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Topic: eternals....was jack kirby ahead of his time? (Topic Closed Topic Closed) Post ReplyPost New Topic
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Bob Simko
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Posted: 28 June 2006 at 11:32am | IP Logged | 1  

No...he feels Jack didn't get it "quite right".

Even though Jack created it.

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John W Leys
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Posted: 28 June 2006 at 11:59am | IP Logged | 2  

I was never too impressed with Kirby's Eternals myself. Gaiman is an incredibly gifted and imaginative writer. If he can breath some life into the concept, more power to him.
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John Byrne
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Posted: 28 June 2006 at 12:35pm | IP Logged | 3  

When working with existing "franchises", any good writer will return to the source material from time to time, to see if s/he can divine from that work something that might have been missed before. This is true whether the work is good, bad, or indifferent.

The best place to start, however, no matter what the context, is not by saying "the creator didn't get it right". That's the worst kind of hubris. I have been pilloried for my work on Superman, Spider-Man, Doom Patrol, and in the early days even FF and X-Men, yet I have never once said the creators of those series/characters "didn't get it right". It disgusts me not only to read Gaiman saying this -- about JACK KIRBY of all people! -- but to see the cartwheels people are willing to turn in order to make his words seem other than what they are. Apparently, dissing one of the greatest talents this industry has produced is okay, as long as you're on the Approved List.

Next, how Eisner screwed up the Spirit, and Lee and Ditko on Spider-Man --- what the heck were they thinking??

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Todd Hembrough
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Posted: 28 June 2006 at 1:53pm | IP Logged | 4  



If many, or most people like the property, but agree that it was not Kirby at his height, and agree that there were problems with it,  why is it hubris to say, "this wasnt Kirby's greatest work, and there are a lot of problems with it, and I think that by studying the work, I may be able to enhance it, fill in the holes, round out the story (or whatever) and make it better"?

Would it be hubris if it was a Sucky McNoname's work that was being revised?  meaning, does Kirby hold such a place in the firmament that he is unassailable?

I missed all of Kirby's groundbreaking work, so I never was a devotee of his, probably more of a detractor, since his art was so inferior (or so I thought in my youth) to Byrne, Perez, Miller and Simonson.

I have read a great many sucky books and seen a great many sucky movies and thought, well, heck, even I, (scientist, not writer) can see the holes in that plot, and divise a solution, that while not artful, would at least fill teh holes.


Edited by Todd Hembrough on 28 June 2006 at 1:54pm
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Connie Lynn
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Posted: 28 June 2006 at 2:32pm | IP Logged | 5  

A lot of people have been posting in this thread (Mr. Byrne included) saying much the same things Mr. Gaiman is saying.  The Eternals is not widely considered to be one of Kirby's great works, even though it has on display a number of brilliant Kirby concepts.

I really can't see anything in the above Gaiman quote that's saying he's better than the material or is changing things just because he can. It looks like he's trying to identify the flaws and looking to the original work for inspiration on how to fix those flaws. 

If that's saying that Kirby got it wrong, then there's a lot of other people here who are saying the exact same thing.

And after reading the first issue, it certainly reads like a Neil Gaiman book (he's not known for his Kirby-like action sequences), but I don't detect any "winking" at the audience, save for one reference to "Chariots Of The Gods", which is perfectly in tone with the plot.  He's taking this 100% straight and playing the mythology angle for all its worth.  If anything, it's being played too straight, without the wonky brilliance that Kirby brings to everything he does.
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Chad Carter
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Posted: 28 June 2006 at 4:14pm | IP Logged | 6  

 

"Getting it right" is no way to talk about Kirby. The guy is above reproach in a lot of areas. If Gaiman is talking about the concept not reaching Gaiman's particular way of going about telling stories about the Eternals, then he's simply being cocky about his own worth as a writer. Many would say he should be, but I couldn't stand his Sandman stuff. Never got into it.

Kirby rarely had an idea he couldn't bring off in classic Kirby style, making it the best it could be. It's interesting to see Kirby hit and miss as much as hit. I love his 70s CAPTAIN AMERICA, not so hot on FOREVER PEOPLE, liked MISTER MIRACLE, bowled over by parts of NEW GODS, adored THE DEMON, found the ETERNALS to be all right, interested in the short-lived JUSTICE INC. Hell, I'll apologize all day for DEVIL DINOSAUR, which for a kid was crack. What kid didn't want his own T-Rex?

