Tag Archives: Jack Kirby

The Supreme Allied Commando!

Here’s anoth­er fake cov­er I drew for Big Bang’s His­to­ry issues. Not only fresh­ly col­ored, but also inked for the first time! A lot of fake cov­ers need­ed to be gen­er­at­ed for those issues, and there was­n’t time to ink them all. Since they were being print­ed pret­ty small, it was okay if some of them were in pen­cils, as long as they were fair­ly clean and tight.

Gary Carl­son had incor­po­rat­ed into the Badge’s back sto­ry that at a cer­tain point dur­ing WWII, he took up anoth­er name for a time and changed his uni­form accord­ing­ly, going into action as the Supreme Allied Com­man­do. I think this is the first time he’s appeared in col­or in this garb.

Ini­tial­ly when I first tack­led design­ing the Badge, I took my inspi­ra­tion from the heroes Simon and Kir­by cre­at­ed for DC (prob­a­bly the Guardian espe­cial­ly). For this ver­sion, I looked back at what they had been doing with Cap­tain Amer­i­ca, of course.

While Cap­tain Amer­i­ca was a patri­ot­ic super­hero (the prime one peo­ple think of from WWII), I real­ized awhile back that Simon and Kir­by’s Cap sto­ries also had some­thing else going on. There was a def­i­nite influ­ence from the “weird men­ace” pulp genre, with the kind of foes they went up against. It was even on the cov­ers, with the mad sci­en­tists per­form­ing unspeak­able exper­i­ments, evil hench­men, deformed mon­sters, and odd men in hood­ed robes who would some­times throw axes. Strange­ly, I’ve rarely heard any­one else call­ing atten­tion to that influence.

That’s why all those things are present here. I even came up with names for the two main bad guys that I jot­ted down on the out­side bor­der of my cov­er: Dr. Von Mungler and his hench­man Oggar.

Enjoy! And with the tim­ing of this post­ing, I wish you a Hap­py Inde­pen­dence Day!


Fake comic cover for Big Bang Comics' Venus #198, with the character Olivia featured on the cover.As has no doubt become clear, I did a lot of fake cov­ers for “The Big Bang His­to­ry of Comics” issues. This one end­ed up being espe­cial­ly fun, for rea­sons you’ll under­stand when I explain who did what.

This cov­er is for the most part my work. I pen­ciled it, let­tered it, and now col­ored it. The inks? By none oth­er than (drum­roll please) Mr. Mike Roy­er him­self! He was Kir­by’s best inker in the ’70s, no ques­tion in my mind. I still kind of can’t believe this hap­pened. More about that in a minute.

Oblivia came about because I was think­ing of those odd char­ac­ters like the Black Rac­er who would sud­den­ly pop up ran­dom­ly out of nowhere in the midst of Jack­’s Fourth World saga at DC. I start­ed think­ing about what Joe Kingler (Big Bang Comics’ equiv­a­lent for Jack) might have done in the con­text of work­ing on Venus, and the name “Oblivia” popped into my head. It seemed to me very much the sort of “play on words” name that Jack often used. So a Venus cov­er fea­tur­ing her did­n’t at all seem out of line.

When I pen­ciled this cov­er, I had no clue who might end up ink­ing it. I prob­a­bly would­n’t have gone ahead and let­tered it if I had known. So when Big Bang’s Gary Carl­son raised a few pos­si­bil­i­ties for inkers, Mike Roy­er being one of them, it was the no-brain­er of all no-brain­ers to say, “Yes!”

I actu­al­ly had the oppor­tu­ni­ty to pick up the fin­ished cov­er in per­son, and was thrilled with the end result. I got to spend a very fun Sun­day after­noon hang­ing out at Mr. Roy­er’s home, con­vers­ing and hear­ing a lot of great sto­ries about his time in comics, work­ing for Dis­ney doing licens­ing art, plus oth­er top­ics. Again, thanks so much, Mr. Royer!

