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Jack Kirby

Ask Chris #186: The Strange Rise Of The X-Men

Ask Chris art by Erica Henderson

Q: Why do you think the X-Men didn't find their audience until two decades after they were created? -- @godofthunder851

A: I've got a minor quibble with your timing in this question -- it was more like 12 or 15 years, really -- but you've got an interesting point there. I think most comics readers are well aware of that piece of trivia about how the X-Men were about to get the axe before Giant Size X-Men #1 breathed new life into the franchise and set them on the path of becoming what was probably the single most popular and influential franchise of the '80s and '90s, and that's not really how things usually work. In comics, you tend to either come out of the gate to massive, enduring popularity (like Batman or Spider-Man), come out strong and then fade away for whatever reason (like, sadly, Shazam!), or just sort of flounder in the midcard. It's rare that something sticks around on the edge of being canceled for a solid decade before it finds its footing, and nobody bounced back harder than Marvel's Merry Mutants.

But really, what you're asking here is two separate questions: Why didn't the X-Men take off in 1963, and why did they in 1975? So let's look at the history and see if we can't figure it out.

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Casey, Dalrymple, Farinas, Fiffe, Fox, Mahfood, Marra, Rugg And Willumsen To Relaunch Kirby’s ‘Captain Victory and the Galactic Rangers’ At Dynamite

Captain Victory
Jack Kirby

One of Jack Kirby's most celebrated (if short-lived) post-DC creations is once again getting an all-star treatment from its latest publishing home at Dynamite Entertainment. Coming this July is a new Captain Victory and the Galactic Rangers series from writer Joe Casey and an army of artists including Farel Dalrymple, Ulises Farinas, Michel Fiffe, Nathan Fox, Jim Mahfood, Benajmin Marr, Jim Rugg and Connor Willumsen.

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Ask Chris #178: Stan Lee, The Man And The Myth

Ask Chris art by Erica Henderson

Q: What is Stan Lee's actual legacy? -- @TheMikeLawrence

A: I don't think there could be a more complicated subject to tackle in a single column than this one, because as an industry and as an art form, I think we all have a lot of complicated feelings about Stan Lee. Depending on who you ask, when you ask them and what he's been up to lately, he's a conniving credit-stealer, a shameless self-promotion machine, a "driven little man who dreams of having it all!!!" and got it by coasting on the hard work of others, or he's a charismatic innovator who got put into that spotlight because he's a natural showman, a smiling ambassador of the medium and everybody's friendly comics grandpa. And it's further complicated because you can't really talk about him without talking about collaborators like Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko, either.

That's what makes him hard to talk about, even if you've spent nearly your entire life being aware of him. There's just so much to get through that's filtered through so many angles, and as a result, I genuinely think that he's simultaneously the most overrated and underrated creator of all time.

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Ask Chris #176: SUBTLETY!!!!!

Ask Chris art by Erica Henderson

Q: Is writing comics with a lack of subtlety a good or bad thing? Or does it all depend on how it's handled? --@therealdealkern

A: This is a really tough question, because unlike a lot of things I write about, I don't have a definitive answer one way or the other, even though it's something I notice all the time. Looking back, it seems tricky to figure out why I love some things and hate others for what seems to be the exact same reason. I mean, I've got a reputation as someone who loves over-the-top stories and comics that have a complete lack of anything that even approaches nuance, full of blunt statements, raw emotions and names that couldn't be more on the nose if they were a pair of reading glasses.

And yet, at the same time, there are stories I hate precisely because they have that same lack of subtlety, or because they're eye-rollingly obvious. There's got to be a difference somewhere, right?

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Best Art Ever (This Week): Howl’s Moving Castle, Hellboy, Buck Rogers, Ms. Marvel, Star Wars and More

Untitled-1

We make a regular practice at ComicsAlliance of spotlighting particular artists or specific bodies of work, as well as the special qualities of comic book storytelling, but because cartoonists, illustrators and their fans share countless numbers of great pinups, fan art and other illustrations on sites like Flickr, Tumblr, DeviantArt and seemingly infinite art blogs that we’ve created Best Art Ever (This Week), a weekly depository for just some of the pieces of especially compelling artwork that we come across in our regular travels across the Web. Some of it’s new, some of it’s old, some of it’s created by working professionals, some of it’s created by future stars, some of it’s created by talented fans, and some of it’s endearingly silly. All of it’s awesome.

