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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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Deepak Ramani
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Posted: 28 June 2006 at 11:27am | IP Logged | 1  

 Karl Bollers wrote:
I read it last week, and as a big Kirby and Eternals fan, I was pleased to see that Gaiman wasn't acting as if Kirby "got it wrong." It was actually very true to the spirit of "the King" and didn't disavow his work at all. So far, it's a refreshing homage. I can't get  the next issue soon enough.

I don't think Gaiman believes Kirby got it wrong in the sense that he got the characters wrong or told silly stories.  The closest quote I could find to Gaiman saying Kirby got it wrong is from the Newsarama interview:

http://www.newsarama.com/marvelnew/Eternals/GaimanEternals.h tml

 Neil Gaiman wrote:
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.

So, Gaiman doesn't think he'll show anyone how to do Eternals "right," he thinks the original work is impressively good, and he feels that Jack Kirby had the best grasp on these characters.  The idea that when Gaiman gets stuck on a plot point, he goes back to the source material rather than plowing ahead with his ideas is, to me, a source of considerable optimism for the series.

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Bob Simko
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Posted: 28 June 2006 at 11:32am | IP Logged | 2  

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 | 3  

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 | 4  

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 | 5  



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 | 6  

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 | 7  

 

"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 | 8  

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 | 9  

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 | 10  

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 | 11  

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 | 12  

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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