CAC Winter 2011 Report: Kirby Art Spanning 5 Decades

March 19, 2011
2011 Comic Art Con

The Comic Art Convention was held last Sunday, March 13th at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Secaucus, New Jersey. This exclusively comic art show is unique and happens twice a year, late Winter and Fall. It's a great environment to talk to dealers and discuss comic art without all the hustle and bustle of a large convention with tons of complicating comic books for sale. This venue also provides a great opportunity to scan some great Kirby art for this site and the Kirby Museum Digital Original Art Archive.

This year was no exception with almost twice as many pages scanned as the previous show, totaling 58 pages, much of which was scanned the day before out of hotel rooms. Thanks to Bechara Maalouf of Nostalgic Collectables for providing space to scan and Rand Hoppe of the Kirby Museum, who joined in and helped scan art during the con. 

There was a wide range of pages scanned, spanned five decades of Jack Kirby's career including many rare pages. Here are highlights of some of the comic art organized by decade:

1946 cover from Stuntman Issue 3

Just after Kirby's World War II service, Jack was back again creating new concepts and characters with his partner Joe Simon. This cover from Stuntman, issue 3 was never published. Harry Mendryk, an historian of Jack Kirby's Simon and Kirby career provided this information: "Stuntman had 3 unpublished stories: "Jungle Lord," "Terror Island," and "The Evil Sons of M. LeBlanc." This page is from "Terror Island" which was the only story that was fully inked. Although there are three unpublished Stuntman stories they all had double page splashes. Such double pages splashes had to be printed on the centerfold and so all three stories could not have been meant for Stuntman #3. Since "Terror Island" was completely inked it probably was meant for Stuntman issue 3. The splash for "Jungle Lord" was fully inked but the rest of the story was outline inked only so it likely was meant for Stuntman issue 4. The inking splash for the LeBlanc story was unfinished and the rest of the story outlined inked only so it likely was intended for Stuntman issue 5." See Art Details »

1956 cover from Hi-School Romance

While walking home one day, Kirby passed in front of a newsstand and became aware of all the romance pulp magazines, he got the idea to create a romance comic book (source: 1993 video interview in his studio). Together with his partner Joe Simon, they created the industry's first romance titles. Hi-School Romance is one of many such titles from the 1950s. See Art Details »

1965 cover from Fantastic Four, issue 40

By 1959 Kirby's the partnership with Joe Simon had ended. He began working for the company previously known as Timely and/or Atlas, soon to be known as the Marvel Comics Group. The Fantastic Four marked the beginning of the rebirth of the superhero genre and the start of Marvel Comics' success. This cover is from 1965 is from one of the 101 issues Jack Kirby created with Stan Lee. See Art Details »

1977 cover from Captain America Annual, issue 4

In 1969, Kirby left Marvel Comics to start his own line of comics called the Fourth World with competitor DC Comics. Only lasting until 1975, Kirby returned to Marvel Comics to create several new titles. Captain America, however was the only title he resumed work on. This powerful splash is from Captain America Annual issue 4. See Art Details »

1977 cover from Captain America Annual, issue 4

By 1978, Kirby wanted a change and left the comic industry all together to work in animation where he originally started his career in the late 1930s. By the 1980s however, Kirby decided to return to comics to work for smaller independent companies where he could create his own comics and retain rights to his characters. This one, Silver Star, from 1983 was originally intended as a screenplay for a movie. Several sources have indicated that this cover was inked by Kirby himself. If confirmed, it's one of the few later examples of Kirby inking Kirby. See Art Details »

Other Key Pieces
The following are just some other great pages scanned at the con. Many more to follow on What if Kirby.

1977 splash from 2001: A Space Odyssey, issue 6
1978 panel page from The Silver Surfer graphic novel
1965 splash page from The X-Men, issue 9
1975 panel page from Justice Inc., issue 3
1983 cover from Captain Victory, issue 13