Dig that Gargoyle leapin’ out of the page! Feel the heart pounding rush of the crowd chasing after him! That “Demon” thing is coming for you, pal-so you’d either better turn tail and run straight out of the drugstore–or –buy the sucker and take it home!
That’s why Kirby was the guy Stan Lee told John Buscema to copy-before he gave him The Avengers or Thor or the FF.
“…This is the guy…this is the look…Action–that’s what we want, that’s what the kids go for, that’s what it’s about….”
And this cover is a textbook example of Kirby dynamism at work. The composition alone establishes a pictorial tension that absolutely pulses with energy—The Demon, stretched taught across the two-dimensional horizontal plane, like the skin of a drum-is simultaneously pushing, pushing against the membrane of the picture plane and out into the space of the spectator! Talk about tension–talk about pent up energy—Kirby could have been his own electric company! He was his own power supply!
Kirby’s drawing never relaxes into illustrative illusionism. That kind of naturalistic, illusionistic space would loosen the hold of the forms on the surface, relax the abstract, pictorial tension he’s created and drain away the pictorial force. His goal was action, energy, to sell comics–and so he never succumbed to the temptation of creating more traditional evocations of pictorial beauty. He knew instinctively that those qualities were at odds with the kinds of abstract dynamics he was interested in. ( that’s not to say Kirby didn’t create beautiful images–but that’s another subject!)
And it’s hard to combine Kirby style with naturalism. In many of those works that make the attempt, the artist may evoke Kirby’s surface qualities-the faces, the fingers, the Kirby crackle—but in bringing more traditional approaches to form into the mix(most likely because the artist’s personal style is naturalistic)- the abstract power of Kirby’s vision and forms is undermined. The result is-more often than not– a kind of nostalgic evocation. *
(*there are some great ones who’ve aped Kirby outright in the beginning of their careers and then made the work their own. you know who they are.)
anyway–that’s the lesson I learned drawing this cover. The last one I did before the Uniroyal ball point pen ran out. That pen encouraged a swift execution–it was a thick tip and it flowed like ice skates across a pond on the page. I’m particularly happy with that blue sky. I wasn’t sure I could get it with the markers I had–but a little overlapping here and there and it turned out nice. Those Prismacolors have a surprising amount of depth!