Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Groove's Faves: Our Fabulous 1500th Post featuring Kirby's Space Odyssey

Hey, hey, hey, Groove-ophiles! We're celebrating post number one thousand five hundred here in Groove City, and boy, does Ol' Groove hope you like it! Our 500th post (featuring DAK and Perez's Beatles' Story) and our 1000th post (featuring Whamo's Giant Comics) are the two most-clicked-on posts in the history of DotGK, so yers trooly felt strongly that our 1500th post would have to be something super-duper special just to keep up with those past-milestone Joneses. Wracking my pea-brain, I kept asking myself, what can I do to boggle, bedazzle, and beguile my beloved Groove-ophiles? What extra-special epic can I share to make today's post a real celebration? Then I got to thinking of some of the major touchstones of the Groovy Age. Not just comicbook-wise, but in all of pop culture. Movies. Psychedelia. Jack Kirby. Stanley Kubrick and Arthur C. Clarke's 2001: a Space Odyssey.

Yeah, the all-time, art-house, critically-acclaimed 1968 sci-fi epic from MGM was, to put it mildly, a BIG THING during the Groovy Age (especially pre-Star Wars). And so, natch, was Jack Kirby. When Jack returned to Marvel Comics in 1976, one of the most spectacular announcements was the fact that the King was going to adapt 2001 for Marvel's tabloid-sized Treasury Edition line. Dunno how it came about, seeing that this adaptation was 8 years after the flick premiered, but Marvel and MGM got it all together, turned Jack loose (aided and abetted by inker Frank Giacoia, letterer John Costanza, and colorist Marie Severin), and Teen Groove found this oversized epic waiting for him when he got home from school on his 13th birthday. Yeah, baby, MGM, Marvel, and the King got it all together just for my birthday! That's it! So I'm payin' it forward by allowing you, you wonderful, steadfast Groove-ophiles, enjoy this wonky wonderment for our 1500th anniversary post. Yeah, that wheel in the sky keeps on turnin', dunnit?





































Just so ya know I know, Jack continued the story of the Monolith in 10 issues of an ongoing, regular-sized 2001: A Space Odyssey comic. And yeah, Machine Man spun off from that. And yeah, Machine Man was gonna be called "Mr. Machine" but the folks at Mr. Coffee said, "Oh no he ain't!"

See ya tomorrow as we trek our way toward...(can it truly happen?) post number two-thousand! Stay tuned!


27 comments:

  1. Got this when I was a kid!! I was learning about Jack Kirby and enjoying his work on the Eternals. I later discovered his earlier work at Marvel and D.C. and became an enthusiast and collector. It inspired me to try to become an artist when I was a kid but it wasn't in the cards, I guess. Still, it inspired me to look for the King's work on the F.F. and the New God's, to name just a few. I could see as kid he had a style and energy all of his own.

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  2. Happy 1,500! You rule!
    And thanks for this amazing comic--I'd forgotten how bizarro it was!

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    1. 70's Bronze Age Fan 4 EverMarch 6, 2013 at 9:41 PM

      After watching the 2001 re-release in 1976, I was still clueless as to why the movie ended the way it did. I didn’t know by looking at the visuals that Bowman evolved into another life form, courtesy of the alien intervention. It was Kirby who explained in the captions that the room he was in was created by the aliens to better accept the fate that awaited him.

      I wish Marvel would put all of these issues in an omnibus edition along with the Machine Man issues. I am sure the Kubrick’s estate would allow his name to be mentioned in the credits. I don’t think he liked the adaptation. That must be the main reason why it was never re-printed in any other form. I sure miss my original treasury edition of this. I inadvertently sold it, when I sold my entire comic collection to repair my car years ago.

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  3. I'll confess again that Kirby's 70's stylings were not my preference, but time has given me a better appreciation for his work.
    Remarkable that such a static narrative as 2001 section of this just bursts with kinetic life.
    Even the thumbnails of the scans hum with life.
    The double page spreads explode.
    I wonder if Kubrick ever saw this.

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  4. This was my first look at this treasury edition, and I must say Kirby's work here is extraordinary. It's a fine adaptation, and I can't imagine anyone but Kirby doing it justice. I had to do a double take at Poole's death scene--it's not the way I remember it happening in the film, but may be true to Clarke's novel. (It's been ages since I read it, so I'm not trusting my memory in either case.)

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    1. Mike Royer didn't ink this - Frank Giacoia did, at least, according to the credits. What a bizarre pairing - Kirby and Kubrick/Clarke. At least Kirby made it his own version instead of trying to do Kubrick comics. - Jeff

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    2. You are right, Jeff! After I got done smacking myself in the forehead REALLY, REALLY HARD, I fixed the error. Thanks for having those sharp eyes!

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    3. I'm pretty sure Kirby referenced both the movie and the novel, Comicsfan (the novel is where the warthogs came from on page 10, f'rinstance). I've read articles about him watching (and digging) the flick, but I have also read of him using the novelization and stills for the adaptation, too.

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  5. Congratulations on the marvelously magnificent milestone, O Groovy One! And thanks for posting this! Kirby's take on 2001 is one of my fave comics of all time. I was absolutely knocked out by it when I was a kid and it still looks good today. Although Kirby wasn't really suited to all the talking heads scenes, the lunar landscapes and deep space vistas are awesome. I actually read the comic before seeing the movie, which I caught on a 10th anniversary re-release in 1978. Knowing the story already came in handy. I watched it with a friend and my dad, and about half way through the movie they basically turned to me and said "explain the plot - we don't get it!" Thanks to Kirby I was ready :-)

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  6. Kirby's work mostly left me cold, I'm afraid, especially as the seventies went on, but there's no denying the effort and ambition of things like this. Top marks for this excellent post.

