Robot 6

Kirby characters to be liberated from vault

The Golden Shield, Jack Kirby's take on 2012

The Golden Shield, Jack Kirby's take on 2012

If ever anyone deserved a dope slap, it’s Ken Spears, for suggesting that his company “just take this stuff and give it away,” where the “it” in question was 600 boxes of unused Jack Kirby drawings that were taking up valuable storage space.

Fortunately, his partner, Joe Ruby, had more sense than that. The two are the founders of Ruby-Spears Productions, an animation studio that hired Kirby in 1980 to work on its Saturday morning cartoons and has just signed a deal with Sid and Marty Krofft to develop his unused characters into new properties.

Apparently Kirby was a prolific artist who kept on working even when he didn’t have a specific assignment.

“Many times, he didn’t have enough to do, or there weren’t enough assignments,” Mr. Spears said. “He was such a prolific guy that he would, on his own, just start sketching out some thoughts.”

Among the far-flung, unrealized projects that Mr. Kirby helped create or contributed to were “Roxie’s Raiders,” an Indiana Jones-style serial about a female adventurer and her allies; “Golden Shield,” about an ancient Mayan hero seeking to save earth in the apocalyptic year 2012; and “The Gargoids,” about scientists who gain superpowers after being infected by an alien virus.

And while Kirby’s heirs have sued Marvel and new parent company Disney over the rights to his comics work, the rights to the Ruby-Spears properties are clear-cut: They were done as work for hire. The Kroffts are talking about movies, television, video games and yes, even comics.

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6 Comments

Might want to update the Golden Shield’s costume a bit but it would be fun to read a Kirby 2012 Mayan story.

Kirby didn’t draw that.

He might have drawn the vignettes in the upper left and lower right (or they might be traced from design sketches of his), but the bulk of that piece is someone else. Larry Houston? Rick Hoberg?

The New York Times put up 11 illustrations with that piece, and at least four of them are by Gil Kane. Three of them look like Kirby. The others…hard to say.

kdb

I’m gonna sound like a jerk here, but a lot of the charm of Kirby’s work is in the execution, not necessarily the concepts. Interest depends on who they give this stuff to to draw/write/etc.

If Matt Maxwell’s a jerk, then I’m riding shotgun with him. People LOVE them some Kirby, and he was an innovator, but a lot of that stuff looks like derivative dreck. It was hidden for a reason, and not everything Kirby made was gold.

Hey, Will. How’s life after Diamond? (You were my rep on MURDER MOON).

For the record, I’d probably line up to read any of those, if they were actually written/drawn by the King. I just don’t see that happening. And please, someone *trying* to be the King just won’t do it.

It’s now 2013- Ruby-Spears Productions is still in operation. It’s a good thing that Joe Ruby decided to utilize Jack Kirby’s leftover work from more than 30 years ago as Ken Spears was looking to clear some space for storage. Now, with the Sid and Marty Krofft involved, Joe Ruby and Ken Spears may have to be more aggressive in 2013, as far as shopping these properties around, and some of those works will either be animated or filmed as live-action. At the same time, Ruby-Spears’ suitors are likely both Cartoon Network and Disney Channel, but The Hub and Nick might also be interested in some of R-S’ work, as well. Ruby-Spears owns Kirby’s works, found in their vaults 100% under work-for-hire- now, looking at Kirby’s works for R-S, Disney might be interested in at least one of those leftover properties, namely Roxie’s Raiders, which could become Ruby-Spears’ first animated original series for Disney Channel. Disney does need animated adventure on its airwaves, and with a female lead like Roxie, Disney may have to jump on this, before its competition gets wind of this. All of these leftover properties that were released from the vaults and dusted off by Ruby-Spears, have potential, especially as animated or live-action programs and in some aspects, could also be used for comic books and video games, as well. This will keep Ruby-Spears busy for some time, but both men need to also secure a major broadcast programming deal for any of the properties involved, too.

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