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Old 05-02-2007, 09:49 AM   #1
MattBrady
 
THE CURRENT IMAGE: ERIK LARSEN ON JACK KIRBY'S SILVER STAR

by Benjamin Ong Pang Kean

The King is dead.

Long live The King.

But it’s a good time to be a fan of the King.

Image Comics will be collecting Jack Kirby’s Silver Star in July.

Featuring lovingly reconstructed color work, this deluxe hardcover is a must-have for any Kirby fan, who’s been and will be treated to a regular helping of Kirby goodness of late, from Neil Gaiman and John Romita Jr. on Eternals and Jack Kirby’s Galactic Bounty Hunters to the upcoming Jack Kirby’s Fourth World Omnibus and a “lost” Fantastic Four. Oh, and let’s not forget about Darkseid, The Fourth World, Jimmy Olsen, Orion and other Kirby’s creations in Countdown.

Also in the pipeline is a collection of Captain Victory, also by Image.

We spoke with Image Publisher Erik Larsen about two of The King’s final creations.

Newsarama: For the uninitiated, Jack Kirby's Silver Star was Kirby's final creation and one of only two creator-owned projects published by Pacific Comics in the early 1980s, right?

Erik Larsen: Correct. Jack wrote a screenplay years earlier and the Silver Star comic was adapted from that. Silver Star, as well as Captain Victory, were Jack's creator-owned work at Pacific Comics. We'll be publishing Captain Victory later this year. We're treating these projects with reverence they deserve, by painstakingly re-mastering the color in a manner that Jack would be proud of. Overseeing the restoration has been a gas.

NRAMA: How did Image obtain the license to reprint the original six-issue Silver Star limited series?

EL: We contacted the Kirby Estate. Image has been very good to the Kirbys over the years. The biggest paycheck Jack ever got was from Image Comics. We're huge fans and huge supporters and it was a natural fit for Image to be involved. Jack Kirby made all of our careers possible. If it wasn't for Jack, there might not be any comics for us to have been part of. This is a way of giving back to the greatest creative force the comic book field has ever known.

NRAMA: Right. Image and Genesis West Publishing co-published The King’s Phantom Force in the mid-1990s and you’d even inked some of the pages together with Rob Liefeld, Todd McFarlane, Jim Lee, Marc Silvestri, Jerry Ordway, and others. So, you guys at Image still kept in touch with the Kirby Estate after all these years?

EL: I can’t speak for the others, but I certainly have. I’m a huge Kirby fan. I absolutely love what that man did.

NRAMA: While we’re at it, are there plans to reprint/collect Phantom Force as well? Are you and Image in talks to do so?

EL: Phantom Force is a possibility but it’s not a high priority at this time.

NRAMA: Okay, moving back to Silver Star, as mentioned, it was first conceptualized by The King in the mid-1970s as a movie screenplay. What do you and Image see in collecting a property like this?

EL: It's a mind-blowing piece of work and it contains some big ideas. The kind of ideas that, for most of us, come once in a lifetime but for Jack they kept on coming throughout his incredible career.

NRAMA: Last year, Two Morrows Publishing collected the six-issue mini-series in the form of Silver Star: Graphite Edition, whereby The King's pages were reproduced from his powerful, unlinked pencil art. How are you and Image repackaging Silver Star this time around? As I understand it, Silver Star will be collected in full color for the first time ever. What other DVD-type extras can we expect from the Image collection?

EL: We're aiming to be as complete as possible. We'll have the fully restored page in an oversized format and we're making every effort to match the original color for the first four issues and then re-color the final issues to match those. The original Silver Star series wasn't seamless because the last two issues were colored radically different from the others with airbrushed effects that looked, frankly, awful. I colored the last two issues myself, basing my colors on the originals where they worked and going in another direction where they didn't and I'm using only colors that were in the preceding four issues. They're flat colors, based on the old color charts.

NRAMA: What other goodies are there?

EL: There'll be commentaries from as many people that we can track down as possible.

NRAMA: Commentaries from people such as…?

