Aug. 12, 2012 | 7:00 p.m.
Jillian Kirby, 16, never got to meet her grandfather, but she’s seen plenty of his magic — she’s seen it in the pages of classic Marvel Comics, up on the screen in “The Avengers” and most especially in the eyes of Marvel fans who meet her and find out she’s an heir of the King of Comics. Jillian is connecting with that family magic more than ever thanks to her admirable summer project, which she calls Kirby4Heroes. It ties together Jack’s birthday (he would have been 95 on Aug. 28) and the good works of Hero Initiative (which helps comic book creators in times of financial or medical distress). Jillian’s grandfather died in 1994 after the most illustrious career in the history of the American comic book. Kirby created or co-created Captain America, the Hulk, the Fantastic Four, the X-Men, Iron Man, Doctor Doom, the Silver Surfer, the Boy […]
July 08, 2012 | 3:09 p.m.
These are days of silver and gold for Spider-Man. This week he returned to the silver screen in director Marc Webb’s “The Amazing Spider-Man” and next month he celebrates his golden anniversary — it will be 50 years since “Amazing Fantasy” No. 15 introduced a character who would become the gold-standard creation of the silver age. The new film takes its title from a slab of Marvel bedrock: “The Amazing Spider-Man” was the name of the series that began in 1963 with No. 1 and is now closing in on issue No. 700. But what was the deal with “Amazing Fantasy”? How did the 15th and final issue of a series with something of tin-bucket heritage end up with a holy grail character that would revolutionize comics and define the Marvel brand of melodrama? It’s an elusive question, in a way, […]
April 09, 2012 | 11:30 a.m.
This week, the Marvel Universe reaches a new plateau with the Hollywood red-carpet premiere of “The Avengers,” which unites the title characters from four film franchises — Thor, Captain America, Iron Man and the Hulk – to save Earth from a cosmic threat. The only person who had a hand in creating all of those characters was the late Jack Kirby, a titan figure in comics, but his heirs weren’t invited to the premiere; their presence would be awkward considering their legal quest to reclaim the rights to hundreds of his Marvel creations. That leaves Neal Kirby, Jack’s only son, on the outside looking in but in this guest essay he writes about the days when the Marvel Universe was as close as his family basement. In 1961, I was the luckiest damn kid on my block — or maybe any block. My father worked at home. […]
Feb. 24, 2012 | 1:00 p.m.
Joe Simon, a titan in comics, died in December at 98, just months after his most famous character, Captain America, was leaping to the silver screen. Together with artist Jack Kirby, Simon made the star-spangled superhero one of the most iconic characters in comics. A new book, “Leaping Tall Buildings: The Origins of American Comics,” by writer Christopher Irving and photographer Seth Kushner, explores the life and career of Simon, Kirby and more than 50 other comics creators. “Leaping Tall Buildings” arrives in May, but in the meantime, Hero Complex readers can enjoy a sneak peek with this excerpt: “I was the sacrificial lamb,” Joe Simon says of his first job, at fly-by-night publisher Fox Comics in 1940. “I came in, and we had no staff and I had to do all the covers. I didn’t have a letterer, I […]
July 29, 2011 | 4:29 p.m.
Stan Lee will be in Santa Monica on Saturday to introduce an American Cinematheque double-feature of the Sam Raimi hit films “Spider-Man” and “Spider-Man 2″ that begins at 7:30 p.m. at the Aero Theatre. The Marvel Comics icon who is by far the most famous name in comics (if you don’t count the heroes and villains in the stories) will also make an appearance about 6:30 p.m. across the street at a meet-and-greet at Every Picture Tells a Story, the landmark gallery and shop on Montana Avenue. The store has the exclusive license to commission and create the Marvel ArtWorks series. A new piece will make its premiere at the event: A signed and numbered Alex Ross piece featuring the Avengers and the Invaders in full heroic gallop. The piece is giclee on canvas, 31.5 inches by 20.75 inches, limited edition of 100, priced at $1,250). (The store’s […]
April 14, 2011 | 12:24 p.m.
