Jack Kirby is very probably the single most influential figure in the history of American comics. He produced countless stories in a career that spanned seven decades, inventing and re-inventing genres and styles every step of the way. He inspired generations of artists and writers; created and co-created thousands of characters; defined the visual vocabulary of superheroes; and believed in the potential of comics to be both entertainment and art, long before most people imagined these stories would be remembered past the four weeks that they sat on newsstands.
This week would have been Kirby’s 97th birthday, so to celebrate, we asked some of our favorite creators and other comic pros to contribute their impressions of his characters, life, and legacy – and the response has been overwhelming. Yesterday, we posted the first set of these all-star tributes, and here's the second, even more expansive selection!
Ever since they were relaunched by Valiant Entertainment, Archer and Armstrong and Quantum and Woody have been two of my favorite books on the market, and it's no stretch to say that it's because they take a very similar approach to a classic superhero trope. They're both the stories of mismatched pairs, buddy comedies that throw in strange conspiracies, bizarre mysteries and wanton destruction into a blender and end up with a smoothie made of highly enjoyable comics. So naturally, it was only a matter of time before they joined forces to form a mismatched pair of mismatched pairs, which is exactly what happens in this week's first issue of The Delinquents.
And as you might expect, it gets pretty weird. Like, "mysterious treasure map made from the skin of a hobo's ass" weird.
Q: G.I. Joe: Where do I even begin with their myriad continuities? -- @Eric_R_Wilson
A: I've spent the past few weeks catching up on recent G.I. Joe comics with a stack of paperbacks that I picked up at HeroesCon, and while I've been really interested in seeing all the changes and new characters that set the IDW books apart from the original Marvel series, I'm still pretty surprised by this question. I mean, yes, there's a lot of G.I. Joe out there and a lot of different takes on that core idea, but when you get right down to it, it's no more complicated than your average superhero comic.
Which is to say that it's actually very complicated. Especially when the ninjas start getting involved.
Jack Kirby is considered by many to be the single most influential figure in the development of American comics. He defined the parameters of superhero artwork in the 1940s, he helped invent romance comics in the 1950s, he was one of the primary architects of the Marvel Universe in the 1960s, he brought a sweeping cosmic sensibility to DC in the 1970s, and he played a vital role in the independent publisher boom of the 1980s. Kirby was astoundingly prolific, drawing thousands of pages and covers in a career that spanned seven decades, and created or co-created many of the world's most memorable and popular characters: The Fantastic Four, the Hulk, Captain America, Thor, Iron Man, the Wasp, Ant-Man, the X-Men, Black Panther, the Silver Surfer, Galactus, the New Gods, Nick Fury, the Avengers, and countless others.
Theatre-goers in New York City will learn about the man behind those iconic creations when the new play King Kirby has its world-premiere engagement as part of the Comic Book Theater Festival in Brooklyn, starting June 20 and running through June 29. We spoke to playwright (and acclaimed comic writer) Fred Van Lente about the roots of the show, and his motivation in adapting Kirby's life for the stage.
If you've read Fred Van Lente and Ryan Dunlavey's Comic Book Comics, then you already know that Van Lente is pretty passionate about comics history in general and the life of the great Jack Kirby in particular, and with good reason. Kirby's story is fascinating, and, as Van Lente says, covers a massive chunk of the history of American comics, starting at their beginning in the late '40s and continuing all the way to his death, while still producing stories, in 1993.
Now, Van Lente and playwright Crystal Skillman are set to bring Kirby's story to the stage in a play they've written called King Kirby, and they're raising the money to do it via Kickstarter.
If you've been keeping up with Dark Horse's line of superhero comics, then you've already heard of Project Black Sky-- both the shadowy government agency ostensibly meant to protect Earth from alien threats, and the upcoming event tying in Brain Boy, Captain Midnight, Skyman and more. If have, then you already know that as sinister government organizations go, those folks are pretty creepy, right down to their Latin motto, translated as "Who if not us?"
Each week, ComicsAlliance’s Chris Sims and Matt Wilson host the War Rocket Ajax podcast, their online audio venue for interviews with comics creators, reviews of the books of the week, and whatever else they want to talk about. ComicsAlliance is offering clips of the comics-specific segments of the show several days before the full podcast goes up at WarRocketAjax.c
Two classic Valiant Comics characters, Rai and Doctor Mirage, are set to make a splash in the new Valiant universe later this year, with the publisher introducing a slew of new titles in its Valiant First initiative all the while. There's a new team-up, a major crossover event, and a few spinoffs in the mix.
Valiant is planning to release seven new #1 issues between May and September. Creators include Matt Kindt, Clayton Crain, Robert Venditti, Doug Braithwaite, Jen Van Meter, Kano, Fred Van Lente, James Asmus, Trevor Hairsine, Joe Harris and more. Check out the full list of new titles and some exclusive art after the jump!
For all the flaws it might have, New York Comic-Con has one very, very important thing going for it: A gigantic, well-organized Artists Alley that takes up an entire convention hall all by itself, full of amazing creators showing off their newest comics. There's enough there that you can spend the entire con checking out great stuff and never have a chance to set foot on the floor, and come away perfectly happy.
I haven't read everything I picked up yet, but there were three things that looked so good that I couldn't even wait to get home to dive right in. They're the ones to watch out for, fresh from the Javits Center!
Most creators would probably consider a con to be successful if they had one big project announced. This weekend at NYCC, Fred Van Lente, who's already had a big year with G.I. Joe, Brain Boy and Archer &Armstrong, managed to land himself two. Not only will he be part of Dynamite's Gold Key relaunch as the writer of Magnus: Robot Fighter, he'll also be taking over Dark Horse's Conan the Barbarian at #26.
I sat down with Van Lente at NYCC's Artist's Alley to find out more about these projects, as well as why G.I. Joe #3 is the best single issue of the year -- and why he's leaving that book after #11.
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