What Jack Kirby proposed for the plaques on the Pioneer space probes

By way of the Daily Grail comes this fascinating bit of Pioneer spacecraft history. Kirby was among the artist asked to submit ideas for the plaques to be flown on the Pioneer 10 and 11 space probes, launched in the early 1970s. Kirby's submission was vastly different than the very literal pictogram designed by Frank Drake, Carl Sagan, and Linda Salzman-Sagan and flown on the missions. Jack was not comfortable with the idea of giving some future Galactus GPS directions to our house.

I would have included no further information than a rough image of the Earth and its one moon. I see no wisdom in the eagerness to be found and approached by any intelligence with the ability to accomplish it from any sector of space. In the meetings between ‘discoverers’ and ‘discoverees,’ history has always given the advantage to the finders. In the case of the Jupiter (Pioneer) plaque, I feel that a tremendous issue was thoughtlessly taken out of the world forum by a few individuals who have marked a clear trail to our door.

My point is, who will come a-knocking – the trader or the tiger?

In describing his approach to the art he submitted, he wrote:

It appears to me that man’s self image has always spoken far more about him than does his reality-figure. My vision of the plaque would have revealed the exuberant, self-confident super visions with which we’ve clothed ourselves since time immemorial. The comic strip super-heroes and heroines, in my belief, personify humanity’s innate idealism and drive

Personally, I don't think we want "underwear perverts" (as Warren Ellis has called spandex supers) representing us, but you've got to love the idea of communicating "exuberant, self-confident super visions" of ourselves. Read the rest

Superman paint-by-number

Superman Fights Robot.

"Note: For all flesh tones, use orange color no. 5 very lightly."

[via] Read the rest

Super Graphic: A Visual Guide to the Comic Book Universe

See sample pages from this book at Wink.

Super Graphic: A Visual Guide to the Comic Book Universe

by Tim Leong

Chronicle Books

2013, 196 pages, 7.4 x 9.4 x 0.6 inches (softcover)

$20 Buy a copy on Amazon

How has Superman’s logo changed shape since it was first created in 1938? How long do comic book characters tend to stay dead? How do the populations of fictional cities compare to New York City or London? Tim Leong’s Super Graphic: A Visual Guide to the Comic Book Universe uses bright maps, word webs, graphs, and flowcharts to answer questions like these and illustrate correlations among different comic book characters. Most of his information comes from the usual Marvel and DC superhero comic books, but he also analyzes information from such classics as Tin-Tin, Peanuts, and Archie comics.

The smartest graphs show Leong’s skill for bringing together information into succinct visuals, such as the charts showing that superheroes tend to wear primary colors while supervillains tend to wear secondary colors. Other spreads draw information from the comic book business or affiliated merchandise. For example, some infographics discuss which demographics reads comic books, which characters won most often in Marvel Universe Trading Card Series, and which comic book writers are the most prolific. Still other pages use the graphs to make sight-gags without providing any insight or trivia. These pages, such as the graph entitled “A Personal History of Saying ‘Good Grief’” which is drawn as the pattern on Charlie Brown’s shirt, are briefly amusing but not the pages to study. Read the rest

Kickstarting a new edition of Villains & Vigilantes, a superhero RPG

I discovered Villains and Vigilantes in 1982, with the publication of the game's second edition, and 11-year-old me played it like a fiend; I still remember long hours of designing costumes on the super-cool character sheets that came with the game (we'd sneak into the school office and run off more of these from blanks; ditto for hex-ruled paper for Car Wars and all the best stories from that month's Isaac Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine). Read the rest