with you all on this Christmas Eve 2007.

Wishing you all a wonderful time over the holidays!!!

Until next time have fun!

Tim Perkins…
December 24th 2007

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year…

Best Wishes to everyone…

Hi Guys,
Just a quick line or two to observe a few seasonal customs here on the Blog.

Thanks to everyone this year that has taken the time to write to Margaret and me.

Thanks to all of the customers that have graced our website and also the retail outlet in Botany Bay.

Your support as always is greatly appreciated by all of us here at the Keep.

Have a great time and see you all in the New Year.

All that remains is for me to say that…

From Margaret and Myself:


“Wishing Peace and Good Will to everyone at this most wonderful time of the year.”

Until next time have fun!

Tim Perkins…
December 23rd 2007

Friday, December 21, 2007

An e-card from Wizards Keep…

Or, an environmental answer to recycling your Christmas cards…

3D Santa

GingerbreadChristmas LightsPresent3D Elf With Candy CaneSeasons GreetingsMistletoe 1Hat 2Count Down

Here is the latest e-card I have sent out to folks over the last week or so.

I hope you guys are ready for Christmas, as it’s just around the corner now.

Personally I have done very little Christmas shopping this year, due to the workload. We are usually straight by this time of year, but my wife, Margaret has managed to do quite a bit of stuff today…I can see myself doing an Arnold Schwarzenegger, running around like a headless chicken in “Jingle All The Way”…I hope not.

Until next time have fun!

Tim Perkins…
December 21st 2007

Sunday, December 16, 2007

A couple more “Worlds End” pencil pages…

A further look at more of the graphic novel…

Here are a couple of unseen pencilled pages from my "Worlds End" graphic novel for everyone to take a look at. Please feel free, as always, to let me know what you think.

Respectively they are:

  • Page 24

  • Page 25

I am anxiously awaiting my return to the book in the New Year. I haven’t touched the pages since May and I have now almost cleared the decks of all, except the Hot Wheels gig every month for Toontastic Publishing, which I will be running alongside it from the start of the New Year.

The plan is to finish the pencils to the remaining pages in the 48-page book, before scanning them into Photoshop, cleaning them up and painting them digitally.

This is a very personal project for me and I hope to have the book ready later in 2008. Ideally I would love to launch it at the Bristol Comics Convention in May 2008. So it will be all hands to the deck and the big push will be on then to finish ASAP.

Hope you like the latest pages on show.

Until next time have fun!

Tim Perkins…
December 16th 2007

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Wow so many Blogs this month...

Or writing in advance, can sometimes work out for the better.

Well guys, it may look as though I have spent all of December writing these darned “Bloggy” things, but trust me they were written over time and as I hadn’t put much up over November with being ill, here was an opportunity to hopefully entertain and I sincerely hope that this is the outcome for you all.

Anyhow a quick one for today. Over the run up to and the Christmas and New Year period I will be finishing off the Markosia project, the latest Hot Wheels episodes and overseeing the Hall of Fame launch.

With this in mind, I will then be in a position to finally actualise the final turnarounds for the figurines, and start the remainder of the pencil pages for my “Worlds End” graphic novel, at the start of the New Year.

Thanks to everyone who has shown interest in the project and indeed all of my work both past present and future. I hope to see the publication finally of “Worlds End” in 2008.

The remaining Blogs for 2007 are already sneakily written and will be “published” over the next few days.

I would like to thank everyone that has posted comments, or spoken to me via email regarding my first forays into Blogging. I have enjoyed the time with you all and will continue with them in 2008.

Until next time have fun!

Tim Perkins…

December 15th 2007

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Literacy and life in the 21st Century…

A look at some of the problems facing young folks today…

The year is 2007 and back almost forty years ago mankind made his first tentative steps into the great unknown of space, when the USA landed the first manned mission on the moon.

The year is 2007 and scientists and astronomers have sent out Spacecraft to the furthest reaches of our Solar System mapping the regions of space out there in this region after sending back the most amazing data, both photographic and analytical to the same experts back on Mother Earth.

The year is 2007 and scientists can replicate living tissue from DNA samples.

The year is 2007 and scientists have deciphered the Human Genome from DNA samples, giving mankind the ability to read the genetic makeup of a living being and find out potential health scares for that living being throughout it’s life.

The year is 2007 and scientists, having deciphered the Human Genome, are in a position to create new artificial life forms, which can help the environmental problems facing our world today.

The year is 2007 and scientists can view objects in deep space giving us a view back into our universe’s past, almost back to the big bang theory.

