Tuesday, October 12, 2010


The thirteen Kirby Monsters that I pledged to draw this month do not start here, but I thought I would give a brief primer on the subject for those interested. I do plan to countdown the last thirteen days of the month, ending on Halloween, with some of the greatest, weirdest, most off-beat monsters to ever grace the pages of comics. But the guy below is just an example of the kind of hulking thing you have to look forward to.

Monsters of all shapes and sizes began showing up and gaining huge popularity in our culture mostly in the mid-1950s. Nearly the same time fear of nuclear apocalypse and communist menace was fully realized for the masses. Already there was much in the news about atomic tests and radiation poison and mutation. Not long before this there was the increase in fear of alien invaders from outer space and all of these add up to a place where monsters will thrive.

Marvel Comics was not a pioneer in comics at the time. The small publisher was a follower, meaning that they would take whatever theme was popular at the time and do the same. They followed companies like EC comics into the science fiction and horror genres in the mid-50s and were still struggling. The owner of the company considered shutting down that division of his printing empire.

Marvel Comics, which had changed it's name from Atlas a few years earlier, brought in Jack Kirby again in 1958 and he began doing monster comics along side the talents of Steve Ditko, Dick Ayers, Don Heck, Paul Reinman and Joe Sinnot. In the wake of the end of EC comics, Marvel's new books began to turn around. Just a few short years later, Stan and Jack would usher in the Marvel Age of comics which meant the death of many of the monsters, and the renewal of the superhero genre.

(Notice the change in both title and color in the reprint of this story. They didn't want you to think of the wrong Hulk while reading the reprint)

Xemnu the Titan meets all the requirements of a Kirby Monster--created by the Lee/Kirby team in 1960 JOURNEY INTO MYSTERY #62, he is a criminal imprisoned on a prison planet who escapes and crash lands on Earth. Once here, he uses his great power of hypnosis to force all of mankind to build him a spaceship so that he can return home. One human sabotages his ship and it puts him into a stasis-like state as his ship hurtles toward the Sun. He was referred to as "the Hulk"--a name that Stan went on to use for a certain jade-skinned monster we all know. And he is one of the few Kirby monsters to have a return engagement pre-superheroes--in #66 of JOURNEY INTO MYSTERY, Xemnu returns to threaten mankind again.

This is my digital depiction of Xemnu the Titan from a few months back. I tried to portray the sheer power of his hypnotic stare while showing off the physical menace he also posesses. Click on him and it will take you to deviantart.com and click once more while there to get a bigger view. It was drawn originally for a group at deviantArt that I'm a member of called Daily Sketch Challenge Group. The group title pretty-much describes itself.

XEMNU COMMANDS YOU by ~Ragnaroker on deviantART

Monsters of Jack Kirby




And we end our post today with this fine season's greeting (note the eyes):


Anonymous said...

Great info as usual!

Gary Lee said...