In col­or­ing this, I heav­i­ly ref­er­enced the way all those Fourth World cov­ers at DC were col­ored. That guid­ed me to go in some direc­tions I prob­a­bly would­n’t have gone if I were just col­or­ing this nor­mal­ly on my own (like knock­ing the gang­sters out all in green), but it helped to real­ly get across the right peri­od look.

Thanks for looking!

Venus Vs. Cupid

Fake comics cover for Big Bang Comics' Venus #169, with Ares looming in the backgroundI’m adding anoth­er to the group of fake cov­ers I had a hand in cre­at­ing some­time back for “The Big Bang His­to­ry of Comics” issues of Big Bang Comics. Cred­its on this one take a lit­tle expla­na­tion. Pen­cils were by Frank Squil­lace, inks and let­ter­ing by me. Frank did a col­or comp on a pho­to­copy with mark­ers, which I marked up with col­or for­mu­la call­outs to cre­ate a col­orist guide.

This cov­er end­ed up being repur­posed as an actu­al Big Bang cov­er for issue #34, with dif­fer­ent trade dress. For that instance, I believe some­one at Image actu­al­ly gen­er­at­ed the col­or file used to print it, based on the col­or guide we’d pro­vid­ed. I don’t think I actu­al­ly did that one myself in Pho­to­shop, because after much search­ing, I don’t seem to have a file for it. Which means the ver­sion you see here has been total­ly recol­ored by me from scratch in Pho­to­shop, ref­er­enc­ing the col­or guide. I tweaked the ren­der­ing in a few spots to plus what was in the print­ed ver­sion a lit­tle bit, so a sharp eye might spot some of those differences.

I sus­pect most vis­i­tors will imme­di­ate­ly real­ize that Frank and I were shoot­ing for a Jack Kir­by style here. I always thought of Big Bang as sort of “comics his­to­ry through a fun­house mir­ror.” It’s known that when Jack Kir­by jumped from Mar­vel to DC, they offered him any book he want­ed. Jack was­n’t com­fort­able with putting any­one out of work, so he said, “give me your least-sell­ing book.” That’s how Jim­my Olsen end­ed up as part of Jack­’s Fourth World Saga at DC. Any­one who’s stud­ied Jack­’s work knows he had a life­long fas­ci­na­tion with myths and leg­ends. So I thought, what if instead of Jim­my Olsen, Jack had tak­en on Won­der Woman? In Big Bang terms, that would’ve trans­lat­ed to Joe Kingler (Big Bang’s Kir­by equiv­a­lent) tak­ing on the char­ac­ter Venus.

This is the first time this has appeared in col­or with the orig­i­nal Venus mast­head. Hope you enjoy it!

Behind the Badge Again

Fake Comic Cover for Red Hot Comics #17, with Big Bang Comics' the Badge and His RookiesI explained last time how, when Big Bang Comics did a cou­ple issues focused on the fic­ti­tious his­to­ry of the com­pa­ny (mim­ic­k­ing Ster­anko’s His­to­ry of Comics vol­umes), they need­ed a whole bunch of fake cov­ers to pull it off and make it all feel believ­able. Here’s anoth­er one from the bunch I generated.

I drew this back then, inked (I believe) by Jeff Mey­er. And now for the first time, appear­ing in col­or! It’s fun to final­ly see this real­ized in this form, after hav­ing it exist only in black and white for all these years.

I’m not exact­ly sure where the idea for this cov­er came from. Per­haps I was think­ing about Simon & Kir­by’s kick-off run of Cap­tain Amer­i­ca, which seemed to draw a lot of inspi­ra­tion from the “weird men­ace” genre of pulps (an ingre­di­ent I’m sur­prised that most peo­ple don’t seem to pick up on). I kin­da wish I could read “The Vam­pire of Var­ney Street!”

I had fun doing this. Hope you enjoy it!