The year is 2007 and scientists and mathematicians seek answers to life through an amazing array of theoretical mathematical calculations, such as String Theory, Gauge Theory, Chaos Theory, all under the banner of Quantum Mechanics.

The year is 2007 and scientists are warning of the impending catastrophic climate changes caused by Global Warming, something, which most major Governments are choosing to largely ignore or at best give it token notice in their manifestos.

The year is 2007 and scientists are experimenting with the ability to use Worm Hole Technology, which would, in theory, give mankind the ability to bend time and space enabling him to cross vast regions of space in a fraction of the time to cover these kinds of distances at present by conventional means.

The year is 2007 and scientists are experimenting with the ability to use Nanotechnology, which in theory, could create the ability to grow new limbs following accidents or giving the paralysed the ability to walk again.

All this and much, much more is present in this world, existing as it does in the year 2007 AD and yet in this country we cannot manage to enable our children to go through the education system and come out with competent literacy standards.

At the present moment in the UK we are facing a crisis of epic proportions, which if kept unchecked will create massive problems in the future. At this juncture I would like to take a little side step and point to something, which I feel strongly is contributing to the literacy of kids today. As I have spoken about in one of my first Blogs at the beginning of the year, kids no longer read comics in the vast quantities they once did in years agone. Homespun adventure Comics are no longer produced in the UK to stimulate their imaginations.

There is a general dumbing down of comics for kids, especially here in the UK. The problem is that if we look at comics produced in the late fifties here in the UK and then at what we are producing here in the UK at the present moment, and this is true of the last twenty plus years, there is a massive dumbing down in terms of both story and artwork content. This is not down to the creative teams involved but a conscious decision by the publishers and editorial, as a result of this, to create simplistic stories for "younger children".

Now my argument here is when looking at a kid in the 50's who had limited and blurry TV shows at best, little access to films, except animation ala Disney et al and yet had wonderful, photogravure, printed comic books and annuals, and, in the main to use his or her imagination to fill in most of the gaps out side of comics.

With this in mind how then were the stories both written and drawn more mature in content and the way they were crafted both in the written word and in the artwork and far superior to anything we have been allowed to produce of late (the last 20 plus years at least).

Today's kids are brought up in a world of CGI extravaganzas on the TV and at the movies and on DVD, unbelievable graphics on the new video games, design work in every product available to the general public today, high end toy manufacture, etc, etc. Why then is the content of the comics in question so lame and dumbed down?

The general excuse is children need a simplistic story to understand it and as a consequence they need simplistic artwork to accompany it. Does this then infer that the kids of today are semi-literate at best and unable to think a story through for themselves unless spoon-fed in the most simplistic ways possible? If this is so then surely we need to look at our education systems, as something is sadly going wrong, when fifty odd years ago the kids could understand quite complex stories and artwork, without the availability of the technology of today's marketplace and those of today cannot.

I read a great piece in a local newspaper the other day produced by local government (labour) here in the UK. In it, it stated that a new futuristic venture was going to be employed for secondary school age kids whereby they are going to utilise tablet technology, much like our artist's Wacom tablets. They were likened to the old-fashioned chalk tablets from years ago, before our time on this Blog.

The piece went onto say how this would revolutionise the work produced by kids as they could download information from the Internet, and they may even be able to use "text speak" like they do on their Cell/Mobile phones, with a computer gadget called "cre8txt" that is identical to a phone keypad and connects to a PC with software to translate it back into understandable English.

Is it then any wonder with government decisions like this that today's standard of literacy in the UK is in such a terrible state? Okay we may use text speak occasionally to text a loved one quickly, but with our understanding of the English language we realise where we are making short cuts.

In my role as a writer I found myself for part of the early half of 2007 working part time in a local college, helping students with essential needs in literacy (although this same problem extends into basic numeracy as well). The problem is huge, and nationwide. There are problems with English being a second or indeed third or fourth language sure in some cases, but when English is the first language and the problems still exist, then there is real cause for concern.

The problem is that by the time the kids get to college, with literacy problems, the battle is ALL-uphill for them. Colleges are trying desperately to pick up the pieces of failings within the education system at school level and government is endorsing a backward step to accepting the kids writing in text speak, which in no uncertain terms is not the English language.

What happens next do we start printing books, newspapers, magazines, and comics, what few there are now for kids, in text speak too?

Kids no longer read comics here in the UK in large numbers and this as far as I am concerned is part of the literacy problem. If kids aren't reading comics, or books and are just cutting and pasting from the Internet then what are we creating as a future workforce?

