by Benjamin Ong Pang Kean
Image Comics' newly remastered collection of Jack "The King" Kirby's
Star hit stands a couple of weeks ago.
Image also has plans to publish a completely recolored one volume
graphic novel collection of Kirby's 14 issues of Captain Victory
later this year.
So, what's next?
Announced at the Kirby Tribute Panel at Comic-Con International:
San Diego today, Image and The Kirby Estate have entered into an
agreement to produce new series based on two of Kirby's final creator-owned
properties, originally published by Pacific Comics in the early
Also in the pipeline is a collection of completed-but-unpublished
Silver Star mini-series by Kurt Busiek, along with Busiek
and Neil Vokes' Teen Agents mini-series.
We spoke with Publisher Erik Larsen and Executive Editor Eric
Stephenson about reviving (and reliving) The King's legacy.
Newsarama: How did this new agreement to produce new series
Erik Larsen: A lot of ideas start off with, "Wouldn't it
be cool if..." and go on from there. Ever since Topps took on the
Kirbyverse and fumbled the ball, I've wanted a crack at these characters.
I've worked on Jack's characters in the past, and I've made it no
secret that I'm a huge fan. And I still want to work with Jack's
characters, but I feel that as the publisher of Image, I really
shouldn't be doing work at any other comic book company. So rather
than have me go to other companies to do Kirby characters -- we
moved a few mountains to have Kirby characters come to Image. We
had some conversations with Lisa Kirby. I laid out what I wanted
to do and then we hammered out the details.
Eric Stephenson: This all really started last year, with
our discussions about the Captain Victory and Silver Star
collections. I think both Erik and I were already interested in
doing new series with those characters, but we wanted to show the
Kirby Estate what we could do with the reprint collections first
-- we kind of wanted to prove we had what it takes. Once we got
into Silver Star, though, our enthusiasm for putting together
new series really jumped to the next level. We had such a blast
working on Silver Star -- and there's just so much potential
to continue this stuff -- it seemed like the logical next step.
NRAMA: Did the fact that Marvel's recent revival of The
Eternals and DC's "big" plans for The Fourth World characters
in the weekly Countdown series that's leading up to next
year's eventual blockbuster and possibly earth... universe-shattering
event have anything to do with Image's interest in two of The King's
last creator-owned properties? Did the timing just seem... right
at this point in time?
EL: I've been a Kirby fan forever. Once I took over as
publisher, I made it a priority to bring Jack Kirby over to Image.
It took a little longer to sort out than I would have liked, but
I'm pleased it's all coming together.
ES: Jack Kirby has always been a huge source of inspiration
for Image Comics. Erik can correct me if I'm wrong, but when Image
was first getting off the ground, one of the guys suggested putting
"Jack Kirby Presents" on all the books.
EL: Yeah, that did come up and we talked about it. It was
kind of, "Hey, instead of '"Stan Lee Presents..." let's have our
books say "Jack Kirby Presents..."" At the end of the day, however--it
just seemed too weird. I mean--Jack created much of the Marvel Universe
and his name legitimately deserves to be there right next to Stan's
name but at Image he'd be presenting a line of books that he had
no hand in creating and I think that while we all felt it would
have been a nice gesture--it wouldn't make a lot of sense. But we
were big Kirby fans. Big Kirby supporters and we did what we could--like
on Phantom Force...
NRAMA: What can
you tell us about the new series? Are we talking about two separate
series here? Or a two-in-one package?
