The Kirby Design Meme

By | Friday, November 17, 2006 6 comments
The past few years, I've been writing a column for Jack Kirby Collector that looks at Kirby's visual design of characters. It's been infinitely fascinating for me, and I almost always find some surprises in my research on Kirby's design processes for the characters I write about.

I thought I'd bring other people into the fold by my first attempt at starting a blogosphere meme. Here's the premise:

Forget Jack's overall storytelling, forget his characterization, just look at the visual representation of his characters -- the actual drawings themselves. Now tell us what YOU think is the best character design Jack Kirby ever created and why. The challenge, it seems to me, isn't so much finding a good (or even great) character design; it's narrowing the field down to just one! I found a site that lists well over 600 characters Jack created. Just for Marvel. And it doesn't even touch on the ones you already know about like the FF and the X-Men!

To kick things off, I'm going to vote for the Silver Surfer. There's an amazing elegance in the character's simplicity. It's easy enough to say, "Well, it's just a naked person -- where's the design?" But I think that glosses over things too quickly. The Surfer, you might note, is NOT simply a naked person. Most obviously, there's no genetalia. But take a closer look. There are no toes either. Or fingernails. Or pupils. Or ears. And he's totally bald -- not even eyebrows. He's not just a naked person; he's a streamlined person. It's as if all the bumps and blobs on the human body were removed. Human elegance without human imperfection. The template for a human being before it's had a chance to be tarnished by reality.

But, the Surfer's just MY vote for Kirby's best character design. What's yours? Feel free to either reply here or post it on your own blog. And be sure to tell me so I can keep direct all of my visitors to your sites as well!
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6 comments:

plok said...

Hi, Sean! Well, I wrote mine, but Blogger's having conniptions right now, so I can't post it. I'll let you know when it goes through.

And I tagged RAB.

I took my cue from your pick, which made it easier: all I had to do was respond. But now I've got a half-a-hundred ideas for ones just as good! I think this may prove to be a very fruitful meme...

plok said...

It's posted now!

Jim Roeg said...

Hey Sean, I love the Silver Surfer too, and I hadn't ever puzzled out what makes him so appealing, so thanks for these remarks! I've added my favorite Kirby character to the mix, though it won't be much of a surprise, I'm afraid!

plok said...

Sean, Plok here...I couldn't wait, I had to do my other Kirby design choice! And, forgive me, I'd like you to post another picture, since I don't have a scanner.

Would you?

woooww,,, Hey Sean, I love the Silver Surfer too, and I hadn't ever puzzled out what makes him so appealing, so thanks for these remarks! I've added my favorite Kirby character to the mix, though it won't be much of a surprise, I'm afraid!

And I tagged RAB.

I took my cue from your pick, which made it easier: all I had to do was respond. But now I've got a half-a-hundred ideas for ones just as good! I think this may prove to be a very fruitful