Saturday, October 4, 2008

BPJr #2 is out now...on PDF

BPJr #2 - filled with big booties, Jack Kirby, Steve Gerber, wrestling, Deal Or No Deal and more T&A than is healthy - is finished and ready to be sent out…as a PDF.

Yes, Australia Post has finally battered me into submission. I can’t afford the ridiculous postal costs for what is essentially a vanity project/hobby.

So here’s how it goes. You’re on my mailing list. Please e-mail me at danhelen@idx.com.au and let me know how you want BP sent to you. There are three options:

1. Printable PDF: You can print this out at work or at home. As this issue was created in A5 format (before I changed my mind about having it printed), it’s laid out as if it was going on a photocopier. That means it’s a little difficult to follow in places. However, like I said, if you want to print it out so you can have a hard copy, then this is the best format.

2. Readable PDF: All 24 A5 pages will be sent to you in order, from 1 to 24, with no wacky page layouts to worry about.

3. Hard copy: If you don’t have access to a printer or you can’t read a PDF, then let me know and I’ll send you a hard copy. This is extremely limited as I printed only 20 copies to sell at the Newcastle Young Writers Festival. Any left over will be mailed out to people who ask for them. Once they’re gone, I won’t be printing any more. So get in early if this is the version you want.

Payment? I don’t know. How do you pay for a PDF? I’ll leave it up to you. I don’t think money’s the right thing to ask for. I’m always interested in reading cool zines, comics, magazines, books or seeing interesting DVDs. Burn me something. Hell, e-mail me something if you like.

However, if you want a hard copy, then that will cost US$5 (including airmail postage and handling). I’ll accept only Paypal (no cash, money orders or cheques will be accepted, sorry) and please use dlennard@acp.com.au when making payment. Thanks.

OK. Any queries? Drop me a line.

Oh, and although this is obvious, please state in your e-mail that you’re over 18 years of age. Thanks.

Cheers,

Dann Lennard

Editor

BPJr/Betty Paginated

Thursday, September 11, 2008

I coulda bought this...

YEAH, right! If I was made of money. *SIGH*

It's original art from Destroyer Duck #2 (Eclipse).

Monday, August 11, 2008

REVIEW: Jack Kirby's OMAC

DESPITE my rampant cynicism, I'd been looking forward to buying this hardcover collection of Jack's flawed eight-issue series from 1974 ever since I heard it was being published by DC.

The story of future worker drone Buddy Blank being converted into a super-powered peace agent was intriguing. The King's vision of this future world was grim to say the least.

Kirby's ideas are as left-of-centre interesting as ever and - for a change - his writing (even his dialogue) is pretty strong, too. His artwork's even more dynamic than usual and inkers D. Bruce Berry (a pleasant surprise, I must say) and Mike Royer are probably responsible for that.

I really enjoyed reading OMAC in one hit. DC's also added some nice touches - excellent production values, additional pencilled roughs by Kirby and an informative introduction from his assistant Mark Evanier.

In fact, there's really only one negative aspect to the whole darn thing and that's the final issue itself. Y'see, by that stage, Kirby had quit DC to return to Marvel. He didn't even do the cover on OMAC #8 (Joe Kubert did the honours).

It wasn't selling well, so DC decided to discontinue the title. Which they did in spectacular fashion - by wrapping up the whole damn series in one final panel. ONE FREAKING PANEL.

It's literally the most sudden ending of a comic-book series I've ever read (Evanier describes it as "a whiplash-inducing sudden stop"). Wow, he's not kidding.

Still, that disappointing premature ending aside, OMAC is well worth picking up - just so you can see how good the King could be when he was on song and firing on all cylinders.

REVIEW: Tales To Astonish by Ronin Ro

A PERFUNCTORY book by a perfunctory writer. This is only partially a biography on Kirby - it also covers the life of Stan Lee and the history of comics (particularly Marvel). It's not a bad read, but I have to say I enjoyed Ro's chapter on Kirby's war years - a traumatic, scarring time that basically shaped his post-war comic-book career - far more than the comics history stuff, which I've read elsewhere in far-better-written tomes.

Anyway, this book's okay - it lacked photos and artwork that could've really added depth to the book, however.

And it doesn't really do Jack many favours either - he comes across as a bit of a doddery, working-class Joe; none too bright, easily led, easily pushed around (again, a result of his war experiences as he was a real Noo Yawker tough guy before WW2) and frustrated by bad career moves that a smarter man could have avoided.

By the end of his life, he'd resorted to outright lies and slander against Stan Lee who - despite what his critics may say - WAS the co-creator of the Marvel superhero line.

If Lee - an astute businessman for much of his career - did one thing ethically wrong, it was to cheerfully claim (or allow it to be claimed by journalists) that he created the Hulk, X-Men, Silver Surfer, etc.

Still, ultimately, Kirby's bitterness did him no favours.

REVIEW: Captain America 203 (Nov. 1976)

ALAMO II!

Goddamn, they don't write comics like this anymore.

Kirby's run in Marvel in the late 70s was unimpressive......except for Captain America in my opinion. The series was exciting, primal...and his dialogue didn't nearly suck as bad as it did in his other titles.