Illiteracy in the 21st century is something we should be ashamed of. Again here in the UK kid's educations are experimented with constantly at politician's whims, which by the time folks sit up and notice the kids are out there in the work place.

So rather than pandering to simplistic ideals, publishers should be making the stories and artwork more entertaining for kids, so they will sit down to read them. Government need to quickly address these mad schemes and stop the illiteracy among the kids.

All everyone needs to do is look at the past and see why the systems worked back then. It seems to me that the more advanced the few become the more we encourage the majority to achieve less.

Is this what Orwell warned us of in his book 1984? We see cameras everywhere now and our movements are tracked by the second, even this email has been logged with someone somewhere, and yet we can't figure out how to get our kids to read and write. Well this kind of tracking system is fine as long as it's done for the right reasons and as long as we do something to help the kids and get back to basics!!!

Let's stop treating kids as unable to understand anything more than SIMPLE and treat them with the respect they deserve.

We have to start looking at solving the problems and not making excuses or blaming the opposition. It may seem insignificant to someone in late middle-age or older still to look at these problems, but someone, somewhere has to realise that the kids of today are the future for mankind and although we may none of us be around to see whether what we do today as any significant impact on our future ancestors will be of any relevant and successful use to mankind in this future but surely we have to do something…?

Maybe in the UK comics publishers can look at giving the kids something more substantial and I do not refer to comics of a totally educational look. We simply have got to stop this mindless assumption regarding the simplistic approach to storytelling. If we were to adopt this stance within education then surely the outcome would go along the lines of, “we can’t give them work that will stretch the students as this can be hard…yes so is life…

Lets get the kids better prepared for life by stretching them and in turn helping them to reach their full potential, rather then end up with kids whose world comes to pieces when they are faced with the true world, a world were there are losers, where there are winners and where to get anywhere within the world takes hard graft and determination. This idiotic, false “preservation bubble” created for the kids of the last couple of decades at least has done no-one any favours by mollycoddling and giving false and misguided precepts about the world and its workings.

Something that has always puzzled me since its inception some years ago is the UK government’s decision to stop all inter school sports activities. The reasoning behind this one was to prevent boy or girl “X” who may, even in this age of PC garbage, be overweight or have little or no interest in any kind of physical pursuits and in the old viewpoint unable to take part competitively with those who did, as it was wrong to compete in this way. When we could quite easily see a similar scenario enacted by the same students where we see boy or girl “X” excelling in academic subjects and yet never having that same viewpoint forced upon them that it was wrong for academic competitiveness. After all, although schools could not compete in physical activities, academically they were expected to, as can be evidenced in the UK’s SAT’s exams and League tables, etc.

If the powers that be have decided to back track on this matter somewhat, and rightly so, then surely the same should be being done with the premise of this Blog and we should be going back to basics, with literacy both educationally and within the comics format.

WE should treat the kids with the respect they deserve as younger versions of ourselves, after all we were all their age once, and allow them to grow and flourish in the subjects they excel in and also to become competent with literacy.

We are living in the 21st century now and as such we should be moving forward, and if to do this we have to look to our past then so be it…after all shouldn’t we be leading by example and learning from our mistakes, rather than handing them over to the kids…?

I look forward to hearing anyone else’s views on the matter.

Until next time have fun!

Tim Perkins…

December13th 2007

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

More “HOT WHEELS” pages…

A look at more comic book pages…

It’s been a while since I worked on any adventure comic books and I have to say, even though the target audience is very young kids I really am having a ball with Ian Rimmer’s scripts. I am not known for drawing cars and the last time I worked on a comic that was all technical stuff like this was during my early days in comics working on Transformers and Zoids.

Anyhow here are a few pages selected from the last two issues, which I thought I would share with you. I have recently finished the artwork on issue 42’s two episodes, which will be on sale soon.

The pages here are, in sequence:

Hot Wheels Issue 40
Picture 01: Solid Gold Page 02

Picture 02: Hammer Time Page 04

Hot Wheels Issue 41
Picture 03: Monster Mayhem Page 02

Picture 04: Chute Out Page 02

I hope you like the work and would love to hear back from you with your comments.

But to see them in all their glory please go out and buy a copy to see all the pages ON SALE NOW!!!

Anyone unable to purchase them from outside the UK let me know and I'll see if I can get them shipped out to you. Postage will be the same as the postage charge for the Limited Edition Sketch books, as that's how they'll be packed to keep them safe!!!

