Ezine Archives - 2001 - indevelopment.org

Jack Kirby in the 21st Century

Been reading through issues of Fantastic Four, the original Stan Lee/Jack Kirby version. I've been lucky enough to acquire them over the years, in great condition and still with that original feel. Compared to the modern age of spandex, the illustrations, not to mention the plots are simpler and less complicated, the colours weaker and the paper less perfect. What they contain though is an innocence that can't be captured.

Even though I was not born, they take me back to my childhood. Of piles of Walt Disney, Uncle Scrooge. Of learning to read them all by myself. Discovering the world of reading through pictures.

If you've ever lived in Melbourne you'll know of Moomba. You may not want to admit or brag about our crappy carnival but a part of you, that childish part that's still yearning to believe in truth, things that go bump in the night and the wonder of all things, will have at least one memory of Moomba. Mine will always be a visit in 1980 or so, taken in by the neighbours and being bought a Fantastic Four. I didn't quite get it then, but the seed took hold and once an adult, I began to find artifacts that give me back this time.

Jack Kirby's characters were chunky. They had real expressions even if their bodies were disproportionate. He never drew massive breasts, or steroid-ridden bodies. His work was copied by other artists and cartoonists. Watching the re-runs of Hanna-Barbara cartoons like Mightor or Space Ghost, one can see the same shapes, the same expressions. I guess all those Saturday mornings watching these cartoons rubbed off, subconsciously.

You didn't see it then, but the cold war was fought and won so many times during these adventures. It didn't matter if it was Reed Richard's brain or the strength of Ben Grimm, the good guys won and it made you feel proud to be on the side of right. Later on, the realisation that in a way, you've been played for a sucker comes along, that in many ways the heroes were only so because of the flag they represented, and that flag isn't even yours.

Jack never made the 21st century - neither in the flesh or through his work. Yes, the influence lives on but the ideals, that knowledge in an instant of who were the baddies and who were the goodies is gone. I guess that's the way it had to be. Innocence, once lost, can never be recaptured.

I ask myself now, whether there is any point to this and I can't answer myself. Although confused, this is my tribute to Kirby, to childhood and to innocence. It's scrambled and makes only partial sense but that's growing up for you. You lose sight of the clouds and the sky and instead focus just on the ground.


All images are used without permission and are (c) marvel comics and were drawn by jack kirby

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