Kirb Your Enthusiasm (22)

By: Toni Schlesinger
March 7, 2011

Twenty-second in a series of posts, each one analyzing a single panel from a Jack Kirby-drawn comic book.


Click on image for larger version.

Comic-book panels are like suffocating rooms. Most of the time characters have no choice but to be trapped in them — except in Jack Kirby’s rooms everybody is punching, flying, kicking their way out. There is also a lot of screaming and let’s blast through this door. The panel above is a calmer scene from “Let Me Plan Your Murder,” in Real Clue Crime Stories v.2 #6 (August 1947), a story that featured secret rooms. Real Clue stories were reportedly based on true events, this one about the serial killer H.H. Holmes who built a “Castle of Horror” near the 1893 Chicago World’s Columbian Exposition and confessed to killing 27 people — many of them young women who went skipping through the Fair saying, in high, ringing voices, “Oh, look at the advances in milking cows.” Holmes would lure them back to a building full of windowless rooms that had gas lines for asphyxiation, a bank vault for suffocation, and furnaces. In this panel, Holmes is doing away Pietzel, who was — oh, never mind.

Kirby grew up on New York’s Lower East Side where there are all those inky, brown brick, 19th-century tenements with dark-eyed windows and sometimes none at all. I’ve read that Kirby was always in street fights which was the pastime back then: “Gimme that or I’ll smash your head in.”

Kirby looks so still in his photographs. What was inside Kirby’s head? I only know what’s in mine, of course, as we all do. Though artists and writers offer a peek; they go public, sometimes, at least partly. Though even they don’t know entirely what is entirely in there. Because the minute they think about it, a new thought, a new monster appears.


2011: KIRB YOUR ENTHUSIASM (Jack Kirby panels): Douglas Rushkoff on THE ETERNALS | John Hilgart on BLACK MAGIC | Gary Panter on DEMON | Dan Nadel on OMAC | Deb Chachra on CAPTAIN AMERICA | Mark Frauenfelder on KAMANDI | Jason Grote on MACHINE MAN | Ben Greenman on SANDMAN | Annie Nocenti on THE X-MEN | Greg Rowland on THE FANTASTIC FOUR | Joshua Glenn on TALES TO ASTONISH | Lynn Peril on YOUNG LOVE | Jim Shepard on STRANGE TALES | David Smay on MISTER MIRACLE | Joe Alterio on BLACK PANTHER | Sean Howe on THOR | Mark Newgarden on JIMMY OLSEN | Dean Haspiel on DEVIL DINOSAUR | Matthew Specktor on THE AVENGERS | Terese Svoboda on TALES OF SUSPENSE | Matthew Wells on THE NEW GODS | Toni Schlesinger on REAL CLUE | Josh Kramer on THE FOREVER PEOPLE | Glen David Gold on JOURNEY INTO MYSTERY | Douglas Wolk on 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY | MORE EXEGETICAL COMMENTARIES: Joshua Glenn on Kirby’s Radium Age Sci-Fi Influences | Chris Lanier on Kirby vs. Kubrick | Scott Edelman recalls when the FF walked among us | Adam McGovern is haunted by a panel from THE NEW GODS | Matt Seneca studies the sensuality of Kirby’s women | Btoom! Rob Steibel settles the Jack Kirby vs. Stan Lee question | Galactus Lives! Rob Steibel analyzes a single Kirby panel in six posts | Danny Fingeroth figgers out The Thing | Adam McGovern on four decades (so far) of Kirby’s “Fourth World” mythos | Jack Kirby: Anti-Fascist Pipe Smoker

ALSO ON HILOBROW: Joe Alterio’s Cablegate Comix | HiLobrow posts about comics and cartoonists | HiLobrow posts about science fiction | The New Gods generation


