Born in 1917 as Jacob Kurtzberg, Jack Kirby is recognized as the most important person in comic book history. One could make a good argument that the title belongs to Carl Barks, Robert Crumb, Stan Lee, or Wally Wood. They are all inarguably giants of the comic book world. But take a look at the characters Kirby created or co-created over a career that spanned nearly 50 years: Captain America, Sandman, The Fantastic Four, Thor, The Incredible Hulk, Iron Man, Ant-Man, The Avengers, The X-Men, and the Silver Surfer. Who else can boast of such a star-studded stable of comic book characters, all of whom are global household names? Only Kirby!
My favorite Kirby character is one of his less well-known creations, at least among the non-comic-book-reading public. I was 12 years old when I discovered Kamandi in early 1973 at a friend’s house in Boulder, Colorado. He had the first three issues of the comic. The first issue’s cover showed Kamandi paddling a life raft through a flooded and abandoned New York, with the Statue of Liberty tilted like the tower of Pisa. It was a rip-off from the ending of Planet of the Apes, the 1968 movie that was (and still is) one of my favorite films. Nevertheless, the image was powerful and exciting. I opened the comic book and started reading.
I read all three issues twice that afternoon, sprawled on my friend’s living room floor. It was the greatest thing I’d ever read. Kamandi was a teenager, the last surviving human on a post apocalyptic Earth now under the control of different animal species that behaved, dressed, and walked like humans: dogs, tigers, wolves, rats, lions, and apes. Kamandi wandered from place to place, fighting for his life, trying to survive in a world filled with “beasts that act like men!” and “men that act like beasts!”
Before Kamandi, I didn’t really like comics. After Kamandi, comics became the most important thing in my life for years. They are still important to me, and Jack Kirby is still my favorite comic book artist and writer.
This book contains scans of the original art from six early issues of Kamandi: 1, 2, 5, 6, 7 and 9, along with the covers and some pencil sketches. The art is reproduced full-size, as Kirby drew it, which is why the book measures 12 x 17 inches. The book is part of IDW’s fantastic Artist’s Edition library, which features high-quality scans of original comic book art. From IDW’s web site:
While appearing to be in black & white, each page has been scanned in COLOR to mimic as closely as possible the experience of viewing the actual original art—for example, you are able to clearly see paste-overs, blue pencils in the art, editorial notes, art corrections. Each page is printed the same size as drawn, and the paper selected is as close as possible to the original art board.
The photos here show how large this book is compared to the comic book. (I bought this copy of Kamandi in 1973, the day after I read the comics at my friend’s house, from Mile Hi Comics in Boulder. When I was 16 I met Kirby and he autographed the issue on the front page.) It was a treat to re-read these and see details of the art for the first time. Going through this, I re-experienced the excitement of reading Kamandi on my friend’s living room floor all those ago.
Kamandi: The Last Boy on Earth – Artist’s Edition
by Jack Kirby
2015, 160 pages, 12 x 17 x 1 inches
$100 Buy a copy on IDW
Superhero movies are nothing new (Superman, Batman, Spiderman...) but they began to snowball in 2000, after the success of X-Men. And with the growing trend of comic book box office hits, manic studios are now juggling 51 comic book films, expected to be released between July 2015 to the year 2020. At the front of the queue is next month's Ant-Man, followed by The Fantastic Four on August 7th of this year in the U.S. Others coming up in the next 12 months include Marvel's Deadpool, Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice, and Captain America: Civil War. Read the complete list, along with synopses and dates, at Den of Geek.
For that college student who wants to ban non-Batman comics: we've got your Batman comics right here
"I expected Batman and Robin, not pornography." For Crafton Hills College student Tara Shultz who was expecting to bone up on Batman and Robin instead of being forced to read four award-winning graphic novels that offended her, we are happy to provide this cheat sheet of some of the Dynamic Duo's finest moments!
Another quote from Tara Shultz: "At most I would like the books eradicated from the system. I don’t want them taught anymore. I don’t want anyone else to have to read this garbage."
The kamisama of manga. The Japanese Disney. The godfather of anime. Tezuka-san has had many labels bestowed upon him both before and after his untimely death, but very few do justice to his contributions to a truly transatlantic medium, one which has dramatically surged in popularity in the last decade.
A doyen of over 500 individual print titles and scores of feature films, his creations – numbering amongst them the maverick doctor of Black Jack, the epic treatise on immortality Phoenix (Hi no Tori), and the all-conquering, sci-fi inflected Pinocchio retelling of Astro Boy (Mighty Atom) – are adventurous, topical, riotously funny and fundamentally human.
Part biography, part showcase of a lifetime spent in creative abandon, author Helen McCarthy traces his early inspiration drawn from Disney's wide-eyed characters – a look that would define manga's similarly neotenous bent – to a public, if officially unacknowledged repayment in the form of Kimba The White Lion re-imagining The Lion King. Packaged with a DVD of Tezuka at work, and a relief cover of the aforementioned Mighty Atom, Osamu Tezuka: The God Of Manga is a compelling and comprehensive work. – Nick Parton
The Art of Osamu Tezuka: God of Manga
by Helen McCarthy (author) and Osamu Tezuka (illustrator)
Harry N. Abrams
2009, 272 pages, 9 x 12.2 x 1 inches
$25 Buy a copy on Amazon
From the Dr. Bronner school of illustration: Journey Into Unknown Worlds #36, September 1950. Artist: Russ Heath.
