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Several editors, Mort Weisinger chief amongst them would rag on the team: Simon and Kirby were in a class to themselves. Their names were highlighted on the covers- an honor no other creative team received. Frank Dorth, an artist who started in the forties and spent a lifetime in comics had this to say;. They grabbed the tail of the one in front of them and followed each other around in a circle. They were not interested in quality, only what some accountant told them was selling.

Roz was helping out working for a lingerie shop producing lacy ladies undergarments. They were saving for their wedding, which they personally bankrolled. Work at DC was proceeding smoothly, with no let up in sight, and Roz was a rock, who doted over him and smoothed out his rough edges.

Jack was flush and wanted to show it. He bought a used Lincoln-Zephyr. One of those large 12 cylinder jobbies that looked like the King of Siam would own. His attention span was amazing when focused on stories or drawing. He could focus like a laser. But the mundane tasks of everyday life could never hold his attention and his mind would wander to the outer reaches of the universe. One day while driving the beast with Rose in the back seat, he took a turn into Central Park. His mind wandered for just an instant when he ran into one of those big granite stanchions with the big round ball on top.

The ball broke free and rolled menacingly towards some picnicker. The impact jarred Rose and hurt her back. Jack soon got rid of the beast. Jack became gun-shy towards driving ever after. Roz related a chilling tale about the wedding day. He Jack wore a tux and I wore my gown, and we were going to the reception, and people were yelling through the car, calling him a draft dodger because he was getting married.

They moved into a spacious apartment in Carlton Place near the beach. The fear of going into the service, and leaving families with no steady paycheck worried everybody. DC was worried that the loss of Simon and Kirby would leave them with a less than satisfactory product. It was during this stretch that Jacob and Roz Kurtzberg went to City Hall and filled out forms to officially and forever be known as Jack and Roz Kirby. Jack would bristle when people would claim that he was trying to hide his Jewish background.

To Jack it was simply adopting an Anglicized name that was easy to remember, and sounded more American and artistic. Once again, the boys hunkered down and with some additional inkers and writers began cranking out page after page. To enter, one had to cross a foot bridge that spanned a moat in front of the entrance. The studio consisted of a large room, bathroom and small kitchen.

The difference being that KV was built as a low income residence, while Tudor City was upscale and high class. French built this as an enticement for the well to due to move back into the city proper—urban sprawl had begun a decade earlier. It was the first skyscraper hotel development—consisting of twelve buildings, the largest residential unit in the U. Called Tudor City after the design style of medieval Britain, the architecture was actually neo-Gothic. The beautiful lobbys, mini-golf course, and grounds were breathtaking-quite a step up from the Lower East Side—no wonder they spent so much time there.

It was originally built as a combination residential, hotel, and retail location all in one. Will Eisner also opened up a shop in Tudor City. Comics were getting swanky. All rooms faced away from the East, due to the slaughterhouses and heavy commerce—this changed when the United Nations bought the land and erected their modern building. The project is listed as an historic district. One of the artists brought in to assist was Gil Kane, just a young boy of 17 or so.

In an interview with Gary Groth, he remembered the time well. He did all the handling, all the talking, he did all the standing. Jack was simply a workhorse who never sweated. It just came to him. But Simon was easy-going. I never felt anything except kindness and friendship. Always chewing on his cigar and always working. When you looked at his taboret, it was just littered with dozens of No. He would just wear them down; put them aside, until ultimately there was a logjam on top of his board! Kane talked about times when Roz would visit Jack at the Tudor City studio.

It was familiar, you know? But still it was enough to show that they were warming up. So I would just sigh and go home. National service was no longer avoidable, Joe enlisted into the Coast Guard, where he was given a horse and told to patrol the beaches of New Jersey. He knew that it was a short term stay, so after closing down the Tudor City studio, he continued stockpiling inventory from the DC studio. Though short, the time at the DC studio was entertaining.

Jack Schiff told Will Murray of a meeting of the Masters. Jack and Mort Meskin were sitting next to each other and there was some copy we needed pretty quickly from both of them. Each of them turned out five pages of pencils. It was really something. After a while, people began to crowd around watching. And they would both go ahead undisturbed.

He went in mid-summer. I remember Mort Meskin saying that he just hated Jack working up there because Jack would sit down, working on those by page sizes and he would simply draw five to seven pages a day — once I saw him do ten pages in a fucking day — just incredibly beautiful. I mean, he demoralized everybody he worked next to. Meskin… who was a superb artist, and at that time he was really rolling, used to look at that stuff and just eat his heart out because it was so strong. Jerry Robinson on Kirby: As I recall he was very quiet, very self-contained, very unassuming.

He looked like an ordinary mortal but he did this fantastic work. He could take a piece of paper, and make—instead of two dimensions—ten dimensions. From the very first issue, Captain America had been a smash. It was soon selling a million plus copies per issue. Simon and Kirby had produced something unique. Captain America was neither a Boy Scout, nor a dark detective and his tales were not little morality plays.

About Stan Taylor

They were violent clashes between good and evil, with no concern for nuance or moral equivalency. The decision to use Hitler as the central villain demanded that the crimes be realistically evil rather than theatrical scene chewing, and the heroics had to be equally driven.

From the very first story the villain murdered a scientist, saboteurs blew up and killed innocents, and the Red Skull assassinated military personnel. Captain America was not designed to bring these criminals to justice, or to help bad people change their ways. Cap was not a cop; he was created to destroy this evil, to wipe it off the face of this Earth. Cap did not debate the morality of an eye for an eye, or worry about the philosophical ramifications of his actions, his job was to affect an almost Biblical retribution on those who would destroy us.

Captain America was an elemental remedy to a primal malevolence. He was Patton in a tri-colored costume. While Cap stood motionless, the Skull rolls over on a hypodermic filled with poison and dies. Cap was with a license to kill, leaving a body count that would impress Dirty Harry. Of course, no one really cared, Joe and Jack made sure that the villainy was so ghastly, and the action so breath-taking, that the deadly force seemed the justifiable outcome.

If Captain America was the perfect physical specimen- the super-soldier- than Bucky Barnes was every little guy with a dream of smashing in the face of the bully. He was a scrapper, a perpetual motion dynamo, taking them on five and six at a time and never backing down. This was Jack Kirby making it personal.

Along with other Jewish-penned superheroes, Captain America was in part an allusion to the golem, the legendary creature said to have been constructed by the sixteenth century mystic Rabbi Judah Loew to defend the Jews of medieval Prague. And the wish fulfillment in the Jewish case of the hero would be someone who could protect us. According to tradition a golem is sustained by inscribing the Hebrew word emet truth upon its forehead. When the first letter is removed, leaving the word met death the golem will be destroyed. Emet is spelled with the letters aleph , rem and tav. The first letter, aleph , is also the first letter of the Hebrew alphabet, the equivalent of the letter A.

Captain America wears a mask with a white A on his forehead- the very letter needed to empower the golem. They were filled with humor, and light hearted slapstick, and over the top action. This was real stuff, and the consequences were often real, but this was also comic books, and the reality had to be presented in an overly melodramatic and visually exciting manner. If the good guys were costumed super heroes, than the villains had to be just as impressive, and even more visually stimulating.

Issue 1 introduced not only Cap and his little buddy Bucky, but also the baddest arch villain of all time. The Red Skull was a sadistic sociopath and as drawn by Jack, a great visual image of pure evil. With his leering smile, burning eyes and blood red visage, he constantly taunted the boys. As with all great fictional antagonists, no matter how many times he died, he was just too evil, and too huge to stay dead. He would reappear with great regularity throughout the series long run. With characters that intense, the art had to keep up.

When characters ran, they ran with legs impossibly apart and bent at inhuman angles. Yet they were always balanced and graceful, and when they fought, it was epic. Jack told Will Eisner how his technique evolved. I drew the hardest positions a character could get into. So I had to get my characters in extreme positions, and in doing so I developed an extreme style which was easily recognized by everybody. Jack knew instinctively that super heroes needed that extra cartoon dimension of power and exaggeration to actually make visual sense. Cartoon style histrionics provided the perfect visual template.

You have to see a player from all angles and having an animation experience helped a lot because I put a lot of movement into my figures….. It made my figures move. It set a style for me which everybody recognized. I had no time to tie shoes laces correctly….. I just made an impression of these things. They were loud, gaudy and impossible, and always dramatically impressive. At a later date, it would be called Kirby-tech, but in , it was just Kirby following his storytelling instincts.

Joe was experiencing his own growth spurt, laying out the covers, and composing the splash pages. The splash page had traditionally been a glorified first page of the story, with a title added on, but in Captain America, they became stand alone little vignettes- presenting the reader with a premise. It was a cinematic prelude to draw the reader in and set a tone. In the same way that a movie trailer sets up a promise of suspense and excitement, the Simon and Kirby splashes became a trademark guarantee of an exciting story.

