Kirby 100, Part 3

Wel­come back to anoth­er install­ment, cel­e­brat­ing Jack Kirby’s 100th birth­day this month!

This time out is Thor. Again, the pen­cil draw­ing came my way years back in the form of a pho­to­copy, and I believe the orig­i­nal source was a sketch­book Jack did for his wife Roz, which ulti­mate­ly saw print as a book enti­tled Jack Kirby’s Heroes and Vil­lains. It was yet anoth­er Kir­by draw­ing that caught my eye, and looked like it would be fun to try ink­ing. Fresh­ly col­ored for show­ing here.

When I first got to a point where I had suf­fi­cient funds to begin attempt­ing to col­lect more back issues of Kirby’s Mar­vel work, I tend­ed to not seek out Jour­ney into Mys­tery (where Thor first appeared) or Thor issues. I just didn’t like the inks as much as I did the inks over Kir­by on his oth­er strips. How­ev­er, as I read more about Kirby’s work (and espe­cial­ly his Thor work), I real­ized that I was miss­ing out.

Kirby’s Thor work is sig­nif­i­cant, because in it you see not only a bril­liant comics artist and sto­ry­teller doing a great job. You also see some­thing of Kir­by the man, and his inter­ests. Just as in Fan­tas­tic Four you can see Kirby’s fas­ci­na­tion with the unknown, what’s out there, in Thor you see Kirby’s fas­ci­na­tion with myth and leg­end (a touch­stone through­out his career). I feel that while all of Kirby’s Mar­vel work is great, both Fan­tas­tic Four and Thor are the two main tent posts of his work dur­ing that peri­od which can’t be disregarded.

I tried in col­or­ing this to evoke the kind of col­or palette you see in those old Thor comics. It was fun!

Hap­py Kir­by 100! One more to go, if I can man­age it.

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3 Responses to Kirby 100, Part 3

  1. John Pierce says:

    Very nice, Mark. Thor was prob­a­bly my favorite of the ear­ly Mar­vel char­ac­ters (though I also liked Dare­dev­il quite a bit), per­haps because he seemed to be the one who most resem­bled DC char­ac­ters in some ways. And although I hadn’t yet become a fan of the orig­i­nal Cap­tain Mar­vel (that was in process but wouldn’t ful­ly bloom until a few years lat­er), still, the fact that Thor bore some resem­blance to CM (not to men­tion more par­tic­u­lar­ly CM Jr.–the phys­i­cal hand­i­cap in his every­day iden­ti­ty) no doubt played a role.

    • Mark says:

      As far as the resem­blance to Cap­tain Mar­vel (and CM Jr.) goes, there’s also the mag­i­cal trans­for­ma­tion from the civil­ian iden­ti­ty to hero which is anoth­er similarity.
      There are some who felt that Thor was actu­al­ly ear­ly Marvel’s clos­est equiv­a­lent to Super­man: sent to Earth by his father, super-strong, vir­tu­al­ly invul­ner­a­ble, wear­ing a red cape and a (most­ly) blue outfit.

  2. John Pierce says:

    Mark, yes, it was the mag­i­cal trans­for­ma­tion which I had in mind. Although both Don Blake and Thor were adults, the size dif­fer­ence seemed about the same as that between Bil­ly Bat­son and Cap­tain Marvel. 

    And yes, I should have men­tioned that Thor also called to mind Super­man, although for some rea­son the “sent to Earth by his father” aspect is one I’d nev­er thought of before. 

    In any event, the ear­ly Lee-Kir­by Thor sto­ries were very good. Those and the lat­er Walt Simon­s­son sto­ries are prob­a­bly the best of the entire his­to­ry of the char­ac­ter, although I recall that Roy Thomas did cred­itable work on the char­ac­ter, as well.

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