Kirb Your Enthusiasm (18)

By: Dean Haspiel
March 3, 2011

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

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Click on image for larger version. Click on that image to zoom in.

I only own one original piece of Jack Kirby art [inked by Mike Royer] and it is page 19 from Devil Dinosaur #4 (July 1978), a short-lived Marvel Comic series about the first human boy and his pet dinosaur. Alas, neither of the lead characters are featured on this page but, even when Kirby was writing a transitional scene, he couldn’t help but flex hyperbole.

This panel in particular engrosses me. I dig the way Kirby graphically presents the clash of transition. The organisms of the old in conflict with the technology of the new while commenting on the state of the future. A world wide war. Kirby was fascinated with the twilight of the future while honoring the wisdom, heartbreaks, and history of the past. My favorite comic book authors are masters who write with their art; creating a unique and personal storytelling calligraphy.

Despite some of his outlandish yet oft times super prescient concepts [Ego the living planet, The Silver Surfer, Galactus, The Negative Zone, The Power of HIM, OMAC, Mother Box, and “The Source,” to name a few], Jack Kirby knew it was a priority to entertain while delivering emotional truths. He didn’t seem so concerned with the wiring of plausibility but more with the nuts and bolts of what makes us tick. And, with that in mind, Kirby cleaned our clocks with his big ideas and made them attainable for young boys and girls to grasp and mull over. Kirby made people think in ways that could ignite the atoms of genius and melt lesser minds.

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2011: KIRB YOUR ENTHUSIASM (Jack Kirby panels): 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 | Btoom! Rob Steibel settles the Jack Kirby vs. Stan Lee question | Galactus Lives! Rob Steibel analyzes a single Kirby panel in six posts | Danny Fingeroth figgers out The Thing | Adam McGovern on four decades (so far) of Kirby’s “Fourth World” mythos | Jack Kirby: Anti-Fascist Pipe Smoker

ALSO ON HILOBROW: Joe Alterio’s Cablegate Comix | HiLobrow posts about comics and cartoonists | HiLobrow posts about science fiction | The New Gods generation

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2014: KERN YOUR ENTHUSIASM (typefaces): Matthew Battles on ALDINE ITALIC | Adam McGovern on DATA 70 | Sherri Wasserman on TORONTO SUBWAY | Sarah Werner on JOHNSTON’S “HAMLET” | Douglas Wolk on TODD KLONE | Mark Kingwell on GILL SANS | Joe Alterio on AKZIDENZ-GROTESK | Suzanne Fischer on CALIFORNIA BRAILLE | Gary Panter on SHE’S NOT THERE | Deb Chachra on FAUX DEVANAGARI | Peggy Nelson on FUTURA | Tom Nealon on JENSON’S ROMAN | Rob Walker on SAVANNAH SIGN | Tony Leone on TRADE GOTHIC BOLD CONDENSED NO. 20 | Chika Azuma on KUMON WORKSHEET | Chris Spurgeon on ELECTRONIC DISPLAY | Amanda French on DIPLOMA REGULAR | Steve Price on SCREAM QUEEN | Alissa Walker on CHICAGO | Helene Silverman on CHINESE SHIPPING BOX | Tim Spencer on SHATTER | Jessamyn West on COMIC SANS | Whitney Trettien on WILKINS’S REAL CHARACTER | Cintra Wilson on HERMÈS vs. HOTDOG | Jacob Covey on GOTHAM.

2013: HERC YOUR ENTHUSIASM (old-school hip hop tracks): Luc Sante on “Spoonin’ Rap” | Dallas Penn on “Rapper’s Delight” | Werner Von Wallenrod on “Rappin’ Blow” | DJ Frane on “The Incredible Fulk” | Paul Devlin on “The Adventures of Super Rhyme” | Phil Dyess-Nugent on “That’s the Joint” | Adam McGovern on “Freedom” | David Abrams on “Rapture” | Andrew Hultkrans on “The New Rap Language” | Tim Carmody on “Jazzy Sensation (Bronx Version)” | Drew Huge on “Can I Get a Soul Clap” | Oliver Wang on “The Adventures of Grandmaster Flash on the Wheels of Steel” | Douglas Wolk on “Making Cash Money” | Adrienne Crew on “The Message” | Dart Adams on “Pak Jam” | Alex Belth on “Buffalo Gals” | Joshua Glenn on “Ya Mama” | Phil Freeman on “No Sell Out” | Nate Patrin on “Death Mix Live, Pt. 2” | Brian Berger on “White Lines (Don’t Do It)” | Cosmo Baker on “Here We Go (Live at the Funhouse)” | Colleen Werthmann on “Rockit” | Roy Christopher on “The Coldest Rap” | Dan Reines on “The Dream Team is in the House” | Franklin Bruno on The Lockers.

2012: KIRK YOUR ENTHUSIASM (Captain Kirk scenes): Dafna Pleban: Justice or vengeance? | Mark Kingwell : Kirk teaches his drill thrall to kiss | Nick Abadzis: “KHAAAAAN!” | Stephen Burt: “No kill I” | Greg Rowland: Kirk browbeats NOMAD | Zack Handlen: Kirk’s eulogy for Spock| Peggy Nelson: The joke is on Kirk | Kevin Church: Kirk vs. Decker | Enrique Ramirez: Good Kirk vs. Evil Kirk | Adam McGovern: Captain Camelot | Flourish Klink: Koon-ut-kal-if-fee | David Smay: Federation exceptionalism | Amanda LaPergola: Wizard fight | Steve Schneider: A million things you can’t have | Joshua Glenn: Debating in a vacuum | Kelly Jean Fitzsimmons: Klingon diplomacy | Trav S.D.: “We… the PEOPLE” | Matthew Battles: Brinksmanship on the brink | Annie Nocenti: Captain Smirk | Ian W. Hill: Sisko meets Kirk | Gabby Nicasio: Noninterference policy | Peter Bebergal: Kirk’s countdown | Matt Glaser: Kirk’s ghost | Joe Alterio: Watching Kirk vs. Gorn | Annalee Newitz: How Spock wins

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What do you think?

  1. The echoes of the fire in the rock, the opposite thrusts of movement…the dude’s spatial instinct is unworldly. Great panel, great piece.

  2. I never noticed before how Moon Boy has no defining lines at his edges — he’s all feathering. I wish I were made of brushwork like that.

  3. Yep. Perfection is Sustained by this piece. That phrase is an example of one of those great moments where Kirby’s relative literary limitation produces something actually quite astonishing. It’s not a rare occurrence in his work. But you have to develop an ear for it. It’s still sometimes a struggle.

    It reminds me of Thelonious Monk — Kirby’s dialogue seems to be fighting the idea of language in the way that Monk embodies the struggle of articulating ideas through the limitations and possibilities of his instrument and the idea of tonality itself. Only on Hilobrow would I dare write a sentence such as that.

    Stan Lee was more of an Oscar Peterson of course.

    Kirby in pure Black & White is such a thing of beauty — Glen will testify to this. It was great to see some of your collection at the Jewish Museum in NYC a year or two back. I have a few pieces. But boy did I get collector’s envy!

    Black & White KIrby was one of the few privileges of living in England in the 70s: Marvel published cheap weekly reprints for a dying economy who could only dream of producing ‘Full-Color’ Comics.

    Thad’s why the Essentials Series has special resonance for us Brits. B&W, cheap pulp paper — but also rather beautiful.

    Meanwhile, I wonder who will be first to adopt ‘Perfection is Sustained’ as their company’s brand line…..It would suit BMW or someone like that….

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