They challenged the reader with varied angles, from panel to panel, changing perspective and view point. It was the equivalent of a constantly moving camera, not allowing the reader to get bored with a static POV. Everything was designed to maximize the reading experience by approximating cinematic techniques to control pace and build tension. They were also experimenting with page and panel formats. Though Jack and Joe were never slavish devotees of the 3 over 3, or 3 over 4 rectangular grids, they had rarely wandered far from a rectangular panel, but from the very first pages of Captain America we see circular panels, and arched or s-shaped gutters between the panels.

We see figures outside of the borders on almost every page. Not just to emphasize a main figure, but more to break up a straight line. It could just as well be a hand, or an arm, or a newspaper or some inanimate object. They were trying to elicit a feeling of movement by forcing the eye of the reader to flow from panel to panel, rather than the start and stop of separate panels. I made them jump all over the page. I tried to make that cohesive so it could be easier to read. The pages sometimes looked like jigsaw puzzles with the panels interlocking.

The circular panels went from small inserts to full panel size, and at times overwhelmed the design. By issue 5 the circular panels came with scalloped edges. Crediting inkers on Captain America is tough. Simon says Al Liderman helped on issue 1. Gil Kane says that Kirby was by far the strongest inker. Jack was his own best inker, he was superb. He did most of the Captain America splashes.

The premises were often ripped from recent movies. Logic was not a requisite, but the characters were interesting, and the locales varied and action was always a page away. In one of the better stories, Jack took his never finished Wilton of the West meets Hollywood tale and remade it as a medieval period epic. During the filming, a horrific murder occurs and while sniffing around, they uncover a Nazi plot.

Between the jousting, the storming of a castle, and a sword fight the equal of any Douglas Fairbanks movie, the action never stopped. With the introduction of the Ringmaster of Death and his carnival of crime in issue 5 Simon and Kirby would produce another theme that would echo time and time again in their books. A nice bit of continuity and an imaginative way to get a lighter toned imaginary tale mixed in.

They would also break the third wall and have characters speak directly to the reader, inviting them into the story. Jack and Joe took from every influence they had absorbed and twisted and turned and melded this into a style so individualistic, so readily recognizable, that they had surpassed their influences. The students became the inspirers. Simon and Kirby became a brand. You started with an infant form and by sheer might-and-main created a whole new genre. The cancer was spreading; most eyes were on North Africa, where at last some good news emanated, an Italian garrison at Tobruk was falling to the Australian 6th Division.

Half a world away, Adm. The rumor was quickly discounted. No one told this to Jack and Joe. For the first time, a story was located in the Pacific. Call it prescience, or coincidence, but it seems that Capt. Okada of the Japanese Imperial Navy had a secret plan to destroy the Hawaiian island of Kunoa and catch the Pacific Fleet while they are in harbor. It also had a wonderful full-page cut-away view of the Japanese dragon ship.

Captain America was a sensation. Amazingly, not everyone was happy with Captain America. On occasion the Timely office would get phone calls and letters from Nazi sympathizers threatening the creators of Captain America. Once, while Jack was in the Timely office, a call came from someone in the lobby. When Kirby answered, the caller threatened Jack with bodily harm if he showed his face. Kirby told the caller he would be right down, but by the time Jack reached street level, there was no one to be found.

Once again all of Europe was at war. With its daunted Blitzkrieg, Germany had invaded Czechoslovakia and Poland. Holland, Denmark, Norway and the Netherlands were imminent targets. Kirby knew that war was coming, everyone knew, but he had his own personal battles to wage. For three years Jack had toiled in the minor leagues of the comic art world. He had worked for many companies, and with many people whose talents were nowhere near his level.

His dreams of artistic success were being crushed in a low paying, menial role. The taunting because of his height, his failure to finish high school, and his impoverished upbringing had left him with a feeling of inadequacy which hindered him when dealing with publishers and professional people. The publishers would not look at me, and I took it in stride. When the voices became louder, Jack Kirby, working away at his table recognized the sound of strong arm bullying, came out of the art studio and with finger securely pressed in the punks chest, physically confronted the large burly punk, letting him know in no uncertain terms that if he bothered Will again he would answer to Kirby personally.

The tough never bothered Eisner again. Confronting them was second nature. But the swells or the upper crust could never be understood by Kirby; he would swallow his pride and quietly do what he was asked. His defense was to become more invisible, and work even harder.

The overriding fear of becoming like his father and not being able to support his family would never leave him. I was determined to draw better than five other guys. I was determined to draw better than ten other guys. I was determined to put whatever I knew to work to get me out. Being Jewish was also a problem. Getting hired at a fancy syndicate was out of reach. Despite denials from Kirby, he knew that his last name stamped him as an outsider.

Jewish illustrators and writers entered the comic-book field because other areas of commercial illustration were virtually closed to them. So there was no discrimination there. The comic book was born in New York City, and because the industry was so new, it was wide open to the children of immigrants, particularly those on the Lower East Side.

Kids growing up in New York saw themselves as comic book artists and gravitated toward that. Though created by Jews, the characters were lily white Aryan. You never saw an Italian character, for example. I admired Joe tremendously for that. I admired him for going to college, and I admired Joe for coming from what I thought was a middle class background. I would run home and tell my parents that I knew a guy from Syracuse. Yeah…and he wears great suits. You ought to see the suits this guy wears.

We devoured each cartoon strip. Joe lived for the movies; he would talk for hours about the inspiration he got from the great directors. Drawing from a young age, he became serious at Benjamin Franklin High School, where as art director he produced spot art for his year book. The art was so good that a couple universities paid ten dollars for publication rights for their yearbooks.

In a scene that would repeat throughout his career, Joe had to fight his school to get his money. Joe never went to college, when he graduated high school in ; he immediately went to work for the Rochester Journal American newspaper in the art department. He began as an assistant, learning the art of retouching photos. He mastered the air brush, and honed the skills of cutting and pasting.

He had a knack for laying out well designed photo spreads. After a couple years, he moved on to the Syracuse Herald , where he would become the art director. Among the day-to-day proof up chores, Joe was able to provide original art. He loved doing sports cartoons spotlighting local athletes and upcoming sporting events. He provided spot illustrations for the serialized novels printed every weekend. Unfortunately, the Herald was bought out and in Joe decided to head to the Big Apple. There he would embellish studio photos of the stars; erasing wrinkles, slenderizing figures, and lifting and enhancing famous bust lines.

This was a thankless and joyless career, so Joe continued to look elsewhere. Bernarr Macfadden had built a fascination for physical fitness into the largest publishing empire of the 20th Century. In fact, most of these stories were written by professional writers using pseudonyms. By , True Stories had a circulation nearing 2 million copies per issue. Though slicks, these successes would lead to the birth of the pulp industry that expanded on the true confessional genre with even racier, tawdrier and cheaper detective and romance books. Joe managed to pick up work for Macfadden Publications, where he would provide spot illustrations for its line of slick magazines.

These few became rich and famous. One day an artist might be in vogue—the next day a has-been. The art director at Macfadden suggested that Joe try his hand at a different venture in a relatively new industry. Harlan slipped Joe a piece of paper with a name and an address, one that would take Joe to the offices of Funnies Inc. Not surprising, Jacquet left Nicholson over a dispute concerning payment. He next turned up at Centaur Publications, a new comic publisher, where he edited some of the books.

There he met Bill Everett, an up and coming artist, and decided to open his own shop. Taking Everett with him as art director, plus artists Carl Burgos, and Paul Gustavson, he sought his fortune. After a failed try at a movie premium to be given away at local theaters, he next tried comic books. Funnies soon picked up several accounts; chief among them was Timely Publications, followed quickly by Novelty Press and Famous Funnies. Joe would marvel at his shined shoes and spit and polish military reserve.

First for Funnies Inc. The first comic book packaged by Funnies Inc. It quickly sold through its first printing and a second was ordered up. Marvel Comics was renamed Marvel Mystery Comics with issue 2; the series was a hit! We formed Funnies in an effort to go into business for ourselves, eventually to become publishers. This did not occur.

We remained as an art service, and Frank Torpey, who was sort of a contact man for us, got us our first account with Martin Goodman. I acted as assistant art director. I assigned story material to artists, accepted it from them, edited it as it came in. Pretty much the same as mine, except that he had more authority.

He interviewed artists and looked over material and decided if it was acceptable or not. The Colonel explained to Joe how the art studio worked. Bill Everett explained in an interview. If a publisher liked it and thought it had a chance of a good sale, then we would continue it for several months until the first sales reports came in—generally about three or four months. But Joe figured to give it a go, and the Colonel asked for a seven page western.

Joe returned 4 days later with his first sequential strip, and it was accepted as is. His next assignment was more daunting. Joe was asked to come up with a new super hero, a lead feature to appear in a new title at Timely. Joe fretted over the assignment and pushed and prodded Jacquet for details. Joe learned an important lesson; the owners had no idea, nor cared whether the product was good or bad, they only cared about getting it out on time.

It debuted in Daring Mystery Comics 1 Jan. His true interests lay more in the management area of comic production. His newspaper art director background was perfect training for the role of editor for a publishing house since his knowledge encompassed not just the art, but the production side of publishing. Joe knew how to get product out. Will agreed, and after a quick separation from Sam Iger he took his pens, brushes and part of the art squad and headed to a new studio in the swank Tudor City complex.

