Happy 100th Birthday, Jack Kirby!

Today marks the centennial anniversary of the undisputed King of Comics, ‘Jolly’ Jack Kirby! This creative genius was responsible for some of the best known (and loved) characters of the 20th Century, and his influence is still felt to this day. Rather than using my meager words, here’s a gallery of comic cover art featuring the amazing talent of Jack ‘King’ Kirby!

Happy birthday, King!

Confessions of a TV Addict #3: The Marvel Super Heroes Have Arrived!

Captain America and his costumed cohorts made their television debuts way before the Marvel Cinematic Universe began dominating box offices around the world. THE MARVEL SUPER HEROES debuted in 1966, at the height of the BATMAN camp craze, with Cap, Iron Man, Thor, Hulk, and The Sub-Mariner the rotating stars of this limited animation series. And I do mean limited – Grantray-Lawrence Animation literally made copies of the comic book artwork of Jack ‘King’ Kirby, ‘Sturdy’ Steve Ditko, and other Bullpen artists, transferred them to film and basically just animated the character’s mouths and an occasional swinging fist!

The cartoons (and I use that term loosely) were syndicated to local stations, who filled holes in their time slots with the mighty Marvel heroes. Some stations ran them as stand-alone series, while others used the segments as part of local kid’s shows. Up here in New England, we watched on WNAC-TV (Channel 7 at the time), with an actor named Arthur Pierce dressed as Cap, constantly asking if anyone out there in TV Land had seen his pal Bucky!:

Eat yer heart out, Chris Evans!

Marvel’s Rogue’s Gallery of swingin’ super villains were also on hand.. after all, what good’s a superhero without a nefarious scheme to thwart? Baron Zemo, The Enchantress, The Mandarin, The Mole Man, Super-Skrull, and dastardly  Dr. Doom himself all made their way into the stories. The Avengers assembled in various iterations (Giant Man and The Wasp, Hawkeye, Quicksilver, and The Scarlet Witch all appeared), as did mutant teen team The X-Men, called the ‘Allies for Peace’ because Grantray-Lawrence didn’t own the rights to them (the more things change….)

The voice cast was strictly unknown, with two exceptions: Sandy Becker, a New York kid’s show host and voice actor (KING LEONARDO’s Mr. Wizard, GO-GO GOPHERS), who played Cap, and actor John Vernon. That’s right, ANIMAL HOUSE’s Dean Wormer himself did the voices of Iron Man, Sub-Mariner, and the Hulk’s nemesis Major Glenn Talbot. But for me, the most memorable part of the program was the individual theme songs for each hero:

Excelsior!

Book Review: CAPTAIN AMERICA AND THE FALCON: MADBOMB (Marvel 2004)

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Evil elitists are plotting to transmit mind-controlling madness, turning America’s citizenry into docile sheep to do their bidding! No, I’m not talking about today’s election (though I could be!), it’s the plotline of CAPTAIN AMERICAN AND THE FALCON: MADBOMB, Jack Kirby’s 1975 seven part epic collected in this 2004 graphic novel release. The King was making his return to Marvel after five years working for rival DC, and took over the reigns of his baby Cap’s monthly book as writer/artist/editor.

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Kirby was never a great writer, but he shines in this tale of an attempted hostile takeover of America by a group of elitists using the Madbomb to control the populace and rule the good ol’ USA. Cap and the Falcon are enlisted by no less than Secretary of State Henry Kissinger to thwart the fiendish plot. King Kirby’s artwork is stunning, embellished by inkers Frank Giacoia and D. Bruce Berry. Kirby gives us some great two-page spreads filled with gadgets and non-stop action as only he could.

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A sci-fi superhero spectacular, CAPTAIN AMERICA AND THE FALCON: MADBOMB is a visual delight that all Kirby fans will enjoy. Now don’t forget to go out and vote today… before the elitists set off the Madbomb and all hell breaks loose! Defenders of Liberty Unite! (That’s an unabashed plug to vote for Gary Johnson, folks!)

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