The King's art, inked by Frank Giacoia, looks particularly dynamic in this issue.

The only thing more remarkable about Cap and the Falcon's journey to a world populated by escapees from a lunatic asylum and menaced by alien gargoyles is the letters page, where pro-Kirby and anti-Kirby writers vent at each other. Fascinating reading.

REVIEW: The Green Arrow by Jack Kirby

AH, WHAT could have been? Kirby signed on to do the art for this second-string DC character in 1958 in the pages of Adventure Comics and World's Finest Comics.

The King tried to add his creative input - a few interesting sci-fi elements were briefly developed, then cast aside by DC's conservative editors - but, in the main, the writers churned out pretty staid fare.

Even Kirby's one written strip "The Case Of The Super-Arrows" (Adventure #251, August 1958) was mediocre. Usually, the plots revolved around Green Arrow and his lame sidekick Speedy beating villains by pulling trick arrows out of their arses: a balloon arrow, a dry-ice arrow, a fountain-pen arrow, a boxing glove arrow. Oh, for fuck's sake! Give me a break!!

Kirby got the shits with DC's stifling ways - and they got sick of his chunky artwork and pushy ways - and he pissed off in early 1959.

DC's loss was truly Marvel's gain.

As for Green Arrow, he floundered for another decade until Neil Adams tried to turn him into some kinda Easy Rider-style rebel.

He was still lame though.

Monday, July 28, 2008

My eyes were opened...

IT WAS Give Our Regards To The Atomsmashers - Sean Howe's 2004 flawed collection of essays by "real" writers on comics - that first shocked me into realising that Jack Kirby wasn't this untouchable comic artist god.

In Jonathan Lethem's essay, The Return Of The King or Identifying With Your Parents, he looks at his Brooklyn youth, linking it with Kirby's initial legendary run with Marvel in the 60s and his ill-fated (but much feted at the time) return to the fold in 1976.

Howe dares to question Kirby's work on such titles as Captain America, The Black Panther, The Eternals, Devil Dinosaur, Machine Man and 2001: "In fact, what he would turn out to bring to Marvel was a paradoxical combination: clunkily old-fashioned virtues...together with a baroque and nearly opaque futuristic sensibility that would leave most readers chilled, largely alienated from what he was trying to do."

Lethem also disses Kirby's DC work on his "massively ambitious and massively arcane" Fourth World.

He talks about how he and his childhood friends - big fans of Jolly Jack's 102-issue run with co-creator Stan Lee on The Fantastic Four - were "mostly baffled" by his later run.

Anyone who describes Kirby's late 70s run as "autistic primitive genius" and "great/awful, a kind of diastrous genius" deserves a Pulitzer in my book.

And, frankly, no-one could have summed up better the essence of the Lee/Kirby collaboration: a Lennon/McCartney-style relationship who "really were more than the sum of their parts, and who derived their greatness from the push and pull of incompatible visions".

And the harsh coup de grace: "I'd be kidding if I claimed anyone much cherishes the comics of Kirby's 'return to Mavel' period - 2001, The Eternals, Machine Man. Even for souls who take these things all too seriously, those comics have no real place in the history; they define only a clumsy misstep in a dull era at Marvel, before the brief renaissance signaned by the ascent of the Chris Claremont X-Men..." Ouch.

Wait, there's more. And it's all true: "It's possible to debate the moment in the 70s when Kirby's pencilling began to go south. He was good; he got worse. What's undebatable is the execrable, insufferable pomposities of Kirby's dialogue-writing in the Marvel work without Lee. As a writer, as opposed to an "idea-man", he always stunk." Double ouch.

Ultimately, Howe's radical (heretical) ideas about the "untouchable" Jack Kirby blew my mind and allowed me to think that it was OK to question aspects of Jack Kirby's work without feeling like some kind of evil devil-spawn.

BTW, as a whole, Give Our Regards is a remarkably disappointing book. Many of the essays are painfully literate - in the "I'm an author, but look, Mother...I'm writing about comics. How frightfully lowbrow of me" style that I've come to loathe and despite in wanky publications like The Comics Journal. There are a couple of entertaining pieces - Glen David Gold's piece on regret, Warlock and original art collecting and Brad Meltzer's fond memories of The New Teen Titans - but you really should only seek out a cheap second-hand copy before handing over your dollars.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

REVIEW: Kirby Five-Oh! (The Jack Kirby Collector #50)