The Journal of the Jack Kirby Museum & Research Center

Unfortunately this left Fox with some holes to be filled. Simon answered the ad, and met with Victor Fox and Robert Farrell. Joe entered the interview process as a novice comic book artist with a dozen or so stories under his belt, and exited as an editor. As much as Jack Kirby was impressed by the persona of the new editor, Joe was equally impressed by the talent and speed of the staff artist.

Jack was immediately given the task to plug up those couple holes. Jack loved airplanes, some of his childhood idols were the barnstormers, and aerial hot shots. Jack put a lot of care into this story. The planes are authentic, and the flying scenes are wonderfully staged. Though only three pages, it is also of interest that we are introduced to Prince Otembi, an African Pygmy shown as an intellectual and flying equal to the white American hero, something rarely seen in comics of this period.

Hi-contrast, clean lines — Wing Turner: This had Jack once again doing space opera, and this is really superior work. The futuristic city is straight out of Metropolis , and the weapons are detailed and finely rendered. The female figure in a form-fitting costume seemed to give Jack fits; he never managed to get the proper mix of sexiness and grace needed to pull this off. I think he needed a real life model. It would come soon enough.

He would bring in writers Ed Herron and Martin Burstein. Despite signing many of them, his covers have often been mistaken for Lou Fine. Joe had a knack for mimicry. The bullpen was small but energetic. Chuck Cuidera remembers Jack as the little animated artist who never stopped. He was always grunting and talking and moving while he drew, like a ball of energy trying to explode.

Later on Joe would hire Howard Ferguson as letterer. His lettering is found on most strips done in-house at Fox. Jack continued on Blue Beetle. Unlike comic books which had a month lag, newspaper strips customarily worked on a six week production schedule. The strip began publication on Jan. After the first storyline wrapped up, Louis Cazenueve took over the art chores. One can speculate as to why Kirby was pulled from BB, but what is certain is that Joe Simon had bigger plans for Jack, and Jack was eager to follow.

Though Joe was editing for Fox, he continued to freelance with other companies. Joe asked Kirby to assist on his freelance projects, and Jack was pleased to do so. The first was penciled by Joe, but 9 and 10 were penciled by Jack, marking his first original cover art. Joe says that the three covers came about in exchange for the publisher letting Simon and Kirby work there on other features. Over at Funnies Inc. Novelty Press had contracted for some comics to add to their magazine line. Art was supplied by Funnies Inc. Target Comics was the first title, and this had featured several strips by Joe.

For their second title they chose to name it after the featured character. The first issue of Blue Bolt Comics was dated June It featured the origin of Blue Bolt, drawn, inked and lettered by Joe Simon. Dr Bertoff, a scientist who resides in the underground cavern world revives him with massive doses of radium. The radium had side-effects giving Fred the ability to fly and to harness the power of lightning.

Deltos is ablaze in a power struggle against the wizardry and technical superiority of the Green Sorceress, and her Voltor minions. Joe was good with concepts, but his plotting and pacing skills were weak, likewise he was great with the single photo style page, such as a cover, but very weak in the small sequential panels that make the story flow with a logical continuity. To make up for these weaknesses, he relied very heavily on swipes. Many of the panels are direct swipes from Hal Foster or Alex Raymond. All comic artists swiped, but rarely so obviously. Joe realized his weaknesses, and upon arriving at Fox, recognized someone whose strengths were a perfect complement to his weaknesses.

Plus Jack had developed an art style full of energy and drama, and perhaps most importantly, Jack was fast! In Joe Simon, Kirby saw someone who was at equal ease dealing with management, and art staff. Not since Will Eisner had Jack met someone as comfortable and confident with all sides of production. For Blue Bolt 2, Joe rented a hotel room and after hours at Fox, he and Jack began a collaboration that would become legendary. For this initial effort, they struggled to find a complimentary division of labor.

Pages and panels were doled out willy-nilly with both men doing individual pencils and inks. What they got was a schizophrenic jumble where styles competed with each other. By issue 4, they would lay out the pages together, and then Jack would pencil, followed by Joe doing the inking. Jack was also helping with the plots, and the stories became stronger with a better handling of the sci-fi aspects.

Separate from Joe Simon, Jack had picked up another freelance job. Robert Farrell approached Jack and asked him to produce new pages of the title. Starting with Famous Funnies 72, July and running through most issues to 80, Jack provided 2 pages of art per issue. The art and story is all Kirby. Kirby was solidly in his sci-fi mode, and this once colorless western became a mixture of western lore and futuristic mysticism.

The new antagonist was a 50, year old man, the last of his race named Chuda, the deathless one! He was a short guy with a huge head- a visual that Kirby would use many times. He could read thoughts, mentally control and incapacitate an enemy, and aurally teleport through walls. The Lone Rider had his hands full. A similar character would appear in Blue Bolt 6 Nov.

At Fox, Victor was experimenting with a new format; a small four page insert magazine that could be added to Sunday newspapers. The enterprise was short-lived, but the samples show that existing comic book art was reformatted to the different size, and new narrative was added to fill in the story gaps.

Jack was assigned to cut and paste up the new pages and write in the new blurbs. His added lettering really stands out on the pages. A month or so later, Will Eisner would have a more successful effort with this format. His new character, the Spirit would become one of the great comic creations of all time. Jack would opine that The Spirit was the best comic creation to come out of the Forties. Joe had been supplying him strips through Funnies Inc. Martin Goodman was relatively young, but very worldly having traveled extensively as a young man.

Goodman, Silberkleit, and Maurice Coyne formed Columbia Publications, one of the earliest publishers of pulp magazines. Goodman left in and with borrowed money found his own company Western Fiction Publishing. His venture into the pulp world was hit and miss. He had no real bombshell, but he did produce a lot of ok sellers. He learned the trick of flooding markets. Goodman had gotten into comics following the Superman gold rush. He quickly hit a rich vein with the release of Funnies Inc. He reached the point where he was confident in the comic business, and decided to begin weaning himself from an art studio.

He needed an editor to take over the day to day operations and form an in-house bullpen, and he offered more money than Fox. Joe says that he asked Kirby to join him over at Timely, but Jack balked. The fear of another dead end overwhelmed him. Joe promised him all the work he could want, but Jack needed the security offered by Fox, and was not ready to totally freelance. Jack enjoyed the freelancing but it was very important that Fox not know he was moonlighting, he was afraid that if Victor found out, he would be fired, and nothing worried Jack more than losing his steady salary.

Jack would get physically upset when the phone rang for fear it was Victor Fox tracking him down. Until you tried to assemble it — valuable collectible today no ads on box. Victor Fox and Bob Farrell had other better ideas. They created an item called the Comicscope, which projected pictures from comic books onto a larger screen.

The process was tacky and underwhelming, cheap and flimsy; but they advertised the heck out of them. They show up on e-bay occasionally, but the package was so cheap they are often in pieces. Interestingly, the ad featuring Captain America was the earliest use of Cap in advertising. Noted toy and music producer Remington-Morse produced the item. Unexplainably, Victor Fox also created Kooba Cola, a new drinking sensation. Despite the heavy advertising for several years, no actual Cola was ever produced. Urban legend says that Fox simply created the name and concept.

He was trying to build demand through his books and then sell a manufacturer the name to cover the created demand. Unfortunately the demand never arose and there were no takers for the name. Joe raided the strips and art staff at Fox. Dick Briefer came up with a new character named the Human Top , and Kirby was tabbed to do two new strips.

Mercury in the 20th Century was written by Martin Burstein, and drawn by Jack. Thematically and graphically swiped from the Fox title Thor , this was the first time Kirby would work the theme of mythological gods coming to Earth to save mankind from evil. As in the Thor strip, this god flew around in his underwear also. Mercury was the mythical speed god, sent to Earth to help defend it from Pluto, the Prince of Darkness. Pluto had taken the guise of Rudolph Hendler, the evil dictator of Prussland.

An excellent introductory tale, the strip showed promise. Both Minerva and Diana are shown as strong yet feminine. Jupiter, as depicted by Jack has long flowing white hair and beard. This template followed Jack forever and appeared whenever he was drawing wise venerable older godly characters. Simon, or Kirby drew the gorgeous cover to Red Raven 1, with the swooping Red Raven storming the parapet of a castle attempting to save a maiden from villains wearing medieval armor and brandishing swords.

It has nothing to do with the interior Red Raven strip which was a modern day story featuring thugs with guns, but curiously understandable in that it was swiped from a Prince Valiant panel. Jack had nothing to do with the Red Raven story and Joe Simon claims that he was laying out the covers, so it may have been Joe who swiped the Prince Valiant panel, and layed it out for Jack to finish. Comet Pierce was another space strip in the Cosmic Carson vein.