And take something like MACHINE MAN, a brilliant concept that I wish Kirby could have done more with. His work on Aaron Stack is the way I see the character, regardless. He "got it right" in design but the series got bogged down and never really got off the ground, and he "got it wrong" according to sales I guess.

After Machine Man's appearance out of Roger Stern's pen, I wish there had been a way to team the two on that series, instead of Wolfman and Ditko, and it's saying something that I didn't enjoy Ditko's work at that time on that title.

The Gaiman thing is, like a lot of current writing in comics, designed to give lip service to the greatness of a Kirby while insinuating the old guys of Marvel's past couldn't carry through on their promise, whether because of editorial interference or not. GAIMAN doesn't have any interference, so you can bet HIS Eternals won't suffer like Kirby's, is the implication I suppose. I guess the only difference between Kirby rolling over in his grave and anyone else is the "Kirby Crackle" radiating around the tombstone. And nobody currently in comics is impressed by that, any more.

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Jon Godson
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Posted: 28 June 2006 at 4:40pm | IP Logged | 7  

Gaiman on Kirby and the Eternals:

"I don't think that Jack got it quite right, and I'm also sure that I won't get
it any "righter" than Jack did. But you do feel that it's not one of his most
thought-out works. The fact that this stuff has taken thirty years to be
reprinted is an indication that it's not one of those Kirby things that
everybody has been waiting for, in the same way that everybody wanted
the Fourth World stuff to get reprinted. People have forgotten this stuff.

What is interesting though, is how good it is, and how much cool, weird
stuff there is there. I definitely don't feel that this is Kirby not on the top
of his game because he was getting old, I feel that it reads more like
Kirby's not on top of his game because they tied one hand behind his
back, and weren't quite letting him be "Kirby." It's a different kind of thing
as a result.

One of the things that fascinates me, is that whenever I get stuck on a
plot point on Eternals, I go back and look at it, and it's there. It'll be in a
line of dialogue or a small scene that makes you realize he knew far more
about these characters than ever made it on to the page. I'm actually far
more impressed by the Eternals now since I've started two write it than I
was when I first read it through and was getting ready to write it. I
though, initially, that there was all this stuff that Jack hadn't figured out,
but now I know - he had it all figured out."

**********************

Gaiman's statement when read in context hardly sounds like hubris to
me.
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Bill Dowling
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Posted: 28 June 2006 at 4:40pm | IP Logged | 8  

I see why the actual wording of Gaiman's comment has caused such a reaction, but it doesn't read to me that way. It reads to me as if Gaiman is saying that Kirby wasn't firing on all cylinders with Eternals. I never read anything beyond the first issue of the Kirby Eternals so I don't know if I'd agree or not, but I think that it's ok to say that a creator didn't get a particular creation "quite right." I know that I've drawn things and felt that they were just right, right, not quite right, or completely farkakte. I wouldn't say it of Kirby if I were watching my words (particularly in an interview) due to his stature, but I might say something like "Bill Willingham didn't get the plot or the motivations quite right in Death Duel with the Destroyers or Isle of Dr. Apocalypse, but damn, he sure did make up for it with the first story arc of Elementals!"

I can't speak for Gaiman and I can't really know if the impression I got of his words is more correct than the impression others got. I can only say that this is the impression I got.
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Jon Godson
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Posted: 28 June 2006 at 4:41pm | IP Logged | 9  

I love Gaiman. I'm glad he's on the Approved List.
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Emery Calame
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Posted: 28 June 2006 at 4:47pm | IP Logged | 10  

I just saw the Hardcover at the comic store. It's $75.

At the top left of the cover it says "Still only $75!"

So I got a mild chuckle out of that. But I'm not spending $75 for this.

It looks like Amazon has it for about $30 less. The cover looks WAY different though...

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0785122052/102-0107880-1418 503?v=glance&n=283155



Edited by Emery Calame on 28 June 2006 at 4:52pm
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Jason Powell
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Posted: 28 June 2006 at 4:47pm | IP Logged | 11  

Yeah, I'm not even a fan of Gaiman's work,
but certainly he has always seemed to be a
genuinely nice guy, and respectful of "what has gone
before."

Honestly, I'll bet if someone alerted him to this
thread, his reaction would be to re-couch his
statements and clarify that no disrespect of Kirby
was ever intended.

(I know that comes dangerously close to
"mind-reading," but I also know that in the past this
has been his reaction when he unintionally offended
someone.)