EL: That’s still being pieced together. We’ve asked quite a few people who were there to comment on it but not everybody has come through yet.

NRAMA: In the early 1990s, Topps Comics had launched a line of Kirby-verse comics that included Secret City Saga, Satan's Six, Bombast, Captain Glory, Jack Kirby's TeenAgents, NightGlider, Victory and also Jack Kirby's Silver Star by Kurt Busiek with penciler James W. Fry III and inker Terry Austin. However, only one issue out of a planned four-part Silver Star series got published before the line collapsed. As Busiek said in an undated interview, "Silver Star was a standalone project, one that was completely plotted and mostly scripted." Is Image looking to complete and collect Busiek's tale of "Silver Star versus 1,000 super-villains"? And while we're at it, any plans to complete and collect Busiek, Keith Giffen and Jimmy Palmiotti's Victory as well?

EL: That remains to be seen. Ideally, we'd do both. Silver Star, would be relatively easy. It was nearly completed when Topps pulled the plug. The problem with Victory, however, was that Keith Giffen stayed quite a bit from Kirby's designs and there was a lot of Topps-centric continuity. It tied up a lot of loose ends and followed what came before and it was written to set up books that were upcoming from Topps. Since those same books by those same creators wouldn't be coming from us--and since the Topps books are a distant memory--it makes no sense to do things that way. There's no point in killing off Captain Victory supporting characters, for example or getting rid of non-Kirby characters that could as easily be forgotten about. To do Victory "right" would be to start over from scratch, unfortunately.

NRAMA: Yeah, the unfinished Secret City Saga will remain an unfinished business even to this day. But would you like to see Kurt's stories in print from Image?

EL: Absolutely. And, make no mistake, I think Topps had nothing but the best intentions but there were things that they did which were ultimately self-destructive. Having early Kirby books being drawn by raw newcomers was a mistake—Satan’s Six was a mess. Having books poly-bagged was a mistake. Readers weren’t able to see what they were buying. Topps made it hard to trust that their product would be worth buying. For every good book, like their Dracula adaptation—there were a string of clunkers and readers had no way of determining what was good and what wasn’t when they were faced with a book in a poly-bag. It’s disappointing that the good books ended up dying a premature death. Kurt’s stuff didn’t deserve such a fate.

NRAMA: Finally, one last chance for you to convince those reading this interview to pick up the Image collection of Jack Kirby's Silver Star. Why would the concept of homo geneticus and the good vs evil battle between Morgan Miller and Darius Drumm appeal to fans of The King and his other higher profile creations like The Eternals, New Gods, Forever People, Mister Miracle, and the entire Fourth World saga?

EL: Silver Star is such a big, broad, explosive, over-the-top book that it's hard not to love it. It's such a bizarre reading experience with its intense, deadly villains and loopy dialogue that you can't help but be entertained. It's like everything Jack ever done and yet nothing like anything he ever did. It's a step beyond mutants. Silver Star is a genetically engineered human. He's a new breed of man, altered in the [womb] to survive a nuclear holocaust and Darius Drumm is the downside of tampering with Mother Nature--a powerful freak bent on world domination. The dialogue is surreal and stilted and strange yet poetic and often hilarious. It's a thing of beauty. It's hard to articulate on just how many levels this book is enjoyable.
 
Old 05-02-2007, 10:05 AM   #2
Colonsus
 
Gorgeous art! After all these years, Kirby still stands up as an absolute master.
 
Old 05-02-2007, 10:15 AM   #3
ParisCub
 
Unfortunately, the story wasn't up to the level of the art. I'm more looking forward to Captain Victory.
 
Old 05-02-2007, 10:44 AM   #4
Banana_Oil
 
Count me as someone who wants to see Kurt Busiek's Silver Star and TeenAgents back in print...
 
