Thursday, 11 April 2013

I am not a number, I am a free man!


Welcome to this short interlude into the realm of the location called "The Village"

A place where we have awakened into, without any recollection of how we got there, where it is and with no way out

A place that paradoxically appears to be quaint and beautiful, peaceful even, but under which is lurking a dreadful, unseen and unspeakable menace

Menace which takes form in confrontations of constant questioning and asking for information, when we have no answers

To be constantly referred to not as person with a name, but as number completely abstracted of any personality or emotion

To be held against your will by a nameless faceless corporation

We are of course Prisoners just like the Tv show "The Prisoner…"



The obvious allegory is that everyone at one point or another has felt trapped, trapped by their conscience, trapped by guilt, trapped by circumstance, forced into doing things they find morally objectionable or reprehensible, acted in a way because they had no other choice, because it was the only way to survive or because they wanted to fit in, to belong, to "conform"

So it should hopefully be little surprise "The Prisoner" remains a all time cult classic and its influence was far and wide and captured the imagination of many people including Jack Kirby

One could say Kirby's affinity with "The Prisoner" starts in Fantastic Four Issues 84-87 in which Doctor Doom Traps The Fantastic Four within Latveria

Who's populace behave in a rather odd yet instantly familiar (to any fan of "The Prisoner") way…




and things get progressively weirder…




But in this case the power behind all these machinations is very clear and very much larger than life in the form of Doctor doom….




Who's machinations are obviously defeated at the cost of a place called "The Village"

After this of course the years roll by and Kirby leaves Marvel for DC but finds the situation at DC possibly not that much better so again he quits to start over  back at the place he started out in…

Yet paradoxically still find himself hopelessly restrained, shackled to the dictates of editorial decisions, unable to express himself how he would wish, all energy and passion, a creative force beyond measure, being tamed like a docile circus lion…

Forced to retread the same steps over and over when all he wants to do is invent and make something completely different and new

Until, possibly for the briefest of brief moments an opportunity presents itself for Kirby to allegorise his hopeless entrapment, to discourse in the questioning as to to why he left (either time) in the perfect vehicle to do so…

A comic based on "The Prisoner"


Above: My attempt at recreating Jack Kirby's first page of the unpublished "The Prisoner" comic

But of course, one could argue that the chance to make the comic in itself was just a trap, the comic was never published, the comic pages that was drawn was not even completely finished and the comics actual existence went into the realm of urban legend / myth

Yet exist it does and one can only wonder just how wonderful and fantastic Jack Kirby's "The Prisoner" would have been, it is a sorry state of affairs to acknowlege that we will never know

If any one lesson can be taken from this,  it is you can never work for a corporation and openly question that self same corporation not in any public way certainly, not even by allegorising

But why is that so? It can only be that that corporation knows its wrong. If they are so right then they would not object to any questioning themselves as they would already have the answers to show how wrong thinking or feeling that way is…

But of course I am dreaming and this is just a fantasy world I am describing, nothing like this would ever happen in reality would it?

Be seeing you

NEXT WEEK: It's a all-new project - Join me for my look back at Bill Mantlo's The Human Fly!


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