THIS: Jetpack Science

By: Adam McGovern
December 5, 2016


The future goes both ways — for those who need it to come to them. Definitive comic artist Jack Kirby (1917-94) designed whole universes of alternate time, phenomenally many of which have left their mark on the futures we ended up living. From his point of view on the front stoop of the 20th century, Kirby saw over the rooftops of his New York tenement birthplace to space travel, personal computing, dystopian dictatorships, even the return of the mohawk. Science-fiction opened his eyes, and he reflected the gaze in ways that showed millions things never seen before. Generations of filmmakers would harken to his creations while carving new paths; artists like the “Black Kirby” collective see a kinship between his first-generation, working-class Jewish worldview and the forging of the future in communities of color.

I delivered a slide talk, along with Jack Kirby Museum & Research Center founder Rand Hoppe, at the 2016 and ’17 editions of Wintercon, a sci-fi culture gathering in Queens, NY. Rand designed and contributed to the slide-presentation, revised and expanded from 2016’s version, and we talked about Kirby’s two-way influence on fictions and realities of tomorrow, with convention-goers who are studying — and living — the immigrant, Arab, Lesbian, Jewish, African-American and allied experiences. The projected part is presented here, and the discussions around what it summarizes can grow. We’re taught to think that time only goes in one direction — but what imagination offered Kirby, what the future meant to him, was a way out, a way onward.



MORE POSTS by ADAM McGOVERN: OFF-TOPIC (2019–2020 monthly) | textshow (2018 quarterly) | PANEL ZERO (comics-related Q&As, 2018 monthly) | THIS: (2016–2017 weekly) | PEOPLE YOU MEET IN HELL, a 5-part series about characters in McGovern’s and Paolo Leandri’s comic Nightworld | Two IDORU JONES comics by McGovern and Paolo Leandri | BOWIEOLOGY: Celebrating 50 years of Bowie | ODD ABSURDUM: How Felix invented the 21st century self | CROM YOUR ENTHUSIASM: C.L. Moore’s JIREL OF JOIRY stories | KERN YOUR ENTHUSIASM: Data 70 | HERC YOUR ENTHUSIASM: “Freedom” | KIRK YOUR ENTHUSIASM: Captain Camelot | KIRB YOUR ENTHUSIASM: Full Fathom Five | A 5-part series on Jack Kirby’s Fourth World mythos | Reviews of Annie Nocenti’s comics Katana, Catwoman, Klarion, and Green Arrow | The curated series FANCHILD | To see all of Adam’s posts, including HiLo Hero items on Lilli Carré, Judy Garland, Wally Wood, and others: CLICK HERE

KIRB YOUR ENTHUSIASM: 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 |



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