Friday, October 31, 2008

Jack Kirby's Spirit World!

This is it, gals and ghouls! I hope you've dug this Halloween blow-out as much as Ol' Groove has. It's been a lot of work, but it's been worth it--I hope! Anyway, here 'tis...the grand finale for this Halloween! Who could we end with but the King of Comics, himself?

When Jack Kirby moved from Marvel to DC in 1970, it was bigger than anything today's comics fans could imagine. Kirby (along with Stan Lee) was Marvel to all true believers, and his going over to DC was like Hippies voting for Nixon--it just couldn't happen. But it did. When Kirby packed his pencils for the House that Superman built, DC's head honcho Carmine Infantino welcomed the King with open arms. Kirby was busting with new ideas and formats, ready to write, pencil, and edit like he hadn't done in years. We all know about (or should know--go bob for apples with no apples if you don't!) Kirby's Fourth World creations (New Gods, Mr. Miracle, and Forever People) and how Jack revamped Jimmy Olsen. But who remembers those black and white mags Kirby kreated, In the Days of the Mob and Spirit World? Not many fans do. Not because they weren't good, but because they were so rare. DC didn't even put their name on it (what the heck was "Hampshire Distribution, Limited"?), distribution was terrible, and they only lasted one issue apiece. Sometime in the future, I'll try to lay some'a the Mob mag on ya, but this is the end of our Halloween bash, so we're gonna travel into the Spirit World (Fall, 1971). First up, how about some fumetti, Kirby-style with "Children of the Flaming Wheel"...

Trippy, huh? How 'bout something a little more traditonal--but still pretty far-out? Like..."The Screaming Woman!"

Whew! Well, that's it for this Halloween, Groovesters! Come back tomorrow when we really kick things into high-gear with a brand new look and logo! Pax!


  1. I have never seen any of the interior to this Kirby wonder. Great stuff. I still hold onto my copy of In The Days of the Mob. Great job on the Halloween themed posts. Long Live the KING!!!

  2. ha! knew I could rely on ya, fella! nice one!

  3. Yeah, I was saving this one for the big blow-out. Glad you liked it, dudes!

  4. For those who are interested, my pal, Jon Gilbert (whose E-Dispatches from the Great White North blog--found at
    you should be reading!) send me some info about Hamilton Distribution, Ltd. and gave me permission to share it with all you Groove-ophiles. Take it away, JAG!

    "Hey, buddy;

    Well, from the research I've done on the subject Hampshire Distribution Ltd. was the impring that DC used for its two mags. I believe they used that name because someone-mayhaps Infantino himself-felt that a DC slug would result in poorer sales as people associated certain types of products with the DC name.

    On the other hand though it might well not have been Infantino because I've read he didn't like the whole idea of the mags but was tied to it contractually so he sabotaged the whole thing-resulting in the poor distribution.

    And on the subject of distribution I don't know what it was like around the rest of North America but the mag was easy to get in London Ontario. Every place that I used to frequent to get my monthly comics dose had the darn thing. It didn't though sell very well. While the Skywald and Warren mags flew off the shelf-as soon as Vamirella hit the stands it was gone within an hour for example-the two DC black and white mags sat there and sat there and sat there. I don't believe that it was due to the art or anything but rather because the horror genre was what interested the folks who bought black and white mags (that and s&s stuff). No one was really familiar with what Kirby was presenting so they just didn't pick it up.

    I did of course and thought both were interesting. It would have been nice if DC had ventured further into that format as they had some characters that would have worked well in it (Phantom Stranger, Swamp Thing, Spectre, Dr. 13 as a backup, Johnny Peril and actually even Batman to be honest with you. And later Warlord would have worked perfectly) but they never went that direction. Sad, really, when you think about it. Kirby's Demon would have worked well in that format too come to think of it.

    Anyway; that's what Hampshire Distribution Limited was; a DC imprint.


    Jonathan A. Gilbert is a newspaper columnist, feature writer and freelance comic book writer and editor who lives in Port Stanley Ontario, Canada. His work can be found all over the place including at ."

    Thanks, pal!

  5. Great posts this Halloween season!

  6. As I close in on the end of Jack Kirby's early-70's DC period at my blog, I'm a bit late dealing with SPIRIT WORLD, and am collecting as much info, articles & art as I can find online. I knew I could count on you! I'll be sure to post a link to THIS post once I'm done at my end.

    As for why MOB and SPIRIT WORLD didn't sell, off the top of my head, anything "new" is bound to get lost in the shuffle. But to be honest, BOTH covers really do less than nothing for me. Rather than present a single attractive image with some text to detail the comments, both covers try to CRAM the kitchen sink at you. They both strike me as some 5th-rate publisher's desperate attempt to "cash in" on current fads by tossing yet another item that won't be worth your money once you get it home... even if in this case that might not have been the case.

    "Sabotage"? Maybe. If so, I'd say that goes for the cover designs as well. If they were Kirby's ideas, SOMEBODY should have vetoed them. Warren, Skywald, later Marvel and I'm sure a number of other companies doing this sort of thing, ALL tended to have covers that REALLY made you wanna buy the mags, EVEN if what was inside turned out to be junk. The covers themselves should not be screaming "JUNK-- please buy me anyway".



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As for the rest of ya, the purpose of this blog is to (re)introduce you to the great comics of the 1970s. If you like what you see, do what I do--go to a comics shop, bookstore, e-Bay or whatever and BUY YOUR OWN!