Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Original Art Stories: Jack Kirby: Mr Miracle's Early Days

It must be Original Art week. I started off with a review of the ‘Grailpages’ book, followed up with a look at the market, from where I sit, and am now continuing the theme with four pages of Jack Kirby art, currently up for auction over at Comic Link.

It’s funny because, as a child, I never appreciated Jack Kirby, well, not until I hit my teens and discovered a pile of old Fantastic Four and Avengers stories. However I was never able to get into the Fourth World material and it took me a long while to work out why. The stories are fine, and the art, for the most part, was stunning, but the dialogue just never sat with me. Still, comic book dialogue is not a medium that ages well, nor is it supposed to be realistic. Try getting into a fight and rambling all of that Chris Claremont dialogue one time – your head will be bleeding before you get a line out. People just don’t talk in real life like they do in a comic book, and there’s probably a good reason for that. In fact there are not many writers who’ve been able to nail down decent comic book dialogue – Jim Starlin springs to mind, but that’s about it for me. Even the much loved recent writers, such as Bendis, Morrison, Busiek, Straczynski, Wheldon and Co just aren’t able to capture a sense of reality, although I do like what Wheldon does write and there were moments in his Astonishing X-Men series that I really enjoyed, dialogue wise.

Before people start ranting and raving about what Gods those writers are, allow me to clarify my statement. I’m not talking about the actual stories, just the dialogue. In the case of Kirby I’m generally enthralled by the Fourth World stories, but the actual words coming out of the characters mouths makes me giggle and tends to distract me from the art, which is a shame as Kirby was really throwing his all into the work, as evidenced by these pages, which even Vinnie Colletta couldn’t ruin (and don’t believe the auction description, Colletta inked these pages, not Mike Royer – Royer’s line was thick and bold, Colletta’s was thin and feathery). Kirby walked the walk here and it shows in this four page sequence.

So what writers could create a complete story, with words to match? Not many. Alan Grant is one such beast (if Alan will forgive me for calling him a wee beastie), along with the aforementioned Jim Starlin. Walter Simonson has his moments; his Fantastic Four run, for example, was stellar really. Other than that, the field is wide open. You decide, but there’s been hookier dialogue in comic books before Todd McFarlane made the world giggle with his advantageous scripting in Spider-Man.

Still have a look at these pages and salivate. Kirby at his finest really. The early days of Scott Free, aka Mr Miracle, with an appearance from Metron. And was I the only person who got a thrill when Kurt Busiek and George Perez had Captain America meet Metron in the Avengers/JLA cross over? I doubt it...




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