2014: KERN YOUR ENTHUSIASM (typefaces): Matthew Battles on ALDINE ITALIC | Adam McGovern on DATA 70 | Sherri Wasserman on TORONTO SUBWAY | Sarah Werner on JOHNSTON’S “HAMLET” | Douglas Wolk on TODD KLONE | Mark Kingwell on GILL SANS | Joe Alterio on AKZIDENZ-GROTESK | Suzanne Fischer on CALIFORNIA BRAILLE | Gary Panter on SHE’S NOT THERE | Deb Chachra on FAUX DEVANAGARI | Peggy Nelson on FUTURA | Tom Nealon on JENSON’S ROMAN | Rob Walker on SAVANNAH SIGN | Tony Leone on TRADE GOTHIC BOLD CONDENSED NO. 20 | Chika Azuma on KUMON WORKSHEET | Chris Spurgeon on ELECTRONIC DISPLAY | Amanda French on DIPLOMA REGULAR | Steve Price on SCREAM QUEEN | Alissa Walker on CHICAGO | Helene Silverman on CHINESE SHIPPING BOX | Tim Spencer on SHATTER | Jessamyn West on COMIC SANS | Whitney Trettien on WILKINS’S REAL CHARACTER | Cintra Wilson on HERMÈS vs. HOTDOG | Jacob Covey on GOTHAM.

2013: HERC YOUR ENTHUSIASM (old-school hip hop tracks): Luc Sante on “Spoonin’ Rap” | Dallas Penn on “Rapper’s Delight” | Werner Von Wallenrod on “Rappin’ Blow” | DJ Frane on “The Incredible Fulk” | Paul Devlin on “The Adventures of Super Rhyme” | Phil Dyess-Nugent on “That’s the Joint” | Adam McGovern on “Freedom” | David Abrams on “Rapture” | Andrew Hultkrans on “The New Rap Language” | Tim Carmody on “Jazzy Sensation (Bronx Version)” | Drew Huge on “Can I Get a Soul Clap” | Oliver Wang on “The Adventures of Grandmaster Flash on the Wheels of Steel” | Douglas Wolk on “Making Cash Money” | Adrienne Crew on “The Message” | Dart Adams on “Pak Jam” | Alex Belth on “Buffalo Gals” | Joshua Glenn on “Ya Mama” | Phil Freeman on “No Sell Out” | Nate Patrin on “Death Mix Live, Pt. 2” | Brian Berger on “White Lines (Don’t Do It)” | Cosmo Baker on “Here We Go (Live at the Funhouse)” | Colleen Werthmann on “Rockit” | Roy Christopher on “The Coldest Rap” | Dan Reines on “The Dream Team is in the House” | Franklin Bruno on The Lockers.

2012: KIRK YOUR ENTHUSIASM (Captain Kirk scenes): Dafna Pleban: Justice or vengeance? | Mark Kingwell : Kirk teaches his drill thrall to kiss | Nick Abadzis: “KHAAAAAN!” | Stephen Burt: “No kill I” | Greg Rowland: Kirk browbeats NOMAD | Zack Handlen: Kirk’s eulogy for Spock| Peggy Nelson: The joke is on Kirk | Kevin Church: Kirk vs. Decker | Enrique Ramirez: Good Kirk vs. Evil Kirk | Adam McGovern: Captain Camelot | Flourish Klink: Koon-ut-kal-if-fee | David Smay: Federation exceptionalism | Amanda LaPergola: Wizard fight | Steve Schneider: A million things you can’t have | Joshua Glenn: Debating in a vacuum | Kelly Jean Fitzsimmons: Klingon diplomacy | Trav S.D.: “We… the PEOPLE” | Matthew Battles: Brinksmanship on the brink | Annie Nocenti: Captain Smirk | Ian W. Hill: Sisko meets Kirk | Gabby Nicasio: Noninterference policy | Peter Bebergal: Kirk’s countdown | Matt Glaser: Kirk’s ghost | Joe Alterio: Watching Kirk vs. Gorn | Annalee Newitz: How Spock wins

What do you think?

  1. Brilliant stuff.

    I love that idea of Kirby’s characters kicking against the form. Unlike some more cinematic or panel breaking artists, KIrby’s Kreations are invariably formally trapped within the box, and therefore their struggle creates greater tension. Maybe that’s a difference between Modernism and the Avant-Garde?

    I am really going to miss this series.

    Isn’t that actually SHIELD’s Dum-Dum Dugan doing the dirty on poor Pietzel? Dum-Dum obviously made a Faustian pact in the 19th Century and is thus immortal, which explains a great deal, especially for those of us that are worried by the temporal-narrative problematics set up by those World War 2 Howling Commandoes who are still active today (without the benefit of Nick Fury’s Infinity Formula.)

  2. Acually, why is it again that this series had to end, couldn´t it have been conceived as an ongoing series like the hilo heroes?

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