DAYS OF THUNDER: We’re counting down to the May 6 release of “Thor” with a month of on-the-set reports, exclusive photos and interviews with the cast and crew of the first truly cosmic Marvel Studios film. Today: A Marvel Comics cover gallery. Close your eyes and think of the Marvel Comics character they call Thor. Now, what do you see in your mind? Is it Jack Kirby’s rangy, hammer-whirling hero from the character’s first appearance in Journey Into Mystery? Or Walt Simonson’s version, thick of sinew but rendered with light, graceful lines that seem to suggest elusive Asgard’s majesty? Or John Buscema’s interpretation of an immortal cosmic champion so powerful and solid that you can almost hear the impact of his footfalls and the crackle of his lightning storms? Or perhaps the image from Olivier Coipel, whose recent work on the God of Thunder evokes […]
March 17, 2011 | 11:13 a.m.
It was 70 years ago this month that Captain America, the greatest of all the patriotic-themed superheroes, first hit newsstands with a red, white and blue shield gripped in his gloved hand. The signature creation of the classic tandem of Joe Simon and Jack Kirby gets his own feature film this summer, “Captain America: The First Avenger,” with Chris Evans in the title role and Joe Johnston in the director’s chair. To mark this major moment — as well as the impressive anniversary – we’ll be talking to writers, artists, actors, directors and musicians about their own personal connection to the star-spangled icon and their thoughts on his legacy and future. Today we kick off our salute with a look at 70 amazing covers that represent the enduring character through the decades. – Geoff Boucher (twitter.com/latherocomplex) RECENT AND RELATED Johnston’s dark plan: “Our Bucky […]
Dec. 03, 2010 | 4:44 p.m.
THE SIGNATURE SERIES: MIKE MIGNOLA Today we proudly launch a new video archive here at the Hero Complex — we call it The Signature Series and it will take you into the workspace of writers, artists, filmmakers and other creators of the fantastic so you can hear their voice (and only their voice) as they recount the turning points in their career, their influences and insights they’ve gleaned about life and craft. There is no better first subject for this new endeavor than Mike Mignola, the creator of Hellboy and an industry figure as much for his wry candor as for prodigious talents. We sat down with him in Redondo Beach studio to talk about Hellboy’s origins, Jack Kirby, Hollywood, “Gotham by Gaslight,” artist anxiety and one profoundly strange night in Prague. We hope you enjoy the Signature Series and would love to hear your suggestions — whose voice do you want to […]
Sept. 26, 2010 | 10:23 a.m.
Each was the son of a tailor, and together they stitched together stories of the fantastic that jumped off the pages of comic books in the golden age of the medium. Joe Simon and Jack Kirby created wildly kinetic visions and enduring characters, the most famous being Captain America, the patriotic icon who will leap into film next summer with a big-budget adaptation by Marvel Studios. But many of their creations are from less familiar corners of the pop-culture landscape, and that’s the alluring beauty of the massive new book “The Simon and Kirby Superheroes” (Titan Books, $49.95, in stores Sept. 28), which presents carefully reprinted adventures (in their entirety) featuring characters such as Fighting American, the Stuntman, Private Strong, Captain 3-D and the Fly. It’s a gorgeous volume and authorized by both Simon and the estate of Kirby, and the material was gathered directly from the […]
July 05, 2010 | 12:24 a.m.
We hope this vintage Fourth of July message (from Jack Kirby’s ”Captain America’s Bicentennial Battles” in 1976) finds you enjoying a healthy and happy holiday and your own slice of liberty cake. – Geoff Boucher RECENT AND RELATED Captain America may lead the way for Marvel’s 3-D movies Captain America will be a USO performer in movie Anthony Hopkins on the ruthless charm of Odin Branagh hammers away at nasty ‘Thor’ rumors Captain America’s shield makes ‘Iron Man 2′ cameo Fred Hembeck salutes Captain America “Jumanji” director tapped for Captain America film Art credit: Marvel. Photo credit: Reuters