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.
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.
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.
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.