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49 (and change).

§ March 16th, 2018 § Filed under jack kirby, obituary, old, smallville, superman, television § 12 Comments

So one of the victims of my part-week blogging break was no birthday post. Yes, that’s right, your pal Mike just began his last year of his forties this past Tuesday…the warranty’s long expired, the creaking frame continues to bow, and the decay continues apace. I did mention the occasion on the Twitters, however, and received some very kind response there (as well as wishing birthday-and-blogging-brother Andrew a happy day).

The Bullest with the Mostest, Bully the Little Birthday Bull, worked up a bit of magic:

You can find the original image he used on this page of nightmare fuel. Oh, and by the way, now that I can make GIFs I may need to revisit that last pic.

Oh, and Tom Spurgeon over at Ye Olde Comics Reporter also noted the occasion, as he does every year. Thanks, Tom!

Another reason I kinda skipped out on the birthday post this time around is that I had my heart set on a particular panel, but could not find the thing, which has me wondering if I’m remembering the right comic, or if my age-addled brain has it confused with another comic, or if I didn’t just make up the whole thing out of thin air. Anyway, I’ll mention it here in case it rings a bell with any of you fine folks:

What I’m remembering is a panel from a Star Trek comic, maybe in the first DC series, or possibly the second run, where mention is made of Captain Kirk’s 49th birthday. However, and the reason this has stuck with me all this time (assuming I’m remembering it correctly at all) is that the “49th” in the comic had very obviously been relettered just prior to going to print, and almost certainly read “50th” originally. I mean, that was my presumption, in that they probably wouldn’t be making any kind of big deal out of a 49th birthday for story purposes. I remember guessing they were likely saving a 50th birthday story for some bigger event, or someone at the main Trek headquarters decided that they didn’t want Kirk to be that old, or some darned thing.

I hunted through my Trek comics for the scene, and couldn’t find it…I still have full runs of both series (didn’t give ’em up to my store!) plus all the specials and minis and whatnot, so if it actually exists, it’s in there somewhere. But, like I said, at this point I’m even sure it was in a Trek comic and involving Kirk. If you know, please share your knowledge!

• • •

So this week, DC released a freebie funnybook tying into the imminent Superman-prequel Krypton series appearing on the SyFy cable channel:

My immediate reaction to seeing that cover is “…Tom? Tom Welling?” but that’s likely because I watched all ten seasons of Smallville and I’m still recovering. But it didn’t help when I looked inside the comic at the “meet the characters” section and Superman’s grandfather is dressed like this:

…which all the world looks like the get-up Clark was wearing in the latter seasons of Smallville:

I mean, that has to be deliberate, right? Aside from all that…despite my initial skepticism regarding the show (“It’s about Superman’s grandpa?”) I’m actually intrigued, particularly now that I know about the time travel element and the inclusion of DC’s classic space hero Adam Strange. I may be one of those “wait to binge it on streaming” guys, since I’m way behind on everything as it is, but I’ll at least try to catch the first episode. …There better be at least one Thought-Beast on the show, that’s all I’m saying.

This tweet from Twitter pal Joe sort of got me thinking about that Smallville-esque comparison, though Joe’s point of contention/admiration was more for the “Fight Like El” tagline, which is admittedly both amazing and appalling. And if you’re wondering, yes, the entry for the Zod family character has a reference to kneeling, because that’s just a Zod thing now and you better be used to it. (“Fight Like El” reminded me of these somewhat confrontational DC bookmarks from a while back.)

Oh, that World of Krypton comic, by the way, is a reprint of the first issue of the mini-series of the same name from the mid-ish 1980s by John Byrne and Hellboy creator Mike Mignola. If you’ve never read it, it’s not bad…and if you like it, the entire series has been very conveniently reprinted in a World of Krypton trade paperback released just a week or two ago (along with other Krypton-based stories).

• • •

Oh, and there’s going to be a live-action New Gods movie…you know, no big deal. That of course means…LIVE ACTION SLEEZ:

Well, okay, maybe not. But the director of A Wrinkle in Time, Ava DuVernay, is signed on to direct, and given what I’ve seen of the visuals for that film (which I haven’t had a chance to see yet, despite really, really wanting to) gives me a good feeling about her take on Kirby’s Fourth World. Also, to quote my hopes for this film from Twitter, only with the stupid typo in the original corrected:

“I want this New Gods movie to be the Kirby-est thing that’s ever Kirbied. I want to SEE the quotation marks around assorted words in actors’ dialogue.”

I mean…right? Yes, yes, I know Thor: Ragnarok was very Kirby-ish, but New Gods was straight out of Kirby’s head, no Stan Lee required. I want everyone in their original costumes (yes, even…especially…Black Racer), I want dialogue quoted from the comics, I want that opening bit preserved in its entirety (“THERE CAME A TIME WHEN THE OLD GODS DIED!”), everything. I don’t care if movie audiences are ready for it. Let the studio paraphrase Jack himself on the movie posters: “DON’T ASK, JUST WATCH IT!”

