Monday, 3 December 2012

Meeting Jack Kirby

1981 Chicago Comicon:
L to R: Dave Sim, Jack Kirby, Colleen Doran, Julie Schwartz
(from the 'Virtual Kirby Panel', The Jack Kirby Collector #27, February 2000)
Okay, before I go, I have to tell you about meeting Jack Kirby at the 1981 Chicago Comicon - I think it was 1981. I was sitting with Bill Sienkiewicz by the pool at this party and I saw Jack Kirby a dozen yards away or so on the other side of a bunch of table and chairs. Bill says to me, "Have you met Kirby?" And I say "No, but I'd sure like to." And Bill says, "Well, come on - I'll introduce you." So we're moving aside the chairs which are sort of jumbled together and making some progress to where Jack is standing and I hear off to one side somebody yelling "Jack! Jack!" which Kirby doesn't hear. I look over and I see Julie Schwartz, and he's got his arm around Colleen Doran (who is like 12 in 1981 - I'm kidding, I think she was 19 or something) in that Julie Schwartz way of his that, for reasons I've never been able to fathom, some feminists like Cat Yronwode find really endearing and other feminists like Colleen Doran find really creepy, and he's bringing her over to meet Jack Kirby. So. It turns into this really strange kind of footrace with Bill and I moving all of these chairs out of our way and Julie Schwartz and Colleen moving the chairs out of their way and I'm thinking, "I have got to get their before Colleen does or I'll never meet Kirby" (because Jack Kirby, whatever you might have heard, was flesh-and-blood and a manly guy and Colleen was about the cutest little thing you ever laid eyes on when she was 19 - not that she isn't now - and from my own experience I have to tell you that if one guy that I know is bringing another guy to meet me at a con and another guy I know is bringing a nineteen-year-old girl to meet me, I can tell you who is going to get the lion's share of the attention and for that I don't apologise one bit). So Julie is going "Jack! Jack!" and just as Bill and I get there, Kirby hears him and he turns that way and Julie pushes Colleen towards him and says, "Jack, I'd like you to meet this lovely goil" (Julie Schwatrz is the only New Yorker I know who actually pronounces it that way) "this lovely young goil, Colleen." And Colleen was charming and starstruck and Kirby was charming and grinning from ear-to-ear and I'm standing behind Bill thinking, "Oh well," but still pretty jazzed that Jack Kirby is only two feet away and that was pretty amazing in itself, let me tell you - and I'm watching Jack Kirby talking to Colleen when suddenly Bill lunges forward and says, "Jack! I'd like you to meet Dave Sim!" And Jack says, "I admire your philosophy." To which I said something like "Abth dahbt bladda thadda thut" and Julie - like any good poker player who knows he has a winning hand - suggests that Bill take a picture of Julie and Jack and "this lovely goil, Colleen." Well, Bill pushed me into the picture, flash. Julie edged me out of the picture and I sort of staggered away leaving Kirby to enjoy the rest of his chat with Julie and the "lovely goil."

Philosophy? Philosophy?

I puzzled over that one for a while and then I remembered that the Comics Journal had just published a piece of mine called "A Declaration Of Independence," which was to be one of a series of pieces by various publishers about their ideas on publishing comic books (or, in my case, a comic book). I had talked about as much as I thought I dare to for a punk kid who had only been in the business for a few years about Kirby's situation at Marvel and what I saw as the origins of the unfair treatment he got. Anyway, it was very reassuring to find out that he had read it and not thought that I didn't know my place. And then to find out that he admired it - well, wow!

Jack Kirby (1917-1994), with writer-editor Stan Lee, co-created many of Marvel Comics' major characters in the 1960s, including the Fantastic Four, the X-Men and the Hulk. Kirby left Marvel in 1970 for rival DC, where he created his Fourth World saga.

Julie Schwartz (1915-2004) was long-time editor at DC Comics, where he was primary editor over the company's flagship superheroes, Superman and Batman. He was inducted into the comics industry's Jack Kirby Hall of Fame in 1996 and the Will Eisner Comic Book Hall of Fame in 1997. 

Bill Sienkiewicz is the Eisner Award-winning American artist and writer best known for Moon Knight, New Mutants, Stray Toasters and Elektra: Assassin.  

Colleen Doran is the writer/artist of the fantasy series A Distant Soil and illustrator of many other comics and graphic novels. Please support Colleen's restoration project to complete 'A Distant Soil'.


Anonymous said...

That's not a picture taken 1981, that's 1984. A DISTANT SOIL hadn't been published yet and Colleen was a kid in school in 1981.

Anonymous said...

"I admire your philosophy." Reading between the lines, Jack knew what Julie was doing when bringing a hot young girl around. Jack loved Roz, so whatever affection he had for other girls, he was married to Roz and that was that. Period. Dot. Thor hammering it into the ground for emphasis. Colleen was a fangirl and Jack had long since learned how to treat fangirls. Julie was a peer, but Jack had assumed his kingly duties and likewise knew how to treat his peers. This was a Marvel Party, not a DC Party, and Julius Schwartz turns up with a hot young girl?

Although Jack had a notoriously bad memory, I don't think he missed a beat. He has no idea who this Dave Sim person is - and Dave's reviews of "Fourth World" wouldn't help - but he knew Dave as someone on his side. He probably never read "Cerebus" and Dave is more generous than I that Jack ever read any of Dave's work in "The Comics Journal." Jack had heard about him or read enough of his work somewhere to immediately turn away from a hot girl to shake some guy's hand and truthfully say "I admire your philosophy."

Consciously or not, Dave knew the right thing to do, Jack knew the right thing to do, Colleen knew the right thing to do, and then there's Julie.