Edited by Jason Powell on 28 June 2006 at 4:48pm
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Jon Godson
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Posted: 28 June 2006 at 4:51pm | IP Logged | 12  

So I got a mild chuckle out of that. But I'm not spending $75 for this.

*****************

Me either. I'll buy it at Overstock for $44.89.
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Robert Oren
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Posted: 28 June 2006 at 5:18pm | IP Logged | 13  

"Chariots of the Gods". ...............i'm going to have to read that one i never knew he took it from there!!!
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John Byrne
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Posted: 28 June 2006 at 5:23pm | IP Logged | 14  

A lot of people have been posting in this thread (Mr. Byrne included) saying much the same things Mr. Gaiman is saying. The Eternals is not widely considered to be one of Kirby's great works, even though it has on display a number of brilliant Kirby concepts.

***

When did I say that?

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Eric Kleefeld
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Posted: 28 June 2006 at 5:46pm | IP Logged | 15  

I think there's a difference between saying a creator got it wrong versus critiquing a work. For example, I'm a Kirby fan who thinks the man's dialogue was dreadful. I get a feeling I'm not alone on this. What's wrong with saying I like X part of his work but not Y part?
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Connie Lynn
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Posted: 28 June 2006 at 6:06pm | IP Logged | 16  

In this and the other thread on The Eternals, I've not seen you say anything positive about The Eternals.  I've seen you criticize the wonky Continuity Kirby used, you tend to compare it (somewhat unfavorably) to New Gods, and reading your first post in this thread about "Chariots Of The Gods", I get the distinct impression that you don't think terribly highly of its influences.

So, after seeing lots of almost or slightly negative statements about The Eternals and having seen *no* positive statements about The Eternals, I'm left ot believe that this is a book that you don't feel very warmly toward.   And I don't think it's much of a leap to suggest that you would think there are elements that are flawed in its creation--others certainly have suggested (and you have not countered) that it's a second-rate New Gods... something reinforced with your twice refusing to work on the book.  What I'm seeing in your posts and others is that's it's not Kirby at his best and there's some serious problems with it.

Now, if this isn't true, I apologize; but I don't see anything in your posts about this book that would suggest that you really like it.  Your complaints might not be exactly the same as Mr. Gaiman's, but it does seem as though there is something about this title that prevents it from being one of your favorites.

And after reading the above extract from Mr. Gaiman (and the rest of the interview), I don't see where he doesn't have anything but respect for the source material.  He believes that it was Marvel's fault that it read strangely, as there seems to be many things un-Kirby getting shoe-horned into the narrative, such as the almost-but-not-quite ties to the Marvel Universe that make it read very strangely.

Again, it might be an omission.  You might love the book, and because you haven't said as much, your minor criticisms have colored my (mis)perception. And if that's the case, I apologize, but I'm still not seeing much Eternals love here and find it odd that many have turned on Mr. Gaiman for saying much the same that is said here... that this book isn't a perfect example of Kirbyness.
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Simon Matthew Park
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Posted: 28 June 2006 at 7:56pm | IP Logged | 17  

Connie - Based on the quotes from Gaiman upthread, I'd say that Gaiman is the one who is being disparaging about the Eternals, and about Jack Kirby. The way I read it, it sounds like Gaiman thinks he's somehow improving upon (or even correcting 'mistakes' in) Kirby's original concept.

I'm a fan of Kirby's Eternals - I prefer them to the Fourth World stuff (which I also like, don't get me wrong). It also sounds, based on the comments quoted upthread, as if Gaiman wasn't even interested in the characters to begin with. If Kirby got things wrong, why are his characters being revived decades later by Gaiman? I'm not sure anyone will resurrect the Technophage or Lady Justice thirty years from now.

Also, although Von Daniken's stuff was ridiculous as a work of scientific or archeological study, it was (in my opinion) a clever (if sneaky) way of writing an entertaining work of science-fiction. As has been pointed out by someone earlier in this thread, Von Daniken was obviously influenced by 'The Shaver Mystery', in which tales of an interplanetary civilization who built Atlantis are told, and are supposedly meant to be 'true'. They're a great fun read as well, by the way (Invasion of the Micro-Men rocks!).

Certainly, Kirby wasn't doing anything that was unprecedented, but he was definitely giving an old idea the Kirby treatment. He'd done similar things before anyhow, with The Inhumans and The Kree, so it's still a very Kirbyesque type of concept. I don't see it as being 'less Kirby' than anything else he did, personally.

edited for spelling atrocities.