Alas, it comes too late for the Don Rickles cameo:

…though it was suggested having one of his old movies/TV appearances on a television screen might be a good reference for those in the know.

But…c’mon, a New Gods movie. I can’t wait.

• • •

Mark Evanier reports that comics writer Michael Fleisher passed away last month at the age of 75. He was probably most famous for his Spectre and his Jonah Hex (and, ’round these here parts, the amazing Hex), but this is what I’ll remember him for the most:

I wrote a bit about that book a couple of years back…man, I spent I don’t know how many hours perusing that tome. And there it still sits on my bookshelf today, nearly forty years after I first acquired it. Thanks, Michael, for all that entertaining information you provided a young me, just beginning to learn about Superman’s history.

A little more Kirby-type stuff.

§ August 30th, 2017 § Filed under jack kirby § 2 Comments

The New York Times has a list of charitable organizations that can use your donations, if you are able, for victims of the Harvey storm. Best wishes to everyone affected, and here’s hoping they get the help they need.

• • •

Get more of your Kirby on:

You can download a nice Jack Kirby booklet in PDF format here.

Pal Andrew reminded us of this old post of his where he dives deep into the misty origins of one of Kirby’s more inexplicable characters: Flippa Dippa.

Bully, the King of Bulls, hasn’t put up a Kirby tribute post specifically for the Big Guy’s birthday, but what else is Bully’s “365 Days of Ben Grimm” but a tribute to the character that, as far as I’m concerned, is Jack’s greatest creation. (And speaking of the Thing, just look at this Mike Deodato drawing. JUST LOOK AT IT.)

And here’s Tom Spurgeon’s Kirby tribute…God help you if you’re still on dial-up!

It’s Jack Kirby’s 100th birthday.

§ August 28th, 2017 § Filed under jack kirby § 1 Comment


I note Jack Kirby’s 88th birthday by mentioning my brief meeting with him at an early 1990s comics convention.

A jam drawing by Jack Kirby and a couple of other cartoonists of note.

Kirby’s immortality would have been assured even if he’d only invented this.

Black Racer – still awesome.

The fighting philosophy of the Black Panther (parts one and two).


I mark Kirby’s 92nd birthday with this cover to The Comic Reader #100.

The office adventures of Darkseid.

A hard to find display piece for one of Kirby’s projects.

Klarion the Witch Boy and his gender-switching cat.

Never, ever fails to make me laugh.

My pal Cully meets Jack and gets a Captain America sketch.

There were a handful of Swamp Thing/Jack Kirby tie-ins, of course, but this is my favorite one, and the creepiest!

Another Kirby birthday post, featuring Destroyer Duck!

Probably my favorite Jack Kirby creation that I’ve only heard about and never have actually seen.

…And, the pièce de résistanceevery appearance of the sound effect “POW!” in Kirby’s New Gods.

image from 2001: A Space Odyssey #6 (May 1977) by Jack Kirby and Mike Royer

Y’all probably need something good to read right about now…

§ August 9th, 2017 § Filed under jack kirby, this week's comics § 4 Comments

…so may I recommend the first issue of Mister Miracle, on the shelves of funnybook stores today?

I’m finally catching on to Tom King’s work…I’ve been reading Batman of late, I’ve been picking up those Vision “director’s cut” comics (collecting his 12-issue run two at a time), I finally got around to reading Omega Men, and they’ve all impressed me with their originality, their cleverness, their maturity and their entertainment value. King and artist Mitch Gerads continue these books’ commitment to the nine-panel grid in Mister Miracle, where it is almost like the ticking of a clock, each panel the same size and representing the same amount of story time, pushing the reader inexorably forward. This is a weird, almost nightmarish, but compelling take on the characters, where the inherent weirdness of Jack Kirby’s Fourth World is approached from an askew angle. Some familiarity with the concepts are required, but 1) most superhero comic readers have at least a slight knowledge of the New Gods; 2) the stuff you need to know is brought up in dialogue, and 3) c’mon, anyone picking this up is going to know Mister Miracle’s deal anyway.

There are some storytelling techniques that underscore the disquiet present throughout the narrative, but I don’t want to say more and spoil the surprises. Suffice to say this is a new take on Kirby’s creations here, replacing the standard (and usually great, don’t get me wrong) bombast with an unsettling tension.

Oh, and the cover stock is nice, too. Good ‘n’ sturdy. Would make a good coaster!

All in all, a nice way to honor Mr. Kirby’s memory, just in time for his 100th birthday.

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.

(updated 8/2017)

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

(updated 8/2017)

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