Read the rest
Read the rest
Last night I went to Meltdown comics in Hollywood to interview Daniel Clowes, the creator of Eightball, which is one of my favorite comic book series (check out the amazing new 25th anniversary slipcase edition of Eightball!). The room was packed, and Dan shared hilarious anecdotes about his career as a comic book artist and screenwriter (Ghost World, Art School Confidential). He could have had a career as a low-key standup comic in the vein of Bob Newhart.
Dan talked about his surreal experience with Shia LaBeouf, who plagiarized one of Dan's stories and issued a bunch of plagiarized fauxpologies. He also shared details about the upcoming movie Wilson, based on his graphic novel. Dan wrote the screenplay and it will star Woody Harrelson and Laura Dern.
Below are some photos from last night's event as well as a link to my 2012 interview with Dan at Meltdown. (I'm wearing the same shirt! Hahaha.)
It’s hard to imagine what contemporary culture would be like without the existence of the comic, graphic novel, and low-brow art publishers Last Gasp, Fantagraphics, and Canada’s small press darling, Drawn & Quarterly. In Drawn & Quarterly: Twenty-five Years, D&Q are given their due. This lavish doorstopper of a book contains numerous historical essays about the company, with lots of great photos, a timeline, reminiscences, interviews, and more. The rest of the book is mainly comprised of full strips and excerpts from some of the many award-winning and pathbreaking comics and graphic novels that D&Q has published over the past quarter century. Some rarely-seen comics are included. Peppered throughout are appreciation essays from the likes of Jonathan Lethem and Margaret Atwood along with many artists appreciating the fellow creators of the delightful devil’s picture books known as comics. Artists featured in the collection include Seth, Julie Doucet, Chris Ware, Adrian Tomine, Lynda Barry, Chester Brown, Peter Kuper, Tom Gauld, Daniel Clowes, Anders Nilsen, Ariel Bordeaux, and dozens more.
Again, imagine for a minute a world in which the work of these talented artists had never reached the masses, and how far less rich, interesting, and strange our world would be as a result. Congrats to Drawn & Quarterly for bringing these artists to us, for celebrating 25 years of beautiful high weirdness, and for producing this impressive and yummy book. The ink smell of it alone will make a book nerd’s eyes roll back in her head.
Professional toy designer Ryan Whearty has come up with several cool 3D designs featuring the Meltdown Comics mascot, which was designed by cartoonist Daniel Clowes. To celebrate the Daniel Clowes book launch event at Meltdown in Los Angeles on June 5th, the store is inviting owners of 3D printers to bring their machines to the store and participate in a group toy-printing session.
If you'd like to participate, send email to email@example.com.
Seconds - a humorous graphic novel about a mushroom that allows a young chef to “revise” her mistakes with unexpected consequences
If you had the power to erase your mistakes, what would you do? Would you change big things, little things? How about every single seemingly insignificant thing you did today? That’s the question in Seconds, when Katie, a young chef aspiring to own her own restaurant, discovers a magical mushroom that allows her to “revise” her mistakes. Immediately she uses the power to course correct every aspect of her life, from arguments with friends to bad business decisions. As you’ve probably guessed, things quickly spiral out of control, often in humorous ways.
The book itself is pretty; the full-color artwork is drawn in a style similar to the Scott Pilgrim cartoony-ness that made author Bryan Lee O’Malley famous. The pages have a painted quality and the panels are bordered with a ton of white space on the top and bottom so you can never forget that you’re reading a book. This design feels thematically important to the story, as Katie is constantly forced to question her reality and we are constantly reminded that the story isn’t “real.” A handful of full page illustrations creep in to surprise you with how awesome they look: the two-pager of the Seconds basement is something I would hang on a wall. The book has a cool hardcover design with a dust jacket that interestingly does not cover the entire book, making this a great addition to any bookshelf. – Alex Strine
There is a certain novelty in trying to leaf through a book that is bigger and heavier than the coffee table it rests on. Thankfully, the hernia is worth it, with Marvel teaming up with Taschen and putting out a gorgeous repository of comic book history guided by Marvel Comics veteran, Roy Thomas. The book thankfully takes advantage of its massive size, reprinting iconic scenes from Marvel’s history in the original large format that artists draw their pages. This allows the reader to be able to enjoy the details hitherto not possible, especially for those images from older issues which suffered from poor production and printing processes. Definitely a purchase well worth it for anyone who is interested in seeing how much the company has changed over these past 75 years. However, you should be warned that the information within is so engrossing that loss of blood-flow to your legs may happen thanks to the mighty book’s weight! – Ahmed Bhuiyan