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‘Art of the Simon and Kirby Studio’ spotlights The King’s Golden Age era

The Art of the Simon and Kirby Studio

The Art of the Simon and Kirby Studio

[Editor’s note: Each Sunday, Robot 6 contributors discuss the best in comics from the last seven days — from news and announcements to a great comic that came out to something cool creators or fans have done.]

Jack Kirby’s work from the early 1960s on is so indelible and influential that the enormous amount of work he did with Joe Simon in the years prior often seems to take a back seat to his more recent work. As a result, it often appears as though several chapters in our appreciation of one Kirby’s work and career are missing.

Thankfully, effort has been made lately to rectify that perception. Publishers like Titan Books and Fantagraphics have made an attempt to get some of these pre-code comics under readers’ noses.

Now Abrams has jumped into the ring with The Art of the Simon and Kirby Studio, a lavish, oversize compendium of stories and art (scanned from the original pages) offered in stores in time for the holiday rush.

By the way, the emphasis in that title should firmly be on the word studio. For while Simon and Kirby’s art is well-represented here, editor Mark Evanier takes considerable care in highlighting stories by other artists who worked for the studio, most notably one Bill Draut, a clean-lined Milton Caniff-styled cartoonist whose work I was heretofore unaware of (other featured artists include Angelo Torres, George Tuska and Mort Meskin).

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Kickstart My Art | Fletcher Hanks’ Stardust the Super Wizard figurine

More than three decades after his death, Golden Age cartoonist Fletcher Hanks has developed a bit of a cult following, bolstered significantly by Fantagraphics Books’ archive collections I Shall Destroy All the Civilized Planets! and You Shall Die By Your Own Evil Creation! The former features on its cover the delightfully named Stardust the Super Wizard, an alien who comes to Earth determined to fight crime using a vast array of powers — among them, near-invulnerability, flight, super-strength, “retarding rays” and the ability to alter his size and shape — that tended to change as the story required.

Stardust, who lapsed into the public domain, has made appearances in Image Comics’ Next Issue Project, Savage Dragon and, in reimagined form, a couple of webcomics. But the Super Wizard isn’t quite finished yet: Jarez Zichek has launched a Kickstarter campaign to fund “a hand-painted metal figurine of one of the most bizarre and unique super heroes of the Golden Age of Comics!”

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