Old 05-02-2007, 10:45 AM   #5
sniperboy65
 
Talking

I met Jack Kirby in the San Diego Comic Con during his final appearance back in 1993. Him and his wife, Roz, were sitting alone at their booth. It shocked the hell out of me to see all the fan boys lined up across the aisle for Frank Miller but no one to see Jack. This was an opportunity of a lifetime me. Was able to shake Jack's hand, take a photo with him, and tell him how much I had admired this work. He was every bit as nice as I had imagined. I have a big 8X10 of that photo on my office wall.



Where is PEZ DISPENSER??
 
Old 05-02-2007, 11:08 AM   #6
BamaRainbow
 
Without intending to be snarky, I certainly hope Image gets this project out faster than they've done with American Flagg.
 
Old 05-02-2007, 11:35 AM   #7
Nate-Earth 2
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by sniperboy65
I met Jack Kirby in the San Diego Comic Con during his final appearance back in 1993. Him and his wife, Roz, were sitting alone at their booth. It shocked the hell out of me to see all the fan boys lined up across the aisle for Frank Miller but no one to see Jack. This was an opportunity of a lifetime me. Was able to shake Jack's hand, take a photo with him, and tell him how much I had admired this work. He was every bit as nice as I had imagined. I have a big 8X10 of that photo on my office wall.




Man, that is so sad. People were actually lining up to talk to Frank Miller, over Jack Kirby? He created so much, for so many companies, and genres. And then you have Frank Miller, talent WAY over-exaggerated (in my opinion, his Daredevil, Batman Year One and Dark Knight Returns are only thing worth reading; everything else is mediocre at best, awful at worst). Jack Kirby is a legend; Frank Miller is the "Greatest Graphic Novelist of All Time", or so they say; i.e. awesome to anybody who has never read a comic book, or doesn't want people to know they read comic books.
 
Old 05-02-2007, 11:39 AM   #8
delawarejoel
 
All Due Respect

EL: We contacted the Kirby Estate. Image has been very good to the Kirbys over the years. The biggest paycheck Jack ever got was from Image Comics. We're huge fans and huge supporters and it was a natural fit for Image to be involved. Jack Kirby made all of our careers possible. If it wasn't for Jack, there might not be any comics for us to have been part of. This is a way of giving back to the greatest creative force the comic book field has ever known.

Thank You, Mr. Larsen. It needs to be said as often as possible.
 
Old 05-02-2007, 11:48 AM   #9
Derek Ruiz
 
I can't wait.
 
Old 05-02-2007, 11:52 AM   #10
mclennon
 
MADMAN GARGANTUA

Mr. Larson, would you please give some info on when the Madman Gargantua is going to be released? It was supposed to come out months ago. I understand delays happen, but it would be nice if you guys would let people know what the heck is going on.
 
Old 05-02-2007, 11:54 AM   #11
Jason Green
 
This looks like a really great project, and the lengths to which Image went to produce an "ultimate" edition are certainly commendable. Looking forward to checking it out!
 
Old 05-02-2007, 12:07 PM   #12
I.M.C.
 
This sounds hellacool, and I might actually hyave to pick this puppy up. But dagnabbit, I'd still like to see Kurt Busiek/Kieth Giffen's Victory completed and collected. I have the first issue to that series and was always a bit bummed that the rest never came out. I'd think with Giffen becoming popular again that it would a bit easier to get a tradepaperback made of it to hop on the bandwagon.
 
Old 05-02-2007, 12:11 PM   #13
ChaosMcKenzie
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by BamaRainbow
Without intending to be snarky, I certainly hope Image gets this project out faster than they've done with American Flagg.


That's what I was thinking... it's kind of, I dunno... insulting, frustrating, something... that American Flagg collections were supposed to come out ages ago and Image hasn't made one public statement to explain the delays, if the project is still happening, and when we can expect it. The Madman gargantuan has been hindered by delays too, as has every volume of Kirkman's work since he started up with Marvel... when I see stories like these about collections I'd love to have, I try not to get excited as we have no idea when it'll actually arrive.
 
Old 05-02-2007, 12:56 PM   #14
wespierce1
 
Fourth World Omnibus, count me in. Silver Star, however, can be found in it's entirety for about $5.00 so there's no point in making this poorly written serial into an archival edition.
 
