Kirby Research

By | Saturday, September 16, 2006 Leave a Comment
Today, I'm working on my next "Incidental Iconography" column for The Jack Kirby Collector.

Typically, I start by looking at the theme the editor has proposed for the issue and choosing a character to focus on that somehow ties in with that theme. Sometimes I have some idea of characters I'd like to examine first, and try to put them in tie into a particular theme.

One of my criteria, though, is access to artwork. I'm sitting here in Ohio, my editor/publisher is in North Carolina, the Jack Kirby Museum is based out of New Jersey, and Lisa Kirby lives out in California. So unless I want to rack up huge airline bills, I'm stuck with essentially whatever's in my personal collection and the bits and pieces of artwork I can find online. So sometimes I simply can't do adequate research on a character and I'm forced to choose another. (I was somewhat stuck in that position when I opted to do a piece on Mr. Miracle.)

But I usually find at least a couple of pieces to start with and fire off a note to my editor that I'll be working on such-n-such character, and he might start tracking down various pieces of art when he starts to work on the issue. What I find infinitely fascinating, though, is that I'll start looking at the body of artwork that I have and start putting it in some sort of order. And I start seeing things that aren't really obvious looking at the pieces individually. Sometimes extremely subtle things. But the pieces, when looked at collectively, tell a story unto themselves. I dare say it's not unlike a filmmaker trying to put together a documentary. S/he has a basic outline to start with, but as more footage becomes available, the story starts unfolding in unexpected ways.

This morning, I began writing about Herbie the robot. I had a basic outline of what I wanted to touch on and some basic points to make. But in looking at the various artwork, I saw some profound things about Jack's designs on the whole that I would never expected to see.

But to read exactly what those are, I'm going to have to let you wonder until my article is actually published! Be sure to check out Jack Kirby Collector #47 due out at the end of October.
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