Look out for the next issue with two stories entitled: “Cream Crunch!” and “Buzz Bomb Burn-up!”

Until next time have fun!

Tim Perkins…
December 12th 2007

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Seasons Greetings Everyone

A Fantastic Feast of Festive Freebies from here at Wizards Keep...

Tim Perkins…
December 9th 2007

Friday, December 07, 2007

Jack Kirby’s Mister Miracle: “HIMON”.

A look at the Fourth World pivotal story…

I first saw Jack Kirby’s work when I was around eight years old and from that moment on I was both hooked on his work and also decided on my career path. I didn’t realise at the time that the guy drawing these wonderful stories was Jack, but as I got older I came to realise that this same guy was drawing most of the stuff I liked.

I was never lucky enough to meet the man himself and hoped to do so when I was working in New York for Defiant comics in the mid-nineties. It wasn’t to be, however, but I will be forever in his debt as he showed me and countless others what could be done with the imagination in between the pages of the four colour comic book, through his marvellous work.

When the Fourth World series came out I was again hooked. I was amazed at the fantastic inventiveness and also the deep and sometimes hidden meanings of the storylines. I have heard some folks speak of stilted dialogue and stories TOO full of throwaway ideas.

That was Jack though, he had so many ideas that sometimes he just used one to hint at or make a point, where others would get an entire year’s worth of stories from it. To me, his dialogue perfectly suited the otherworldliness of the New Gods. They didn’t speak as we do and it was due to this that their power was invoked to the reader.

Back then in the seventies there were no such things as the direct sales comic shops and here in the UK we received sporadic copies of comic books at best. One could wander the seaside resorts and inland newsagents over several years to try and complete the series, oftentimes without success.

The Fourth World series, however, meant so much to me as a reader and student of Jack’s work that I would savour the wandering, accompanied by my best friend Paul, in the hope that by walking several miles, on the off chance of finding an issue, the trip would indeed bear fruit.

When I first read Himon back then, as a schoolboy, I was deeply moved by the story. I saw it as a coming-of-age tale and yet something more. The story takes place in issue 9 of the Mister Miracle comic book and begins with a dramatic cover depicting Scott Free attempting to escape through some metal gates, whilst evading a horde of dangerous Para-Demons.

The cover blurbs were:

“The Great Scott Free BUST-OUT!”


“You’ll Never Read a Story Like HIMON!”

The opening scene on Apokolips, where we witness the arrival of Wonderful Willik and his cohort in Armagetto shows the cruelty of Darkseid’s rein. The Lowlies are about to be saved from “infection”, which is almost a synonymous allegory of the incarceration of the Jews in the Second World War. Willik the District Protector does not give Himon the chance to come forward and give himself up and instead kills all of the lowlies to get at the enemy.

When the sole remaining survivor of the flames, Himon speaks condemningly from within them, he tests Willik’s resolve by taunting him to enter them and rely on his secreted Mother Box, something condemned on Apokolips and which Willik should not have about his person. Here Jack shows us the hypocrisy of wartime and how some like to edge their bets.

Metron over several short stories within the Mister Miracle comic books has been shown to drop hints to Scott Free from within the training academy or rather “orphanage” of Granny Goodness’ that he can escape the confines of Apokolips and shows him in these episodes, things forbidden to even dream of there.

In an earlier story from New Gods issue 7 “The Pact” Jack Kirby set up the plotline for this coming event. He has the two leaders of the warring worlds of the New Gods, Izaya of New Genesis and Darkseid of Apokolips formulate a secret pact, which involves the exchanging of heirs.

This means Darkseid’s son Orion will be brought up on New Genesis as one of theirs, whilst Izaya’s son Scott Free will be brought up on the dreary and desolate world of Apokolips. Yet even as the pact is made, Darkseid schemes and prepares for the eventual escape of Scott Free, on which day the pact will be broken and the war will be renewed.

In Mister Miracle issue 9 the story claims that, this is the story of Himon, the Ultimate Escape Artist who fostered Mister Miracle by teaching his trade to Young Scott Free, a title that will be passed over to Scott, as he becomes in turn the Super Escape Artist. In this issue we are constantly made aware that Scott is trying to discover himself and escape.

Within Himon’s lair we find a series of, as Scott describes them, dregs, or misfits. These characters all possess some abilities which connect them to the Source, the power behind the Mother Box technology and the New Gods of New Genesis. All, save one, is able to connect with the Source, his name is, Kreetin. Zep draws on a computo-stylus (and this in 1972) Bravo and Weldun both command high-tech circuitry, whilst one other Auralie, a member of the Female Furies, a crack battalion of female warriors, creates visions that dance.