Beautifully drawn, Jack continued to impress with his machinery and alien vistas. This strip was written and drawn by Jack, and more importantly, for the first time, boldly signed on the splash page Jack Kirby! Two filler strips in Red Raven note signature on second strip Martin Burstein on first was a writer. Joe and Jack were busy working on another character; Marvel Boy was another variation of the gods coming to Earth in times of need theme. Asgard was the home, Valhalla was heaven. With the addition of a colorful suit, the boy begins his personal war against the fifth columnists of Fuehrer Hiller.

This feature appeared in Daring Mystery Comics 6 Sep. The premise closely aped the origin of Captain Marvel, a new character from Fawcett, another new comic publisher. Yet it never seemed to raise an eyebrow, of course Fawcett had its own plagiarizing problems, and may have been too preoccupied to notice. It is an interesting use of a black person as a thug on the cover. It is always useful when looking at these early Timely efforts to look at the lettering. As a rule, if the job is lettered by Jack Kirby, then the story was produced solely by Jack with Simon strictly as the editor.

If the lettering is by another, then it is collaboration, with Simon and Kirby working together. On strips like Blue Bolt, the lettering was always done by Joe until Howard Ferguson came along and took over. Howard was considered by many to be the best letterer ever. Mercury and Comet Pierce were lettered by Kirby, and show no Simon assistance. Simon and Kirby also produced another strip for Daring Mystery Comics 6. In what looks like a very rushed job, the boys reverted back to the methodology from their first collaboration on Blue Bolt ; each doing individual pages and then shuffling them together.

The result is another schizoid package with the two styles fighting for dominance. What makes it worse is that in the rush, Joe simply swipes Alex Raymond en masse. Even the smallest, least consequential panels are swiped. The cleanup is also poor as lines that should have been erased remain visible. In all fairness, this may be the least professional effort to come from Simon and Kirby, it may also have been an earlier drawn strip and not used till later. Though Jack had already drawn second installments of Mercury , and Comet Pierce , Red Raven was cancelled after only the one issue, and Daring Mystery Comics was put on hiatus.

He picked up a rushed inking job over Fletcher Hanks at Fox. Blue Bolt 5 would feature the debut of a new credit line. Joe had kept his promise to give Jack all the work he could want. Goodman needed an art director for his pulp line, and Joe fit the bill. For the next year, Joe and Jack would provide some inspired spot illustrations for the lurid sci-fi, detective and sports magazines. For the pulp illustrations, Jack used a conte crayon. More importantly, Joe had procured from Martin Goodman the okay to hire Jack as a salaried full time employee. Joe had assured Martin Goodman that it was an investment well made.

Jack would always joke that he had heard a tree grew in Brooklyn—a sly reference to the popular novel by Betty Smith about an immigrant family coming of age in Brooklyn during the first two decades of the 20th century. Elia Kazan directed the movie version in Their slums are offensive, but unlike those of other less energetic races, they are not hopeless unless walled in and made so on the old world plan.

They do not rot in their slum, but rising pull it up after them. Nothing stagnates where the Jews are. They meant the resistless energy of the people, which will not rest content in poverty. It is so in New York. Their slums on the East Side are dark mainly because of the constant influx of a new population ever beginning the old struggle over. The second generation is the last found in those tenements, if indeed it is not already on its way uptown to the Avenue.

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Perhaps not uptown Manhattan, but this second generation Jewish family had gotten out of the Lower East Side, and Brooklyn had trees. Marvel Mystery Comics had always been the exclusive bailiwick of Funnies Inc. A hole had been blasted between dimensions by Prof. When mobsters tried to shut it down, Aarkus Destroyer of Evil emerges from the smoke portal and with a touch exacts a swift and deadly justice on the goons.

While the story was short on logic and characterization, Jack makes up for it by offering wall to wall action. MMC 12 cover only — then in 13 — signed pulp art. Jack had fun with the Vision, it was a chance to kick loose, and his art and action scenes showed it. It was atmospheric with dark clouds of billowing smoke everywhere, and cluttered with bodies flying at all angles. As Kirby had matured, his action scenes had stretched and expanded until, borrowing another bit from Lou Fine, the characters could no longer be confined within the panel borders.

It probably took him about two days, but it was a miracle because every job was brilliant. Even if it was casual, it was brilliant. Jack could never remember many details about the Vision, but he did make one interesting observation.. True or not, he did have pupiless, dark rimmed eyes. June came in hot and sticky. The Goldstein father struggled resulting in constant moves from apt. While unloading belongings, 17 year old Rosalind Goldstein noticed a stocky, shirtless young man playing stickball in the street, and debated with her cousin over who would get him first.

When Jack saw the dark haired beauty with the flashing eyes and beguiling smile there would be no contest. The family often feared for her life as she wheezed and gasped for air. It had only been the recent widespread development of inhaled adrenaline epinephrine to treat asthma that doctors had been able to control the symptoms. With better health, she had begun to bloom into womanhood, the very definition of houris. Attention from boys was something new for her. They talked for a while and Jack asked Roz—as she was called—if she wanted to see his artwork.

Roz thought it was a smooth line, but with both sets of parents nearby, she saw no harm in pursuing it. Jack impressed her with the pages of art he was working on. In fact, Jack impressed her whole family. Like most Depression families, a man with a full time job was to be admired, and one who was helping support his family was to be treasured. Jack loved to tell stories about chasing rival suitors away from Roz, even threatening to break the fingers of a piano playing rival. Roz says all the neighborhood girls were after Jack.

They also liked going to the movies, or simply taking walks. One of their favorite sites was the Paramount Theater to dance to Frank Sinatra or one of the big bands. Goldstein would happen by emptying garbage or some other ruse. Life continued on as usual, Joe and Jack continued their back breaking pace.

The pattern was pretty much set. Joe would edit, and co-write the stories, Jack would be the primary penciller while Joe, and others would do the inking. Charles Nicholas would be the main inker. Jack or Joe would occasionally beef up the inks to maintain consistency. Joe claims that one day he walked in as Kirby was erasing some lines.

Jack had come to grips with the idea of being just one part of an assembly line production crew. It would be the rare job where Kirby would both pencil and ink, and even rarer when he would letter. Joe never rested; despite the increased load at Timely, he continued to look for freelance work. Every week would bring a new request from some publisher for a new character or a quick fill-in issue. Crestwood Publications was looking to revamp their main title. The first six issues of Prize Comics had cover featured an uninspiring character named Power Nelson.

The series lacked any strong focus. Prize Comics now had a focus. Black Owl would continue for a lengthy run. With Britain in a declared war against Germany, Jack finally got a chance to smack down the Nazis by name. The character lasted many an issue. He became an editor over at Fawcett Publications. Other racy magazines like Ballyhoo , and Smokehouse followed. Later, they expanded into pulps, but Mechanix Illustrated would become the flagship title.

In , the company diversified and established a comics line. Roscoe Fawcett, son of the owner, following the new trend, told his editor to give him a Superman, only make his alter ego a boy. Writer Bill Parker and artist C. Beck put their heads together and came up with Captain Marvel -The mightiest Boy Scout to ever grace a four color magazine! With the publication of Whiz Comics 2, Feb. Owner Wilford Hamilton Fawcett died in Feb , but his sons would continue and build on the line. It is possible that it was culled from some pages left over from Blue Beetle, or still, another concept from his unsold portfolio.

Scarlet is a combination of new art and reformatted strips. The header, added later, is the only panel that Jack Kirby spelled out Mister Scarlet. In the story panels the original name of the character has been erased and Mr. Scarlet written in by a different hand. There are several narrative boxes pasted over with lettering by Joe Simon. It would be interesting to know what the original name was. It was on the streets Dec. The character would continue for years drawn by many other artists. This was the first comic use of Gotham City.

Later it was stolen by Batman writer Bill Fingers as a literary code for Manhattan so as not to let Batman be stuck in one real city. It is interesting that Gotham City became a nickname for New York City as a means of loathing and lampooning by noted author Washington Irving. Joe Simon says that he had been fooling around with the idea for a while, coming at it from the opposite tack. Joe was thinking of a good villain. Adolf Hitler and his Gestapo bully boys were real. There had never been a truly believable villain in comics.

But Adolf was live, hated by more than half the world. What a natural foil he was, with his comical mustache, the ridiculous cowlick, his swaggering, goose stepping minions eager to jump out of a plane if their mad little leader ordered it. I could smell a winner. All that was left to do was to devise a long underwear hero to stand up to him. The truth probably lies somewhere in between.

The idea of a patriotic hero was not revolutionary by this time, and neither was Hitler as a villain. Archie Comics had produced a patriotic hero months earlier. The Shield was a red, white and blue garbed government agent who started hunting down saboteurs and spies and the occasional mad scientist and mobster in the pages of Pep Comics 1 Jan Many companies had been using fictionalized versions of Hitler in their books for months. Joe had an apartment on Riverside Drive, and we worked on him one night.

It was a time when we knew we were all going to be drafted. For two more days the four Companies were left to fend for themselves. It was decided that the Allied forces would move further down river and hope to make a safer crossing while the Germans were occupied with the four companies at the tree line. But each attack took its toll of the defenders in the horseshoe.

