So, it looks like, due to an unfortunate and possibly-deadly cocktail of chain-linked minor catastrophes involving technology, the normally-on-Fridays edition of The Rack is getting pushed back just in time for the Holiday weekend. I’ve been informed by our production staff (hi, Birdie!) that it will most likely be online tomorrow morning, when nobody’s going to be around to check it out. That’s OK – I’ll remind you guys that it exists on Wednesday, when we’ll be back and running at our normal pace after having a long weekend away.
In the meantime, you can take this opportunity to update your browsers so that you’re pointing your internet experience to http://www.therackcomic.com. As I mentioned in yesterday’s post on the site, we’re looking at doing a bit changeover in the near future so that domain’s the new home of the strip.
From Marvel’s Star Trek #7.
Art by Mike Nasser with Inks by Klaus Janson.
It’s a difficult trick, getting the…unique nature of Shatner’s delivery across in static art, but Janson’s inks did that very thing several times, across a succession of artists, in a few issues of the original Marvel Star Trek comics series. Sadly, however, the scripts were generally (at best) lackluster, possibly because of the hamstringing nature of the licensing agreement (which stated they could only use concepts and characters as they had appeared in the first movie) and the art soon joined the written end of things. Dave Cockrum would be inked by a relative unknown to disastrous effect, or Gil Kane would show up just for the paycheck, creating barely-recognizable versions of characters before wandering off to have Dan Adkins replace him on the same issue. (However, there is an early Luke McDonnell appearance worked in there, though, and that’s pretty nice.)
Anyway, I can look at just about anything Klaus Janson inks and feel a little joy in my heart. The pupil-dilated, mouth-agape face in the second panel is Kirk in a way that a Greg Land-style photoreferenced version of William Shatner with his mouth open could never be.
There’s some really great sandwich-eating action in the first panel of today’s strip. There’s also some violence and something resembling dark foreboding gloom for everyone’s favorite recently-shorn comics nerd. So, hey, there’s foodporn, action, then drama! All in three little panels! How nice is that?
Sure, there’s a few things in there I’m really excited about: Sgt Rock and Supergirl getting Showcases is a nice thing, and I love World’s Finest quite intensely. However, there’s this bit…
Also, current orders for the following SHOWCASE PRESENTS titles are cancelled. These titles will be resolicited at a later date:
- SHOWCASE PRESENTS: CAPTAIN CARROT VOL. 1 (JUN070217)
- SHOWCASE PRESENTS: THE GREAT DISASTER FEATURING THE ATOMIC KNIGHTS AND HERCULES VOL. 1 (JUL070210).
- SHOWCASE PRESENTS: THE SUICIDE SQUAD VOL. 1 (AUG070283)
- SHOWCASE PRESENTS: SECRET SOCIETY OF SUPER VILLAINS VOL. 1 TP (AUG070284)
- SHOWCASE PRESENTS: JONAH HEX VOL. 2 (SEP070223)
The real reason I love these books is the ease with which I get my hands on more obscure material. Seeing it get pushed back for whatever reason is kind of annoying, especially if I’ve pre-ordered it already and maybe even had DCBService take my money. Bah. I’m sure they’ll sort it out, but still…
None of the Gold Key Star Trek comics are any damn good, but I enjoy them for their sheer lunacy anyway. If you’ve got an hour or so to kill, you should go check out this site devoted to the off-model series. Lots of panels, covers, and commentary on the badly-executed run.
This Wednesday may not seem lean compared to many recent new comics days, but the staff at Yavin IV is glad to provide you with 15 different suggestions, where you’re sure to find something worth your time. (I particularly like how Lydia refers to a certain creator by his first name, something I’m fairly certain she despises when “fans” do it.)
If you’d like, you can mourn with me by listening to “Numb” by Pet Shop Boys. (Yes, I put “Integral” on the iPod’s screen, but that’s because it’s my favorite song.)
Please Note: This is the third year running I’ve reprinted this thing. I now find the fifth paragraph a bit amusing, since the last year has seen two deluxe hardcover reprints of Kirby’s Marvel work from the 70s, as well as the final Captain America trade paperback covering his work from that period.
