Kirb Your Enthusiasm (10)
By: Greg Rowland | Categories: Popular, Read-outs

Tenth in a series of posts, each one analyzing a single panel from a Jack Kirby-drawn comic book.

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1. The Secret Origin of Jack Kirby

In a time before time, when Dreams and Reality merged in the Quasi-Meta-Space of the Kosmic Hub, let us witness a gathering of The Kreators!

Thus did The Kreators form the fulcrum of Quasi-Meta-Space! Thus did The Kreators deny the very forces of time and space itself! For most loath were they to see The Tyranny of Reality destroy the wondrous Kosmic Hub.

Yet the Time of Times was fast approaching, and even The Kreators could do little to deny the baleful onslaught of linear temporality! And thus did The Kreators fashion that which was named The Kirby Kradle — a depository of wonders, dreams and impossibilities soon to be lost to the dismal dawning of bleak reality!

This Pop-Platonic edifice of pure Kosmic Konsciousness found physical form on Earth in the early 20th Century, in a human host whom men came to call Jack Kirby! Lo, the Kirby prophecy was upon us!

Kirby’s Kosmic Kreations hid in plain sight, in the humble form of comic books! This was The Test! Those fearless few that found themselves obsessed, enthralled and imbued with Kirby Konsciousness were blessed indeed. For it is they, the Keepers of Kosmic Konsciousness who shall fashion the nexus of a new Kirby Kradle! And so, even as men in old-fashioned trilby hats point helplessly at the sky, the Day of The Kirby Krackle will be upon us!

Thus shall The Kreators erupt to Meta-Life once more, breaking the tyrannical boundaries between dreams and reality, sowing the seeds of Kirby’s Kosmic Konsciousness throughout the galaxy, and far, far beyond….

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2. This panel, from Fantastic Four #94 (January 1970). That face. That wonderful face. That nutty suit, so wonderfully wrong in so many ways. Yet a joy so overwhelmingly energetic, wherein the familiar trope of “Clobberin’ Time” becomes an image of impossible surprise and joy. A reaction so sudden, so unbridled, that Crystal and Johnny seem almost to fear Ben’s response as a potential moment of chaos and orange-rock hysteria.

But instead these are the outstretched arms of the proud Yiddish Uncle. The Thing has just been told that Reed and Sue’s baby’s middle-name will be ‘Benjamin.’ This is therefore the expansive joy of the American Jew/Orange Rock Monster who has found social acceptance on a deeply personal level.

Kirby was ten years old when the outstretched arms of The Jazz Singer announced one of the high points in the history of Jewish-American techno-schmaltz, and, like Ben’s, Jolson’s hands plead as much as they greet. So this panel represents The Thing’s desire, above everything else, to be loved and accepted, rocks and all. Benjy and Kirby, inseparable in many ways, remind us that the sign of The Outsider’s Outstretched Arms should always be greeted with warmth, delight and an unconditional acceptance. Unless it’s Doctor Doom or someone like that.

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CHECK OUT “Cosmic Debris: Kirby in the ’70s,” a series running in tandem with “Kirb Your Enthusiasm” at the 4CP gallery of comic book details | Kirby cutaways and diagrams collected at the Comic Book Cartography gallery | Joe Alterio’s Cablegate Comix and HiLobrow posts about comics and cartoonists, and science fiction | The Jack Kirby Chronology | scans of rare 1940-50s Kirby comics at the Digital Comic Museum | Joshua Glenn on the New Gods generation

POSTS IN THIS SERIES: Douglas Rushkoff on THE ETERNALS | John Hilgart on BLACK MAGIC | Gary Panter on DEMON | Dan Nadel on OMAC | Deb Chachra on CAPTAIN AMERICA | Mark Frauenfelder on KAMANDI | Jason Grote on MACHINE MAN | Ben Greenman on SANDMAN | Annie Nocenti on THE X-MEN | Greg Rowland on THE FANTASTIC FOUR | Joshua Glenn on TALES TO ASTONISH | Lynn Peril on YOUNG LOVE | Jim Shepard on STRANGE TALES | David Smay on MISTER MIRACLE | Joe Alterio on BLACK PANTHER | Sean Howe on THOR | Mark Newgarden on JIMMY OLSEN | Dean Haspiel on DEVIL DINOSAUR | Matthew Specktor on THE AVENGERS | Terese Svoboda on TALES OF SUSPENSE | Matthew Wells on THE NEW GODS | Toni Schlesinger on REAL CLUE | Josh Kramer on THE FOREVER PEOPLE | Glen David Gold on JOURNEY INTO MYSTERY | Douglas Wolk on 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY | MORE EXEGETICAL COMMENTARIES: Joshua Glenn on Kirby’s Radium Age Sci-Fi Influences | Chris Lanier on Kirby vs. Kubrick | Scott Edelman recalls when the FF walked among us | Adam McGovern is haunted by a panel from THE NEW GODS | Matt Seneca studies the sensuality of Kirby’s women | Danny Fingeroth figgers out The Thing |

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Greg Rowland used to write for The Idler and The Observer, but now has numerous commercial interests across the globe. He lives in London with his wife and children.