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To help celebrate what would’ve been Jack Kirby’s 98th birthday, Shmaltz Brewery in Clifton Park, New York, will debut a limited-edition King Kirby Ale as part of an Aug. 28 fundraiser to benefit The Hero Initiative. A limited number of cases will be available for purchase at the event.
Approached by local artists about holding an event, the brewery went a step further and created the exclusive ale (available as both pale and dark), which features a label designed by Paul Harding. “I tried to capture Kirby from an angle that few have seen before,” the Clifton Park artist said in a statement, “in a way that people can actually look up to him and get a sense of his artistic power.”
The husband-and-wife team of Fred Van Lente and Crystal Skillman have launched a Kickstarter campaign to help fund King Kirby, a play about the life of legendary comics creator Jack Kirby. Characterized as “a real-life Adventures of Kavalier & Klay,” the production is set to be staged at Brooklyn’s Brick Theater as part of the Comic Book Theater Festival on June 20, the day the campaign ends.
“King Kirby has been a long-term passion project of mine,” Van Lente, known for his work on such comics as Action Philosophers, Archer & Armstrong and The Incredible Hercules, said in a statement. “With Crystal’s help, it’s down on paper. Now, with your help, we’ll bring this crucial piece of comics history to life on stage.”
Last Thursday, June 23, Crystal Skillman‘s play adaptation of Action Philosophers (the comic book series by Fred Van Lente & Ryan Dunlavey) opened its four-performance run at New York’s Brick Theater, as part of the month-long Comic Book Theater Festival. Tonight starts the run of the remaining three performances (June 28, 29, July 1st – all at 7 PM). To mark the launch of the adaptation, I conducted a brief email interview with the wife and husband team of Skillman and Van Lente. Here’s the official play description: “The award-winning, best-selling comics series is adapted for the stage by award-winning playwright Crystal Skillman and directed by John Hurley as the lives and thoughts of history’s A-list brain trust leap to the stage in manic, hilarious fashion. Come meet PLATO—Wrestling Superstar of Ancient Greece! NIETZSCHE—The Original Übermensch! The torrid love affairs of AYN RAND! And more! From Impetuous Theater Group who brought you Hack! an I.T. Spaghetti Western.”
Tim O’Shea: How long had you two been discussing a potential Skillman adaptation of a Van Lente-related project?
Crystal Skillman: For a while! Fred and I have been working together on a few projects still in the works – but this is really our first collaboration debut. I love Fred’s work, and his feedback on my own work has always been the most important to me. In general we’ve always acted as each other’s editors and sounding boards for ideas – I really take Fred’s opinion super seriously (as he’s the best writer I know besides being the most wonderful husband which I’m not just saying because he’s about to chime in here!) J But Action Philosophers! really came about because the original play Fred and I were working on wasn’t ready for the Comic Book Festival at the Brick. We realized this late in the game and had already started forming a team (including director John Hurley). In a pinch I suggested adapting Action Philosophers! which I always thought would make an awesome stage production and would be great for the team we were already assembling.