Today, as you probably don’t know unless you care about this sort of thing, is Jack Kirby’s birthday. He would have been 90. It’s easy enough to get the basic biographic details, along with some great resources as far as his bibliography, so instead I’m going to tell you all what Jack means in regards to my perception of the medium. To be brief, it’s as simple as ‘comics=Jack Kirby’ in my mind. Yes, there’s many, many other excellent creators with long and storied careers, but I simply can’t imagine comics without Kirby at Marvel and DC.
The matter of who created what in the early Marvel Universe is, of course, up for a lot of debate. Kirby’s own stories varied wildly from having decided to save the company after walking in on Stan Lee crying over the fact that bankruptcy was looming to just accepting the Fantastic Four job as he would with any other western or monster or science fiction story Stan cranked out and not knowing or really caring about the script as long as the check didn’t bounce. Here’s what is a cold, hard fact, though: without Kirby, we probably would not have had the same Fantastic Four comic that captured so many young hearts and helped make superheroes cool again.
As Stan found himself busier and busier with his myriad responsibilities as editor-in-chief, huckster, and writer, the burden fell on Jack’s shoulders (which already bore the weight of a full two-thirds of the company’s artistic output) to create more and more from plots that were less and less defined, and create is exactly what he did. The Negative Zone! The Inhumans! Galactus! The Silver Surfer! Annihilus! All of these now long-standing characters and ideas came out of his imagination in a remarkably short amout of time in a single title, and mark the beginning of his most fertile period as a creator. His individual Marvel creations grew much larger than life and his art changed to reflect these concepts and the powers they contained, becoming more minimal while still imparting a sense of scale and urgency to the reader.
It’s this near-constant sense of panic and clear depiction of action that defines the idea of what a superhero comic’s art should be for me. After departing Marvel for DC’s promises of complete control, Jack’s storytelling in both scripts and art became more and more epic, showing the boundaries of comics at the time by slamming against them and knocking them a few inches out of place. Only a few of the most ambitious of Kirby’s Marvel creations would have fit well into his DC work. Long gone were the petty concerns of Johnny Storm, wondering if his hot rod was going to win the big race next weekend and in their place was a New God’s realization that his father was a Space Hitler that made Odin look positively pacifistic. Making sure that we beat the Russians in space seems like a quilting bee compared to a mohawked soldier pumelling his way through a horde of enemies in the World Of Tomorrow.
Even after his DC titles were all canceled and he came back to Marvel in the mid-70s, his creative impulses were still slanted towards the grandiose. It seemed that Kirby wanted to know why, in his absence Captain America duked it out with second-rate villains when he could and should take on a high-level conspiracy armed with something called “Madbomb?” For whatever reason, a lot of the work from this material is derided by the fans, but I find myself captivated by his ambition: turning 2001 into a psychedelic showcase and remixing Chariots Of The Gods to create The Eternals. Sadly, he didn’t quite fit into the Marvel of the time, where Steves Englehart and Gerber were leading a new direction that, while insanely creative, was much more self-aware and sardonic compared the earnest nature of Kirby’s work.
It’s after this second departure from the house he helped build that Jack’s career fell into an irrecoverable retrograde. He tried publishing a few books that never got off the ground wih several companies and even came back to DC to wrap up his own New Gods saga as well as draw the (frankly, mind-numbing) Super-Powers tie-in comic along with a few pinups and occasional stories, but it was never the same for him.
Looking back, though, that decade-and-a half that bridged the Silver and Bronze Ages, when Jack was creating the new each and every month makes a lot of what’s happening in mainstream superhero comics seem positively dull. Outside of Grant Morrison, I can’t think of a single writer working at DC or Marvel that is intent on creation instead of maintenance, much like the Silver Age Superman stories that would occasionally excel, but most of the time seemed to be a matter of station-holding for the readers and characters.
