Sunday, October 14, 2007

black magic...

For your pleasure, here are some scans from the 1974 DC Comic "Black Magic." This 8-issue series presented reprints of some 1950s collaborations by Joe Simon and Jack Kirby (originally published by Prize Comics), longtime creative partners who co-created Captain America in the 1940s. It was another selection from the comics my cousins sent to me as a preadolescent in the late 1980s, and like "Plop!" it kind of freaked me out at the time, even though the stories are significantly less violent than the EC Comics horror stories of the same era. There was just something about the artwork that I found kind of...ooky. Actually a lot of the "Black Magic" stories aren't horror per se, but rather tales of the fantastic and unknown. The writing is especially good. Generally told in the first person, the stories a breathless, "True Confessions" quality.

Kirby, of course, would go on to co-create most of Marvel Comics most popular characters with Stan Lee, among them the Fantastic Four and the Hulk. After leaving Marvel, Kirby did a lot of very creative at DC in the 1970s, creating the New Gods and the Fourth World saga, which still plays a significant role in the DC Universe (their current "Countdown" uses many of Kirby's characters and concepts). Also at DC in the 70s, Kirby worked on some unique series like "Kamandi" and "Omac," and re-teamed with Joe Simon for "Sandman." Kirby passed away in 1994. Among his later works was the excellent "Destroyer Duck" series with "Howard the Duck" creator Steve Gerber. Simon is still alive, though mostly retired from comics in favor of painting.

"Black Magic" is particularly interesting both as a great example of Kirby and Simon's collaborations, and also as some of Kirby's better work just before some of his greatest innovations in the comic medium.

Here are some covers and splash pages. The overall visual sensibility is fairly different from Kirby's later work, owing no doubt to Simon's inking, which brings finer lines to the Kirby artwork. Some of it kind of reminds me of Steranko or Steve Ditko. I think the cover for number 6 was done especially for the 1970s series (possibly by Simon, though it doesn't look like a Kirby) but the others seem like somewhat embellished originals (I have nothing to base that on, just an educated guess):

Also from these issues I thought I'd include this nifty ad. It's too bad, now that I'm an adult and have the resources to buy things like this (theoretically, when I have job), that they don't sell these crazy kind of novelty items out of comics anymore. Oh well...

Also from these books, a cool in-house ad featuring a variety of interesting DC titles from the 1970s. There's Kirby's "Kamandi" and the Mike Kaluta revival of "The Shadow," as well as the long-running horror title "The Witching Hour," plus a "Phantom Stranger" series I had to admit I wasn't aware existed until now (it ran from the late 1960s into the mid-1970s. Several of the later issues featured crossovers by Deadman). "Rima" was a jungle girl title that was also among the comics my cousins sent me back in the day, and I think that one, with its titular white-haired jungle goddess, did much to foster my then-burgeoning sexuality...

On that scary note, check back tomorrow for more Halloween horror!

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