Kirb Your Enthusiasm (23)
March 8, 2011
Twenty-third in a series of posts, each one analyzing a single panel from a Jack Kirby-drawn comic book.
I’ve been learning how to draw faces. Or, I guess I should say, relearning how to draw faces. The comics that made me really want to draw comics myself are mostly by masters of subtly conveying emotions: Chris Ware, Seth, Charles Burns. Perhaps that’s why, as a novice cartoonist, I never really learned to draw emotionally expressive faces — to the point where my characters are called “not believable” and “boring” in critiques.
So now, as I prepare to draw my next long story, I sit and look in the mirror (usually in front of the refrigerator, which is about the only thing my magnetic pocket mirror will stick to). I put on an hour’s worth of music and draw my face over and over again in different positions. I’ve found that it’s easier to hold the pose and make it believable if I cry out with the appropriate cackle, grunt, whimper, or whinny. It usually takes about fifteen minutes to produce any faces that I like, but I think — I hope — that I’m gradually becoming unstuck. The theory is that if I can draw the extremes of human facial expression, I’ll be able to pull back and allow my characters to emote normally.
As I continue to study comics, it’s no longer only the emotionally restrained comics that do it for me — I also enjoy the over-the-top comics against which my favorite cartoonists, in their emotional restraint, were reacting. For example, the close-up of Darkseid’s ugly mug, shown above, caught my attention as I read through Jack Kirby’s The Forever People #4 (August 1971). A classic Kirby face, effectively rendered in ink by Vince Colletta, it’s both frightening and evocative — even without eyes! Also, the fact that Darkseid almost never smiles makes it all the more terrifying when he does so here.
Forget the corny writing. Forget that the joke at which Darkseid is supposedly laughing so hard doesn’t make much sense. Just look at that craggy smile and imagine a 53-year-old Jack Kirby cracking it back at himself in the mirror.
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?
As someone who grew up on Kirby, only to have my mind blown in my 20s by “literary” or “alternative” comics from Fantagraphics, it thrills me to publish in this series an item by a writer who grew up on “literary” or “alternative” comics from Fantagraphics, only to have his mind blown in his 20s by Kirby. That Josh Kramer is also a fledgling cartoonist immersed in the details of the craft is icing on the cake. Well done!
Always keep Kirby with you. More impotant than wearing pants. if you have to rush out somewhere in a hurry, and you have to choose between pants and Kirby, your choice should always be Kirby. I speak from (repeated) experience, often up to three times a month. I am glad the wisdom of my experience upon a fine young man such as yourself. The birth of my first son was a traumatic event. My wife was given gas and pills. But I had wisely brought ‘The Coming of Galactus’ with me. It helped me through. I though my wife would have benefited from some selected panels at a difficult
time, but she was somewhat unreceptive. Turned out well in the end and Sam, my now 12 year-old son, is both apalled and charmed that his birth was accompanied by such visions of the cosmic sublime.
Greg — when my (now 13-year-old) son Sam was being born, my wife was miffed with me because I’d gone downstairs to stretch my legs and found a Jack Chick religious comic in the lobby, and was excitedly reading it and telling her about how I’d been allowed to read Jack Chick tracts in church, etc., etc.
What I’m trying to say: You and I are brothers from a different mother.
PS: Ha ha, you said “more impotent than wearing pants”
That’s not a typo or parapraxis. It is a meaningful yet enigmatic aphorism.
Thanks guys. Clearly Kirby means a lot of things to a lot of different people.
wow a lot of typos in that post. sorry — although I defend’ impotent;. Perhaps it’s best that this KIrby Season is shutting down, the Krackle is surrounding me, engulfing me, transforming atomic my structure to graphite atoms so that I might one day become a Kirby Proto-Pencil of Para-Presence and Praxi-Potency…
“Forget the corny writing. Forget that the joke at which Darkseid is supposedly laughing so hard doesn’t make much sense.”
oh please. you don’t deliberately show a panel out of context and then say things like this.
kirby deserves respect as a writer. the full scene this panel comes from is exemplary of his skill and talent as a writer. why is that so hard for so many comic book readers to see?
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