Old 05-02-2007, 01:03 PM   #15
Erik Larsen
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by BamaRainbow
Without intending to be snarky, I certainly hope Image gets this project out faster than they've done with American Flagg.

This book is done. It's been colored already and it will go on sale on time. There have been numerous problems with American Flagg--all of which, unfortunately, were outside of our control.

Last edited by Erik Larsen : 05-04-2007 at 04:59 AM.
 
Old 05-02-2007, 01:06 PM   #16
Erik Larsen
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by mclennon
Mr. Larson, would you please give some info on when the Madman Gargantua is going to be released? It was supposed to come out months ago. I understand delays happen, but it would be nice if you guys would let people know what the heck is going on.

We ran into a few speed bumps on this one. There were pages that needed more work than we had anticipated. It wasn't a matter of simply slapping it together. The book has been sent off to the printer at this time and should be in stores shortly.
 
Old 05-02-2007, 01:08 PM   #17
idkidd
 
Quote:
Silver Star, however, can be found in it's entirety for about $5.00 so there's no point in making this poorly written serial into an archival edition.

There is if you're a fan that wants to see it on high quality, oversized paper digitally recolored and restored. I'd love to see the creator owned Kirby characters show up as guest stars in books like Savage Dragon and Godland: it'd be a natural fit and a lot of fun!
 
Old 05-02-2007, 01:14 PM   #18
rodolfo leon
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by MattBrady
EL: We contacted the Kirby Estate. Image has been very good to the Kirbys over the years. The biggest paycheck Jack ever got was from Image Comics. We're huge fans and huge supporters and it was a natural fit for Image to be involved.

"The biggest paycheck Jack ever got was from Image Comics."

the only, truly awful thing about this remark, is that it is true.

nice to see Image putting their money where their mouth is.
 
Old 05-02-2007, 01:16 PM   #19
idkidd
 
Quote:
We ran into a few speed bumps on this one. There were pages that needed more work than we had anticipated. It wasn't a matter of simply slapping it together. The book has been sent off to the printer at this time and should be in stores shortly.

Image has come such a long way when it comes to on time shipping; it's really a shame high profile projects like this end up overshadowing that fact. This said, Image as a company does a VERY poor job communicating to retailers and fans what the hack is going on in situations like this. Issue press releases explaining the problem, have a link listed prominently on Image.com, and have a sincere form letter you can email out to any people inquiring about the project. Heck, you and Dynamite could have turned this into a positive marketing angle by starting up a behind the scenes blog that follows the challenges of the project showing side by side comparisons of the restoration work with commentary by those working on it. Excitement could have been built up instead of resentment!

COMMUNICATE with us!!!

Last edited by idkidd : 05-02-2007 at 01:20 PM.
 
Old 05-02-2007, 01:19 PM   #20
Erik Larsen
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by ParisCub
Unfortunately, the story wasn't up to the level of the art. I'm more looking forward to Captain Victory.

SILVER STAR is enjoyable on a whole different level. While I agree that CAPTAIN VICTORY is a terrific book (in that you can find a sequel to Kirby's New Gods which was in itself a follow up to Thor) SILVER STAR is awesome in its insanity. It has big ideas. The kind of big ideas that, had they been introduced at Marvel twenty years earlier would have spawned countless spinoffs and been turned into a string of box office triumphs.

Yes--the scripting is very alien--it's a choppy, awkward read--but I find it fascinating and entertaining as all hell. It's like outsider art--it's very surreal and impressionistic. It's clumsy and stilted and powerful and strange and often hilarious. I really can't begin to tell you how taken I am with the book. Working on it was a joy.

And it looks awesome.
 
Old 05-02-2007, 01:28 PM   #21
Erik Larsen
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by idkidd
Image has come such a long way when it comes to on time shipping; it's really a shame high profile projects like this end up overshadowing that fact. This said, Image as a company does a VERY poor job communicating to retailers and fans what the hack is going on in situations like this. Issue press releases explaining the problem, have a link listed prominently on Image.com, and have a sincere form letter you can email out to any people inquiring about the project. Heck, you and Dynamite could have turned this into a positive marketing angle by starting up a behind the scenes blog that follows the challenges of the project showing side by side comparisons of the restoration work with commentary by those working on it. Excitement could have been built up instead of resentment!

