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 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!



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

Thursday 17 November 2011

It all comes down to this...

The final page of Daredevil, below:-

Foggy enters the office, to find Heather sitting down and Matt Murdock telling her Glenn industries is finished

The cold, locked impassive look on Matt’s face as he tells Heather he is going to argue that she is ignorant of any wrong doing and incompetent and therefore not liable is very telling, but not as telling as Heathers response in the next 3 panels.

As her face goes completely into the dark and she becomes a very small and tiny thing as she almost whispers (to my mind that what it would sound like words that are barely there) “All right, Matt.  All Right.”  “I’ll marry you”

Let’s hold on that tiny little panel for a moment - as this panel marks the end of Matt Murdock and Daredevils fall.

Yes the fall as depicted on the cover in a abstract fashion was done so to indicate that the fall in question wasn't literal (both Lavender and turk did have a literal fall however) or that the fall would be necessarily immediately obvious.

The fall starts with Daredevil interfering in a Glenn industries business meeting literately threatening to bring the company down, getting copies of copies of evidence of Glenn industries negligence to have his motivations openly questioned by Foggy (and have a attack as a consequence) ,involvement in fraud, dropping those copies off as Daredevil to the District attorney, who questions Daredevils motives, dropping off another set of copies to the NYPD, to taking down Turk as Stilt man to stop him interfering, to finally successfully taking down Glenn Industries.

Although its not highlighted as much in this issue, Heather has dependency issues, back at the restaurant table earlier in this she herself recognizes this and reflects “If I really do lose the business - matt’s all I have got left”

And Heathers reaction to loosing the business, Glenn Industries says it all.

Just to look at that one panel on its own and its juxtaposition of dialogue shows quite how far Daredevil / Matt Murdock has fallen - he has succeeded in destroying everything else that mattered to Heather.

You don't even have to know or have read anything else to know how wrong this panel is, agreeing to get married should be a joyous and happy event in life, everything in the panel alone says it is anything but.

We conclude with foggy - reflecting in the realization that its now too late, much too late to change the twisted path Matt Murdock has set himself down, Foggy must know that there is doing to be consequences on all sides both Heathers and Matts and I wonder just much he know wishes he had said or done more earlier in the story.

We end it here, amidst the defeat and naked surrender of Heather to Matt who has systematically teared her life apart and the shocking possibly horrifying thing is deep down, Matt knows he is doing wrong but how much further will things falls part before it comes to its end?

Thats a question that will hopefully get answered in the next issue of Daredevil, 187 which you will have to pick and read yourself as this marks the end of my odyssey through this issue, Daredevil and Frank and Klaus’s career.

We leave with plenty to reflect on, the thought foremost in my mind being how a light hearted change of pace semi humorous issue could be be blended with such a bleak tragedy and yet still remain as a complete piece, with many shadings in all the characters and read true as a story.

and how difficult it must have been to convince the powers that be that showing the central heroic character is such a negative light, but they somehow succeeded

That is the work of a truly good writer and artist and i am sure we can agree this applies to Frank and Klaus in spades




My attempt to recreate this issue of Daredevil is dedicated to many people, Matthew J Brady who made the great suggestion to attempt this in the first place, Matt Seneca who has been a constant source of inspiration, Alex Hunt who drew a much better page than I possibly could have done, Dan Nadel of The Comics Journal- Dan I hope you enjoyed the ride

And of course to you all, anyone who has read this blog as this experiment continued, be it here virtually or in the print Images Degrading Forever Weekly, Thank you all

I hope it was at least moderately entertaining?

Next Week
But IDF does not end here - join me next week as I launch head first into an attempt to recreate Issue 1 of Jack Kirby's short lived 2001 A Space odyssey ongoing series

The Last IDFW that will be here

As you hopefully already know this is the last week where I will post the IDF Weekly on this blog, it is still very much alive and kicking in digital and print editions.

Digital subscriptions are completely free and can start from any issue you like, just send a email to

To conclude this chapter of the blog, here is issue 9 - I hope you like it

Thursday 10 November 2011

Here you go, way too fast - Don't slow down you're gonna...