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10 Surprising Comic Book Appearances by Santa Claus (et al.)

Santa Claus

Two of my greatest loves in life are Christmas and comics, and so it's always a treat for me when the two cross over in that most wonderful of things: the holiday special. Even when those things are bad, they're still kind of good, because it's Christmas, and you're feeling charitable. But sometimes the introduction of Christmas-themed elements are not what you expect. Here are ten appearances by Christmas folk that might confound you, and that's even without mentioning that time Aquaman saved the baby Jesus from pirates by mind-controlling a giant squid.

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Best Art Ever (This Week): Batman ’66, PJ Harvey, Calvin & Hobbes, Mister X and More

Untitled-1

We make a regular practice at ComicsAlliance of spotlighting particular artists or specific bodies of work, but because cartoonists, illustrators and their fans share countless numbers of great images on sites like Flickr, Tumblr, DeviantArt and seemingly infinite art blogs that we’ve created Best Art Ever (This Week), a weekly depository for just some of the pieces of especially compelling artwork that we come across in our regular travels across the Web. Some of it’s new, some of it’s old, some of it’s created by working professionals, some of it’s created by future stars, some of it’s created by talented fans, and some of it’s endearingly silly. All of it’s awesome.

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Ask Chris #172: DC, Marvel And ‘The Problem’

Ask Chris by Erica Henderson

Q: You mentioned "The Problem" in last week's column. So, what is "The Problem?" --@green2814

A: Last week, I dug in a little into the idea that even though they share prominent creators and have influenced each other back and forth over the course of the last 50 years, the DC and Marvel Universes have some fundamental differences in the way they're structured. One of the things I really wanted to get across in that column was that neither one is really fundamentally better than the other, they're just incompatible in a lot of ways, and I touched on how that results in something I call The Problem. Since that's still pretty fresh in everybody's mind, and since you were nice enough to set the ball right on the tee and hand me the bat, I might as well elaborate on that now. It's actually pretty simple.

To put it bluntly, The Problem is that DC wants to be Marvel, and they have for the past 50 years.

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For One Week, Jack Kirby’s Art Was Exhibited In The Neighborhood Where He Grew Up

Jack Kirby museum

New York City feels like there's a museum on every block. I've lived here my whole life, and I like to think I've spent a good amount of that time as a semi-regular visitor of some of the historical sites and cultural institutions my hometown has to offer, yet I am not remotely close to having seen even a quarter of the museums this city has to offer. Many of them you know -- some are iconic, seemingly enormous, and world renowned, while others are smaller and occasionally temporary, but nonetheless significant. Basically, when it comes to taking in the culture in the largest city in the history of civilization, you do the best you can.

But sometimes you make seeing something a priority. And Prototype Alpha -- the "Pop-Up" museum created by the Jack Kirby Museum and Research Center that was open for seven days only this past week -- was one of those times. Located on Manhattan's Lower East Side, just a few blocks from where the iconic artist was raised, the museum was the first physical presence for the organization, and served as a wonderful testament to a man who is inarguably one of the most important artists New York City produced in the 20th century.

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Avengers #24.NOW Variant Covers Pay Homage To Famous Covers From The X-Men’s Past [Art]

Avengers 24 Acuña

Following the conclusion of the publisher's Infinity event, next month Marvel will release Avengers #24.NOW, from creators Jonathan Hickman and Esad Ribic. Meant in part to be a jumping on point for readers, the issue will also serve as the introduction to the publisher's All-New Marvel NOW launch -- Avengers #24.NOW is concurrently being billed as Avengers #1 under this new initiative.

But as part of it's push to promote the new, Marvel is also celebrating its past. Several variant covers to Avengers #24.NOW are being produced, and some are homages to famous past covers, including some of the more memorable cover art from the 50 year history of the X-Men. To that end, Marvel has enlisted artists Mike Deodato, Daniel Acuña, Lee Garbett,  and more to create images in homage to the cover work of Jack Kirby and John Byrne, and you can check out some examples below.

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