“Joe Keatinge has established himself as the latest new writer I want to undermine and destroy. It’s just top class stuff.”
- Mark Millar (Kick-Ass, Civil War, Wanted, Ultimates)
"I think Joe is definitely one to watch."
- Robert Kirkman (Walking Dead, Invincible)
Note that’s a few years before even Pierre Boule’s Planet of the Apes novel, of which the movie adaptation is somewhat apocryphally cited as Kirby’s main inspiration for Kamandi.
I’ve gotta go on Tumblr radio silence from now until sometime after NYCC (beyond an upcoming post of my NYCC details), so here’s one of my favorite images of all time, easily one of my biggest inspirations —
Jack Kirby’s map of EARTH A.D. … THE WORLD OF KAMANDI!
Whenever I’m in need of some inspiration, I just head on over to Derek Langille’s collection of Jack Kirby double page spreads and I am ready to go. Here’s a selection of some of my favorites.
Jack Kirby’s work space.
Absolutely my favorite and most inspiring image I’ve seen in a while.
I love how unpretentious and no-bullshit it is. It’s a plain desk, with a plain chair and a plain side chair, all of which are beat up from use and covered in ink. It faces a corner, one that’s covered in unorganized comics. It’s inspiring to see the desk that held the home of creation for countless characters was so practical. Nothing fancy about it. Just a place to sit down, shut up and do the work.
Photo by David Folkman from Mark Evanier’s KIRBY: KING OF COMICS. Thanks to Chris Sebela for figuring out the proper attribution.
KAMANDI, THE LAST BOY ON EARTH OMNIBUS VOL. 1 HC
Written by JACK KIRBY
Art by JACK KIRBY, MIKE ROYER and D. BRUCE BERRY
Cover by JACK KIRBY and MIKE ROYER
At last, DC collects the adventures of Kamandi in the popular Omnibus format, beginning with issues #1-20!
In these tales, Kamandi – one of the few survivors of a futuristic Great Disaster that has destroyed civilization – must make his way through a world populated by bizarre, mutated animals and other strange wonders! Considered one of Jack Kirby’s most creative works, KAMANDI features a band of intelligent animal supporting characters who accompany Kamandi as he searches for answers and adventure across the wastelands of Earth.
On sale SEPTEMBER 28
448 pg, FC, $49.99 US
Sometimes even the best comics don’t come together.
For whatever reason, a number of amazing comics have failed to come to light or their natural completion. Even the most famous creators fall victim to this, like Alan Moore’s ill fated, post-Watchmen superhero crossover, Twilight of the Superheroes, Herge’s never completed Tintin and the AlphArt or Mike Allred with what was intended to be his first ever professional work, Jaguar Stories.
Those are lost classics most comic enthusiasts are aware of. Here are some that aren’t as well known.
1. The Sinner by Steve Niles and Bill Sienkiewicz
Image Comics was born out of revolutionizing the superhero. Like them or not, there’s no denying the industry was forever changed by the early nineties’ biggest artists craving to do whatever they wanted in the genre without restriction. Personally, I loved them. I still do.
With the 2007 announcement of The Sinner it appeared 30 Days of Night writer Steve Niles and the artistic supergod behind such classics as Elektra: Assassin and the long languishing Big Numbers, Bill Sienkiewicz, held Image’s beginnings in a similar affection.
The Sinner wasn’t anything like the early Image books in terms of content or style, but it was born from a similar drive to do something different, something unique to the creators. In fact, you could tell from the book’s name it wasn’t anything like any superhero comics.
While they admitted an inspiration from Steve Ditko’s early work on Spider-Man, it’s obvious it was merely a starting point. The series was to take the foundation Ditko built into a very different direction, one fueled by Niles’ mastery of horror and Sienkicwicz’s mastery of the bizarre.
The Sinner’s star, Erik, was far from the shy boy photographer Peter Parker was. Erik was a junkie. His life had hit rock bottom. His girlfriend died.
Yet when a scientist bent on discovering how humans evolve takes advantage of Erik’s sorry state, the horror-fueled superheroics began. At least, they were supposed to…It’s been three years and the title hasn’t been heard from since.
2. The Manga of Paul Pope: Super Trouble & Smoke Navigator
Kodansha is a recognized world leader in manga. Currently, they’re reprinting such classic works as Katsuhiro Otomo’s Akira and Masasume Shirow’s Ghost in the Shell.
Back in the nineties they made a major play to capture the wider world of comics by bringing some of the finest cartoonists from around the planet to create manga in Japan.
For a while the only evidence of their work was a 1996 giveaway comic entitled Manga Surprise, which also featured a number of the best cartoonists Japan and Europe have to offer.
Since this enterprise is in this article, you can guess it fell apart for reasons I’m still unclear on.
