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Let me tell you a story about Willie.

§ February 16th, 2017 § Filed under jack kirby, retailing § 8 Comments

So this is going back well over a quarter of a century, pretty near 30 years now, when your pal Mike was still but a comics retail neophyte, learning the ropes about slingin’ the funnybooks. We had a customer, Willie, who would come in his old van to the shop once or twice a month, popping in to ask if the latest issue of “the Rabbit” (AKA Usagi Yojimbo) had come in.

Another thing he would ask about is if we had any back issues of The Bug in stock.

Took us a bit to figure out who and what he was talking about. Turns out he was thinking of the character Forager, alternatively known as the Bug, who was a supporting character in Jack Kirby’s New Gods. “Willie,” we would say to him, “do you mean issues of New Gods in which the Bug appeared? Is that what you mean?” And Willie would reply, nope, while that was the character he was definitely thinking of, he specifically remembered the Bug starring in his own solo comic book series, separate from New Gods.

Now, we eventually convinced Willie that he was almost certainly misremembering the comic (in fact, I’d bet money he was thinking of this issue), but he would still bring it up once in a while, as a running joke. My then-coworker Rob and I even toyed with the idea of writing and drawing a short Bug comic to give to him as a gag, but alas, we never did do that.

I haven’t seen Willie in a very long time. I think I last saw him sometime in the early ’90s, and I have only the vaguest memory that he had either moved out of the area or he no longer had the disposable income for even his limited comic book habit…or perhaps both. Whatever the reason, Willie and his van became a nearly forgotten memory of my early comics retailing days.

Nearly forgotten, because just the other day this happened:

…and that memory of Willie and his insistence that a Bug solo comic existed all came back to me. And let me tell you, I had the weirdest combination of bemusement and frustration come over me when I heard about this. I’d actually missed the announcement of this comic, but my longtime customer Brook told me about it and my immediate reaction was an outraged “WHAT!?” Not outraged at the comic itself, mind you, but outrage at my inability to inform Willie that he would finally be getting what he wanted all those years ago.

All I wanted to do was send a message back in time to Willie, telling him to eat right, exercise, cut the cigarettes, and just hang in there ’til 2017 because HERE IT COMES:

Ah, Willie. I hope you’re still out there, and somehow, someway, you know this is happening.

Not having a lot of blogging time, as you might imagine…

§ December 14th, 2016 § Filed under jack kirby § 3 Comments

…so let me present this pic I’d put up on the Twitter the other day, after finding it in a comic I was pricing at the shop:

…that comic being New Gods #13 (1977), where Gerry Conway, Don Newton and Dan Adkins tried to continue from where Jack Kirby left off. As was pointed out by other Twittering folks, those are quite the choices for representative disco performers. KC and the Sunshine Band, sure; Rick Dees and “Disco Duck,” well…I mean, why not, that’s as much of the era as anything else.

I’ve never really had much exposure to these post-Kirby New Gods comics…it’s a weird alternate universe divergence from Kirby’s particular and peculiar vision, but still it’s hard to complain about some nice Don Newton art. Even if everything is just slightly off-model from what we know, which is easy to forgive as, at the time, the Fourth World stuff was only a few years old, not having the decades to burrow into fandom’s collective heads like it’s had now.

Cartoon Network probably would have been all over this.

§ August 28th, 2015 § Filed under jack kirby § 1 Comment

Let us all hail reader Chris K, for ’twas he who came to the rescue and revealed the secret hidden name of Jack Kirby’s most forgotten character, the one I could not recover on my own (as detailed in yesterday’s post). And thus, now shall we never forget the second-most* powerful, yet most enigmatic, creation of Jack “The King” Kirby:


Chris K informed me that I was right about originally encountering this in a Jim Woodring interview, but not in The Comics Journal, as I believed, but in Peter Bagge’s comics ‘zine I Love Comics from 1993:

In the interview, Woodring mentions this was just one of many, many ideas Kirby was bringing into the animation studio, and, as Woodring says, “after having drawn 3,000 of these big crescent board pictures he was running out of legitimate ideas, but he was being paid to bring this stuff in.”

