« Great moments in US duck hunting, part 1 | Main | Moving on »

February 15, 2006


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

Martin Wisse

A wise guy eh?

Martin Wisse

You forgot to mention Stan's sons, Jim and Jae Lee, who became famous in the early nineties as artists and writers.


Actually, that's a common misconception.


Incidentally, there's a point I'm trying to make here, about certain US subcultures and race. (Maybe I'm being too subtle? Whoa.)

Also, based on the few pages of the on-going Seven Soldiers / Grant Morrison [1] miniseries that I looked at -- and quickly reshelved; Jesus Christ, boltcutters??? -- I think there's a fifty-fifty chance that its conclusion will re-introduce the Black Racer into the DC Universe. [2] There are thematic similarities in a certain black character's predicament.

[1] Someday, Doug, you have to explain the appeal.

[2] Death as a perky Goth girl is so 1990s. But Death as a black skier is eternal.

Bernard Guerrero

Having been long divorced from the world of comic books (some issues of Scout: War Shaman being my last purchases before real life intruded), I find that you're being way too subtle. Please do fill me in. My daughter just got a copy of "Justice League Unlimited" along with some action figures, and has suddenly become hero-obsessed, so I have some catching up to do.


It's a complicated one, Bernard. But here's the basic analogy:

subculture exclusivity : normal people ::
subculture industry exclusivity : black people ::
subculture death : subcultural health.

Jack Kirby, who is now viewed as something of a god (a New God, perhaps), was born Jacob Kurtzberg on the Lower East Side of NYC, and was not black. I concocted that biography to show there was no a priori reason why he couldn't have been.

But the comic book industry was and is still incredibly... whiteboy.

Meanwhile, despite the genre's successful resistance to outsiders, the superhero comic book seems to have entered a slow death spiral.

It won't affect your daughter though. Outside of comics, superhero properties are still innovative and vital.

Doug M.

Slow death spiral of the superhero comic book: I agree. Although note slow, superhero, and comic book. Non-comic superhero properties, as you say, are vigorous; on a much smaller scale, so are non-superhero comics.

At the moment, their growth is sharply limited by distribution issues. Most comics are sold in comic book stores, which are economically dependent on superhero comics. If they can ever break out of this, though... that could be interesting.

Note that non-superhero comics are much less prone to the industry's whiteness and boyness; cf. "Love and Rockets", "Strangers in Paradise", et al. And then of course manga; but that really deserves a post of its own.

Grant Morrisson: he's very uneven, and the Seven Soldiers are not shaping up as his best. Go and borrow the Doom Patrol TPB from someone, okay?

Final thought on Kirby: remember that he was a writer as well as an artist. I suspect an African-American Kirby would have been a very different sort of writer; even if he'd kept the same themes -- cosmic clashes of good vs. evil, and such -- there's something very Jewish-American about classic Kirby dialogue.

Hang on [googles]...

Yah. Here's Harvey Jerkwater on Kirby:

"Kingese is overheated prose, every verb in boldface, and every damn sentence ending in an exclamation point. Plus, of course, Kirby's patented bizarro terminology. The Fourth World titles were written in fluent Kingese:

Caption: Trogdor tears down the steel door! Metal shreds beneath his power!
Trogdor: This day must not end with a Fire Penguin crushed by Strongbad!
Sookie: Hurry! The song of battle calls! I need a lozenge!
Caption: The Positron Lozenge cures the evils of hay fever!

"Like beatnik poetry, Kingese has charm, but it reads like the work of a man for whom English was a fifth language, striving for eloquence after drinking two bottles of cough syrup..."

I just think AA Kirby would have a completely different, um, rhythym. With long-term effects on writing across the industry.

Doug M.


Doug, that's precisely why I think Sun Ra is an excellent comparison to Kirby. I mean, Sun Ra and his Arkestra? Pure Fourth World, man.

It's not particularly Jewish-American. But it is Cosmic-American.

Bernard Guerrero

On a perhaps not entirely unrelated note, I'm trying to figure out what the catch is, here:


Apart from the dangers inherent in double-selling title, of course. Though that opens up a market for soul-title searches....

The comments to this entry are closed.