Saturday, 16 November 2013


Images copyright MARVEL COMICS

JACK KIRBY did his best with CAPTAIN AMERICA (& The
FALCON) when he returned to the title in the mid-'70s, but rumours
persist that he was sabotaged from within.  Kirby reportedly felt that a
disproportionate amount of negative letters were published in the mag,
something to which he objected and complained about, 'though, as editor,
one would think he had the power to prevent.  Obviously not, as he was
based out in California, and the letter columns were put together in
New York as a simple matter of expediency.

It's also rumoured that some of the new young turks openly
scoffed at Jack's pages when they arrived in the MARVEL offices,
being less than impressed with them in comparison to the work of other
artists in the fabled BULLPEN.  As I said, he did his best, but the odds
seemed stacked against him from the start.  His art was less fluid and
graceful than it had been in his heyday, and his style of scripting
appeared out of sync with then-modern sensibilities.

STAN LEE apparently interceded on his behalf, requesting that
more positive letters were chosen over less-flattering ones, but by then
it was too late.  Jack was demoralised, and when his contract ended, he
presumably chose not to renew it, and to seek employment elsewhere.
A once mighty giant was at the end of his run, and never again created
anything that resonated to the same degree in the comicbook
field as his collaborations with 'Stan the Man'.

Jack returned to DC COMICS for a spell and completed his
FOURTH WORLD 'epic', but it was an unsatisfying anti-climax
that didn't really bear scrutiny.  It's sad to see how age and illness took
its toll on the man who was once the 'King' of comics, but he belonged
to a vanished era, the likes of which neither he nor we would ever
see again.  Such is life.

However, let's not end on a downbeat note.  There's still much
to admire in the second set of 11 covers from his '70s run on Cap,
so admire away! 


Nick Caputo said...

My favorite covers in this period are #206, 208, 210 and 212. Simple, attractive, with little clutter some of the other covers are burdened with. I believe Jack designed the covers he edited, but I could be wrong.

I enjoyed much of Kirby's run, although there were gaps in storytelling and plotting. What I enjoyed most in these stories was his imagination - even at this point he invented Arnim Zola, a character that has been used frequently and even appeared in the Cap movie!

Kirby's stories were actually getting more interesting as he continued, and I was disappointed when he left the strip. Things went back to the status quo and that was boring.

Letters pages were probably one of the last elements in the production process, so there probably wasn't time to send letters to Kirby to look over and reply to. Unlike when he was at DC, when he had Evanier and Sherman to assist in that area, I don't thin Kirby had anyone working in that capacity in 1975-78. I also suspect that Marvel was not run as efficiently as DC in this period and wouldn't have gotten letters to Kirby in time for him to handle. Still, I don't think fan letters had that much effect on sales. If the books had sold well they would have continued with Kirby.

Unfortunately it looked like Kirby's work was not selling as it had in the 1960's. Kirby's figures were not as well defined and his writing style was clunky. He was still miles ahead of many of his peers, and always interesting, but he was an odd fit, removed from the Marvel "universe" (by his own desires, mainly) he stood alone. At this point I suspect he would have been best served working apart from Marvel and continuity, presenting his own creations. Unfortunately outlets for independent work would not appear until many years later, when Kirby's art became even more abstract and his storytelling more unfocused. Ah, what could have been!

Kid said...

Can't say it any better than that, Nick. 'Nuff said.

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