Kirby, King of Comics (2008)

Kirby, King of Comics

Jack Kirby. King Kirby. King.

It’s a testament to Jack Kirby‘s lasting legacy to the comic book industry that just the epitaph ‘King’ is enough to identify him and the kind of comic with which he is synonymous. Kirby’s influence on the medium cannot be understated – he was present at the birth of the comic book industry in 1938 (the Golden Age) and he was one of the prime architects at it’s rebirth in the early sixties (the Silver Age). In a career spanning over 40 years he almost single-handedly created the visual lexicon of the comics medium, imbuing it with a dynamism, excitement and energy not seen before and he was instrumental in transforming the funny books from throw away pulp reprints to an art form in it’s own right. There isn’t an artist or writer working in the field today who doesn’t owe him a debt of gratitude, whether they know so or not. Continue reading Kirby, King of Comics (2008)

Paperback covers #3: Bantam Books’ Star Trek adaptions

Artist: Lou Feck

A series looking at some of my favourite book covers and cover artists, mostly taken from my own collection.

#3 Bantam Books’ Star Trek adaptions of the late ’60 and early ’70s

In 1967 New York publisher Bantam Books, in an attempt to cash-in on the popularity of the TV series Star Trek, commissioned science fiction author James Blish to adapt the scripts for the show’s individual episodes into short prose stories that could then be compiled into paperback collections. Those collections went on to sell very well with several of the editions being reprinted over a dozen times. Continue reading Paperback covers #3: Bantam Books’ Star Trek adaptions

Assault on Precinct 13 (1976)

Assault on Precinct 13 theatrical poster

 “Got a smoke?”

I’m embarrassed to admit this but for various bizarre reasons I avoided this film for years even though I’m a fan of John Carpenter‘s early films. Somehow I’d gotten it into my head that Assault on Precinct 13 was a stark prison movie and that premise never really appealed to me. I was also under the impression the movie was in black and white! I’ve no idea where any of those misconceptions came from but they unfortunately resulted in me ignoring the film for decades despite being a fan of The Fog, Escape from New York and the incomparable The Thing. So you can imagine my surprise (and delight) when, in the late ’90s, I stumbled across a late night showing of the film on BBC2 and discovered it wasn’t a grim prison drama but in fact a fast-paced, action-packed exploitation homage to both Howard Hawks’ Rio Bravo and George Romero’s Night of the Living Dead. Continue reading Assault on Precinct 13 (1976)

In The Line of Fire (1993)

Clink Eastwood as Frank Horrigan
Clink Eastwood as Frank Horrigan

“I know things about pigeons, Lilly”

I always tend to group this film together with Unforgiven, not just because they were released at roughly the same time (Unforgiven came out a few months earlier) and not just because both films helped revive Clint Eastwood’s flagging career (anyone remember Pink Cadillac or The Rookie?). I think it’s because both films share a common theme: a character with a haunted past shaped by violence is given a chance for redemption. Unforgiven is concerned with a dealer of violence while In The Line of Fire deals with the victim of a violent event. Frank Horrigan (Eastwood) is a US Secret Service agent haunted by the assassination of President Kennedy, an event he failed to stop. He blames himself for the death of the man he’d sworn to protect and believes the break up of his marriage, and his subsequent alcoholism, to be a direct result of him ‘not taking the bullet’. Continue reading In The Line of Fire (1993)

The Art of Brian Bolland

The Art of Brian Bolland

After graduating from London’s Central School of Art in 1974, Lincolnshire born artist Brian Bolland quickly gravitated towards the comics industry. A firm fan from an early age Bolland grew up on a steady diet of DC stories, with Green Lantern and The Flash being favourites. He spent a couple of years working on such diverse assignments as Powerman (an Nigerian published superhero comic) and House of Hammer magazine as well as illustrations for various fanzines and a short stint on Syd Jorden’s Jeff Hawke daily newspaper strip. In 1977 he came to the attention of UK publisher IPC who were on the lookout for artists for their proposed new weekly science fiction comic 2000AD. His first work for the title was the cover to Prog (issue) 11 and, after a few more covers, he was commissioned to draw the comics most popular character: Judge Dredd.

Continue reading The Art of Brian Bolland