Spotlight On Jack Kirby

The collection development bug has bitten me thanks to my getting to help spend down the last of our yearly book budget.  I loved that I was actually asked to help because of of geek credentials.  In the end I orderd a ton of graphic novels, filled in the significant f&sf books from the last year, put together a small collection of noir classics on dvd, and even got to order a bunch of art books.  And now it’s time to share my expertise in what I think is going to be a regular feature here.

There’s only one person I could think of to start off a creator spotlight, and that is Jack “the King” Kirby.  Kirby is probably the single most important artist in the history of American comics.  He’s credited with co-creating Captain America, Thor, The X-Men, the Fantastic Four and too many others to bother naming here.  As an artist he revolutionized the field, as a writer he was decades ahead of his time (just not his dialogue).

The reason Kirby’s been on my mind recently is that DC has been releasing his 70’s works for them in some beautiful new editions, with meticulously restored art.  The Fourth World, OMAC, and the Demon are major works of pop art.  The only problem with them is that they were all cancelled and so they all remain unfinished.  OMAC is probably the worst for this, considering that at the end of issue 8 everyone explodes in order to tie up the loose ends.  But the imagination on display in all of these puts every writer to have come since to shame.

However, I would only recommend these to a library with a sizable graphic novel collection.  For more modest ones I would stick with Kirby’s work at Marvel in the 60’s, particularly his runs on the Fantastic Four and Thor.  I actually really like the black and white essential editions Marvel has put out of these, Kirby’s pencils look really good uncolored, just be warned that these copies are cheaply made so you can expect to reglue pages periodically.  Full color, hardcover editions exist as well, but they are marketed as collector’s items, and carry much higher price tags because of that.

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