All Hail The King. Happy Birthday, Mighty Jack Kirby.
My son is ten years old. He draws comics all the time, and he’s into everything. All the Marvel and DC characters, the ninja turtles, kaiju, all the shit that’s on the kid tv channels (some of which are actually very charming), but fuck me, time and again, when he finds an image online that he likes that is a Marvel character, nine times out of ten, man—
It’s Jack goddamn Kirby.
(And not just Galactus. I’m just using three images of the Big G to make graphic points. I’m into unity these days.)
When my son brings me an image he likes and it’s Kirby, I’m always delighted. I always take the time to trace and point out the visual elements of the picture, how it works—big, small, contrast, perspective, light, dark, etc—and he gets it. I see it in his work the next day.
In full disclosure, I should say I do NOT offer such detailed analysis to every comic image Damien shares with me. Example: If it’s Superman punching through a planet and it’s awesome and it’s drawn by Jim Lee, I’ll look at it and concur, “Awesome!” But I won’t talk about it the way I talk about Kirby.
This might be my son’s favorite Kirby image:
My son is ten years old. If he could paint the Mona Lisa, it would look like this. Two of his favorite characters in pitched battle with superb graphic design—look at that hand, man!
Rounding this out with a few words from STAN LEE, cribbed from Neil Gaiman’s Tumbler
Stan Lee, 1968:
… And we talk it out. Lately, I’ve had Roy Thomas come in, and he sits and makes notes while we discuss it. Then he types them up which gives us a written synopsis. Originally-I have a little tape recorder-I had tried taping it, but then I found no one on staff has time to listen to the tape again later. But this way he makes notes, types it quickly, I get a carbon, the artist gets a carbon…so we don’t have to worry that we’ll forget what we’ve said. Then the artist goes home…or wherever he goes…and he draws the thing out, brings it back, and I put the copy in after he’s drawn the story based on the plot I’ve given him. Now this varies with the different artists. Some artists, of course, need a more detailed plot than others. Some artists, such as Jack Kirby, need no plot at all. I mean I’ll just say to Jack, ‘Let’s make the next villain be Dr. Doom’… or I may not even say that. He may tell me. And then he goes home and does it. He’s good at plots. I’m sure he’s a thousand times better than I. He just about makes up the plots for these stories. All I do is a little editing… I may tell him he’s gone too far in one direction or another. Of course, occasionally I’ll give him a plot, but we’re practically both the writers on the things.
All Hail The King.