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Thursday, February 03, 2005

Jack Kirby: The Unpublished Archives

Despite the fact that I spent last night on a rant about Gwen Stacy's panties, action figure nudity wasn't the only thing that happened yesterday.

For one thing, Rob Lindsey finally posted some music on his website! I listened to most of it this morning before work, and I really liked it. Heck, I'm listening to it right now and I like it. Check out "Stages" and "Nashville." You won't be disappointed.

Also: someone's buying my crap! In your FACE, Poverty!

But the most important thing that happened yesterday (read: the one I can stretch a thousand words out of) was that I got a nearly-complete set of Jack Kirby trading cards. I got 'em from Chad, whose generosity truly knows no bounds, but they were originally produced in 1994 by Comic Images. Apparently those guys didn't realize that there's a potential market of about five people, and three of them live in Columbia.

They are, however, awesome. I really wish I had a scanner, because these things need to be seen to be believed, and with a few exceptions, pictures are impossible to find online. Mostly, they're designs Jack did for Ruby-Spears Animation, and they make Rubik the Amazing Cube look positively sane.

There's a story about Jack that goes like this: His wife, Roz, had to drive him everywhere, because he never got a driver's license. The reason he never got one was that he couldn't keep his mind on the road. The man had too many ideas. When you're looking at 90 trading cards featuring designs for stuff like a boat that a man wears like a suit, you start to understand how that could be absolutely true.

So what designs are featured?

  • Roxie's Raiders: Set in the 1930s, this is the story of Roxie, a beautiful spy, and her team, who go undercover as circus performers. This is pretty much their only option for cover, since the Raiders include Giraffe, the Human Periscope, with his elongated neck; Toad, who looks like Humpty Dumpty and rides a unicycle; and the appropriately-named Big Hands.
  • Time Angels: Three young women who go on missions and fight crime at the behest of a mysterious unseen benefactor. Sound familiar? Well how about I jack up the awesome factor with two little words: IN SPACE! Eat it, Cheryl Ladd!
  • The Warriors of Illusion: A team of magicians who, in addition to their boundless magical powers, have cars that turn into stuff. One, the "Magicmobile" can be covered with a sheet and turned into a tricycle in the event that enemies surround it. No foolin'. Also, out of all the absolutely insane cars in the trading card set, Warriors of Illusion's Deceptor has the best one. It looks like a '67 Impala had sex with a dragon. Wood side panels, whitewall tires... You can't deny, the man had style.
  • Skanner, the Last Private Eye: In the World That's Coming (now where have I heard that before), Skanner--the last PI left on Earth-- investigates "illegal aliens (cosmic types)," teenager abductions, and people who smuggle air from unpolluted environments. To do this, he uses a pair of gloves that turn into a shovel and a telescope. I would watch this show religiously.
  • Camouflage Corps: Probably the wackiest of the designs, this one features impossibly complex tanks and planes bursting out of things that aren't impossibly complex tanks and planes, such as townhouses or barns. There's even one where a train goes into a tunnel and "emerges as railroad artillery," something that Jack feels compelled to tell us is "an entirely different object." CC also features my second-favorite card in the set. It's divided into three different panels. 1: A passenger train is ambushed by some tanks. 2: The train's sides pop open revealing a row of guns which destroy the tanks. 3: A hundred-foot tall robot bursts out of the desert below the trains and crushes the train in its powerful claws. It's like he suddenly realized he had two thirds of the page left and had to top the cannons on the train with something a thousand times more awesome.
So if that's my second-favorite, what's my favorite? Well, in addition to the various show designs, there's a bunch of cards that are just weird ideas Jack had, like the Flying Knight (a knight who flies), a bobsled with a tower of weaponry on it, or a triple-decker bus that straddles the highway with an enormous bridge between the two halves. There's even one where "Master Computobots energize cavebots in their war to control humanity."

But they all pale in comparison to the best card in the set, and I do have a picture of this one. His name? Hidden Harry. Look at him! There is absolutely no attempt at an explanation given on the card other than "Wow. Jack Kirby was frigg'n nuts." It's terrifying and fascinating at the same time. I mean, look at those feet. They don't make ANY sense! He's also the shop's unofficial mascot, which goes a long way in explaining why we don't have any female employees.


Blogger Jose said...

nice blog...

2/12/2005 1:05 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Heya Chris, i was looking through some of my old card collections and found some of the cards from the Jack Kirby Set :) Card 2 of a 3 card subset "2 Warriors of Illusion" and a Limited Edition Medallion Card its even numbered and the back with #2056, i have no use for them, i was infact about to throw them when my curiosity led me to do a search and i found your blog, if your interested in them e-mail me at karistok@hotmail.com you can have them for nothing :)

11/06/2006 5:07 PM


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