Whilst the others all are able to use the modern technology, linked to the Source, Jack shows us something special with the female, as Himon tells us; “Auralie’s thoughts are beautiful! She creates beauty! Imagine…doing this on a world like Apokolips!” Himon, as in earlier short stories, shows Scott that there are things other than what Darkseid allows to be seen on this barren world, much like in Scott’s daydreams.

The Female Furies, under the leadership of Big Barda, find Auralie and take her back to the barracks telling everyone, including Scott that they have never seen her. When a further mob appear outside, the Furies disappear, in a hurry and Himon tells the others to Phase-Out and escape the mob. Himon stays, as he knows the mob will kill Kreetin, as his Mother Box circuits do not work, offering himself as long as they let Kreetin go.

Metron then appears to Kreetin and during a brief discussion that shows him in his true light, allows us to see why the Mother Box will never work for him, as Kreetin explains, “My skin sire, is dedicated to Darkseid and his purposes! But, until he claims it, I prize my skin above false gratitude to Himon!! Farewell, sire!” The response says it all “Farewell, Kreetin! For in that truth, you keep a pelt…and forever lose a Mother Box!”

After many failed attempts to execute him, Himon, the master of theories and Scott Free’s mentor, meets with Metron, the master of elements on a gutted slag heap near Armagetto, where they discuss Scott’s future, for it was Metron that appeared to Scott, whilst his fellow officers thought him mad, as he seemingly spoke to the thin air, showing him things and pointing him in the direction of Himon.

Himon’s attempt to save Kreetin is wasted, however, as Wonderful Willik has him brought before him and promptly kills him. The amazing thing that Jack shows here is that Kreetin despite his inability to connect with the source did have a fine talent for building Mother Boxes.

In this analogy we see that sometimes people have the chance to go beyond what they can see or the norm, but fail to do so for a lack of vision or drive. As the dead body is hung with the others of the group on a rack, Scott and Big Barda are brought before Willik, who observes that Scott has grown his hair, something again forbidden to one of Granny Goodness’ male troopers, and suggests he is capable of anything, perhaps even a visit to Himon.

They are next shown Auralie, whom they caught dancing like a pretty doll, for which she was given a pair of high-voltage shock boots. Both Scott and Barda are about to leap on Willik when a waiter carrying Willik’s meal passes them and suddenly they about face and quickly leave the scene, as they are placed under the influence of a mind-lock beam. Willik thinks they have “finked out”, but the reason soon becomes apparent to him as he is blown to smithereens.

Himon then explains his true purpose in this life, as he sees it. “I’m a Dreamer! A Visionary! A “Think-Tank” who pioneered the calculating Mother Box and linked it with the Source! I found the X-Element and pioneered the Boom Tube!…I Dream! I roam the universe! Darkseid wants to own it!!

Dreams and thoughts of escape are reiterated again: “Yes Scott! Darkseid fears you, too! Because, you too can dream of things beyond Darkseid! What is the dream released inside Scott Free?” To which he replies “I-I don’t know…I…think…it’s serenity…embodied in the voice of a woman…I-I cannot see!”

This theme continues as Scott explains further: Always she says…”You know, Izaya,..I’ve never heard you sing…”I-I cannot see the woman! But I’m filled with the serenity she brings!! To which Himon says, “That dream is yours, Scott! Yours!!” And Barda adds, “To dream beyond Darkseid!!! On Apokolips, it seems unthinkable!!”

The woman of Scott’s dreams is his mother, Avia. Izaya was a warrior although this escalated following his wife’s murder, which was instigated by Darkseid, by having his uncle Steppenwolf accidentally kill her. As a warrior Izaya obviously had no time for the niceties of life, such as singing. Again this mirrors the scenarios with Auralie, who makes time for them, only to have them stopped because the joys of life are forbidden as Darkseid searches for the Anti-Life Equation.

Another comparison and link with the pact-lead storyline is when the Para-Demons are attacking Scott as he makes a bid to escape Apokolips. One of the Para-Demons retorts, “AAA! We can’t hold him! He fights like Orion of New Genesis!” To which Scott replies, “Perhaps we share the same desire! Get out of my way!” This is about to be so true, as we see Orion in the New Gods comic fighting for New Genesis with his Mother Box disguising his true self, as far as looks go, but we see his TRUE self as a warrior fighting for the good of New Genesis.

