Sunday, October 19, 2014

Dan Mazur's and Alexander Danner's Comics A Global History, 1968 To the Present - Coda: What is an Artist? (Part Two)

"Aristophane was a better artist than Jack Kirby, obviously. Joost Swarte is better than Hergé."

Domingos Isabelinho

If you read part one of this post you know what it's about. So, here we go again...

Jack Kirby:

Jack Kirby is the king of machoism, mechanophilia and manicheism. He achieves his manicheistic goals coupling goodness / beauty and evilness / ugliness which is a long tradition going back to Medieval speciesism. Talking of which, Kirby doesn't shy away from said visual short cut, as we can see below:

Jack Kirby (w and p), Mike Royer (i and l),"The Quick and the Dead!," Mister Miracle # 14, DC Comics, June / July 1973.

Jack Kirby (w and p), Vince Coletta (i), John Costanza (l), "Super War!" [exclamation marks are all over the place in Kirby's comics], The Forever People # 2, DC Comics, April / May 1971. The beautif... er... the forever people are the goodies. Two minor debatable aesthetic choices though: was that cleavage, front and center, really needed? Was there a need for the black character to be called Vykin "The Black"? As Fredrik Strömberg put it in Black Images in the Comics: "Quite often the reader gets a feeling that a Black character is included just to be the Black character in a certain context."

Jack Kirby (w and p), Mike Royer (i and l), Glynis Wein (c), "The Russians Are Coming!," The Eternals # 11, Marvel Comics, May 1977. More beautiful people. 

Jack Kirby (w and p), Mike Royer (i and l), "Apokolips Trap!!," Mister Miracle # 7, DC Comics, April 1972. The bad and ugly.

Jack Kirby (w and p), Vince Colletta (i), John Costanza (l), "X-Pit!," Mister Miracle # 2, DC Comics, May / June 1971. Granny Goodness above is a misogynous stereotype, the harpy. It seems that the baddies are not only ugly, they're also always shouting.

I said all I wanted to say about Jack Kirby already. His stories, or the stories that he drew, are formulaic dreck, but a couple of things in his oeuvre are interesting. For instance:

Jack Kirby (w and p), Mike Royer (i and l), Glynis Wein (c), "Mother!," The Eternals # 10, Marvel Comics, April 1977.  

Jack Kirby (w and p), Mike Royer (i and l), Glynis Wein (c), "Astronauts!," The Eternals # 13, Marvel Comics, July 1977.  

Jack Kirby (w and p), Mike Royer (i and l), "Spawn," The New Gods # 5, DC Comics, October / November 1971.

Jack Kirby, "Out of Mind's Reach," Pro! magazine, FNL, October 21, 1973.

I can easily imagine a twelve year old saying - Awesome!! The problem is that I'm not a twelve year old, so, I need more than awesomeness from the art and writing that I'm reviewing. This is just the spectacle of cheap and superficial entertainment. What's behind it, then? As I put it in my The Hooded Utilitarian article there's: 1) a glorification, a glamorizing and a sanitation of violence; 2) a fascination with cosmic power translated in the power of machines (gods are literally shown as machines above). All this is in complete accordance with Futurism (Kirby's style is a cubo-futurism of sorts) and Fascist aesthetics.

An addendum: 

Jack Kirby (w and p), John Verpoorten (i), Gaspar Saladino (l), Glynis Wein (c), "The Day of the Gods" The Eternals # 1, Marvel Comics, July 1976.

As we can see above in The Eternals, at least, Kirby was highly influenced by Aztec art. This happened because he was under the influence of Erich von Däniken's quack theories about astronaut gods.

Stan Lee (s), Jack Kirby (p), Vince Colletta (i), Sam Rosen (l), "Where Gods May Fear to Tread!," The Mighty Thor # 132, Marvel Comics, September 1966.

Countless pages were written about who did what at Marvel Comics during the 1960s. I couldn't care less, really, but the above (one of Kirby's famous collages...) is such a wacky invention I bet that it was spawned by Jack Kirby's fertile imagination.

NOTE: I'm going to reread Aristophane's Conte Démoniaque, now. Since I'm such a slow reader, I'm very sorry, but it will be quite a while until my next Aristophane post.

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