If you’ve visited my site before, you might know that awhile back I was dubbed the de facto “cover editor” for FCA (the Fawcett Collectors of America), a “magazine within a magazine,” appearing in Roy Thomas’ Alter Ego (published by TwoMorrows). Occasionally, I actually do a cover myself (like the one you see here). This time, I not only did the cover for this upcoming issue, I also wrote the article!
The issue of Alter Ego in question is focused on comics creator/writer/artist Jack Kirby. Most of you know that he did work for Marvel and DC, and maybe you’re even aware that he did a handful of work for other publishers too. But perhaps you don’t know that he also did work for Fawcett, and fairly early on! That’s what my article is about. FCA Editor P.C. Hamerlinck knows I’m a big Kirby fan, so he reached out and asked me if I’d like to write this.
When most people think of the original Captain Marvel, they probably recall the work of C.C. Beck (whom I am also a big fan of). But many don’t know that Joe Simon and Jack Kirby also worked on Captain Marvel, and very early on in his existence.
I go into more detail in the article, but the short version is that Fawcett could see they had something big going on with Captain Marvel in Whiz Comics (a title he shared with other characters), and they realized it would be a really good idea to also have a regular ongoing solo title featuring Captain Marvel. Fawcett’s first stab at this appears to be a book called Special Edition Comics. They didn’t do another one of those, and my guess is that Beck told them he couldn’t do both that and Whiz Comics by himself sustainably over the long haul, so they regrouped.
Determined to find a way to make this happen, their next attempt was Captain Marvel Adventures, and for the first issue, they reached out to the star comics team of Joe Simon and Jack Kirby. Simon and Kirby were already working full time for another publisher, but they took on this challenge (working after hours) without letting anyone know about it back on the day job.
The result is something I deal with in the article, but when it came time for a cover for this issue of FCA, I had some thoughts. The real cover to Captain Marvel Adventures #1 strikes me as looking oddly like an afterthought, as if the editors went, “Whoops! This needs to go to press now, and we forgot to have anyone do a cover!” I thought at first that it might be just a photostat of an existing Captain Marvel running figure, but P.C. Hamerlinck was told by Beck himself that someone came to him one day in the office, said they needed this drawing “right now,” and he just did it. The cover doesn’t even have a proper logo! They just slapped some typesetting across the front of it.
So my thought was, “What if instead of being an apparent last minute afterthought, they had Kirby do the cover?” One of the stories in particular seemed to lend itself pretty well to the kinds of covers he was drawing around this time period, so that’s what I went with. I’ve done drawings like Kirby before (you can find some of them around here on my site). But this cover was a real challenge, because in this comic, Kirby and Simon were trying hard to do their version of Beck. So in effect, I had to imitate an artist while he was imitating another artist! I’ve never done that before. It was a bit of a brain-bender.
I hope you like the result, and if you’re interested in reading the whole story, check out the article!
Clever idea, well-executed, Mark.
Thanks, John! I’m glad that you (as someone quite knowledgeable yourself about Fawcett) approve!
Ironically enough, my own first exposure to a CM-type character was the Fly, from the Archie Adventure line in the late 50’s, as done bt none other than Simon and Kirby — though I didn’t know that at the time, nor would their names have had any meaning to me, anyway, until a few years later. I also remember when, in an early ALTER EGO, Dr. Jerry Bails erroneously attributed the first CM story to S and K, though he did qualify his statement with the word “supposedly”.
Your comment here opens more than one can of worms, but I will try not to delve too deeply.
The Fly actually started off as Spiderman (note the lack of the hyphen), a concept Joe Simon pitched to Harvey Comics, but they passed on it (the story is in Simon’s autobiography). At one point in developing the concept, it morphed into a character called the Silver Spider, and Captain Marvel artist C.C. Beck penciled a couple pages of this version before they scrapped that direction. After that, Simon and Kirby turned it into the Fly, which (as you know) did make it into print. So the Fly has more than one connection to Captain Marvel!