He has made his choice and fights for the forces of good, as Jack portrays them. Scott is almost ready to do the same, as he has found from seeing things in a different perspective. I feel that Jack wanted us to see that no matter what their background, good or bad, the true instinct to do what is right will be found by those that want to find it.

At the very end of the story we see Darkseid appear behind Scott, as he struggles towards a Boom Tube created by Himon with Metron at his side. Darkseid bellows: “ He can take it! I’ll not stop him now! If courage and bravery took him here!…Some of it was mine!”

He goes on: “Stay warrior! Let me complete the destruction of Scott Free…so you may live with the majesty that is the power of Darkseid!” Then adds: “The young fool goes on! He struggles to rise! If he leaves Darkseid, he’ll still find death!”

Himon then speaks: “If he leaves Apokolips, he’ll find the universe!!!

Jack then gives us his punch line to the gag, as Scott yells: “Let me be Scott Free…and find myself!”

With Scott gone from Apokolips, Himon and Metron phase out leaving with the knowledge that the war will renew again. Darkseid knows he must eventually face his true son, Orion in a last battle in Armagetto, but looks to bring it on as he will, in his eyes, eventually shut down the universe to all except the will of Darkseid.

I think that Himon is a wonderful story, which shows us the beauty of dreaming and the imagination. It is the driving force behind mankind’s creative and technological evolution. We can allude to this that by doing so the possibilities for peace are limitless, but so too are the capabilities of war.

Here in the Fourth World stories, as can be said of many of Jack’s other stories, we see opposites and it is in these opposites that we see glimpses of ourselves. Many of today’s comics stories have no such distinctions and the blurring of good and evil, don’t so much act as a reflection of today’s dangerous world, but in fact condone and promote the might means right attitude that was a major factor in the creation of the First World War. Perhaps Jack’s part in the Second World War showed him the real horrors of true conflict and perhaps as creatives we should do the same and act more responsibly and morally in our work.

Darkseid’s rule on Apokolips is the supreme show of Fascism even down to the jack-booting gait of the troops. We are shown the ultimate conclusion of the Fascist regime and belief system, with the outcome in this Fourth World scenario being, “The Anti-Life Equation”, being sought by Darkseid and his minions.

It is true that there can be no dark without light, big without small, far, without near, good without evil, life without death and in the Fourth World of Darkseid’s madness Life without Anti-Life!

I have often wondered about the origins of Himon being named thus. Was it in respect of Hymen, Greek Mythology’s God of Marriage, or was it in reference to a woman’s virginity, or am I indeed just reading too much into it all? Scott Free’s escape from Apokolips signals a new marriage between he and the Source, whose power he will be able to access when set free.

Something else to bear in mind is the fact that Scott is a virgin to the world beyond Darkseid’s vision and so the name in either case is apt. Jack had used other names like Izaya with it’s biblical connotations as well in the Fourth World stories, so it could be that he wanted to utilise existing names from mythologies and use them in a slightly updated form here with the New Gods.

I think that one of the reasons that it has had such a profound effect on me is due to the meaning I got from the story. The last sentence issued by Scott Free just before he leaps into the Boom Tube to head to Earth “Let me be Scott Free and find myself!” is something that is important to me as an artist, existing alongside another significant quotation taken from James Joyce’s book The Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man: “When the soul of a man is born in this country there are nets flung at it to hold it back from flight...I shall try to fly by those nets.”

Both of these have meant a lot to me in my search for my artistic goals and identity. I wasn’t able to think like this until a few years ago when I too decided to take a grip on my life and control it, rather than have it control me. Jack may not have meant the words in the way I have interpreted them, but their effect on me is no less for not knowing if this is the intended meaning or not.

I can only thank Jack posthumously for the insight into my own artistic endeavours through this wonderful piece of work.

Tim Perkins.

December 7th 2007

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Pickwick Night…

A look at tonight’s “Christmas Event” here in Whalley in the UK…

As I mentioned last weekend tonight will see me attending the annual Pickwick evening in Whalley here in the UK, whereby all the folks in the local shops and lots of charity stands, get togged up in Dickens costumes to sell their wares for charity. I have been going along with my Mum and dad for a good number of years.

It’s going to be great fun, full of Christmas lights and aromas of mince pies, candyfloss, sweets, steak and onions, and mulled wine and Christmas spices will fill the senses with delight. I’ll try to take some photos for a Blog over the weekend.

