Monday, June 8, 2015

Hulk Busting!


The more I read about the Marvelmania International fan club, the more disreputable it sounds. The characters who ran the comic book industry from NYC appear at times to be downright dimwitted when it comes to merchandising their products, often signing up for deals which promised a fraction of the actual potential value of the work. That seems all too obvious now I guess, but even at the time it sounds to me like often Goodman, the man behind the Marvel empire was signing away rights for pennies, and seemed to have little interest in the quality of the craftsmanship.


The Hulk poster by Herb Trimpe has been featured here and many other places before. It's a symbol of the reckless nature of how Marvel operated in those days, taking its talent for granted and seeing the work as what comics had become, factory piece work.


Here is the now-famous original Kirby artwork for that poster, which as I understand it was clearly used as the model for Trimpe's version. Now no dishonor falls to Trimpe, he was merely a company employee doing the work he was paid to do, which like nearly all of Marvel at this time was evoking the best of what Kirby brought to the page. I actually prefer Trimpe's version of the image as Kirby's Hulk is weirdly too human somehow in the face.


But famously this poster was perhaps the last straw which sparked the switch by Kirby from Marvel to DC. Clearly he'd been planning for such a move for some time, but the actual motive to move was seeing his work so disrespected by the company he had given so much to.


This Kirby art is getting a color showcase on the next Jack Kirby Collector which should be showing up in stores any time now.

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6 comments:

  1. I can only speculate, of course, but perhaps Goodman felt that, as he was in the publishing business, any merchandise would lead to an increase in awareness of the Marvel characters and ultimately result in increased magazine sales - hence him giving away rights to them for a song. Nowadays it seems to be the reverse of that idea - the comics are kept in print in order to be exploited in other media, which is where the 'real' money is.

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    1. I'm sure that's what he thought. What he really didn't seem to fathom was that his characters had a resonance beyond the momentary and he probably felt he needed to get what he felt he could. But sadly he always seemed to get less than one would've imagined and created deals which limited his ability to move forward.

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  2. No disrespect to King Kirby intended, but I like the Trimpe poster better too. More realistic human expression in Hulk’s face and a slightly wilder haircut. Not to mention, Herb was the established, longtime artist on the character anyway… Interesting to read what both you & Kid cite as Martin Goodman’s possible marketing motivations…(Happy-belated Birthday Ripster!)

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    1. I prefer Trimpe's take on the Hulk too. Likely the change was made (in my opinion) because the Kirby version seemed so brutal.

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  3. Did Trimpe redo the whole thing or did he just change the head? They look so similar.

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    1. It looks to me like he either redrew the Hulk figure or inked it thoroughly. The background does look the same though, too much so not to include Kirby's name.

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