Some would argue (just as I have, on occasion) that these companies are filling a need: to exploit pre-rendered universes to tell stories that the readers who like said universes will buy. There are some excellent writers who are very good at doing exactly that, but I’m missing Jack more than usual lately, and it’s not out of nostalgia. Do I want to read comics stories featuring people aping Kirby’s more easily utilized tropes? No. I want people to take the lessons that each page of his best work can give and apply them in unique ways. It’s the best way to pay tribute to The King.
I really like Anthony Bourdain. He’s the sort of writer and TV host who manages to do a show where he’s the centerpiece without seeming especially egotistical, usually through a careful application of self-skewering humor and allowing the camera to show him at his worst. So, when he went to Cleveland to hang out with Michael Ruhlman and meet Harvey Pekar in an episode of No Reservations, I made sure to sit down and check it out. Despite an overreliance on cheesy comics-to-real-life transitions in the Pekar segment, it was good-enough TV with more than a couple laugh-out-loud moments for me.
Neatly enough, both Bourdain and Pekar did online comics to promote the show with art by frequent Pekar collaborator Gary Dumm. Mind you, the interface is completely crappy, but it’s somewhat heartening to see comics crop up in a place like this without the generally-inevitable overuse of “graphic novels” to justify the affair.
About that content you’re poaching from me?
You’re fucking welcome.
All fixed; reprimands seem to have been handed out by those who do such things.
(If you’ve gotten one of those spoof mails from someone claiming to sell it, it’s not me! I’ve reported them, but I doubt eBay will manage to do anything.)
From DC’s Star Trek V2 #1 (1989)
by Peter David, James Fry, and Arne Starr.
Context is available in the Star Trek: Death Before Dishonor trade paperbackfrom Titan. I’m curious as to why exactly those reprints have stopped; I was under the assumption they’d be covering both DC Trek volumes (they did one of the first volume, two of the second) as well as the Next Generation comics. Part of me has a sinking feeling that besides myself, there were maybe another half-dozen fans willing to part with the cash to get trades when a full run of the first volume can be had for cheap, and one of the second for not-so-cheap.
Birdie keeps referencing Magnolia, but I’m thinking much more of an Altman-style universe, as this strip indicates. So, you know, like Anderson, but without the suck!
(Yes, I know Altman made his share of stinky movies.)
This past Saturday, Pete Tong set up a special two-hour tribute to Tony Wilson on his BBC Radio 1 program, The Essential Mix. It’s a fantastic selection of music with Tong focusing on the Factory label and former Hacienda DJ Mike Pickering playing a selection of classic tunes from the club’s heydey.
Hour 1 (Pete Tong)
Transmission – Joy Division
She’s Lost Control – Joy Division
Shack Up – A Certain Ratio
Knife Slits Water – A Certain Ratio
Atmosphere – Joy Division
Otis – Durutti Column
Confusion – New Order
True Faith (Dub) – New Order
True Faith (Morel Pink Mix) – New Order
Step On (Accapella) – Happy Mondays
Hallelujah (Oakenfold Remix) – Happy Mondays
Fine Time (Steve Silk Hurley Remix) – New Order
Blue Monday (Original) – New Order
5-8-6 – New Order
Getting Away With It (Nude Mix) – Electronic
Getting Away With It (Original Mix) – Electronic
Hour 2 (Mike Pickering)
Move Your Body – Marshall Jefferson
Al Naafiysh – Hashim
Dreams Of Santa Anna – Orange Lemon
No Way Back – Adonis
Carin – Tcoy
Make My Body Rock – Jomanda
Can U Dance (Bonus Jack) – Kenny Jammin Jason
Nude Photo – Rhythm Is Rhythm
Pacific State – 808 State
Open Our Eyes – Marshall Jefferson
Good Life (Derrick May Remix) – Inner City
It’s Alright – Sterling Void
Voodoo Ray – A Guy Called Gerald
Someday – CeCe Rogers
She dreams of him every night, but what does he really say?
Audience Participation Time!
- Click here to download a blank version.
- Email your version to kevin(dot)church(at)gmail(dot)com before 11:59pm on Friday.
- We’ll have a gallery showing on Saturday!
- Remember: No Comic Sans, Arial, or Times New Roman. Go to Blambot for free comics fonts!