The wounded were forbidden to moan or call out for aid, so that the Germans would not know the extent of the losses they had inflicted. The mortar crews abandoned their weapons, whose muzzle blast betrayed the location of the foxhole line, and took up rifles from the dead. A lieutenant operated his radio with one hand and fired his carbine with the other. Nearly all the officers were killed or wounded when they left their foxholes to encourage the riflemen or inspect the position. Each night volunteers carried the wounded to the river, crossed them in bullet-ridden and leaking assault boats, then returned immediately to the firing line.

Kirby would tell in an interview with Warren Reese about an incident. And that was real. It got me to think how valuable human beings are, and at that moment I discovered my own humanity, in that moment, I discovered everybody elses. The report of the loss of all men resounded across the battlefield with no correction ever made. Jack Kirby had his baptism by fire, and in the fog of war, thought dead. Thirty-six separate assault attempts had been hurled against the men in the horseshoe without breaking the thin American line. Indeed, on the morning of 10 September, the Americans had the superb effrontery to send a demand that the Germans surrender, The War Diary of the 37th SS Panzer Grenadier Regiment noting that the Americans promised such a concentration of fire as their enemies had never seen before if they did not capitulate forthwith.

The determined infantry and their supporting artillery killed an estimated six hundred Germans in this bitter fight, and the toll of enemy wounded was probably very high. Detachments of at least four enemy battalions, reinforced by tanks and assault guns, were thrown against the bridgehead in the three-day battle, making their attacks with a ferocity and determination that astounded the Americans. The remnants of the four companies made their way back across the Moselle River and rejoined the main line. Their casualties were so high that they combined together and became one new company.

The intelligence was mass confusion. Something on his map was wrong, because we were supposed to be dead. The Germans were supposed to have overrun us, and they had. I heard that Patton ordered replacements. He thought my outfit had been wiped out. So some foul-up I guess, signals crossed, messages mixed up; it happened quite a lot during the war.

Fort Driant—sometimes called Triumph— is another part of the old Siegfried line of medieval fortifications protecting Metz; made of reinforced concrete complete with a moat, underground bunkers and barbed wire. It sat on a hill and rained down withering cover fire on the troops below. Patton decided they had to take Ft. Driant and a direct assault was the best way. Kirby said that after a few days of stalemated fire, the Germany General came out to talk to the Allied General. Patton changed his mind and retreated from Ft. Driant was never defeated; when Metz was taken they voluntarily gave up.

One soldier wrote about the weather and horrors of war. Through the haze, artillery, rifles and machine guns worked without rest. In the nearby town of Dornot, American and German dead lay sprawled together in too hot a corner for immediate recovery. Occasionally, when the rain lifted, Thunderbolt fighters whipped in to dive-bomb and strafe strong points.

He was told the fort was manned by a small poorly trained and tired staff while in reality, the defense had been taken up by a group of well trained, arrogant, and resourceful units from a nearby officer candidate school full of fanatical Nazis. After the battle, the combined count of E and F was less than a hundred men.

A couple more barrages and another counterattack and we are sunk. It was a small bit of land that they could easily go around. Let the Jerries camped in that big mound of dirt sit and play with themselves, they had other targets to hit. For the next two months it continued in this pattern. Constant attacks by the Allies, only to be repulsed- two steps forward, one back.

Then you walked a lot, and then there were those times that you knew that any second it was curtains. I had a few of those moments. Most of the time was when they were shooting 88s at us; the German 88 was an anti-armor gun, but it was also a very effective anti-personnel weapon and they used it quite a lot on us. You could shoot hundreds of 88 rounds in a minute; a battery of 88s would churn the ground around you and pulverize bricks in an instant.

Once we came up against some of these things; they were all coming in and stepping up and shooting, pumping lead. My whole division was pinned down. Eventually our artillery cleared them out, but not until a bunch of us were killed. It was a holy mess. You could hear the shells fly past your head like a high-speed mosquito. That was when you knew you had a close call. But not just the sound, you could feel the pressure. I experienced that more than once. In early , Russia had come across the first provable concentration camp. Though empty and the prisoners reassigned, the carnage visible was catastrophic.

The soldiers often came upon these out of the blue with the last of the guards running away and looking for shelter. Most of the prisoners—at least the healthier ones had been reassigned to Germany or Poland with the advancement of the US Army. Yet some were found full and horrible, containing some of the worst of the human hunger dogs commanded by the Nazis. Captain Alois Liethen, an intelligence officer was one of the first American soldiers to see the camp, wrote the following to his family in a letter dated April 13, He toured with Gen. Eisehower noting the atrocities as they were found.

Eisenhower promised full reporting so that no one could ever deny or sugar-coat what was found. The quarters which they had were about as bad as I have ever seen. In a building about x 30 there were from to men and their bunks were less than two by two by six — just like pigeon holes along the whole wall. Bathing facilities were just non-existent, but that is not the worst of it — when a man was killed or died of beatings he was simply stripped of his clothes and these were reissued immediately to some other living cadaver.

Shoes were out of the question and all of the footwear was a wooden sandal — not even so much as a whole wooden shoe. As long as I am writing a horror tale I might as well describe some of the people who were in charge of this camp. Their favorite pasttime together with one or two other camp officials was to go out to the burning pit with a bottle of whisky each where they would sit and watch the burning of the weeks accumulation of dead bodies while they joked and drank their whiskey. Personally, the stench of the pit was enough to drive me nuts and a bottle of whiskey might have been a good thing for me while I was there.

I have smelled a lot of foul odors — like out at the rendering works and other places — but this one was the worst. As I have stated this is not the first one I have seen — I saw another which was a more or less refined version of a concentration camp — this one was in the vicinity of Metz. Here, that is in the one near Metz, were kept the pure political prisoners and they had better conditions and the crematory was a fancy thing, not unlike a bake oven which they showed in a series of pictures in LIFE some time ago.

And, when one considers that this place was just a branch unit of a bigger one, well, then you can well imagine what the larger ones are like. The vision of these horror pits was nothing ever to joke about. The effect was chilling. Jack Kirby would occasionally mention just such a camp, yet for this anecdote alone he never laughed or embellished to make it more palatable. He told it straight and sadly.

He never placed a specific name to this tale. While on patrol one day an older man with a gray wispy beard approached him. The man looked inquisitively at Jack and slowly said. Not sure who he was following Jack moved forward slowly. They approached a small enclosed wooden tower. Jack stared at the encampment. He saw German guards fleeing at top speed, yet not too fast to forget to scream epithets at the G. After the Germans had cleared the area, Jack and his men approached. He opened the stockade hoping to find a few recent prisoners.

What he saw astonished him. Hundreds of old, starving, pitiful prisoners came forward hoping to get relief. These were the sicker, more elderly workers not up to being reassigned to other camps, so they were left to fend for themselves. These were the absolute dregs, starving, tattered, and sickly. Jack just stared at this horror, his mind numbed by the sight, he just muttered. The camp near Metz, which Captain Liethen referred to in his letter, was Natzweiler—Struthof in Alsace, which was discovered by American soldiers in September after it had been abandoned. This was a small sub-camp of the infamous Struthof Gulag.

Metz, with its heavy medieval fortifications, its central railroad and many factories had many such camps to put the people to work. As the Allies neared prisoners were sent across the border to even worse camps in Germany and Poland. At the Fort de Queuleu camp just west of Metz, they uncovered a mass grave with over 20, corpses—perhaps the worst case in France. Jack would occasionally draw a concentration camp in his war books, yet he would never gloss them over or spoof them up for laughs. There was to be a slight lull in the fight for Metz in Oct.

Yet this period was a busy one for the 11th. They would march through the farms and small towns looking for German patrols. They had constant unplanned close range skirmishes when opposing patrols crossed paths. The enemy was close enough to shriek epithets at. There was the constant cat and mouse games with enemy snipers, and well hidden booby-traps.

Well, let me say that guys are guys no matter what the circumstances may be and different rules apply.

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We called each other names all the time; we were cursing each other in English, German, French, Hebrew; I had quite a large vocabulary by the time I got back—I could cuss somebody out in four different languages. He would string communication cables. There would be frightful minesweeping duties, clearing paths for trucks and heavy equipment. If somebody wants to kill you, they make you a Scout. So, I was a Scout. The anxiety and tedium was broken only by the infrequent letters from back home. Jack told biographer Ray Wyman: And there would be hell to pay.

And then we would get back to our lines, and they are passing out the mail. I was dazed you know, by this time. They were insane but beautiful love letters. The weather had turned cold, and the rain continued. The only change was the occasional reprieve when the forces were rotated and rested for a day or two.

As troops came into reserve they were billeted in the shell-torn Lorraine towns and villages, given clean clothes, and-if they were lucky-trucked to Nancy, St. But the men in the line lived under continual rain and in seas of mud. We were stuck in one of those spots where the enemy was just plastering us. They opened up some kind of an offensive, or they were just plain sore at us. It was the end of the world. Guys were flying through the air, guys hitting the ground.