Edited by Simon Matthew Park on 28 June 2006 at 8:01pm
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Eric Lund
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Posted: 28 June 2006 at 8:12pm | IP Logged | 18  

I'm not buying Gaiman's Eternals...it holds zero interest for me...

I liked Gaiman's Sandman... and bought it from issue 1 when it wasn't kewl to like him...

I looked at the first issue and none of it looked appealing compared to what Kirby had done...I think it deviates way too far away from Kirby's vision of The Eternals... Kirby made them look otherwordly and Romita has them looking like superheroes
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David Miller
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Posted: 28 June 2006 at 8:34pm | IP Logged | 19  

What I get from Gaiman's statement is that he doesn't think ETERNALS was a 100% sucessful project, an in, "Kirby didn't quite nail it with this one."  I'm looking forward to reading it -- not least because I hope the hardcover is really sucessful and encourages more high quality Kirby reprints -- but from what I've heard, this isn't Kirby in absolutely perfect mode, the way he was on NEW GODS.  Gaiman sounds like he's coming from his old position as a critic.  He's analysing Kirby's work, not dismissing it. 


Edited by David Miller on 28 June 2006 at 8:38pm
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Bob Simko
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Posted: 28 June 2006 at 10:12pm | IP Logged | 20  

It's one thing to say "I think there are more stories to tell"...it's another thing to say that Jack Kirby didn't get his own creations quite right.

Call me curious, but how the f*ck would Gaiman know what Kirby did or didn't get right? 

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Howard Boyer
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Posted: 28 June 2006 at 10:14pm | IP Logged | 21  

Problem is, we now have a high percentage of "Winkers" in the business...

Change one letter, and I'd agree with you...

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Jason Uresti
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Posted: 28 June 2006 at 10:57pm | IP Logged | 22  

I think people are getting stuck on the word choice. By saying he didn't get it right, many of you are taking it that Gaiman means that Kirby messed up with creating these characters, that it was a flawed concept.

Reading the entire quote, it seems obvious to me that Gaiman refers to the story itself, not the concept and characters. He feels that Kirby didn't execute his idea as strongly as these ideas demanded. No great criticism, and he even goes as far to put the blame for that on others and not Kirby himself.

Roger Federer is perhaps the greatest overall tennis talent in the history of the game. He can hit all the shots. All his mechanics are sound, his technique is about as precise as you can find. But you know what? He has matches where he doesn't quite put it all together the "right" way. He will still hit some brilliant strokes, and the genius of his game will be there, but his gameplan won't be up to task, maybe his backhand starts landing short, whatever the reason, while he may be the greatest ever, on that day, that series of play, he is NOT the greatest in the world.

Like Federer, Kirby below his best, or even worst, is still pretty incredible, but just like Roger has some matches and tournaments, he has his share of issues/series that aren't grand slams, and are not beyond criticism.
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Todd Hembrough
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Posted: 28 June 2006 at 11:15pm | IP Logged | 23  

 bob simko wrote:

It's one thing to say "I think there are more stories to tell"...it's another thing to say that Jack Kirby didn't get his own creations quite right.

Call me curious, but how the f*ck would Gaiman know what Kirby did or didn't get right?

Steven Spielberg didnt get it quite right on "1941". Just wasnt up to his standard, he miscast some popular actors in a story that just didnt work.

Is this in anyway an offensive or risable statement?  If not, why would it be so when the target is Kirby?

I am having difficulty getting it with the venom, and I am not coming at it from the perspective of a Gaiman sycophant.  The art of criticism in literature is based on the idea that one can assess an artists work and then judge it.  Even moreso when the judge is a fellow artist, not a layman.



Edited by Todd Hembrough on 28 June 2006 at 11:16pm
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Chris Durnell
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Posted: 29 June 2006 at 1:02am | IP Logged | 24  

I agree that some people are overreacting.  I do not interpret Gaiman's quote as being offensive as some here are.
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Simon Matthew Park
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Posted: 29 June 2006 at 2:44am | IP Logged | 25  

I don't find Gaiman's statements offensive in the strictest sense of the word - I just feel that he is embarassed by the source material, and that he found it beneath him. I think his statements are arrogant, but I'm not offended by them.

By the way, I liked the Technophage stuff - but it's nowhere near as memorable as the most minor work that Jack Kirby ever did.

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