There’s been some very nice analytical articles on Alex Toth lately , by Jesse Hamm and Paul Fricke occasioned by some great reprint books and the bio of him, and it’s been making me wonder about focusing on Jack Kirby’s work, Toth is such a more elegant artist then Kirby, every line is literally a precise controlled thought out line. He’s a much finer craftsman then Jack meticulously telling his stories and relentlessly experimenting with the comics form and being an artist. But in the end Kirby’s work is more emotionally satisfying and powerful to me then Toth’s.
Jim Shooter has a great rant up on his web site about inking, any young artist should go read it and integrate it into their work.
It shows what made Shooter so successful his ability to analyze what works and describe it in some form. His lecture on storytelling is also wonderful, great basic primers in doing comics, but sometimes he goes a little off, like this…
“Someday, I will find the guy who invented the expression “spotting blacks,” and kill him with my shoe. Spotting blacks—scattering black areas around the panel stupidly? WHAT? There are people who should know better who advocate making an “interesting pattern,” an “abstract design” with the placement of black areas in the panel. They are insane. ”
But then I look at a picture like this.
Looking it I say, abstract design, yup, black areas scattered around the panel, yup, intereseting pattern, that too. It makes a guy wonder is Jack Kirby insane, did he know what he was doing? At first looking at this drawing I thought Jack was doing just what Shooter claimed, just spotting blacks to make the page more exciting and energetic. Like I said Shooter is really smart and analytical and knows comics…
I’m starting a new project, with no client, no paycheck, nothing but the idea. An adaption of Julius Caesar by that Shakespeare guy with design inspiration by Jack Kirby.
But defining a space to work in is a fascinating process, I started reading Michael Parenti’s book on Julius Caesar to find that Republicans then, are well, just like Republicans now. Caesar, while a brilliant military mind, was a populist, his “crimes” weren’t just taking power, but land redistribution, forgiveness of debt and credit and empowering citizens. It’s disturbing to see the echoes of modern times in an ancient story. In looking at art and pictures over time you realize every time uses old stories to tell them again for their own time. Shakespeare’s play was about his time, and this adaption will about ours because it’s impossible to be anything else.
I’m taking on Jack’s work too, not just Shakespeare. I’m going to draw my way through Jack’s Fourth World epic, page by page by page. Not copying the style but trying to pull out what Jack does that makes Jack’s work so relevant to me now fifty years after it was printed. I realize I should be paying attention to many other things in my life then Jack Kirby’s drawings but I keep coming back to them like I was a 12 year old. Now it’s an old fart teacher looking at the work to see what he can find in it. To me there is three great artists of the Twentieth Century, Picasso, Matisse and Jack. I’m going to see if I can figure out why that’s true.
The publishing goal is to hit the Kindle, e-pub and online apps and make it available in all mobile devices. Certainly for an oddball artist, publishers are dead. Obviously I would like to continue to explore the space of electronic comics what they should be, what they can be and how to make them. Unfortunately just as Flash unified the web and made it one way to work for all devices and browsers we’re seeing the web fracture apart into multiple devices and arrangements which turns the artists job from drawing to programming to exploring a whole bunch of tech shit.
Once the project is going online for reading it will be a benefit for the Kirby Museum since it was all there idea in the first place anyways. For now as I lay out the text it will simply be a blog and drawings and thoughts on Jack, Rome and Shakespeare.
Julius Caesar, Kirby! Shakespeare! Badger!?!? What can I say, I’m screwed…
”I have no spur
To prick the sides of my intent, but only
Vaulting ambition, which o’erleaps itself,
And falls on th’other. . . .”