Jack Kirby’s Experimental Photo Collage

I was looking through my bookshelf earlier this morning and I came across this book called Marvel, Five Fabulous Decades of the World’s Greatest Comics. The book covers the history of Marvel including behind the scenes looks at art and stories that tell a little bit more about how the Marvel universe was created. I totally gushed over this book as a kid, but looking at it now it’s kind of silly.

But in the back of the back they reprinted some original stories from some classic comics, and one page in particular definitely caught my eye. It’s from Fantastic Four #51, a story called This Man… This Monster! about The Thing being shunned by society. The story isn’t really relevant, it’s all about the art above drawn by Jack Kirby. As the description in the book reads:

During the 1960’s Jack Kirby experimented with photo collages as a device for altering the look of comic books. The idea never really caught on, but it influenced the work of later artists from Jim Steranko to Todd McFarlane.

Why wasn’t this done more?! I’m guessing this was a bit far beyond what people were used to in the 60’s, especially in a comic book, but it absolutely looks like something someone would create now. Jack Kirby was certainly a pioneer far beyond his time.


5 Comments Jack Kirby’s Experimental Photo Collage

  1. Adam Montoya July 29, 2009 at 9:17 PM

    Kirby totally was far beyond his time and I think people are still catching up to him. As far as nobody else really doing this stuff back then, I think that being a living legend he was given pretty much free reign on some craziness at Marvel. Just look at his “Fourth World” mania for DC!

  2. nickmaynard July 30, 2009 at 1:41 AM

    actually, story-wise “this man… this monster” is one of the most important early marvel comics.

    also, the reason it wasn’t done more often has to do with the way comics were copied and colored back then. obviously, this kind of thing would be simple with a scanner and photoshop, but back then it was a really different story. comic book writer mark waid has a pretty funny anecdote about the way books used to be colored at the following interview that you might find to be helpful – http://wordballoon.blogspot.com/2007/10/future-of-graphic-literature.html

    considering how easy it is, it’s probably a better question to ask why more people aren’t doing it NOW. aside from david mack, i can’t think of anyone who really uses collage in their art.

  3. Bobby July 30, 2009 at 5:44 PM

    @Nick – Why was it so important? The book mentioned that there was only one instance of them using their powers, Johnny in the diner lights up his finger. But I’m not sure it makes it that important.

    I was thinking that Bill Sienkiewicz and Dave McKean should be added to that list. David Mack is a great example, his covers for Alias are some of my favorites.

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  5. Your Obedient Serpent February 21, 2010 at 8:02 PM

    @Bobby: THAT’S why it was so important. It was a story that wasn’t about powers, but about PEOPLE. That was always the hallmark of the Lee/Kirby FF and the rest of the early Marvel era, but “This Man … This Monster!” demonstrated that a pure human interest character study had enough power to carry a whole issue.

    I love Kirby’s collage work. He played around with it a lot in the late ’60s and early ’70s, but the print technology of the time never did it justice. You can see a lot more of it in DC’s FOURTH WORLD OMINIBUS series.

    Steranko took a shine to it, too, and added a few collages to his NICK FURY work.

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