Now, in fairness, Woodring only says the character’s name is “Heidi Hogan,” but he did describe her as a lumberjack in a dress, and, well, cartoonist Pat Moriarty provided an illustration based on Woodring’s description of the picture he saw:

I have no idea if the original Kirby drawing still exists but hopefully it’s simply hidden away in storage somewhere, waiting to be unearthed.

Anyway, a big thanks to Chris K for helping out.

Happy Jack Kirby’s Birthday, everyone.


* First-most.

Bet I don’t put the magazine back this time, either.

§ August 27th, 2015 § Filed under jack kirby § 2 Comments

So I was talking with customer Brook on Wednesday about one of Jack Kirby’s unused creations that I remember reading about, but couldn’t come up with the name. I Googled terrible, terrible things trying to find the character, but nothin’ doin’. My memory was that it was brought up in an interview with cartoonist Jim Woodring, who had been employed by the same animation studio where Kirby was working at the time, and that the character was (I think) one of Jack’s many proposed but unused cartoon concepts.

I went directly to the issue of The Comics Journal where I thought this information was located — well, semi-directly, as I’d pulled that issue out a while back to research something else then threw it into the sort-stack instead of putting it back where it belonged — and, lo, that information wasn’t there.

The character was this, assuming I didn’t imagine it: a somewhat burly-ish woman, almost lumberjack-ian in appearance, wearing a helmet with a giant propeller attached. It seems to me that the mention of this character was accompanied by an illustration, either by Kirby or a recreation by the person discussing it (maybe Woodring, perhaps someone else). I also feel like there was a gallery of interpretations of this character by several cartoonists, either in the same publication or sometime later.

Anyway, the Googlings, they did nothing, so if any of you out there can point me in the right direction, or at least remind me of the character’s name, I would greatly appreciate it. The first person to come up with good info will win the very first Progressive Ruin Nope-Prize! (“Do I get a prize?” “NOPE.”)

At the very least, I’d like to tell customer Brook that this was a real thing, and that I’m not crazy. At least about this.

Swampy P. Smythe.

§ July 10th, 2014 § Filed under jack kirby, pal plugging, sir-links-a-lot, swamp thing § 2 Comments


  • Siskoid presents his last, best hope for sci-fi TV blogging: “Your Daily Dose of Babylon 5,” where he plans to discuss every episode. The introduction is here, and as I write this the entries for the first two episodes are up, and you can keep up by following this convenient category.

    I enjoyed Babylon 5, though I haven’t rewatched the series since giving the DVD sets (and associated spin-offs) a once-through as I acquired them. It was an interesting experiment in long-form storytelling with the constraints of the vagaries of television production, it gave us the fascinating crisscrossing story arcs of Londo and G’Kar, and it brought us Walter Koenig in a great role that made most folks come to say “Chekov who?” It wasn’t perfect, but what in this fallen world is; I probably never need to hear the phrase “with all due respect” ever again, for example. But there was certainly more to enjoy than to not enjoy, and the occasional (“occasional?”) bit of labored dialogue and rough-edged acting isn’t that difficult to endure given the overall success of the venture.

    Hey, I liked it, and I look forward to enjoying Siskoid’s review of the series.

  • Here’s an article giving an overview of the Kirby family’s side of the battle against Marvel/Disney over the ultimate ownership of Jack’s creations. At the bottom of the article, under “Amicus Curiae Briefs,” are links to PDFs of the actual filings, each with plenty of historical and legal details that comic fans may find of interest. (Thanks to pal Jason for the link!)
  • In the latest Pal Andrew news, his latest “Nobody’s Favorite” is a comic I remember receiving at the shop, and I remember selling for the few months it was around, but couldn’t tell you anything else about it. Luckily, Andrew has stepped in and refreshed those memories for me.

