Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Pierre Speaks: Jack Kirby

As a kid.... I was not too crazy about Jack's work.


How can this be??

Although I saw some cool stuff sometimes in what he did, I was much more attracted to the work of Sal Buscema, George Perez, Joe Sinnott and others at the time.

Sometimes Jack would draw some cool stuff.... but sometimes..... he would do some weird stuff too.

What I would fail to see at the time was that a lot of the artists that I was admiring were deriving their style from Kirby's work. Heck in some cases they would flat out copy what Jack had done before.

For example I was a big fan of the FF when Rich Buckler was drawing the book and it was masterfully inked by Joe Sinnott. But little did I know at the time that Buckler would often swipe poses from Kirby.

So little did I realise at the time how much Kirby's work was influencing me.

By being influenced by the Bucemas, Perez, Byrne, and countless others.... I was indirectly influenced by Kirby whether I knew it at the time or not.

Years later while I was working on Bob Morane, a great guy by the name of Gabriel Morisette would introduce me to the Jack Kirby Collector.

Seeing Jack's pencilled work was an illumination.

It was great seeing Jack's work before it was inked by someone else.

Although in the case of Joe Sinnott, I can't help but think that Joe was making Jack's work better. Or something like that. ;)

I was finally able to see for myself the power in Jack's pencil.

Click to EnlargeHeck often while working on Bob Morane I would draw a Jack Kirby character, then I would tweak it slightly to turn it into a Bob Morane character.

Since the Bob Morane style was influenced by Bruce Timm on Batman Adventures, and Bruce Timm was influenced by Kirby, and Kirby in turn was influenced from working in animation.... understanding that.... I could use Kirby's style to help me do my work on Bob.

Later I was able to see some great Kirby work like the New Gods and Mister Miracle in TPB. And other series never collected AFAIK in TPB like the Demon, Machine Man, Black Panther.

Loved it.

I also got my hands on "the Complete Sky Masters".

Click to See Full Page

The mixture of Kirby's work with Wallace Wood's use of light and shading is pure magic. I would recommend it to anyone. If you can get your hands on that book.... don't hesitate.

You can still see Kirby’s influence in the work of others like Darwin Cook, Bruce Timm, Mike Mignola, Steve Rude, and countless others I fail to mention.

Heck even though I try to not copy his style, I do try to capture the essence of his style in my work.

I will let you decide whether I am succeeding or not. ;)

Until next time.


Reno said...

We're the same! Like you, i didn't like Kirby's work when I was a kid. Especially when it came to how he rendered figures. People with flat-tipped fingers, square heads... I guess as a kid you tend to question exaggerations like that. I preferred Sal Buscema myself (I even liked Sal better than John Buscema). But over the years, I got to appreciating Jack kirby's work. Now whenever I see a back issue of his work, I buy it immediately.

BTW, those French-translated comics sure had some crappy lettering. :)

Pierre Villeneuve said...

Reno; You got some great taste.

I prefer Sal Buscema's work to John as well. ;)

And like you..... now as soon as i see some Kirby Stuff.... I grab it.

Yes the lettering on those translation were very crappy.

I guess they were hiring the cheapest letterers they could find.... and you can tell from the result.

Diego Tripodi said...

Very interesting post, Pierre-- I feel in a similar way in that I wouldn't pay much attention to Kirby's work when starting reading comics, and I eventually grew to love his work. It's so dynamic and powerful. And he was a great storyteller as well.

Nice observation on Wally Wood's inking over Kirby's pencils. I've seen some of those strips and they're fantastic. I haven't seen much of Kirby's work, but from what I've seen so far, it seems like it would change very, very much depending on who was inking it.

Wally Wood's thin lines and detailed work looked so cool in the pages I've seen (I think they're the same you guys posted here), while other people's inks, like Alcala's (whose work I like) didn't seem to work very well with the King's pencils...

P.S.: I still don't understand why every single Marvel comic starts with "Stan Lee presents"... not good. :S

MattComix said...

I remember that my first encounter with Kirby's work was at a point where as a kid I was only beginning to learn and remember the names of artists I liked.

I think at that point what my personal idea of cool comicbook art was defined almost exclusively by guys like Neal Adams, Garcia Lopez, Byrne and Perez.

I checked out Bring On the Bad Guys and Son Of Origins from my local library and looking back on it I remember that Kirby's work was strange to me yet I couldn't stop looking at it. I also had his Super Powers mini-series because I was shamelessly in love with that toyline.

So I think while my reaction to his work as a kid wasn't exactly negative, it took a few years for it to finally click in my head that I liked it.

Anonymous said...

I began reading comics with the Heritage. I am 46 and still have all my Capitaine América. Sal defined what CA looked like. Issues 153-163 are still some of the best to me. Kirby was so weird, too many dots. Jim Steranko, too many shades. Gene Colan was ok. Byrne and Perez stayed were great. Of course, I was 6 to 12 years old or so and changed my opinion too since then.

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