DESPITE a few reservations, this oversized book is a stunning tribute to The King, celebrating 50 issues of The Jack Kirby Collector.
In reality, it's merely TJKC #50, but it's been put out by editor John Morrow - a dedicated Kirby fanatic since 1994 - as a high-quality soft-cover publication, a stand-alone tome celebrating Jack Kirby's greatness.
Kicking off with an excellent Kirby rendition of Superman on the cover (inked by the brilliant Darwyn Cooke), Kirby Five-Oh! gives us list after list of the 50 greatest this and 50 greatest that involving the prolific artist.
So what's to love? Well, the swag of rare photos and art easily made it worth the thirty bux I paid at Kings Comics (how appropriate) in Sydney. The colour section was also a welcome touch.
There are also intriguing lists like Kirby's 50 Best Stories (one per year) and 50 Best Covers - the top vote-getter was Fantastic Four #12 (1963), a suspenseful scene with The Hulk about to pounce on an unsuspecting FF in an underground cave.
The 50 Best Examples Of Unused Kirby Art was intriguing as was the mini-interviews with 50 artists influenced by Jack Kirby.
Quibbles? Well, there's the usual sycophantic ravings by people who seem to think that EVERYTHING Kirby did was brilliant. And a few ACTUALLY think he was a decent scripter. Ha!
And fuckwit Adam McGovern is deluded enough to claim 1985's The Hunger Dogs - possibly the worst piece of unintelligible drivel ever vomited out by Jolly Jack - is a piece of genius. Puh-leeeeeeeze!

Despite these minor flaws, Kirby Five-Oh! is a stirling effort by TwoMorrows Publishing.
Buy it and get an overview of why Jack Kirby remains the most influential comic book artist of all time.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Silver Star #1 - dear god...this is horrible!

I PICKED this up cheap on eBay and - holy hell! - I'm glad I didn't pay big bux for it. Kirby's last major piece of independent comics work (c.1983) is fucking fucking FUCKING shithouse!

Bad art - blame Michael Royer's inking, I guess - but worse still is Kirby's plotting and script. I put this down to the old man's growing senility. I mean, this is just awful, even by Jack's painful writing standards.
From what I can tell, this is some kinda New Gods/Eternals retread with a big emphasis on Jack's daughter Susan Kirby's crapola song lyrics. Seriously, he devotes pages to her inane, trite, stupid song lyrics. Yikes! Other than that, it's completely nonsensical. I mean, it makes no sense whatsoever.
And just try to read the above stream-of-diarrhoea dialogue above. There's 20 pages of this drivel. TWENTY FUCKEN PAGES!!!
Listen, I love Kirby's artwork, but when his art's bad - and, seriously, his art is BAD here - then there's NOTHING worth recommending in one of his comics.

No wonder Pacific Comics went belly-up soon after Silver Star came out.

And you have a fucken cheek, Image Comics, rereleasing this garbage on an unsuspecting world (the hardcover's sealed in plastic, dammit!). I'm so glad I fought the urge and didn't waste my money buying the book.

BTW, Kirby crony Michael Thibodeaux wrote and drew the back-up feature, Last Of The Viking Heroes, and it pretty much proves that MT should stick to inking for a living.

Friday, July 25, 2008

FOR a different - more touchy-feely friendly - review of Jack Kirby's NEW GODS work, head to http://wrightopinion.com/2008/06/01/kirby-continued-4/.

He's much nicer than me.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Hey, HE said it, not me...

THE famed writer of Daredevil, Ultimate Spider-Man, Avengers, Secret Invasion, etc etc, Brian Michael Bendis said this in a May interview with thewrightopinion.wordpress.com (and republished in Powers #29: “And just think about if we had superheroes, how we would treat them. In this world, not Stan Lee’s world. He started it. Stan started it, that was a Stan Lee thing…”

Sunday, July 6, 2008

The difference between a good inker and a bad inker...

A GOOD inker - like Joe Sinnott or Mike Royer - added to Kirby's pencils and accentuated their finer qualities. They gave depth and life to his work, making even his worst-written yarns sing on the printed page.

However, a bad inker - like D. Bruce Berry in 1st Issue Special #1: Introducing Atlas - sucked the life out of Jack's art and gave it a flat, bland quality.

Basically, Berry appears to have erased half of Kirby's pencils to make his inking job as easy as possible. The result: a piece of hackwork that can't save what was already a lacklustre yarn about Atlas, the first king of Atlantis.

I'm certain it was Berry's inks that led to Atlas not being given the green light for its own series, thereby robbing us of yet another gods-filled universe by Kirby.
(So maybe that was a good thing...)

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Before we get carried away here...

LET me just state for the record that I think Jack Kirby was a brilliant artist and a genius at coming up with mind-blowing concepts. This is the bloke who created (or co-created) most of the Marvel Universe, DC's Fourth World, the Eternals, Captain America, romance comics, Fighting American, etc. etc.

However, there's something else I cannot emphasise enough...

JACK KIRBY COULDN'T WRITE FOR SHIT.

There. I said it. It's out there. Anyone who claims otherwise (yeah, I'm looking at some of you contributors to The Jack Kirby Collector) is seriously fucking deluded. New Gods, his late 70s run at Marvel, Captain Victory, that godawful Hunger Dogs graphic novel.......all of it was badly-written rubbish.

Jack was an ARTIST, an IDEAS MAN, but not a WRITER.

This blog celebrates Jack Kirby's great art and ideas...nothing else.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Welcome to "Kirby Your Enthusiasm"

A SITE on all things Jack "King" Kirby, as seen through my own personal filter. Reviews on the legendary artist's comics, Kirby-related books, etc.
Your comments and thoughts are welcome.