They were ripping everything in sight- trees, bushes, the entire shoreline. I figured the war had got him and I should say something nice to him, but I was sore because I was scared. Everything was going up—the whole shoreline was now a ragged chewed up bit of earth. I mean, it was chewed up and more was coming in. But this was our big opportunity, they would go nuts too.

So they followed me, and we went back, and there was this truck. The truck takes us seven miles back to a ruined church. She gets out of a car filled with officers, about 6 guys get out, and then Marlene. They must have been sitting on her. When I woke up, she was gone. A dam, holding back the rain water had been breached and extra water flooded out entrenchments for both sides. The 11th Infantry was still recovering from its early battles when they lost much needed clothes and shoes.

Foot problems were taking as many men as the enemy. From the official record of the Lorraine offensive:. Most of the combat troops had three blankets and an overcoat. But in extremely wet or cold weather this issue would be insufficient to protect the soldier properly, especially in view of an acute shortage of waterproof ground sheets and raincoats. Rubber overshoes, a critical item as the Lorraine plains turned to mire in the constant fall downpour, were so scarce that they could be issued only on the basis of one pair for every four enlisted men.

Shelter halves, woolen clothing, and socks also were lacking in sufficient quantity. Wellington boots or rubber field boots had been created late in World War 1 to help fight frostbite common in the trenches of that war. When WW2 started the factory was revived in order to produce boots for the British military. With the additional feet of the Americans, the factory could not keep up with demand. The weather was taking its tool. The major offensive began on Nov.

The walking troops were ordered to remove their rubber overshoes, as they made maneuvering difficult. On the night of the 10th, a cold front hit, and a light snow began to fall. Slim and trim and looking for Huns — soldiers trying to avoid trenchfoot. One day, I took my leg out of the mud and it was deep purple. This was before we had combat shoes. We had plain shoes; I had a battle with my own shoes. I had to break my shoe off, and before I could break the other shoe off I was out like a light!

Unconscious, it happened to a lot of men in the field- you just keel over. The day before Jack had collapsed, probably while stringing some barb wire and been sent to a field hospital with a severe case of trench foot. Immersion foot, as it is now called, is caused when the feet become wet and cold while wearing tight footwear.

The affected feet become numb and turn bluish. Advanced trench foot can blister and cause open wounds, which can become infected and turn gangrene. Trenchfoot was the plague of World War 1, but the medical profession had learned if trench foot was treated properly, complete recovery was normal, though it is marked by severe short-term pain when feeling returns. One soldier said that it became almost impossible to tolerate the pain.

Soon he was transferred to a hospital in England. Full recuperation would take a long time, Jack prepared for coming home. It took them a year to even get back some of the original color. They were considering amputation; my toes were black, but I eventually recovered. The frequent V-mails from Jack had stopped. Then one day she got a telephone call from England. She was informed that Jack was in a hospital. In a letter dated Nov, 22, , Jack jokingly told Roz of his arrival in England. Nice enough place — chow is good and attendance pleasantly given. Have certainly made the rounds since I last wrote you and am still uncertain as to the extent of this amazing situation… However, with the exception of a dull numbness in the tootsies and a rheumy drawing in the joints am still intact and functioning.

In another, dated Nov. Have reams of gorgeous Petty and Varga girls plus numerous other streamlined sirens preening themselves enticingly in the mags about me. It was signed affectionately with his nickname, Jackson.

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Like so many other soldiers, Jack had to take a series of four penicillin shots for being so social. Jack was a man, not a saint. One memory not so easily bypassed, would tie Jack to England forever. It seems the British populace tried to pay back those wounded in battle. He explained how he came upon a year old Roman coin that he passed on to Neal. At Butner he would undergo therapy and fill up his days doing maintenance at the motor pool, and complaining to the doctors about imaginary ailments. The doctors added Psychoneurosis and anxiety inc.

In March, Roz traveled down to North Carolina for a much needed visit. She found her once burly husband slimmed down to a meager lbs. It seemed that seeing Roz again did wonders for him. So Jack came up with a clever ruse. He flashed his medical card which was the same color as a pass to an uncaring guard and as Jack would explain. It was a parade! I just walked out with the rest of them. Susan was born nine months later!

The war in Europe was finally over, and on July 20, Kirby was honorably discharged and sent home. Given a combat infantry badge, a European ribbon and a bronze star, he returned home a conquering hero. For the rest of his life Kirby would revel in relating his war exploits. He had witnessed the butchery that men can do, and seen the bravery and shared the camaraderie with men of all faiths, and backgrounds. His stories were always representative of the humanity he found amongst the horror. Not just in terms of lives, but in the human spirit. I recall their names, I recall where they came from, I recall the manner of their speech and even the common everyday things they did; unimportant things that make the whole event real.

That is how the mind works: It retains the significant events of our lives by memorializing the important moments. It happens when we are faced with events that are pleasurable and those that are unpleasant, especially when we are faced with danger—at times when our lives are hanging by a thread. It was like that nearly every day of the war. The threat was never far from our thoughts, I can tell you. Yet the experiences and the teachings of the BBR never left him. It is no surprise that when Jack Kirby finally had the freedom to create his own books that he would use the slums, the BBR and Harry Slonaker as his inspiration.

With the formation of the legal partnership with Joe Simon, Jack was no longer an artist assigned by the editor to a strip; he was now a full participant in the creative process. With the creation of The Newsboy Legion, Jack had found a place to tell his stories. The Newsboy Legion was a group of slum dwelling orphans rescued from a stretch in Juvenile Detention by a do-gooder cop.

The origin is a direct swipe of the romanticized version of the founding of the BBR, with kind hearted copper Jim Harper substituting for Harry Slonaker. When Harper sees the judge about to sentence the boys for some petty crimes, he steps forward and begs the court to turn them over into his care. The judge relents and makes Jim Harper their guardian. Back on the street, the boys get into some serious trouble, and this time the young policeman is forced to change out of his police uniform and don a colorful costume in order to save the boys from a mobster.

Thus the guardian becomes The Guardian- the new scourge of criminals and protector of the innocent of Suicide Slum. Jack Kirby would note: The Newsboy Legion came from that period of my life. Of course we never had a Guardian, but Harry Slonaker came close. The records show that in one instance a boy was even turned over to the BBR in lieu of going to the penitentiary. Scrapper was always the one getting into trouble, leading with his fists instead of his brains.

There was always one tough kid in every strip, and that kid would be modeled on myself. In , the BBR Reporter ran a report of an investigation by a BBR committee on gambling-especially the penny slots found in the back rooms of candy stores. The proprietors encourage truancy from school, because they do not. It is in these game rooms that 16 and 17 year old boys make the contacts that take them into backyards to shoot craps, and up tenement fire escapes to rob and steal…… No official notice has been given to this evil, and it is up to the BBR to do something.

The new Police Commissioner was then given thirty days to rid the city of all slot machines. After one trial Mayor LaGuardia made this pronouncement: The imposition on the people is clearly described by the penal law. It is plain, mechanical larceny. In another tale, they even get to run the city for a day, just as members of the BBR did when invited by New York Gov.

And when things got tough, the mysterious Guardian was always there to help bail the Newsboys out. In , Harry Slonaker took his beloved wife Besse back to Chicago. While out West, the Overage Exemption law was passed, and the 38 year old Slonaker learned he would not be drafted, but Harry had fallen in love with the San Jose area, so he and Besse chose to remain in California.

Harry was restless, the time away from his kids gnawed at him, so in , while working for a wholesale cosmetics firm, Harry spotted a group of youngsters playing in the rock strewn, litter filled area of San Jose, known as Backestro Park. He noticed the lack of supervision and poor quality of the facilities.

Just as in New York, the group patterned themselves on republican styled government, elected their own officials, and policed themselves. From a rent free vacant neighborhood grocery, the BCBC moving pillar to post would eventually outgrow 8 temporary homes, until in , Harry cajoled, pleaded, and otherwise convinced a consortium of architects, building supply companies, labor unions, public officials, and other concerned citizens, to pitch in and build a permanent site on land leased from the city of San Jose for one dollar a year. Despite such accolades, Uncle Harry remained a humble and gracious gentleman.

In , now with DC, and given the freedom to again produce his own stories, Jack Kirby would revive the Newsboy Legion and a new generation would thrill at their exploits, and the Guardian was still there to watch over them. Jack may have moved to California, but his presence is still felt back at the BBR. Peter Boyle, recreation director remembers: Harry Slonaker died on Jan. Jack Kirby attended the funeral. They had no children. Never was an obituary more wrong. Harry Slonaker had thousands of children, and they would grow to be writers, professional athletes, policemen, actors, and even Presidential advisors.

One would die heroically, spitting in the face of terrorism, and one would become the greatest storyteller of his generation. The Well Diggers Legacy. Jack was drawing 40 or more pages a month on Captain America and another on the Vision, plus the occasional spot illustration for the pulp magazines. His life settled into a routine — a busy routine — but at least one that allowed him some time with the family, and with Roz.

Jack and Roz would double date with Joe and his various girlfriends. Jack had even less luck with a bicycle. Jack had never ridden a bike while growing up, and Roz was determined to teach him. If one title with Captain America sold well, could another be far behind? With the publication of All Winners Comics , Goodman collected all his best sellers into one title. From the very first issue of Captain America, there was an effort to get the kid readers directly involved.

