Peak Kirby

Last week I tackled this huge pile of 12-cent Fantastic Four comics destined for our weekly eBay auction. I had fun seeing all those great Jack Kirby covers. I got to thinking about Kirby and how ridiculous his body of work was and how untouchable his legacy is. As I was going through the books I asked myself the question “what is peak Kirby, what era, title, and issues mark the artistic and creative height of the most prolific creator in comic book history?” It isn’t easy to pick, art is subjective and I’m sure there are plenty out there who love Kirby in the 50s, just as he was finding his voice through work like The Fighting American and the crazy stuff he was trying out in books like Boys Ranch. Most people think he was past his creative prime with the early 70s DC Fourth World stuff but those were some crazy ideas! I don’t pretend to be an expert in comic art but for me, peak Kirby was mid-1960s at Marvel, specifically on Fantastic Four and specifically in the 1965 to 1967 era. I think everything came together around that time, his art was well-defined by then, and he found a base of operations with the Fantastic Four title and the social revolution that was going on outside his office walls which he seemed to tap into naturally. All these things lead to peak Kirby.

Destined for the Canadiana auction! Our cover of the week had to be Adrian Dingle’s classic cover to Wow Comics #16 featuring the first cover appearance of the Penguin. Published by Bell Features Wow Comics #16 is one of the must-haves for Canadian Whites – or WECA Comics – collectors. The book goes live Friday, May 19th and will run on our 10-day Canadiana auction.

We all love those Marvel mags of the 1970s: Savage Tales, Savage Sword of Conan, Deadly Hands of Kung Fu, Marvel Preview and many more. We all accept them as an extension of our comic collection. It would be hard not to, considering those mags featured many first appearances needed in our collections: Starlord, Man-Thing, Rocket Raccoon and many more. Then how come I’ve always had a hard time rolling Epic Illustrated in with this group? Epic always felt outside this loop and it really shouldn’t. From Epic #1, check out this splash page from the mighty John Buscema. I had forgotten this Stan Lee/John Buscema Surfer/Galactus story in Epic #1.

Then again maybe Epic should be relegated to outside the Marvel Magazine group. Here is the back cover ad to Epic #1, I don’t remember ever seeing an ad for booze in a Savage Sword of Conan mag. To make matters worse the ad on the inside back cover is for Viceroy cigarettes!

Another icecollectibles weekly eBay auction ended last night. There might be no better barometer of the popular comic market than Amazing Spider-Man #300 so it was nice to see our CGC 9.2 close at $685, well above the last sale and above the 90-day average. Our copy had that nice Black Costume custom label which I’m sure added to the appeal. A positive result any way you look at it.

Walter Durajlija
Walter Durajlija

Walter Durajlija is an Overstreet Advisor and Shuster Award winner. He owns Big B Comics in Hamilton Ontario.

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Chris Meli
Chris Meli
24 days ago

FF #48 has to be peak Kirby, I think anything else is heresy. I love love love the 4th world, but that is really “Kirby getting full creative control”. Close enough to the peak to be nearly as good, but just nearly.

That’s not My Penguin.

Epic doesn’t fit because it was higher-end aimed at guys who were older and had more money, and your ads show that. More Heavy Metal than Savage Sword. And of course Rocket Racoon’s 1st appearance was Hulk #271, so give up on that Beatles-derived and unrelated character that endangers my investments. Have some Champale and you will come around to my way of thinking.

Gerald Eddy
Gerald Eddy
24 days ago

I agree that the mid-60’s Kirby was my favorite… but also how prolific his ideas were!
Love the Wow cover!!
Just sent for some magazine mailers so I can sell some of my mags as well… but only a small number are comic related… the bulk are Men’s Adventure magazines like Stag! Lots of Nazi’s, headhunters, and hungry critters on the covers!
Comic sales still going briskly but there are some I can’t give away… like Savage Dragon 1-3 in vf-nm. The three at 99 cents doesn’t even get a gander! Looks like Mr. Larson’s prodigy is destined for paper recycling!

23 days ago

“WOW” Comics 16 Nice Book!
I still need to finish my CDN book pile to drive to Hamilton to get in this Auction.
I’m that late in digging through boxes trying to find where they are now.

Looking forward to buying more too.

David Mackay
David Mackay
17 days ago

Stan Lee was a great editor, and good dialogger. But hell, he didnt even know who the hell the Silver Surfer was until Kirby turned his work in. Marvel was 80% Kirby. Stan was almost nothing historically before or after Kirby’s reign. But, hell, every one sucked up to the Boss, and the writers loved his Marvel way of writing…a paragraph or a short verbal exchange, Everything else was the artist. So many of these writers were lazy and embraced this.
peak Kirby? 1964 to 1965….most of the Marvel Universe was fleshed out. See the Tshirts, cartoons and Marvel Tales Annual #1 from this period. Astounding.

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