    Andrew is also relaunching his Ultimate Powers Jam, in which he rolls up characters using the Marvel Super Heroes role playing game, and passes along the results to you to flesh out the character and do with what you will. A sample, if you will.

  • Best wishes to Swamp Thing’s cocreator Bernie Wrightson, who is currently dealing with some health issues but is reportedly doing well. Please keep yourself updated at his official Facebook page.
  • Speaking of Swamp Thing, old pal Batfatty has sent along this back cover by Bill Wray from Cracked Monster Party #7 (1989), featuring Cracked’s mascot Sylvester P. Smythe following the tragic explosion of his bio-restorative formula experiment:

    Hey, it’s purt’near the 25th anniversary of that drawing! EVERYONE CELEBRATE

“I’m anti-dragon!!”

§ October 2nd, 2013 § Filed under jack kirby, swamp thing § 7 Comments

1. Yes, it says “ret” in the first panel. Was that typo fixed in the recent Demon hardcover?

2. This little monkey-fella makes a reappearance in Saga of the Swamp Thing #25, #26 and #27 (1984):

I remember finding out at the time that Kamara (that monkey creature) had appeared in The Demon a decade before, and thinking “boy, there’s no way it can be as creepy as it was in Swamp Thing,” but I was wrong. So very wrong.



images from The Demon #4 (December 1972) by Jack Kirby and Mike Royer; Saga of the Swamp Thing #25 (June 1984) by Alan Moore, Steve Bissette and John Totleben

Happy birthday, Jack Kirby.

§ August 28th, 2013 § Filed under jack kirby Comments Off on Happy birthday, Jack Kirby.


from Destroyer Duck #1 (1982) by Steve Gerber, Jack Kirby and Alfredo Alcala

Oh, hey there, Jack Kirby from 1979.

§ March 2nd, 2013 § Filed under jack kirby § 9 Comments

So back in 1979, pal Cully (whom you’ve probably seen popping up in my comments sections now and again) met Jack Kirby, and got both a sketch from, and a photo with, the King. A number of years back Cully brought his framed photo ‘n’ drawing to the shop, where we had it on display. Cully took ’em back home long before I ever started this weblog, or even had access to a scanner, probably, so I never had those pics to show off on the site. I kept meaning to ask him about them in order to post ’em up here, but, you know, stuff happens and it eventually slipped my mind…

…until Cully told me on Friday “oh, hey, my photo with Jack and my sketch are on my Facebook,” which at long last has given me a reason to log back into Facebook, finally. …Boy, those sure are a lot of notifications. Er, anyway…now, with Cully’s kind permission, here’s that photo of Jack ‘n’ Cully, and the sketch that resulted from that momentous meeting:

That’s a great shot of Jack, and for those of us who have known Cully for a long time, it’s fun to see a picture of him in the full head of hair blossom of youth.

Thanks again, Cully, for letting me show those swell images on my site!

Warning: things get totally depressing at the end of this post.

§ July 6th, 2012 § Filed under dc comics, jack kirby, pal plugging, retailing § 7 Comments

So y’all know Matt Digges, right? The artist of Awesome Hospital? The guy who drew me this?

Well, the man is in need of a little extra scratch, and thus is now taking commissions to draw your favorite character…and if you ask nicely, he might draw characters other than Swamp Thing or Sluggo, too. You can read all the details on his Tumblr-thingie. But in all seriousness, Matt’s a swell cat and well deserving of your dollars, so go give him a few and get a wonderful drawing in return.