Behind the Badge

Fake Comic Cover Red Hot Comics #14, with Big Bang Comics' the Badge and His RookiesLong­time vis­i­tors to my site might know that back in the ’90s, I was a con­trib­u­tor to Gary Carl­son and Chris Eck­er’s Big Bang Comics. The first issue had­n’t quite come out through Cal­iber yet when I came onboard, I  think, but some mate­r­i­al was already done.

When I met him, Gary was look­ing for some­one to draw a Simon & Kir­by type Gold­en Age char­ac­ter he had in mind called the Badge, and he’d been point­ed my way. I got to have a pret­ty good hand in devel­op­ing the char­ac­ter, his look and that of side­kicks Troop­er and Bob­bie, even mak­ing some sug­ges­tions about the char­ac­ters’ back sto­ries. So I have to admit to feel­ing a bit of pro­pri­etary inter­est in the Badge.

We even­tu­al­ly did a cou­ple issues of Big Bang sub­ti­tled “The Big Bang His­to­ry of Comics,” in imi­ta­tion of the Ster­anko His­to­ry of Comics vol­umes (not real­ly par­o­dy except in the most lov­ing and respect­ful way, because we all had a lot of affec­tion for those books, as they were a gate­way into a life­long inter­est in comics his­to­ry for many of us).

The His­to­ry issues end­ed up being Big Bang Comics #24 and #27. If you’ve seen the Ster­anko books, imi­tat­ing those meant we need­ed a whole bunch of fake cov­ers! So I and a num­ber of oth­er artists set about to gen­er­ate them. I recent­ly made a list, and was shocked to see just how many I did, while simul­ta­ne­ous­ly hold­ing down my day job in animation!

Any­way, to what you’re see­ing here: this was one of the ear­li­est fake cov­ers I gen­er­at­ed for Big Bang. If my mem­o­ry’s right, I think it might even have appeared as far back as the Cal­iber minis­eries. I recall it appear­ing in col­or, but small, like part of a back cov­er ad. Recent­ly, I thought it would be fun to go back and revis­it a num­ber of those old fake cov­ers I did, and give them the full col­or treat­ment they always called out for. Most have nev­er been seen in col­or at all!

The char­ac­ters along the left side were ones I just made up on the spot, but most of them end­ed up appear­ing in Big Bang sto­ries at one point or anoth­er. I sort of thought of Big Bang as “comics his­to­ry through a fun­house mir­ror,” and to that end when I was draw­ing up this cov­er, I just made up char­ac­ters that felt like they were play­ing with some of those famil­iar old Gold­en Age arche­types, but hope­ful­ly also feel­ing like you had­n’t entire­ly seen them before.

Pen­cils, let­ter­ing (and now col­or­ing) are mine; inks were by Jeff Mey­er (I believe), who inked sev­er­al of my fake cov­ers for the His­to­ry issues, and did a nice job of giv­ing them the cor­rect fin­ished look and feel. You can check out anoth­er of our fake cov­er col­lab­o­ra­tions here.

I still have oth­er cov­ers in the pipeline that I might post too, but I had­n’t put any­thing up here in awhile, and thought this might be fun. Hope you enjoy!

And thanks always, Gary, for let­ting me have a lot of fun on the Big Bang play­ground! Those inter­est­ed can check out more recent Big Bang issues over on Indy Plan­et.

One More for the Road!

Recent vis­i­tors to my site in August will know that I was doing the online Jack Kir­by Trib­ute every day, the brain­child of Howard Simp­son. it was a blast par­tic­i­pat­ing, refresh­ing my appre­ci­a­tion all over again for all the great work Kir­by did over the years.

I stuck to a very spe­cif­ic for­mat with all of these: por­traits in a small square, col­ored with the lim­it­ed palette used in the old comics most of these char­ac­ters orig­i­nal­ly appeared in, even down to the dot pat­terns. And I had in mind that the end goal was to be able to assem­ble them all into one com­pos­ite image. I was­n’t sure how that would work out, but here’s how it did!

