Or, KIRBY is HERE – 40 years old this month...
Well as regular readers of this humble Blog of mine will know Jack Kirby was the reason I was determined to become a comic artist, when I first saw his
wonderful work back in the mists of time known as the 60’s.
It is forty years this month that Kirby was here, as it says in the header title of his first 70’s work for DC Comics, when he unleashed his Fourth World Saga upon an unsuspecting world, heralding the way for his new concepts of warring gods. Introducing the world to The Whizz Wagon, The Hairies, The Outsiders, The Zoomway and The Mountain of Judgement to name but a few of the concepts in this comic, but the world would have to wait until the next issue before Jack unleashed his new ultimate villain - Darkseid.
By the time I reached secondary (high) school I was about to be blown away with a new concept and direction for the work of my favourite comics creator. It was actually this second issue, #134, which was my first introductory look at the new series, which was to lay the initial groundwork for this rich tapestry of stories, which were far ahead of their time in scope and execution and would see the launch of New Gods, Forever People and Mister Miracle to the ranks.
From the very moment I saw and marvelled at the art and then read the incredibly imaginative story, as an eleven-year old school boy, I was hooked and eager to see and read more.
That first issue was shown to me by my best friend, Paul and is the butt of many a joke, over the comics by, which I swapped and obtained the new Kirby comic and that day and the succeeding ones, as I sought out and bought consequent issues of all the Fourth World series were to be the inspiration to continue in my aspirations in my career choice.
It would be some years in the future before I finally obtained the preceding issue #133.
It seems incredible that it is now forty years ago this month that the highly imaginative and prolific Jack Kirby first unleashed his concept upon the worlds of comicdom. It was to set a precedent that has not been matched since, although it has been emulated and regurgitated many, many times since.
It predates any of the cross-over events, it was the first series to run continually across several titles, all inter-related and yet at the same time allowing each to exist as stand-alone titles, each with its own identity and yet encompassed by the threads of a tale of epic proportions.
Back in 1970 comics had seen nothing like what Jack was now unravelling each month for DC comics from his new California home. He had left New York and Marvel comics behind him and the story he had wanted to produce back in his Mighty Thor days, when he was plotting the majority of stories for Tales of Asgard, which would follow on from the aftermath of Ragnarok, the twilight of the gods, when the end of the world, including the demise of the Norse god pantheon, would herald the birth of a new race of gods from the ashes of the final war of the old.
Despite the series never getting Jack the acclaim, outside of comic circles, which should have been his, the fact the concept and characters continue to be used reprinted and merchandised by DC comics forty years later show just how successful the saga really was and continues to be.
Jack’s epic tale has been an influence to generations of comics creators and although it can be argued the success of the superhero comic as set out by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby and continued in his Fourth World saga has helped to put comics into a very small niche genre nowadays, it is surely down to the consecutive generations creators that merely copied and emulated their heroes’ stories, rather than invigorate new life into comics by doing what Jack did by inventing new genres.
This has been done to such a degree that we now have a comic buying public who cannot and will not accept much outside of this genre.
Back in August 1970, however, Jack’s Fourth World series took another look, yet again, at the genre of cosmic powered characters and reinvigorated the genre of superheroes with his own way of looking at such characters in their true sense, as latter day gods, new gods for a new generation of reader and in so doing made it inevitable in my eyes that I followed this same path and became a comic creator.
Perhaps now is the time and I have blogged about this several times during my Blog’s existence here that we see new inventiveness, which will invigorate the industry just like Jack did forty years ago this month.
So, without further ado, let me just say...
Happy Birthday Jimmy, welcome to the Fourth World and most of all...
Until next time, have fun!
October 1st 2010
Leo Baxendale 1930 - 2017
2 days ago