In other news:

  • Hey, have I mentioned I’m doing a little lite-blogging on this site for my place of employment? We needed a new blanket site to cover both stores, I ended up doing a quickie WordPress install, and voilà, suddenly I’ve got another blog to maintain. It’s mostly a lot of “hey, look at this stuff we would like you to buy!” but we’re having fun with it. It’s just starting out, and I need to slap another coat of paint on it, but I think it looks nice, though I’ll have to beat Employee Mark if he uses another emoticon in a post again.
  • We got in a copy of the Infinite Crisis Omnibus hardcover, and I sort of wish I remembered to take a picture of it, because this thing is just goofily thick. I mean, physically thick, not, you know, thick as in “not very bright,” which I suppose some of you would mention if I didn’t. But this thing is a real bullet-stopper, the kind of book you’d use to knock out a moose prior to surgery. It has purt’near every tie-in and mini-series to Infinite Crisis, and it’s like four inches thick, and it’s just amazing.

    …Now, there have been similar books, like those Omnibii that Marvel has been doing (for example), so it’s not as if this kind of tome is anything new. But while big ol’ Gutenberg Bible editions of Fantastic Four, Watchmen, and even Howard the Duck sort of receive the “yeah, sure, we get it” reaction, this special Infinite Crisis: Overkill Edition tends to get The People’s Eyebrow and the occasional disbelieving “Really? They made one of those for that?” and all I can say is “hey, I got a dude who wants it, and that’s good enough for me.”

    Of course, that there is not yet a Swamp Thing Omnibus with every 1970s appearance of the character is a crime that comics will pay for someday, oh yes.

  • Pals Dor and Ken have another look at trailers for forthcoming movies…I always really look forward to each new installment of this column!
  • Pal Andrew has another installment of “Nobody’s Favorites” and this time he takes on The King! Yup, one of Kirby’s latter-day creations gets Andrewified, and you can read the results right here. …A few years back, I had a brief discussion on this site about fandom’s contemporary opinions on Kirby’s later output (here and here) which generated some lively discussion (link goes to old commenting system…don’t post new comments there, please!). I only bring those posts up, not just to complement Andrew’s post, but to point out a certain realization I had about fandom’s reaction to that period of Kirby’s work:

    “Okay, we look back on that stuff now and we can appreciate it for what it was. I don’t know if it took us 30 years to catch up to what Kirby was doing, or if it’s just nostalgic fondness for the comics of yore, or if it’s ‘ironic’ appreciation, or just admiration for Kirby’s energy in producing just pure ‘comic-booky’-type comics with no pretense at being anything other than what they were: escapist entertainment for kids. And I’m sure part of it is an unwillingness to take any portion of Kirby’s output for granted, since, obviously, there ain’t no more comin’”.

    “There ain’t no more comin’.” I put in sort of a fake-folksy way, but it doesn’t make that thought any less depressing, and it’s sort of stuck with me all these years since I originally wrote it. Looking at that Witchfinder series John Severin drew last year, and thinking “no more Severin art.” Or “no more Gil Kane drawings.” Or “no more Steve Gerber stories.” The fact that there are still some stories and art from departed creators in the vaults, as it were, such as that Infernal Man-Thing mini featuring Gerber’s previously-unpublished scripts, simply serves to remind that we can only look forward to unearthed archived material, and That One Guy/Gal You Really Liked Who Just Passed Away isn’t sitting at his/her typewriter or art table and working on something brand spanking new at this very moment.

    …Sigh. Sorry. “People die and it sucks” is today’s lesson, apparently.

    Speaking of which…so long, Andy.

Just a quick note…

§ April 6th, 2012 § Filed under collecting, jack kirby § 20 Comments

…since it’s very late, and I’m on the verge of nodding off at the computer, which is never a good sign. It’s been a long week, and a lot o’hours worked, my friends, so your pal Mike’s batteries are way low.

But it wasn’t all bad…I did, for example, buy a copy of this for a dollar, and now I have even more big ol’ nutty Jack Kirby pages in my home to enjoy. The best part of reading this comic thus far is the captions…it’s like the exact opposite in tone from the movie:

…explicitly explaining everything you just had to sorta figure out yourself while watching the flick. Not that parts of 2001 were all that crazy hard to understand, but still, it feels weird having it all spelled out for you.

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