This was kind of just a per­son­al challenge/exercise in tak­ing the Trib­ute a step fur­ther. Not sure what hap­pens with it beyond this point.

Hope you enjoyed the ride!

A Jolly Old Time!

We’ve made it! Day 31 of our month-long online Jack Kir­by trib­ute, in hon­or of his birth­day this month (back on the 28th). The brain­child of Howard Simp­son, you can find the work of par­tic­i­pants on your favorite social media plat­forms via the hash­tag #Kir­b­yArt­Trib­ut­es.

The prompt for this last day reads, “Draw your own orig­i­nal char­ac­ter. The King would want you to cre­ate char­ac­ters you own.” So I present: the Jol­ly Jaunter!

The rea­son I went with him is that he was a char­ac­ter I orig­i­nal­ly came up with back when I was 14 or 15, when I was heav­i­ly into a phase of try­ing to draw like Kir­by. Kind of a sil­ly, satir­i­cal British super­hero. I’m not sure where he came from exact­ly, as at that point, it was­n’t as if I had seen much of jack­’s humor work (like Fight­ing Amer­i­can) yet. Wher­ev­er it came from, the idea struck my fun­ny­bone, and I had to draw it. Buried deep in my files, I still had the drawing!

It was a lit­tle odd, revis­it­ing a draw­ing and a char­ac­ter I had done when I was that young. How often do you do that? Obvi­ous­ly 14/15-year-old me had­n’t both­ered to dig up ref­er­ence for how a Union Jack flag real­ly works, or real­ly thought through how the col­or would work. What can I say? The idea amused me at the time. But there you go!  For what it’s worth, the Jol­ly Jaunter is ™ & © Mark Lewis.

Thanks for look­ing, and for fol­low­ing all my Kir­by Trib­utes this month!

On to Victory!

We’re get­ting close to the end! Day 30 of our month-long online Jack Kir­by Art Trib­ute. Suggested/sponsored by Howard Simp­son, you can find the work online on your favorite social media plat­forms by the hash­tag #Kir­b­yArt­Trib­ut­es.

I’m going off-menu again today. The prompt sug­gests doing a “Kir­by Col­lage,” of the type Jack was known for doing in his spare time, some­times even find­ing ways to use them in his comics. But I could­n’t think of a way to do that and have it fit in the­mat­i­cal­ly with the rest of what I’m doing. So instead, I chose to draw Cap­tain Victory.

This was the title that launched a brand new com­ic com­pa­ny in the ear­ly ’80s, Pacif­ic Comics. As men­tioned yes­ter­day, the fact that Jack Kir­by was doing a com­ic for a new start­up pub­lish­er and not for Mar­vel or DC again, was a Big Deal. It was thought that the “Big Two” were real­ly the only game in town, so it can’t be over­stat­ed that this was big news.

One of the rea­sons Kir­by was will­ing to do this was con­tained right there in the indi­cia in the front of the book: “™ & © Jack Kir­by.” This was­n’t some­thing he was ever like­ly to get from Mar­vel or DC, and I’m sure the var­i­ous frus­tra­tions he’d had with both pub­lish­ers at dif­fer­ent points over the years were also part of his inter­est in going inde­pen­dent again (like he and Joe Simon had tried once before with Mainline).

The sto­ry of Cap­tain Vic­to­ry and his Galac­tic Rangers was inspired at least in part by Jack watch­ing E.T. and think­ing that “first con­tact” was not like­ly to be so benign. In fact, con­sid­er­ing some of the things that hap­pened when explor­ers came from Europe to the “New World,” Jack thought more like­ly it could go hor­ri­bly wrong..for us! And that was the seed of the story.

Front and cen­ter you’ve got Cap­tain Vic­to­ry. Behind him to the left is Major Klavus, and to the right is Tarin.

Hope you like it. One more to go!

Silver Star

This is Day 29 of our month-long Jack Kir­by Trib­ute online. The brain­child of Howard Simp­son, you’ll be able to find the work of par­tic­i­pants on your favorite social media plat­forms by the hash­tag #Kir­b­yArt­Trib­ut­es.