As the series progressed, a small group of Sentinels would show up to help Cap and Bucky in their exploits. It was a quick step for a small band of teenaged Nazi fighters to get their own book. The first issue even guest starred the Red Skull. The idea of kid gangs — even integrated ones — was not a new concept.

Kid groups were the stock in trade of the juvenile series books that both Joe and Jack grew up reading. Yet the idea of unsupervised civilian kids forming their own group and fighting saboteurs was unique for comic books, and fed into the fevered patriotism of the time.

I feel that kids have always bunched together and had a good time. Giving the super hero kid sidekicks their own book and exploits separate from their adult supervision was also a nice touch. Jack would provide the cover, and some splash pages for the first issue, and Charles Nicholas, a Fox veteran who had joined the Timely staff penciled the rest. Gil Kane said that Charles Nicholas had an agreement with Joe Simon that he would go wherever Simon and Kirby went; mostly as an inker. Sometime in the spring, Joe got a phone call from Al Harvey. Al had left Fox Publications and joined an ad agency, but his heart was still in the funny books.

He had come up with an idea where by folding a regular sized comic in two, making the books smaller, the page count could be larger, and the reader would feel like he was getting more for his or her dime—yet the cost to the publisher would be less. Al was looking for a partner to go in with him. Joe thought the idea novel, but he had a good thing going with Timely and begged out of the deal. He did offer to help out by providing a cover for the presentation. Al took his idea and sold it to a national distributor, who bankrolled him in his new venture named Harvey Publications.

Joe then provided a few covers for the digest sized books. Unfortunately the digest sized books proved more a temptation to theft than a sales strategy, and were quickly abandoned. Everything seemed to be going smoothly, Captain America was selling, the artwork continued to improve. Simon and Kirby became a recognized brand name. Coyne, for some inexplicable reason, told Joe that Martin Goodman was stiffing them on the royalty payments for Captain America. They did supply one cover to MLJ. What we do know is that Joe Simon was relentlessly ambitious.

He never stopped wanting to get the best deal he could for himself, and now, his new partner. DC was the pinnacle of comic art success. They were the New York Yankees of the comic book business, and the nirvana for all would be comic professionals. A meeting was set up. A couple of stories up, and a world removed from Fox Publications, Joe and Jack were shown into the spacious office of Jack Liebowitz.

Treated with a respect and warmth unimaginable from Victor Fox or Martin Goodman, the boys felt appreciated, and wanted. Harry Donenfeld stopped by and after the proper introductions, welcomed the pair into the DC family. The business negotiations went smoothly, and ended with Liebowitz promising to have his lawyers draw up the proposed contract. Jack Kirby was ecstatic!

With the new contract at DC, that would change. Things began slowly at DC. The editors and Joe and Jack would throw ideas out and most were thrown back. Concepts like a super powered Sherlock Holmes were shot down for fear of legal problems. The editors sent them scripts for current back up strips, which were refused or rejected. Not sure why they were worried, all comics were selling. No matter how silly the premise, if the lead character wore a multi-colored union suit, the title sold.

New companies were crawling out of the woodworks, and many old characters were updated into super-heroes. The timing was remarkable, a perfect storm of financial collapse, and foreign disaster combined to create a need for cheap entertainment and for fantasy figures powerful enough to face the daily onslaught of bad news. The now growing military presence was a huge captive audience for every new feature. The first accepted project was a revision of an earlier DC hero. The Sandman was originally a pulp style hero in the Green Hornet vein.

He had donned a skin tight costume, and taken on a kid sidekick several months before Simon and Kirby had arrived, but the stories were as dull as the artwork, and the character was seemingly headed for the scrapheap. When Simon and Kirby took over in Adventure Comics 72, cover dated March ; they ramped up the action and added in a thematic aspect centered on dreams. They updated his gadgets and modernized his appeal.

Sandman and Sandy became top flight Simon and Kirby action figures and soon took over as the cover character for Adventure Comics. In the following issue of Adventure Comics , Simon and Kirby would take a little known back-up strip and completely redo the character, concept, and genre. The earliest incarnation of Manhunter was a plainclothes detective assigned to find missing persons, and track down criminals.

The same month that Manhunter appeared on the racks; the first all original Simon and Kirby strip debuted in Star Spangled Comics. Star Spangled Comics was a title that had never featured a breakout character. To their rescue comes a policeman who promises to watch over these kids and lead them to the straight and narrow. This was Kirby at his most eager. This was Jack smacking down the gang from the next block, the small time hoods, slum lords, and crooked politicos- as well as fifth columnists and Nazi sympathizers.

After the initial problems with the digest sized comic books, Al Harvey had rebounded nicely. He had met Joe over at Fox. He had quit to work in advertising when providence came by. With his brothers he had been able to buy up some failing comic companies and turn them around and restarted the titles. He dropped the last name, rented an office and began in earnest.

He turned to his friend Joe Simon and asked for some covers to spark up some interest for the revitalized books at the news stands. Joe and Jack provided a dozen or so covers for titles such as Green Hornet , Speed Comics , and Champ Comics , sometimes signing them Jon Henri, but usually with no credits. Speed Comics featured a character named Captain Freedom, a typical patriotic character with a red, white and blue costume similar to Captain America. Why would a super-hero have bare legs? Al would always call on his friends when in need.

On Dec 7 the inevitable happened. Japan attacked Pearl Harbor and the U. It turned out the Japanese had bombed Pearl Harbor and we were going to war. DC had always kept a hands off approach where Hitler and the European war were concerned. Where Timely and some other companies had been boldly using Hitler and the Nazis as villainous foils for months, DC was more cautious. Now that was to change. Simon and Kirby were given the go ahead for their next new series— one that would strike deep to the heart of the Axis powers.

The idea started when they asked themselves what would happen if the Newsboy Legion went to war. Not an unusual question since they were also asking the question; what would happen if we have to go to war? The answer became the Boy Commandos. The Boy Commandos were a rag tag group of orphans, thrown together by the horrors of the war.

They represented the U. Trained and led by American Captain Rip Carter, they would work behind the lines paving the way for the advancing Allied armies. With a more realistic and serious tenor than Captain America, this strip portrayed the heroism and sacrifice of the everyday soldier and those who would oppose tyranny. There was craziness, and slapstick, and lots of comic book humor, but there was also death, and loss of innocence. The concept was absurd, the idea of teen aged uniformed soldiers doing commando raids behind enemy lines is ridiculous, but as portrayed by Joe and Jack, it was easy to suspend disbelief.

Joe said one inspiration was the juvenile series books The Boy Allies , about a couple kids caught up in World War 1 battles. Almost as an apology for their earlier timidity, National felt the need to explain the Boy Commandos to an audience not used to pure nationalistic fervor. At the bottom of the first page was an explanation;. The supercriminals who hold an entire continent in shackles can tell you! From the cauldron of war have risen new agents of justice, striking swiftly…silently! From across the Channel comes a new challenge! The Nazi brute cringes in fear…for the day of liberation is on its way…Nothing can stop it!

The Commandos are coming! The cover to Detective 65 would feature the group being welcomed by the dynamic duo. The Batman art was drawn by Jerry Robinson. The only time I think that Jack collaborated with anyone on the creation of a cover, except for Joe Simon. BC was the perfect title for that captive audience of new military recruits. Jack Schiff, an editor at DC recalled the team with fondness, despite a later altercation with Jack Kirby. He told noted pop culture journalist Will Murray: Both as a writer and artist, he has enormous talent.

Now Joe Simon was a great part of that team. Joe was in the background. Joe did the business arrangements, Joe did the inking. I personally think that in some ways, Joe had the better story sense. And they were very popular. I would say that Jack was more creative, but wilder. Joe was the guy who would pull it all together. The circular panels continued, and in fact increased, but always as part of a rectangular larger grid. This cleaned up the art, but never diminished the flow of the action. The inking added to the atmospherics with the addition of a geometric approach to the shadows.

Instead of realistic shaped shadows, they became bold abstract geometric patterns that focused the attention on the characters and directed the flow of attention from panel to panel. The boys were really cooking. In the space of a few months, they were back to producing 40 or more pages a month, and seen in 6 different books. They had matched the success at Timely, and surpassed it.

Yet it was not all loves and kisses at DC. Several editors, Mort Weisinger chief amongst them would rag on the team: Simon and Kirby were in a class to themselves. Their names were highlighted on the covers- an honor no other creative team received. Frank Dorth, an artist who started in the forties and spent a lifetime in comics had this to say;. They grabbed the tail of the one in front of them and followed each other around in a circle. They were not interested in quality, only what some accountant told them was selling. Roz was helping out working for a lingerie shop producing lacy ladies undergarments.

