Saturday, May 5, 2012
Are We On The Outside Of The Spirit World?
Not any longer! Now anyone can get a good look at one of Jack Kirby's most truly offbeat concepts. Spirit World is an over-sized black and white (mostly) reprint of one of Kirby's peculiar magazines which DC published anonymously under the "Hampshire Distributers Limited" label alongside In The Days of the Mob.
The story of how this collection of supernatural comic stories, fumetti, and collages eventually reached the newsstands (or more correctly didn't) is well documented by Mark Evanier in one of his typically revealing essays. The stories themselves are truly peculiar, introduced by Dr. Leopold Maas they were a bit darker in tone than the usual mystery mag stuff then available in most comics.
The cover was redrawn by Neal Adams over work already done by Kirby. I've not seen the Kirby original, so sadly I fear it must be lost. The Adams cover is provocative but doesn't really do justice to the bizarre material inside.
The companion mag In the Days of the Mob did hit the stands, as I have a specific memory of seeing it in a drugstore, high up on a shelf well out of the reach of my young arms. I didn't dare ask for such an item for fear my curiosity might get back to my parents. One had to be careful when choosing reading material, as going a bit too far might close all sorts of doors. Vampirella for instance got me into some trouble with a friend's parents.
The magazines lasted one issue each. DC with its typical acumen cancelled them before sales figures could even be calculated, so it was a general fear of the material which must've done them in. Despite wooing Kirby from Marvel, clearly the DC folks didn't know what to do with the powerhouse talent they'd signed up. The bean counters were terrified of this visionary.
This later ad makes it sound like the mags sold out due to overwhelming fan interest, and not that they were unavailable because of publisher incompetence and distribution confusion.
The stories created for the second issue of Spirit World were divvied up and printed in color in various DC comics. See below for the covers under which these Kirby gems hide. These stories have been included in this reprint volume, for the first time seeing publication in a format similar to the original intent.
The price is a bit steep, but for Kirby buffs this one is a true gem. I highly recommend it.