I actu­al­ly post­ed today’s prompt (a Jack Kir­by por­trait) yes­ter­day, in hon­or of Jack­’s birth­day. So today is catch­ing up with yes­ter­day’s prompt: Sil­ver Star.

There are sev­er­al unique things about this char­ac­ter. One is (if I’m not mis­tak­en) the sto­ry start­ed off as a screen­play, and Jack turned it into this lim­it­ed series (The cov­ers have a bul­let read­ing “A Visu­al Nov­el.”). I believe Jack orig­i­nal­ly thought in terms of his Fourth World series at DC as an epic sto­ry that would come to a def­i­nite con­clu­sion, but he was­n’t allowed to do that then. Lim­it­ed series, or minis­eries, just weren’t some­thing comics pub­lish­ers did yet in those days. If a book was a suc­cess, they want­ed it to just keep going and going as long as possible.

The oth­er thing about Sil­ver Star was the fact it was not pub­lished by Mar­vel or DC! Pacif­ic Comics was a start­up pub­lish­er look­ing to estab­lish them­selves as a sol­id alter­na­tive in the mar­ket­place. Though Jack had done work for oth­er pub­lish­ers over the years, at this point in time the “Big Two” were thought to be the only real game in town. So the news that no less a per­son­age than Jack Kir­by him­self was going to cre­ate new comics for a new pub­lish­er was a Big Deal. It can’t be over­stat­ed how big that news was at the time. Pacif­ic kicked things off with Cap­tain Vic­to­ry (stay tuned), but Sil­ver Star was Jack­’s next offer­ing through them.

And this part is impor­tant: the indi­cias for both books read “™ & © Jack Kir­by.” This was some­thing he was­n’t going to get at either Mar­vel or DC, so I’m sure it mat­tered a great deal to him. Jack­’s inspi­ra­tion for the name appears to have come from the Sil­ver Star Medal award­ed by the US mil­i­tary for val­or in com­bat. In fact, in the sto­ry, Jack has Mor­gan Miller gain­ing the nick­name from his squad after he’s been award­ed the Sil­ver Star.

In the back­ground of this image is the antag­o­nist of the sto­ry, Dar­ius Drumm. I’ve nev­er tried to draw these char­ac­ters before, so that was a bit of a chal­lenge. I’m still not quite sure just how Sil­ver Star’s hel­met works…

Hope you enjoy, and please tune in again tomorrow!

The King

It’s the 28th Day of our month-long online Jack Kir­by Trib­ute, suggested/sponsored by Howard Simp­son. You can find the work on your favorite social media plat­forms by the hash­tag #Kir­b­yArt­Trib­ut­es.

Today’s prompt is sup­posed to be Jack­’s Sil­ver Star char­ac­ter, but I’m tak­ing the lib­er­ty of shift­ing things around a lit­tle bit. Instead, I’m doing tomor­row’s prompt: “Jack Kir­by por­trait— Draw a por­trait of Jack Kir­by him­self.” My rea­son­ing is because today is actu­al­ly Jack Kir­by’s birth­day! Born in 1917, this would be his 106th birth­day today (if my math is right). So I feel like post­ing the por­trait today is appro­pri­ate. A con­fes­sion: I’m not real­ly a por­trait kind of artist. It took some work to get this to where I felt com­fort­able with it, but I did get there.

The King’s lega­cy lives on in all the great work he left us, and all the cre­ative inspi­ra­tion he’s pro­vid­ed. There are some artists who make you feel like giv­ing up, break­ing your pen­cils and walk­ing away, because you’ll nev­er be as good as they are. But then there are artists like Kir­by who, although you know you can’t do what he did, there’s some­thing in the work that fires you up and inspires you to go and create!

I hope you like my attempt at por­trai­ture here, and tune in again tomor­row to see my shot at Sil­ver Star.