Well, I’m doing it! I’m crossing over into DC Comics territory. I was a Marvel Comics kid who would rarely pick up a DC title back in the early days of my collecting. For some reason, Batman and Superman and all those other DC characters didn’t interest me. I took the motto “Make Mine Marvel” to heart in those days. But,as I got older and more serious about collecting, I worked my way into the DC Universe.
This was when I mainly bought comic books with exciting covers. But, I also liked the monster stories. And because I liked monsters so much, I laid down my hard-earned 20 cents and purchased this DC comic book, The Demon #13 (Oct. ’73).
The Demon was a series created, drawn, and written by the great Jack Kirby. Kirby was king. He was the major talent behind the creation of the language of comic book art. He was a pioneer. He is probably the most influential artist in comic book history and, for years, I thought he sucked.
That’s right. I couldn’t stand his stuff. In my formative years as a cartoonist, I couldn’t understand why he was the king. As I worked to improve my drawing skills, I kept looking at his work and thought it was crap. “He can’t draw!” I would think.
Kirby didn’t draw anatomy well. Look at the hands he’d draw. How many knuckles does a human finger have? How long is a thumb compared to the fingers? Who has squared off fingertips? And that’s just the hands!
I could go on, but I did eventually come to appreciate the greatness of Jack Kirby’s art. So let’s just move on, shall we?
The Demon #13 might have been the first DC Comics title I’d ever purchased. He’s been a favorite character of mine ever since.
This was long before the Demon started speaking in rhyme. That’s the one thing that annoyed me about the later incarnation of the Demon. I like the Hell aspect and that the Demon is kind of evil while still being a good guy. And I love his alter-ego’s name: Jason Blood. Such a cool name!
The art I’ve selected from this issue are all full page illustrations, with one exception. In fact, one is a two page spread!
The cover (see above) has an interesting use of color to help direct the eye. Your attention is drawn to the Demon and his two adversaries. The monsters are less significant, but still important. And the Demon’s declaration, “I’m unleashing every terrible thing your mind can think of! Can you take it?” makes one wonder if he talking to his adversaries or is he talking to us? Probably both.
The two page spread is chock full of Jack Kirby goodness. Some of his best work is this big drawing stuff. It’s big, spectacular! And Kirby was very good at making sure that the design didn’t leave the reader confused. The storyline continues to flow through the dramatic art.
There’s also that black dotted cosmic fire thing the Kirby was so fond of using. I don’t know if he invented it, but it is a signature element of his art. And countless Kirby-influenced artists (myself included) have used the same effect.
So, the next page I’ve selected is the first page of chapter two. It introduces “the Monster”. A not so subtle take on the Frankenstein legend. Kirby’s version was created by Baron Von Evilstein.
Baron Von Evilstein! That’s fantastic! With a name like that how could you not be evil? That name can’t help but pigeon-hole a fellow. Even if he wanted to be a philanthropist, how could he while named Evilstein?
The Monster is huge. He’s craggy and menacing. And I love the metal bars that protrude from him. Maybe not quite the same as the flat-headed creature that Boris Karloff brought to life, but the similarities are there.
There’s a single frame that I’ve included that has its focus on the creatures hands.The hands are stretched out imploringly to a woman he sees as a friend. It brings to mind Karloff’s so expressive use of his hands in his portrayal of the Monster. No other actor who played the Monster ever came close to Karloff. Part of the reason for that, I think, is due to the way Karloff used his hands.
Let’s compare! Kirby’s monster…
…Karloff’s monster. The images mirror each other.
Speaking of hands, this brings me to the final piece I’ll be including. It’s the first page of chapter three. Kirby sums up the action of the scene while deftly bringing in the Demon. That’s a pretty cool hand there. We’re in for some action!
DC may not have held much interest for me back in the old days, but as you can see there was something good going on. I’ve remained a Marvel kid, but DC could also produce some pretty good stuff.
Hell. I’m a Marvel kid whose favorite character is Batman.