A 4CP Series: Cosmic Debris – Kirby in the Seventies

For the next three weeks, 4CP is going to be all Kirby, all Seventies. It’s an area we’ve hardly touched until now, because Kirby mostly abandoned the traditional comic book detail in the Seventies, and at 4CP we generally scan very tiny areas of the printed comic book page.

Scanning Kirby this month, we’ve concluded that:

  • If he wanted to put a lot of stuff into a frame, he drew it as two-page spread.
  • Frames of normal size often bear a resemblance to enlarged details from Kirby’s earlier work. It is as though Kirby were cropping and magnifying his work in advance, going deeper into the comic book page to find his essential composition and images.
  •  Kirby’s illustrative style had itself become a magnified exaggeration of the techniques and textures that characterized details in his earlier work. His blacks became denser and more expressionistic, and “detail” often took the form of bleedy, blobby, stylized texture, as if he had zoomed in on the black lines and shading of an old comic book page.

In the Seventies, Kirby drew less, but he drew it larger, and as he did this, his style increasingly became the content.

Sure, I’m over-generalizing, but when I went looking for isolated images that define what is particular about Kirby in the Seventies, that’s how it felt to me. In purely practical terms, I had to scan larger areas of the frames to capture recognizable illustration. When you isolate one square inch in a Seventies Kirby comic, the result will often be pure abstraction. In his Sixties work, “frames within frames” abounded.

Take a look at the stream of images we’ll push out in the coming weeks, and see what you think. You can keep track of all posts in the series via this link: Cosmic Debris: Kirby in the Seventies.

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Source: "Mister Miracle" #7, 1972. Jack Kirby and Mike Royer.