COMMUNICATE with us!!!

Unfortunately--in some cases--that would mean finger-pointing at people that are simply getting in the way and holding up the process. The problem with "outing" pains-in-the-ass is that it burns bridges and creates ill-will.

If I was looking to get OUT of this business--that would be the way to go.

I can certainly share some of the efforts that went into SILVER STAR but, sadly, I really can't go into detail as to what went on behind the scenes on some other books without ruffling feathers. Suffice to say that AMERICAN FLAGG was (and is) a nightmare. In stark contrast, SILVER STAR has been an incredibly satisfying and rewarding experience.
 
Old 05-02-2007, 01:30 PM   #22
Not From Around
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Erik Larsen
Yes--the scripting is very alien--it's a choppy, awkward read--but I find it fascinating and entertaining as all hell. It's like outsider art--it's very surreal and impressionistic. It's clumsy and stilted and powerful and strange and often hilarious. I really can't begin to tell you how taken I am with the book. Working on it was a joy.

That's an interesting way of describing "Silver Star"'s appeal. The art is professional and dynamic as always. The writing...well, I guess "outsider art" is one way to describe it. "Primitive painting with words" might be another way to put it.

For me the yawning gap between the art and the writing/plotting is just too great to let me enjoy the book on anything other than a visual level.
 
Old 05-02-2007, 01:41 PM   #23
idkidd
 
Quote:
Unfortunately--in some cases--that would mean finger-pointing at people that are simply getting in the way and holding up the process. The problem with "outing" pains-in-the-ass is that it burns bridges and creates ill-will.

That makes sense.

Technically, Did YOU and Image learn stuff in working on AF that helped SS go more smoothly?

I'd love to see an article detailing the process: the One Fan's Opinion column that briefly discussed it was very interesting.
 
Old 05-02-2007, 01:42 PM   #24
furioso2012
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Nate-Earth 2
Man, that is so sad. People were actually lining up to talk to Frank Miller, over Jack Kirby? He created so much, for so many companies, and genres. And then you have Frank Miller, talent WAY over-exaggerated (in my opinion, his Daredevil, Batman Year One and Dark Knight Returns are only thing worth reading; everything else is mediocre at best, awful at worst). Jack Kirby is a legend; Frank Miller is the "Greatest Graphic Novelist of All Time", or so they say; i.e. awesome to anybody who has never read a comic book, or doesn't want people to know they read comic books.

I've seen John Romita and Chris Claremont sitting along at SDCC for considerable chunks of time. Also Herb Trimpe (hugely & criminally under-rated and underappreciated). I also attended a few Eisner talks and they were sparsely populated (30 people). Each year I go to SDCC I make it a priority to check out every GA and SA panel I can. it has been massively rewarding. That generation can sure spin a yarn and tell a joke. God Bless 'em all: they don't make them like that anymore!

I'm enthusiastically in for SILVER STAR but am also really anticipating CAPTAIN VICTORY, which I hope gets the HC treatment too. I wonder how many volumes it'd run? Can't recall how long CV ran. Erik? Are you still on the line?

Last edited by furioso2012 : 05-02-2007 at 01:50 PM.
 
Old 05-02-2007, 01:44 PM   #25
Erik Larsen
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Not From Around
That's an interesting way of describing "Silver Star"'s appeal. The art is professional and dynamic as always. The writing...well, I guess "outsider art" is one way to describe it. "Primitive painting with words" might be another way to put it.

For me the yawning gap between the art and the writing/plotting is just too great to let me enjoy the book on anything other than a visual level.

I think if you go into it expecting Stan Lee-style slick scripting, you're going to be disappointed. But that doesn't mean that there isn't a level on which these stories can be highly entertaining.
 
 
   

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