EL: It will be
two books to begin with. Silver Star covers Earth
- Captain Victory covers all space and both will be packed
with awesome Kirby characters and concepts many of which have only
appeared as sketches. The idea is to introduce these characters
one after another the same way that characters were introduced in
other Kirby books over the years. What I'd like to do is feature
Jack's original drawings and whatever notes he might have had in
the back of the books to give readers insight into what Jack drew
and what we had to work with. In the Silver Star book, for
example, there are a few drawings that feature characters that didn't
make it into the book. In Jack's original Silver Star pitch
there was a whole gang of guys that wound up on the cutting room
floor and Jack redesigned his "Angel of Death" character so much
that he doesn't look like the same guy. That original design was
cool as all hell and I want to put that design to good use. Jack
has numerous cosmic characters that would fit right in to Captain
Victory and Earthbound characters would be right at home in
Silver Star and we can mix and match as well, having cosmic
characters appearing in Silver Star and non-cosmic characters
popping into Captain Victory.
NRAMA: Have you guys determined the launch dates for the
new Silver Star and Captain Victory?
EL: That's to be determined. I've started work on them,
but I want to have a few issues in the can before they're scheduled.
ES: It's probably safe to say we're looking at some time
NRAMA: Are we looking at a relaunch, a fresh start for
these creations? Or will the stories continue from where things
EL: They're be continuations of what has gone before and
in both cases -- everything you need to know will be in print well
before the books start up. And there will be a lot of effort made
to make these new-reader friendly. Even if you've never read these
books you shouldn't be remotely confused or lost.
ES: The collections for both books will be available by
the time these series kick off, so anyone unfamiliar with either
character will definitely have the opportunity to check that material
out. There were only six issues of Silver Star and 14 of
Captain Victory, though, so it wouldn't be too difficult
for someone to just dive in to the new books.
EL: But these are very straightforward books. I can't imagine
readers being lost. The concepts are very clearly defined and spelled
NRAMA: Who's been tapped to chronicle and tell these new
adventures? Is Kurt Busiek making a comeback to some of these creations?
As I understand it, he's exclusive to DC, right?
EL: I'll be writing and pencilling both books to begin
with. Eric's working with me on Captain Victory as a co-writer,
but I'll be flying solo on Silver Star.
ES: We are talking about finishing and/or collecting the
projects Kurt Busiek started at Topps. Silver Star was completed,
but never published and Victory was fully plotted, so the
possibilities are there. Kurt also did Jack Kirby's Teen Agents
with Neil Vokes and that mini-series was never collected, so that's
something we're looking at, too.
NRAMA: Are you looking at doing a crossover with other
Image properties as well? Perhaps a series of mini-events leading
up to the launch?
EL: I'd rather that come later, really. I'd prefer to have
these characters be more grounded first. The Fantastic Four
and Spider-Man didn't start off as part of some big crossover
-- people got to know those characters first.
ES: If want people crossover events, there are certainly
other places for that kind of material. With Captain Victory
and Silver Star -- I think there's a real benefit in the
fact that they're just two books. And apart from the fact the characters
were created by Jack Kirby, there's not really a connection between
the two. They both take place within the same "universe," but if
you want to buy one and not the other, you're not missing out on
EL: Which is not to say that crossovers can't happen. I'd
like to have Silver Star drop by in Savage Dragon and these
characters will be part of the overall Image Universe but I think
it would be a mistake to immediately have them be forced into some
unwieldy company-wide crossover right out of the gate.
NRAMA: Lastly, why would these creations appeal to today's
EL: For the same reason people get fired up about the X-Men,
Fantastic Four and Spider-Man! Why do people care about Batman and
Superman nearly 70 years after they were introduced? A good character
is a good character and these are awesome characters. And there's
going to be a real element of the unknown to these books that longer-running
titles don't have. There's a lot more potential for the new and
the unexpected when you're only working with a few issues' worth
of continuity. And Jack creates enduring, iconic characters. This
isn't Jack's version of Batman or Jack's take on Spider-Man--these
are rock-solid original concepts that stand on their own.
ES: There's always a market for compelling stories about
interesting characters. Both Silver Star and Captain Victory are
good characters -- they're good visuals and there's a great story
behind each of them. They're two of only a handful of characters
Jack created and actually owned and there's something exciting about
bringing them into the here and now.