Thursday, 24 November 2011

Jack Kirby's 2001 Starts Here!

Welcome to Images Degrading forever!

If you have not been to this blog before, this is an ideal jumping on point as this week I start work on a brand new project.

What I attempt to do with each project is to recreate the art entirely by hand one page (and one blog entry) a week and to examine the art, story, creators involved in the blog text as I go along.

I do also tend to include elements which I have been told are abstract and idiosyncratic as a way of introducing variety and I am hoping that is part of the appeal of following this blog

The attempt to recreate is a kind of like an comics anatomy lesson, I learn as I go along and hopefully you will join in for the ride.

What I hope to encourage from anyone reading the blog is to hopefully demonstrate that if I can try drawing then anyone can

Contributions and feedback are both very much welcomed and people who contribute typically will receive a hand done drawing of their choice from me for their efforts.

Looking through the list of creators of work I have previously done may give you an idea of that some of the intention is to try and be as diverse as possible.  I started with Dave Sim in Glamourpuss, moved onto Jim Steranko’s Outland and have just literally finished Frank Miller / Klaus Janson’s Daredevil (which if you want to see just email me robin.barnard@ymail.com for a free digital subscription for Images Degrading Forever Weekly).

The next artist who’s work I am going to look for is a touchstone and a point which any comic book artist be they aspiring or otherwise needs to visit, this is of course none other Jack “King” Kirby.

To attempt to summarise Jack Kirby would be an incredible disservice to the volume, range and diversity of his work, particularly in terms of how many creations both in terms of characters and comic book story telling techniques he personally developed so I am not even going to try.  Jack was called the King for a reason!

In terms of choosing which thing of Jacks to attempt to recreate, this was put to a vote quite a while ago and 2001 : A Space Odyssey  was the result.

A special thank you to Douglas noble for providing some inspiration here as well as Matt Seneca whose article on Sternako’s Outland and Kirby’s 2001 got the ball rolling to start with!

I will be working from 2001: A Space Odyssey issue 1. I thought this would be much better than looking at the actual movie adaptation (although that will crop up in the blog text) for quite a number of reasons but primarily as issue 1 is a retelling of the basic story from the movie honed down into a mere 18 pages, with space for Jack’s own ideas to be introduced and to define the framework for the issues that would follow, so I look on this as what Jack wanted to do, whereas i don't feel I could say the same about the movie adaptation .

So over the next 17 or so weeks I will put up one page here a week and talk about it if you wanted a buzz word to throw around this - it would most definitely be “cosmic”!

Here is the cover redone by my hand:-


And who better to start this off than the King himself?! This is one of the few examples of a comic where Jack himself actually stated what it was all about from his own perspective inside the comic itself, so I thought it would be perfect to reproduce this below from 2001 issue 1 December 1976 - so enjoy!

Just to give Jack's artcile the correct context The New Seed is the name Jack gives to the “Star Child” which appears at the end of the 2001 movie (and this issue!)



We could probably spend quite some time just discussing Jack’s own words below, that’s completely up to you, please just either post a comment or email me, this blog is for you!

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THE NEW SEED


By and large, it is the creation of the New Seed which seems to be the basic, consistent thread running throughout the now-famous saga we call SPACE ODYSSEY.  The New Seed, in effect, emerges as the triumphant character at the the climax of this magazine.  It is this enigmatic little rascal for whom all the fuss and fury of the ages is first stirred up, and then laid to rest in a final bow to the future.


But who is the New Seed?  Or perhaps we should ask what is the New Seed?  Is It man in transition?  A testament to survival and continuance?  Some fantastic projection of our ultimate destiny?  Or is it the natural acceptance of what we expect to come after us?


None of these speculations may be correct, especially in view of the imposing appearance of that alien counterpoint, the Monolith.  That granite gremlin towers above these proceedings like an overpowering phantom, talking only to a chosen few when the destined time is at hand.  It is the Monolith which is the fly in our ointment when it comes to nailing down our opinions of the New Seed.


For if there is an alien power shaping the course of our evolution through the Monolith, then it is doing so for purposes beyond our understanding.  That power may well be injecting ingredients we are not aware of, changing a natural order to one of it’s own design.


Still, the Monolith is a fictional element in a very real process.  I believe that it is this process which intrigues us.  And it is this underlying thought which has made SPACE ODYSSEY such an immortal product in the cinema, in literature, and now - all willing - in comics.


“Now that we’re here...where are we going?”  That is the question posed by the Monolith, and it is a question which has enthralled man since the beginning.  Indeed, next to the more basic question of our individual  identities, this larger puzzle will continue to tease us to the end of our days. (And fortunately, it will remain a continuous boon to the workers of the editorial vineyards - us happy souls who make a living off our abilities to involve you in fantasies so necessary in providing the proper balance in your everyday joust with reality.)


Yes, the New Seed is the conquering hero in this latest Marvel Drama.  Why?  Because he has staying power, that’s why!  He will always be there in the story’s final moments to taunt us with the question we shall never answer.  The little shaver is, perhaps, the embodiment of our own hopes in a world which daily makes us more than a bit uneasy about the future.


Today man is fouling the air.  He is exterminating entire species of flora and fauna.  The oceans smell of foul odours, and there are disturbing rumours that we are destroying the life cycle of the very sea creatures which have provided us with the necessities for existence.


It can all start with very small things - like plankton, the lowest form of life in the pecking order.  Eliminate plankton, and a higher species dies out.  That causes the extinction of an even higher life form, and another and another, until the whole chain disintegrates and leaves the oceans barren. It could happen.  The world could go out with a whimper instead of a bang, and our every vision of the future could suddenly become highly academic.


This is the point, however, where our cute little champion, the New Seed, comes to the rescue.  In the meagre space devoted to his appearance, he brightens our hopes considerably.  He is a comforting visual - almost tangible - reminder that the future is not yet up for grabs.  And wherever his journey takes him matters not one whit to this writer.  This mere fact that the chances of his making it are still good is the comforting thought.


In short, the New Seed is no more than the spirit of our own self-belief, our own confidence in the stubborn rationale which has brought us from the caves to condominiums in the suburbs.  Somehow, at the very edge of group destruction, history gives evidence of a persistent proclivity on the part of human beings for keeping mind - and whatever else matters - on a even keel.


The New Seed merely says that we can still do it.  We can keep the environment and ourselves running into the distant future.  We can, someday, knock off our hostilities and concentrate together on the great mystery of the stars.


But until that day arrives, my advice to the reader is not to break the fantasy-cycle.  The excitement in store for you in Marvel’s SPACE ODYSSEY will be heightened by an awesome array of characters that are guaranteed to freak-out the faithful fan.  And in the vanguard will be the New Seed.  For it has been said of the converging cast... “A Little squirt shall lead them!”


- Jack Kirby

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