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  7. This is amazing. Thanks so much for posting this. Most of Kirby's work in this era was a train wreck, but this is a stunner.

    And congratulations!

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    1. Train wreck? His awesome tenures on Cap & Falcon, Black Panther, Machine Man, Eternals????!!!! Different strokes, I suppose, but I'd rather read those than most of marvel's contemporaneous output.

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    2. Yeah, that's exactly the stuff I dislike so much. The Panther turns into . . . I don't know what. It's the standard Kirby Kosmic fare, such a letdown from the McGregor/Graham era. And the Cap and Falcon--well, I'm with most people, who found that off-key. Cap shouts a lot, the figure work is a parody of Kirby's earlier work . . . I did like the covers Kirby did at the time, which had a nice retro vibe (and often had the faces fixed by Romita, I think). Machine Man was . . . juvenile. The thing I liked best, perhaps oddly, was Devil Dinosaur, which had its own logic that combined, like 2001, visuals and narrative in a way that was internally consistent and fun.

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  8. Fantastic stuff, and probably the best thing to come out of Kirby's last stint at Marvel. But that likeness of Leonard Rossiter? My God Miss Jones!*

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  9. A few fans of the day remarked on how Kirby and 2001 were a mis-match, which leads me to ask which comic book artist and/or writer would have been more, ahem, "appropriate" to do a graphic novel adaptation of 2001? I mean, imagine what Alex Toth would have done with this? Regardless, I still dig Kirby's shot at it, inappropriate or not. - Jeff

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  10. Groovy, This is why I dispose of Jack Kirby, hack emeritus. Instead of the sublimity of Arthur C Clarke's masterwork, we have usual bazooka Joe horse crap from the inky thug. instead of the monolith merely interesting humming there, silently like a ancient temple, it must irradiate power and lines and light, towards apes who all look like Martin Landau. Instead of the quite still beauty of space, or god help him classical Brahms, I think you could do the similar vastness of the film in pen and ink, we get marvelous hucksterism. I know as tried to steal that monolith as an image since ten. To The moon...! as a cry, sounding more like Ralph Kramden. Instead of quiet, that any dc sweatshop sewer could have done, all is bang zoom, all is vulgar, all is pushy and all is Long Island in space, a Jovian moon where at any moment one waits to see the elevated train go by. This seems like 2001 by Kevin Smith. --Tony.

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    1. Tony - I remember having identical thoughts when I first bought this book. Since then, I have become much more appreciative of Jack Kirby's style. Your point, of course, remains valid from a certain angle. Although, it could be said that he squeezed as much physical life as he could into the usual limitations of the comics pages he drew. Fortunately, I'm happy to take Jack on his terms and Kubrick and Clarke on theirs.

      So I'm going to settle down for an evening with Jack's 2001, re-watch the film tomorrow and thank God for both versions (the book will have to wait until the summer when I have enough time to enjoy it properly).

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  11. How would Steve Ditko have done 2001?

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  12. Excellent choice; possibly my all time favorite comic book; some of Kirby's very best work (tried later to collect as many of the series as possible, possibly groundbreaking work for the time produced) - was incredibly epic in every way. Even though I was only born in the late sixties, I inexplicably had an obsession with 2001, even though I had never seen it, so the fact it was published so much later was a strange boon for me, allowing me to participate in some original excitement.

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  13. Remember those Third Eye Black Light posters based on pages from Marvel Comics? They stopped making them too soon. Page 58, and 62-66 of this Treasury Edition would have made for great posters.

    I loved King Kirby's work. I owned this Treasury Edition when it was new.... ahhh, memories! Great page and thanks for sharing.

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  14. Yeah, I got this as a kid too, and it knocked my socks off. I still have that tattered, over-read copy.
    Jack Kirby. Man o' man. The master at his best.

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  15. Jack kirby is the absolute greatest cartoonist ever!!

    This work is mind boggling, the visuals are just awesome!

    No one could and can touch Jack Kirby! When he returned to Marvel he did the Eternals, one of my all time fave comics. I loved the shot of the celestial in the new Guardians Of The Galaxy movie!

    I became a cartoonist because of Jack Kirbys power packed artwork. He was and still is indeed, The King!!

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  16. It wouldn't surprise me if The Eternals were part of the Guardians of the Galaxy II. Kirby's vision and power live on and perhaps that is why the Kirby family got the settlement they did. Look at all the Kirby material that will be in the Panther movie and Captain America. I was glad to see some remnant of Kirby's Brotoc the Leaper costume in the Winter Soldier movie. When I see his 2001 adaptation it still inspires me.

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  17. Why did Kirby replace the film's beautiful Pan Am Orion III spaceplane with what is basically just a 1977-vintage NASA space shuttle? Laziness?

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  18. It would be very hard for me to ever consider Kirby "lazy"--perhaps he didn't have the right reference; perhaps he wanted something from "now" in the mag; maybe he was proud of the new space shuttle initiative (t'was a brand new thing at the time). Only Kirby knows for sure...

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  19. Pretty sure Kirby was working from memory for his adaptation. I used to own this and the main flaw for me (other than the sheer wordiness) is the way he blew the reason for Bowman needing to return to the ship through the emergency airlock. He was in such a hurry that he forgot his helmet!!! HAL is set on keeping him out but the manual latch on the door was out of his control, so Dave could use that to open the door but then needed to blow the capsule door to get back into the ship as rapidly as possible to avoid dying in the vacuum of space.
    Pretty sure he didn't read Clarke's novel either or he would have enjoyed the Starchild blowing up the orbiting weapons around the earth on his return.
    So...Kirby drew an interesting adaptation of the film but not without a buttload of errors. Watch the damn movie, folks!!

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