I’ll be taking my yearly look at the UK’s answer to the Griswold’s Family Christmas in National Lampoon Christmas Vacation.

If the weather is just right then it will feel even more Christmassy.

One year in particular, as I said in my earlier Blog, it snowed lightly all evening and was just perfect.

Please don’t forget, if any of you guys are in the area, just look for Scrooge and a kindly lady and gentleman and stop me and my Mum and Dad to have a chat…

Just to remind you all, this year I am going to try to make it interesting for you, because if you find me, I’ll do you a free sketch, and I’ll give the money you would have spent to the charity usually supported by my brother Chris and his wife, you heard that here first. And to help you in this endeavour I will be wearing a black Defiant Cap from my days working out in New York for Jim Shooter’s Defiant Comics.

T-minus 19 days and counting guys…

And don’t forget to have a look at the Wizards Keep Website for some special offers open throughout the season until the 1st of January, inclusive.

Now then where’s that other glass of mulled wine got to…?

Until next time have fun!

Tim Perkins…

December 6th 2007

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Toxl The World Killer…

A look at Jack Kirby’s pivotal story…

Back in the early seventies Jack Kirby’s arrangement with DC or National as they were still known as then was such that he was expected to not just create as many concepts and ideas for stories and characters as his imagination could create, but also to come up with new formats for telling them.

His first foray into this was to create “In the Days of the Mob” and “Spirit World”, two magazine format magazines. Unfortunately DC saw fit to publish these with a one-colour tint instead of the full colour as envisioned by Jack himself.

The former of the two told stories about gangsters and Jack had a great feel for this kind of story, having grown up during the mob days as a young boy and man, although he was best known for his “Cosmic Epics”. A photo of the young man Kirby looks for all the world like a Young Jimmy Cagney.

The second of the two books told tales of the supernatural, not blood and guts horror, but ghostly, weird tales, more in tune with X-Files than Halloween.

The trouble with the format was where the newsstand could place them. They didn’t fit alongside the regular comics and were better positioned with the magazines, but this meant a lot of the regular comic book readership went without copies, unable to find them and those that saw the books, outside of the comic book world were unable to make out what the magazines were meant to be. Added to this was the incredibly bad distribution, which meant entire states went without copies, which was hardly conducive to selling product.

The books were sadly cancelled after the first issues saw publication. They utilised Jack’s normal comic work, inked by Vince Colletta, Collage work utilising photomontage, and funetti (photo-stories resembling comic books, with captions and word balloons). The books were anthologies, telling several different self-contained stories.

There were still completed stories “Spirit World” to find accommodation for, however and these would see publication in the first three issues of “Weird Mystery Tales”.

The best of these stories for me has always been ”Toxl The World Killer”. There was something about the whole concept, the story and the power of the drawings. It finally appeared in Weird Mystery Tales Issue #2 cover dated September – October 1972 and was priced at 20 cents for 36 pages.

Toxl was a 12 page mini self-contained epic and was pencilled by Jack with inks by his regular inker at the time Mike Royer. It was conceived during a plotting session with Jack and his then assistant, Mark Evanier.

In Mark’s own words: "I wrote 'Toxl, it was a plot we worked on together. It was very strange: He just threw it at me one day. I wrote an outline, which he didn't follow, and then he gave it to me to dialogue - it was the one time I ever dialogued for Jack over his pencils. I wrote it in his style and he changed a few lines here and there."

The story is narrated, as were all the Spirit World stories by Dr Maas, a Para-psychologist, a character along the lines of a Mulder, but older and very educated.

The basic concept behind the story is that if an invading race of people that have created a huge factory known as “The Plant”, which spews forth pollution into the skies around where Toxl and his tribe live. It shows an amazing juxtaposition of the technologically advance race within the confines of “The Plant”, with little concern for the damage to the environment and that of the barbarians living outside.

The story opens with the reader being introduced to an artefact by the aforementioned Dr Maas and a theory. The second and third pages contain what I consider to be one of Jack Kirby’s finest double page spreads. The image has stayed with me since I first saw it back in 1972. In it we see “The Plant” in the background spewing forth plumes of pollution. Toxl and some of his tribe watch as some tribal musicians play music for a handful of females, also from their tribe, as they dance seductively before a couple of armed guards from the plant.

With the guards engrossed in the movements of the women Toxl makes his move deciding that now the show ends, killing the guards and taking the “Key”, holding it above his head triumphantly like he would if it were a weapon. In Jack’s words, “A Key in certain hands, is a weapon in itself…”

The tribe have obviously been frustrated by the actions of those within The Plant and now seek to right these wrongs. They begin to attack The Plant heading for, in Toxl’s words The Hell-Pit. Against what should be insurmountable odds Toxl and his people break into The Plant.

