July 6, 2012
This April piece from imprint – Jack Kirby’s Collages in Context by Steven Brower – is an excellent examination of a little-explored aspect of one of the most popular artists of the second half of the twentieth century. It’s well worth your time to read it.
Did I mention that the artist in question is Jack Kirby, who worked in the once-critically disdained now fashionable and honored field of comic books? In these days with The New York Times covering the editorial decisions of DC and Marvel along with compiling a best-seller list for graphic novels, it would seem like a pretty good time to be a founding father of a massive vertical entertainment monopoly.
Unfortunately, Jack Kirby died in 1994 and did not live to see the incredible success of the superhero characters he created. Nor would he have shared in any of the flood of money generated by his creativity, the rights to work-for-hire comic book pages in the 1960s and 107os are owned in perpetuity by the corporation, not the artist.
When I read the stories that featured the collages Brower examines, the fact that they might be the topic of serious, academic treatment was completely off my radar. I couldn’t imagine such a thing being taken seriously by ‘the establishment.’ Although I certainly took in Kirby’s vision as raw, barely filtered, wildly creative art.
Here’s a Kirby collage that had not been previously published. It’s still pretty trippy even fifty years after it was created. Click on the image to see the entire collage.