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Waringing – SPOILERS all over the place. This is written from the assumption that everyone who reads it will have seen the film

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I have long known that Jack Kirby designed the costumes for a production of Shakespeare's Julius Caesar by a Californian student troupe. I did not know one detail, though. The producer had been pointed at Kirby by Stan Lee, and when he approached Kirby, he tried to say something about payment. "You couldn't afford me," said the King. "So I'll do it for free."
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Few people, even among those who followed my old Jack Kirby series, ever read this article. So I decided I would give it an airing here. ATTENTION: Disappointments ahead for those of a certain political persuasion.

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This is the first reprint of a series of essays I wrote ten or so years ago about various works by the great American cartoonist Jack Kirby. It is probably of little interest to most, so you can skip it if you want; I am reprinting them after a disagreement with [profile] johncwright. It is rather reworked, and, I hope, improved.
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I have just acquired a copy of the leading French magazine about comics, Les Cahiers de la BD no.78, dedicated to the great and beloved American artist Jack Kirby and to the charming and equally beloved Frenchman Sempe'. On the sellers' list, Jack Kirby et Sempe' had somehow managed to morph into the incomprehensible Jack Kirby by Scenic. And the cover had Jack Kirby's famous character Captain America - drawn by John Romita Sr.

Jack Kirby

Sep. 16th, 2004 04:43 pm
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Criticism is one of the things I think I can do, and do fairly well. And by far the best criticism I ever wrote in my life was a series of articles about Jack Kirby, "the king of comics".

It was a matter of the subject matter raising the critic's game. The better the work, in my view (are you listening, Kenna Hijja?), the better the criticism: the more there is to seize and understand, to elaborate and connect, to explain, even to oppose. Kirby was unique: a wholly self-built genius, who had constructed, out of the most miserable cheap odds and ends of American popular culture - fifties monster movies, Houdini escapology, poster artwork, costume films about Romans and Vikings, pulp fiction, sci-fi mags of the pre-ARGOSY age - one of the most overwhelming artistic achievements, I would say THE most overwhelming, of the whole twentieth century. Visually, he was stunning. His paintings and collages, though few as compared to the immense body of his pencil comics art, are enough to stock a museum, and breathtaking; as for his comics, my calculation is that there are upwards of FORTY THOUSAND pencilled pages by him, at least half of which are visual masterpieces. And then there is the small matter of his writing...

I will not start another series of articles about him in this LJ, and I am not going to reprint my older series, because they would not work without illustrations. I do, however, enclose one of his obituaries, written one year after his death by a writer, Mark Evanier, who had known him well. It has comparatively little to say about his genius, but much - though not enough - about the human qualities that fed that genius.
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