All throughout the story we can see a sharp contrast between the technological people and Toxl’s people, both in dress and in attitude. The people inside The Plant are aloof with a total disregard for Toxl’s people and the planet itself, whereas Toxl and his kind show a foresight and need to preserve what the planet offers. Entering a room with a glass floor, below which we see the flames of the furnace, which is the internal magma of the planet, Toxl pulls back his weapon and drives his blade deep into the what he perceives as a Demon, unknowingly causing a great cataclysm.

In his words, “ They destroyed our land…we shall destroy their soul!”

The penultimate page is a splash page of a world’s destruction and has one of the greatest Jack Kirby explosions that I ever saw him draw. You can almost hear the explosion, that is drawn sans SFX lettering.

Dr Maas then leaves us with a few questions:

How often has this cycle been repeated?

Is the story of Toxl purest fantasy, as the cataclysm theory is not?

Would the artefact in full working order be able to not just pull a small metal box across a table, but in actual fact open a magnetic lock?

His parting words to the reader:

“Something out of the future, but it comes form the past!”

“Or…is the entire episode out of our future?”

The story ends as they did in the Weird Mystery Tales comic books with a monologue from Destiny, a cowled character along the lines of the Creep-show host or Warren Comics’ Cousins Creepy and Eerie, who tells the reader:

“I know the answer…for I am Destiny! But I prefer to let you decide for yourself whether Dr Maas’ theory is true…or false! Think it over…for this world is much like Toxl’s…with stone-age men in one corner of the Earth, while other men go to the Moon!”

If you have never seen the story of Toxl, go out and grab a copy of Weird Mystery Tales Issue #2, it really does have some of Jack Kirby’s most beautiful storytelling and is so incredibly well drawn with all that is synonymous with Kirby’s work: Power, Majesty and Dynamism on an epic scale.

It truly is one of the finest of Jack’s stories of all-time as far as I am concerned. Short but concise and shows a great insight into the world of global warming in which we live today and shows also a close relationship to the peoples of our planet, much like Toxl’s…The money people, that could do something about the pollution if they really wanted to and those folk who know simply that things cannot go on for long like this without the same inevitability of Toxl’s outcome coming about, with or without a Toxl there to try to stop things.

Maybe a copy of Jack’s story should be sent to every leader and politician on the planet Earth…to see if it makes any difference…or are we heading for a cataclysm…just like Jack foretold…?

Until next time have fun!

Tim Perkins…

December 4th 2007

Monday, December 03, 2007

Jack Kirby’s Fourth World Omnibus Volume 3…

The Penultimate Book in the series!!!

This book in the series contains the last of the Jimmy Olsen comics and some of my favourite Forth World stories. It contains stories such as “The Pact” – which Jack, himself always claimed to be his favourite story, “The Power”, “The Death Wish of Terrible Turpin”, “The Battle of the Id”, “The Bug”, and my all time favourite, along with the aforementioned The Pact, “Himon”.

Well the third volume of this wonderful series arrived a few days ago and once again it’s just like being a kid all over again. The Art is again dynamic, powerful and full of energy. The epic, cosmic stories are even more massive in scope, engaging and full of wonder. The evidence of the limitless imagination of Jack Kirby is once more self-evident here, as he throws new ideas and concepts about with a nonchalant ease.

The book again contains stories from all four “Fourth World” books:

Superman’s Pal – The “New” Jimmy Olsen
The Forever People
The New Gods
Mister Miracle

There is a foreword by author Glen David Gold and another afterword by one-time Kirby assistant Mark Evanier. There is also a section at the rear of the book showcasing jack’s original pencils to some of this volume’s work, so you can compare them to the inked versions.

There are some wonderful stories here in this second volume and once more I would advise anyone, who hasn’t yet purchased one to do so.

I for one cannot wait until volume four arrives, although it will be a time tinged with a little sadness too, as the stories regarding these characters will the last that were worked on by Jack.

What an incredible and “must have” series of books though to have in a collection, especially for any students of comic book storytelling.

If you haven’t already go out and buy the series NOW!!!

Later this week I have a couple of other Blogs regarding the work of Jack Kirby. One on "Himon", and the other on "Toxl The World Killer".

Until next time have fun!

Tim Perkins…
December 3rd 2007