Sunday, September 03, 2006

New York - Jack Kirby - a small story

Mid 1990's and i'm working for Defiant comics, Jim shooter's company after being outsted at Valiant Comics. We have a fun crew to work with, an interesting collection of folks both neophyte and old school. One of the last Big Apple Con's takes place, and we are all out in force trying to make magic happen for the second time for Shooter: set the world afire with titles like Dark Dominion, Good Guys, Warriors of Plasm, Wardance.

Jack has just died a week or two before I believe, and there was a real sense of the passing of the greatest generation before us, even though at that time Julie Schwartz and Will Eisner would not pass on for many years.

As we all went out to dinner after the con at Arriba Arriba, a mexican on 8th Avenue, Alan Weiss stood up with his glass of scotch and proposed that we all name our favorite Kirby issue. I still remember his, of course: "Mother Delilah" [BOYS' RANCH #3; February, 1951]. My pick was FF #15 "This Man This Monster". Round the table we went, penicllers, inkers, letterers, editors. At the end, Alan again raised his glass, and solemnly said in his best voice of god voice: "To jack."

Not only did our table in the center of the restaurant raise its glasses to echo the toast, but we could hear the murmur of assent from other voices all around us. "To jack." in any other city in the USA we would have been met with silence, but the people of New York knew their trailblazing son, a Jewish child of the lower east side and surely had read the Times obituary, respected for the creative genius he was.

All around us: "To jack." "To jack."

While years have passed since he left us, I see his influence all around us, in ways that would probably confound and delight him.

To Jack.


James Meeley said...


What a touching story. I remember reading about when Kirby dide. It wasn't far off from my birthday.

My brother went out to get me a comic for my birthday and picked up Machine Man #5. After I opened it, he told me the guy at the shop told him that was a good issue to buy because, "the who made it just died."

I found that funny, both because of the tackiness of using someone's death as a selling point, but also because of the creative giant Kirby was, I'm sure he'd have found humorour irony in someone use his creative genius in such a way. After all, he was all about the creative side to this industry.

Kirby, as a man, was as mortal as the rest of us are. As a creative mind, though, he was as lager than life as anything he ever dreamed up.

I wasn't at the restraunt you were at those many years ago, but if you'd have been in one around my way, I'd have joined in with your toast, as well. "To Jack!"

Kirk Jarvinen said...


I so swear BY that very oath every time I am sitting at my art table working.

I cried like I lost a brother on the afternoon Scott Dunbier called me to tell me that Jack was gone.

He is the artist who's imagination inspired me to follow in his footsteps and draw comic books, and to this day, his is the only artwork that I can sit down and look at for hours on end and be completely entranced with it the entire time! He is STILL the MASTER!

Hey James, what's up? It's funny you should mention Machine Man #5, right at this very moment that copy of MM #5 (and Eternals #4) are hanging prominently on the wall next to me at my drawing table. I love those two issues!!

MACHINE MAN #5 features my All-Time favorite piece of campy Kirby written dialogue-- on page #28 Panel 2--

Ten-For has just transmitted the location of planet Earth to the Autocron fleet of warships in deep space--

--here's the bit:

Incoming Transmission: "Target is NUMBER THREE in a nine planet system...Name:Earth! Inhabatants: Flesh Wearers! Location: Quadrant 43269-MDS!"

Autocron Commander: "THAT'S REALLY IN THE BOONDOCKS!" (LOL!)
"I'll switch this to the admiral for clearance!"

I still roll with laughter every time I read that line :)

I'm really a 70's Kirby nut. Don't get me wrong, his silver age work is great, but he really unleashed himself, stylistically, in the mid to late "70's. I love THE DEMON (his double page splashes in that series are mind-blowing), New Gods & Forever People, 2001: A Space Odyssey, THE ETERNALS, Captain Ameria & Falcon (his return to Cap, and here again, the 2 page splashes are incredible), and especially MACHINE MAN & DEVIL DINOSAUR! I hustled down to the comic spinner rack at Joy-Tel Drugs in Detroit EVERY Saturday afternoon hoping to land a new issue!

"To Jack"


Devon said...

"To Jack."

Pauline said...

Hi Charles. I have never forgotten that always stayed with me, too, that the other people in the restaurant acknowledged our toast.

BTW, it wasn't Mangia e Bevi, a restaurant I have always hated. It was Arriba Arriba, and it was Mexican, and the only way we got a table that big on no notice was that I knew the owner.

big love to you and the family from me and AW.

inkdestroyedmybrush said...

pauline -

I stand corrected. ;-), but I appreciate you correcting me! Good to hear from you. I'm sending an email to the surrealdeal email hoping that we can get back in touch again. My best to both you and alan!

Tim Perkins said...

You know Charles, when I answered the phone back in the Defiant Bullpen that evening, after being told of Jack's passing, it was the hardest thing I had ever done even though I had never met Jack, to tell everyone.

Such was his statue in the industry and the power of his work, that it was almost like telling Janet and Joe and the rest of you guys in the Bullpen at the time that someone I knew really well on a personal level had died.

The legacy he has left us all though, is unbelievable and I have been looking back recently at lots of his work in the reprints in the Masterworks and Omnibus editions and it's just like being a kid all over again.

If we can manage, as an industry, to capture all that excitement and power for the kids again it'll be great...and I think it's starting to happen and not with the big companies either...

Speak to you soon.


BTW: Great Cap and Skull pic!!