However, it’s well documented Pope produced a large amount of pages for both Super Trouble, a poppier version of his sci-fi epic THB on display in Manga Surprise and his Adhouse-published PulpHope, and Smoke Navigator, which was the precursor to 100%. In fact, you can see a solid chunk of Smoke Navigator in Alternative Comics’ Rosetta 2. Solid, but not satisfying enough.
As Paul mentioned in Rosetta 2, Kodansha reverted all rights to the work he produced, but thus far he’s been very much against it all ever seeing the light of day.
3. Jack Kirby’s The Prisoner
Jack Kirby is the King of Comics. In the early 1960s, the guy almost single handedly created over half the Marvel universe including The Fantastic Four, The X-Men and about five hundred kabillion characters more. Most comic fans growing up over the last several decades would have had a bunch of lackluster reads if not for the work of this one man.
In the 1970s, Kirby wrote and drew what are some of my favorite comics to this day. From his epic New Gods and the world-spanning Kamandi at DC to his madcap adventures of Captain America and Black Panther at Marvel, the King always delivered.
Kirby’s run started in a Treasury Size one-shot loosely adapting the movie. Something tells me Kirby was handed a script and some visual reference, saw there was a monolith involved and threw away the rest.
I’m glad he did. The run on the subsequent ongoing series consists of eon and galaxy spanning storylines, more mind-boggling than even the most out there Grant Morrison story told today. That’s including The Invisibles.
So imagine how thrilled I was to know Marvel commissioned him to adapt the equally mind-boggling TV series, Patrick McGoohan’s The Prisoner, to the comic book page.
That’s right. McGoohan’s story of a decommissioned secret agent fighting his way out of a Dada prison resort was in the hands of man who took 2001 to a place beyond either Kubrick or Clark’s wildest imaginations.
And like all the comics here, it simply vanished.
Kirby nearly completed the first issue, directly and faithfully based from the TV show’s opener, “Arrival.” However, part of me wonders just where he would have taken the series. His adaptation didn’t begin until 1977, years after the show ended. I don’t doubt he would have gone in fantastic directions from there, as similarly far removed as his 2001 was.
Considering how controlling McGoohan was of his creation, maybe that’s why it never came to be.
4. Twin Peaks: Season Three
Speaking of TV. Like a lot of people, comics illustrator Matt Haley was driven mad by the ending of David Lynch’s Twin Peaks. I’ll spare you any spoilers, but lets just say, well, I have to stress how much it drove people mad.
Many years after its conclusion, plans of a definitive, Gold Box DVD set were announced publicly and inspiration struck.
Haley thought it would be the perfect opportunity to finally give fans the ending they deserved. What if he produced, in conjunction with Twin Peaks’ creators, an original graphic novel telling the story of Season Three. It was approved. Well, mostly.
CBS gave Haley the opportunity to pursue the endeavor and for a while it went quite well.
It’s hard to get into details without revealing the show’s cliffhanger, but I can safely mention the story was to jump ahead ten years later. Dale Cooper would have shifted from FBI agent to town pharmacist as the high school cast fully shifted to adulthood.
Concept art was drawn. Plots were fleshed out. Only one piece of the puzzle was needed. And said puzzle piece said, “no.”
5. Airtight Garage: The Movie by Moebius, Katsuhiro Otomo and Akira Kurosawa
Ok, this one’s not a comic, but it’ll certainly break your heart. Lets look at the players:
Moebius, also arguably one of the greatest cartoonists to ever put pen to paper in just about every genre imaginable including Westerns (Blueberry), Science Fiction (The Long Tomorrow) Fantasy Epics (The Aedena Cycle) and, well, Everything (The Airtight Garage).
The Airtight Garage began as a home for Moebius’ take on Michael Moorcock’s then public domain secret agent Jerry Cornelius. In it, Cornelius pursued control of an asteroid – the titular garage – that accessed all worlds. However, Major Grubert, the asteroid’s protector warded off Cornelius and any other potential threats.
While Moebius admits to making it up as he went along, this freedom in storytelling resulted in a constant explosion of ideas and genres. Sometimes it was science fiction. Other times it was romance. Sometimes it was a western. Other times it even starred superheroes. The world(s) of The Airtight Garage is arguably the purest look into Moebius’ imagination.
Apparently Kurosawa felt the same way and offered to produce a feature length, mostly cel-animated (backgrounds were to be CGI) film and brought Otomo on to direct with Moebius’ supervision. You couldn’t imagine a better team.
Yet despite the fact Moebius has been the visual master behind such classics as Tron, Alien and The Abyss his own properties never seem to get on the silver screen with the lone exception of an awful Blueberry adaptation, Renegade. With Kurosawa soon passing away, this film also fell apart.