Friday, January 14, 2011

Jack's Secret Jimmy!

When Jack Kirby abruptly left Mighty Marvel to move to the Distinguished Competition, it was a ground shaker for sure. Then he goes to DC and the first comic book he takes on is...way for it...Jimmy Olsen!

Talk about inauspicious! Actually like most everything else about Kirby's legacy, this was an act of genius. Famously Kirby did not want to displace any talents at DC so he wanted to create new comics titles. But with Jimmy Olsen the old team was leaving, so an opening was there, a void to fill with his magic. So he did it in spades.

The grand spectacle of the Fourth World is magnificent, but counterpointed against that is the peripatetic adventures of Jimmy Olsen and his new buds, the Newsboy Legion. Jimmy Olsen under Kirby's creative hand is a wild and exotic adventure filled to overflowing with concepts and notions. It's a hothouse of creation, so full you don't really get time to train your eye on one glory before another takes center stage. It was wild and it was big time fun.

But some of the material Kirby produced for Jimmy was not used, that is until many years later. Kirby's sketch and design for his debut on the book with issue 133 was scrapped and another more-in-your-face design was used. Later still a cover for issue 145 was dumped for less clear reasons. These designs at long last got used for the paperback collections of Jack's Jimmy adventures a decade or so ago.

Unused Sketch Issue #133

Unused Cover Issue #133

Original Art Issue #133

Used Cover Issue #133

Unused Sketch Issue #145

Original Art Issue #145

Used Cover Issue #145

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  1. I was lucky to have worked with the KING, Jack Kirby when I was at Ruby Spears Studio in '86. My job was to take his vehicle designs and straighten out the perspective and elipses in order that they could be animated, which ruined them of course. Correcting Jack's drawings removed all the Kirby charm. Once he actually walked in and saw me erasing his drawings to change them and I became immediately embarrassed and apologized to him. He said 'go ahead, that's okay, it's your job'. That's the way he was, he was a wonderful man, loved everyone. -Ted

  2. Wonderful story Ted. Thanks for sharing.

    And you're so right, those Kirby designs have an internal logic, but it's not reality for sure.

    Rip Off


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