They were saving for their wedding, which they personally bankrolled. Work at DC was proceeding smoothly, with no let up in sight, and Roz was a rock, who doted over him and smoothed out his rough edges. Jack was flush and wanted to show it. He bought a used Lincoln-Zephyr. One of those large 12 cylinder jobbies that looked like the King of Siam would own. His attention span was amazing when focused on stories or drawing. He could focus like a laser. But the mundane tasks of everyday life could never hold his attention and his mind would wander to the outer reaches of the universe.

One day while driving the beast with Rose in the back seat, he took a turn into Central Park. His mind wandered for just an instant when he ran into one of those big granite stanchions with the big round ball on top. The ball broke free and rolled menacingly towards some picnicker. The impact jarred Rose and hurt her back. Jack soon got rid of the beast. Jack became gun-shy towards driving ever after. Roz related a chilling tale about the wedding day. He Jack wore a tux and I wore my gown, and we were going to the reception, and people were yelling through the car, calling him a draft dodger because he was getting married.

They moved into a spacious apartment in Carlton Place near the beach. The fear of going into the service, and leaving families with no steady paycheck worried everybody. DC was worried that the loss of Simon and Kirby would leave them with a less than satisfactory product. It was during this stretch that Jacob and Roz Kurtzberg went to City Hall and filled out forms to officially and forever be known as Jack and Roz Kirby.

Jack would bristle when people would claim that he was trying to hide his Jewish background. To Jack it was simply adopting an Anglicized name that was easy to remember, and sounded more American and artistic. Once again, the boys hunkered down and with some additional inkers and writers began cranking out page after page. To enter, one had to cross a foot bridge that spanned a moat in front of the entrance.

The studio consisted of a large room, bathroom and small kitchen. The difference being that KV was built as a low income residence, while Tudor City was upscale and high class. French built this as an enticement for the well to due to move back into the city proper—urban sprawl had begun a decade earlier. It was the first skyscraper hotel development—consisting of twelve buildings, the largest residential unit in the U. Called Tudor City after the design style of medieval Britain, the architecture was actually neo-Gothic.

The beautiful lobbys, mini-golf course, and grounds were breathtaking-quite a step up from the Lower East Side—no wonder they spent so much time there. It was originally built as a combination residential, hotel, and retail location all in one. Will Eisner also opened up a shop in Tudor City. Comics were getting swanky.

All rooms faced away from the East, due to the slaughterhouses and heavy commerce—this changed when the United Nations bought the land and erected their modern building. The project is listed as an historic district. One of the artists brought in to assist was Gil Kane, just a young boy of 17 or so. In an interview with Gary Groth, he remembered the time well. He did all the handling, all the talking, he did all the standing.

Jack was simply a workhorse who never sweated. It just came to him. But Simon was easy-going. I never felt anything except kindness and friendship. Always chewing on his cigar and always working. When you looked at his taboret, it was just littered with dozens of No. He would just wear them down; put them aside, until ultimately there was a logjam on top of his board! Kane talked about times when Roz would visit Jack at the Tudor City studio.

It was familiar, you know? But still it was enough to show that they were warming up. So I would just sigh and go home. National service was no longer avoidable, Joe enlisted into the Coast Guard, where he was given a horse and told to patrol the beaches of New Jersey. He knew that it was a short term stay, so after closing down the Tudor City studio, he continued stockpiling inventory from the DC studio. Though short, the time at the DC studio was entertaining.

Jack Schiff told Will Murray of a meeting of the Masters. Jack and Mort Meskin were sitting next to each other and there was some copy we needed pretty quickly from both of them. Each of them turned out five pages of pencils. It was really something. After a while, people began to crowd around watching. And they would both go ahead undisturbed. He went in mid-summer. I remember Mort Meskin saying that he just hated Jack working up there because Jack would sit down, working on those by page sizes and he would simply draw five to seven pages a day — once I saw him do ten pages in a fucking day — just incredibly beautiful.

I mean, he demoralized everybody he worked next to. Meskin… who was a superb artist, and at that time he was really rolling, used to look at that stuff and just eat his heart out because it was so strong. Jerry Robinson on Kirby: As I recall he was very quiet, very self-contained, very unassuming.

He looked like an ordinary mortal but he did this fantastic work. He could take a piece of paper, and make—instead of two dimensions—ten dimensions. From the very first issue, Captain America had been a smash. It was soon selling a million plus copies per issue. Simon and Kirby had produced something unique. Captain America was neither a Boy Scout, nor a dark detective and his tales were not little morality plays.

They were violent clashes between good and evil, with no concern for nuance or moral equivalency. The decision to use Hitler as the central villain demanded that the crimes be realistically evil rather than theatrical scene chewing, and the heroics had to be equally driven. From the very first story the villain murdered a scientist, saboteurs blew up and killed innocents, and the Red Skull assassinated military personnel.

Captain America was not designed to bring these criminals to justice, or to help bad people change their ways. Cap was not a cop; he was created to destroy this evil, to wipe it off the face of this Earth. Cap did not debate the morality of an eye for an eye, or worry about the philosophical ramifications of his actions, his job was to affect an almost Biblical retribution on those who would destroy us. Captain America was an elemental remedy to a primal malevolence.

He was Patton in a tri-colored costume. While Cap stood motionless, the Skull rolls over on a hypodermic filled with poison and dies. Cap was with a license to kill, leaving a body count that would impress Dirty Harry. Of course, no one really cared, Joe and Jack made sure that the villainy was so ghastly, and the action so breath-taking, that the deadly force seemed the justifiable outcome.

If Captain America was the perfect physical specimen- the super-soldier- than Bucky Barnes was every little guy with a dream of smashing in the face of the bully. He was a scrapper, a perpetual motion dynamo, taking them on five and six at a time and never backing down. This was Jack Kirby making it personal. Along with other Jewish-penned superheroes, Captain America was in part an allusion to the golem, the legendary creature said to have been constructed by the sixteenth century mystic Rabbi Judah Loew to defend the Jews of medieval Prague.

And the wish fulfillment in the Jewish case of the hero would be someone who could protect us. According to tradition a golem is sustained by inscribing the Hebrew word emet truth upon its forehead. When the first letter is removed, leaving the word met death the golem will be destroyed.

Emet is spelled with the letters aleph , rem and tav. The first letter, aleph , is also the first letter of the Hebrew alphabet, the equivalent of the letter A. Captain America wears a mask with a white A on his forehead- the very letter needed to empower the golem. They were filled with humor, and light hearted slapstick, and over the top action. This was real stuff, and the consequences were often real, but this was also comic books, and the reality had to be presented in an overly melodramatic and visually exciting manner. If the good guys were costumed super heroes, than the villains had to be just as impressive, and even more visually stimulating.

Issue 1 introduced not only Cap and his little buddy Bucky, but also the baddest arch villain of all time. The Red Skull was a sadistic sociopath and as drawn by Jack, a great visual image of pure evil. With his leering smile, burning eyes and blood red visage, he constantly taunted the boys. As with all great fictional antagonists, no matter how many times he died, he was just too evil, and too huge to stay dead. He would reappear with great regularity throughout the series long run.

With characters that intense, the art had to keep up. When characters ran, they ran with legs impossibly apart and bent at inhuman angles. Yet they were always balanced and graceful, and when they fought, it was epic. Jack told Will Eisner how his technique evolved. I drew the hardest positions a character could get into. So I had to get my characters in extreme positions, and in doing so I developed an extreme style which was easily recognized by everybody. Jack knew instinctively that super heroes needed that extra cartoon dimension of power and exaggeration to actually make visual sense.

Cartoon style histrionics provided the perfect visual template. You have to see a player from all angles and having an animation experience helped a lot because I put a lot of movement into my figures….. It made my figures move. It set a style for me which everybody recognized. I had no time to tie shoes laces correctly…..

I just made an impression of these things. They were loud, gaudy and impossible, and always dramatically impressive. At a later date, it would be called Kirby-tech, but in , it was just Kirby following his storytelling instincts. Joe was experiencing his own growth spurt, laying out the covers, and composing the splash pages. The splash page had traditionally been a glorified first page of the story, with a title added on, but in Captain America, they became stand alone little vignettes- presenting the reader with a premise.

It was a cinematic prelude to draw the reader in and set a tone. In the same way that a movie trailer sets up a promise of suspense and excitement, the Simon and Kirby splashes became a trademark guarantee of an exciting story. They challenged the reader with varied angles, from panel to panel, changing perspective and view point. It was the equivalent of a constantly moving camera, not allowing the reader to get bored with a static POV. Everything was designed to maximize the reading experience by approximating cinematic techniques to control pace and build tension.

They were also experimenting with page and panel formats. Though Jack and Joe were never slavish devotees of the 3 over 3, or 3 over 4 rectangular grids, they had rarely wandered far from a rectangular panel, but from the very first pages of Captain America we see circular panels, and arched or s-shaped gutters between the panels.

We see figures outside of the borders on almost every page. Not just to emphasize a main figure, but more to break up a straight line. It could just as well be a hand, or an arm, or a newspaper or some inanimate object. They were trying to elicit a feeling of movement by forcing the eye of the reader to flow from panel to panel, rather than the start and stop of separate panels.

I made them jump all over the page. I tried to make that cohesive so it could be easier to read.