From the Bunker Labelled Command D

Here’s Day 19 of the month-long Jack Kir­by Trib­ute, in hon­or of his birth­day this month. Suggested/sponsored by Howard Simp­son, it’s open to all cre­atives, and you can find peo­ple’s work on your favorite social media plat­forms by the hash­tag #Kir­b­yArt­Trib­ut­es.

Today’s prompt reads, “Draw a char­ac­ter or scene from Jack Kir­by’s Kaman­di series.” I chose to depict Kaman­di him­self, along with his friend Ben Box­er in his armored-up form. They’re going down into some bust­ed-up Sub­way, maybe in search of some­thing or some­one, obvi­ous­ly on their guard. On Earth A.D. (After Dis­as­ter), you can’t be too careful!

I have a lot of affec­tion for the Kaman­di book and the char­ac­ter. And it seems like I’m not alone in that. A num­ber of peo­ple around my age seem to have a sim­i­lar affec­tion for the book. And of all Jack­’s post-Fourth World titles he did for DC, Kaman­di sold the best and last­ed the longest, con­tin­u­ing on in oth­er hands for a good while even after Jack left and went back to Marvel.

I think there must have been some­thing in the air at the time. Not just Plan­et of the Apes, but oth­er films (like Logan’s Run) and sci fi that had a fas­ci­na­tion with dystopias that came about after our cur­rent world col­lapsed for one rea­son or another.

On a per­son­al lev­el, I came across Kaman­di just about the time I was begin­ning to rec­og­nize indi­vid­ual artists and remem­ber their names. I’d seen some of Kir­by’s work ear­li­er, but had not been quite old enough for his name to reg­is­ter with me just yet. This was the right time, and the right book. I became a full-fledged Kir­by nut after this. Not hav­ing any con­nec­tion to wider fan­dom as a kid and an aspir­ing artist, I had this naive thought that, “Kir­by’s get­ting old­er. He’s got­ta be like in his 50’s! Even­tu­al­ly he’s going to retire, and some­one will need to pick up the baton from him! Maybe it should be me!”

Of course, I had no idea just how many oth­er fan artists there were out there who had sim­i­lar ideas of try­ing to be the next Kir­by. I went through a lengthy “Jack Kir­by phase” as a young artist, not real­ly under­stand­ing the under­ly­ing “why” of what he did yet. I just saw the sur­face, loved the ener­gy and the imag­i­na­tion, and thought it was what comics should be. Even­tu­al­ly I grew out of my fix­a­tion on try­ing to draw like him, but I can still see Kir­by as a com­po­nent of my artis­tic DNA, whether any­one else can or not. Kir­by and his work still mat­ter a great deal to me. Which is why I’m par­tic­i­pat­ing in this Tribute!

Any­way, hope you like my shot at Kaman­di, and please come back for tomor­row’s image!

2 thoughts on “From the Bunker Labelled Command D

  1. joe musich

    Some­how I knew you would get around to Kaman­di. I too have too have great affec­tion for the title. I think it is the “kid” in me. In some ways, he has the appeal of Bil­ly Batson–a kid need­ing but also will­ing to take repon­si­bil­i­ty for him­self as well oth­ers. That is a hard for­mu­la not to like.
    Your series has brought me to do more think­ing about the Kir­by art than any­thing. I guess a dai­ly dose of the Jack will do that. Last night as I was sit­ting in the back yard read­ing the news I had a “eure­ka” moment. Now remem­ber, unlike your­self, I am not an artist. Jack­’s work grows. One image blends into anoth­er. I do not mean ani­mat­ed, which it also is, but I mean like a plant grow­ing out of the earth. No earth, no plant. No plant, no earth. He blurs the lines of sep­a­ra­tion between items in the space of his pan­els and pages. I cite Kaman­di cov­er #1. The Build­ing and the Stat­ue of Lib­er­ty and Kaman­di raft­ing would be mean­ing­less pupose­ly and visu­al­ly if they were sin­gu­lar images. Each flows and weeps and grows out of the oth­er, like the Thing’s hand reach­ing from under­neath a rock. The word “organ­ic” gets tossed around a lot these days. I would use that word as it applies to being alive. Every­thing is “alive” in his art, even things we usu­al­ly see as not liv­ing. Thanks Mark for anoth­er great piece.

    1. Mark Post author

      Wow, thanks for the observations/meditations on Kir­by’s work! Inter­est­ing ideas.
      I’d nev­er made the asso­ci­a­tion before with Bil­ly Bat­son, but I can see it. I also think of Kaman­di as being a bit like Ter­ry from Ter­ry and the Pirates, in that as a nor­mal kid, he’s sort of the read­er’s entrée/tourguide into the exot­ic world you’re vis­it­ing with him.
      There’s also anoth­er Cap­tain Mar­vel con­nec­tion in Kamandi’s sto­ry. Though not stat­ed in the com­ic, my under­stand­ing is that Jack had it in mind that Kamandi’s grand­fa­ther who raised him in the bunker was actu­al­ly Bud­dy Blank. Fans of OMAC will rec­og­nize that Bud­dy was the one who got trans­formed into OMAC. If you think about it, there’s a cer­tain amount of Capt. Mar­vel in OMAC: a small­ish guy who gets zapped from above and trans­formed into this more pow­er­ful oth­er individual.


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