Crash! - So go the lyrics of a song originally by The Primitives

And a very loud crash indeed is what we get on the next completed page of Daredevil:-

As Turk makes his re-acquaintance with the ground and then some, only being able to offer a very soft “ow” as his moment of reflection occurs on the roof of a building some stories below where he was shown to be - which as mentioned before seemed to be a master class in distorted perception with New York looking like it does was a airplane!

But ah, no that’s the reason why the Crash was so loud, as Daredevil falls to the floor and its Lavenders turn to ask “are you okay?”

Daredevil reflecting that his hearing went temporarily haywire again, just as it did earlier with foggy, but for much less of a period of time.

Daredevil is off into the distance by the next panel and misses out on the redemption in Lavender’s face in the final panel.

If we go back a few pages to where Daredevil dropped off those copies of copies, the last panel of that page and this page are the beginning and end of the mini arc - of Lavender doubting and questioning Daredevils motives to start with (with a serious face dim
dismissively calling him a show off) and ending with gratitude and reconsideration (again describing him as a showoff but in heroic terms), maybe Lavender thinks to herself Daredevil isn’t such a bad person after all, he just saved my life.

But - Daredevil had another guilty reaction in taking down Turk, so its very clear that his motivation in doing so was not just motivated by heroics if it was even motivated by heroics at all, as it could be argued Lavender just happened to be in the wrong place at the right time

Daredevils subconscious is again telling him that what he is doing is wrong, but is is going to listen or is it just too late already?

Given there is now only one more page left, it should come as little surprise which is the  most likely answer...

Images Degrading Forever Weekly

Just a quick reminder that after next week I am going to stop posting the IDF Weekly on the blog and just stick to digital subscriptions (just send me a email) or print - the last issue here will be Thursday 18th November 2011, so if you want to get a copy from that point on its best to send me a email to

Also to sweeten the deal there will be all new material that has not be seen anywhere else appearing in IDFW, starting in issue 13 which will be coming out Saturday 17th December 2011...

For now, here is issue 8 - I hope you like it

Thursday 3 November 2011

Teetering on the edge of greatness

That is Turk is doing on this next completed page of Daredevil...

To paraphrase a famous playwright - Alas Poor Turk, we knew him well

Or did we?

If we look back, it seems at least to me the opportunity to flesh out Turks character and motivations in this issue was deliberately missed, everyone else gets fleshed out and some even have less per page exposure than Turk here

If you have been reading so far then you can probably already guess why I think Turk was deliberately not given the extra dimension Frank and Klaus applied to everything else

This is one hand hand - as I have already mentioned - to purposely and deliberately underline the concept of a lame super villain in terms of the complete lack of realism regarding their “super-powers” be it leap-frog as Turk mistakenly identified Wilbur Day the real Stilt man, who let’s face it, is just tall.

It takes a real and particularly good leap of imagination to actually think a battle between Daredevil and Stilt man for real would actually take more than a few panels / pages “Did I not mention that I tied a bit of cable in-between these buildings at your knee height” DareDevil could say, for example.

But then there is another level, to point out how having the lame villain behave in a certain way, without any real defined proper motivation or depth of character is equally as bad.

Which is why I think Turk is lacking in character here.

Essentially though humorous and made light of in this issue, Frank and Klaus do have as serious point behind their mockery and this is to essentially say, the methods that they have been using in Daredevil all have a very good and thought out reason for being, they are not elements included just for sensationalism or entertainments self alone but all have more than one layer and depth to them, making the story a much more real, tangible and even affecting thing.

This is essentially what fans was queuing up in droves to see in Daredevil.

But at least on some level you could say this is Frank and Klaus saying Daredevil is not Dour he does have a sense of humor, but that doesn't mean we have to embrace farcical comic book elements / tropes and make things less real as a consequence.

Next week, Turk returns to terra firma and Daredevil again finds something is wrong

Images Degrading Forever Weekly

If you have been following this little publication so far, you will hopefully see that its actually some months behind this blog - I am not quite sure what I am going to do about that exactly yet.

But for now I think I am going to stop posting the IDF Weekly on the blog and just stick to digital subscriptions (just send me a email) or print - the last issue here will be in  2 weeks time Thursday 18th November 2011, so if you want to get a copy from that point on its best to send me a email to

Also to sweeten the deal there will be all new material that has not be seen anywhere else appearing in IDFW, starting in issue 13 which will be coming out Saturday 17th December 2011...

For now, here is issue 7 - I hope you like it