Thursday, April 22, 2021

Black Power goes skiing

It would be tempting to simply see the Black Racer as Jack Kirby doing the Silver Surfer at DC but Vietnam veteran William Walker/Black Racer is nothing less than Black Power on skis.

In New Gods # 3, published 50 years ago today, April 22, 1971, Kirby tackles two Sixties subjects which he has hinted at before in the Fourth World but never quite dealt with so directly, race and the Vietnam war. In doing so he uses his new character, the Black Racer, a kind of armoured knight, inter-galactic space slalom champion, surfing cosmic snow, as a metaphor for Black experience, reflecting the momentous journey from slavery to Sweetback, from subjugation to sovereignty.

Like Vykin the Black in the Forever People, Kirby calls out the Black Racer’s identity by race. There is no White Light-Ray or Mono-cultural Metron equivalent. Partly this is because there were so few black characters at DC at the time, Kanigher’s Jackie Johnson and the Titans’ Mal Duncan are about all National/DC can muster up and even then, they seem bit part players. Kirby’s black characters are front and centre, they announce themselves as ‘Black’ and in this way reflect the growing pride and self-awareness of the black community at the time. ‘Say it loud, I’m Black and I’m proud!’ⁱ

Kirby’s Black Racer would not be out of place in Melvin van Peeble’s Sweet Sweetback’s Baad Asssss Song, one of the first so-called ‘blaxploitation’ films, premiering on 31 March 1971 at the Grand Circus Theatre in Detroit. Three weeks later at the time of New Gods # 3’s release, Sweetback was well on the way to becoming the highest grossing independent film of 1971.²

Black audiences saw black actors leading on screen, not reduced to racial stereotypes or minor roles. Van Peebles made the case for black expression: " 'For me all the stuff has a direct arrow. I've always used my own voice.' As he sees it, each piece demonstrates his main purpose—to controvert 'false black images' whites use in America 'to confuse, drain and colonize our minds.' " ³ Black audiences cheered when Sweetback escaped white Police.⁴

The Black Racer is not a subservient figure, he is the New God of Black Power. At first he is the God of Death, oblivion, a Killer Surfer, as he chases Light-Ray around the Universe in New Gods # 3’s opening panels, a race between the quick and the dead. The comic’s cover asks ‘Is he after Orion….or you?’

Like the air of apocalyptic, malevolent menace from the State, weighing on the minds of American male youth as they turned 18 and feared the draft to Vietnam, the blond, youthful Light-Ray cannot seem to escape the Black Racer’s death touch. The Black Racer is as ruthless as a local draft board or a Viet Cong bullet: “Your time has come, young one! I am no respecter of tender years! Prepare for my touch!’ Light-Ray is only saved by the intervention of Metron who sends the Racer to Earth via Boom Tube.

The Racer is transformed when he arrives. He sees black-on-black crime and then saves black Vietnam veteran Willie Walker from being shot by one of Intergang’s criminals. Willie feels like an image of historic black experience, flat on his back, crippled, with no voice, seemingly powerless. Like a black Jesus, the former Death Racer reaches out his hand in healing, saying, like an answer to prayer, ‘I hear a voice calling my name’, promising Willie ‘the freedom of a great power’ that will also cost him his life.

Like Lazarus, the Racer raises Willie from his bed and Willie sits up, he speaks, Black Movement, Black Voice. Then he stands, and like a former slave, he removes the yoke of his steel collar and evokes the spirit of the striking 1968 Memphis black sanitation workers, who wore placards saying ‘I Am a Man’. Willie says “I’m whole! I’m strong! I’m no longer half alive! Willie Walker no longer needs this aid!” Black Power.

Willie looks for the Black Racer and sees only an empty cloak, like the white (now black) shroud at Jesus’s empty tomb. In that resurrection moment Willie and the spirit of the Black Racer merge, he is transformed from weakness to power, ‘I am the power to make all tremble! I am the Black Racer!’

At this point, the Black Racer’s story becomes about his own autonomy, his own freedom, his own sovereignty and by extension, a commentary on the journey of black people at the time, a race for the same rights and privileges, the same treatment as the white majority. Similar to the Forever People’s pentavalent Infinity Man, the new Black Racer is a complex character. After dealing with the Intergang criminals he says ‘There are no more barriers for him now. Willie Walker now has the freedom of the farthest dimensions. Willie Walker is now one of many messengers. All who make the one entity, the Black Racer.’ The Racer and Willie split and Willie is back in his bed.

Echoing the Almighty, while the Black Racer takes life, he also gives it. It’s up to him to decide. Freedom now, with its own consequences. In life and in death.

Uh, with your bad self

Say it louder (I got a mouth)
Say it louder (I got a mouth)

Look a'here, some people say we got a lot of malice
Some say it's a lotta nerve
I say we won't quit moving
Til we get what we deserve
We've been buked and we've been scourned
We've been treated bad, talked about
As just as sure as you're born
But just as sure as it take
Two eyes to make a pair, huh
Brother, we can't quit until we get our share

Say it loud,
I'm black and I'm proud
Say it loud,
I'm black and I'm proud, one more time
Say it loud,
I'm black and I'm proud, huh

I've worked on jobs with my feet and my hands
But all the work I did was for the other man
And now we demands a chance
To do things for ourselves
We tired of beating our heads against the wall
And working for someone else

James Brown, 1968, Say It Loud – I’m Black and I’m Proud


¹From James Brown’s two-part August 1968 single, ‘Say It Loud – I’m Black and I’m Proud’. Both parts appeared on the 1968 album, ‘A Soulful Christmas’.

²As noted in Salon.com's article, Black to the Future, August 21, 2002.

³New York Times, August 20, 1972, 'The Boadasssss Success

⁴Salon 

Research this article:                                           

Comics:

-Comics Journal # 134, February 1990 (Jack Kirby interview by Gary Groth)

-Mike’s Amazing World of Comics website

-The Indispensable Kirby & Lee: Stuf’ Said! (Jack Kirby Collector # 75: TwoMorrows).

Popular culture:

-New York Times, 20 August, 1972

-Salon.com 21 August, 2002

-There’s A Riot Going On (Peter Doggett, Canongate, 2007)

-Uncovering the Sixties (Abe Peck, Pantheon, 1985) .

Michael Mead is a 54-year-old New Zealand comic book collector, who likes to think he can do "contextual" commentary reviews of old comics, asking: "where does this story come from?", looking at the social, political, cultural times it came from, the state of the comics industry, the personal and creative journey of the writer or artist, the personal journey of the reader as a child and as an adult. 

As part of this, he is vain enough to think he can bring new insights into Kirby's Fourth World comics and so, on the 50th anniversary of publication of each issue of Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen, Forever People, New Gods and Mister Miracle, he will publish a contextual commentary. Check out his earlier entries on this blog and tell him to stop talking so pretentiously in the third person for God's sake! 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Tuesday, April 13, 2021

Open your eyes: something bad really is going to happen


 At the very time DC readers were perceiving the relative sophistication of Jack Kirby’s Fourth World stories, Jimmy Olsen went in the opposite direction. Kirby began his world-building tenure at National with Jimmy Olsen # 133 (August, 1970). It was a literal smack in the face to everything we had known before, Jimmy’s character, his relationship with Superman.

Kirby’s first effort resonated with counter-cultural symbolism, it reflected the revolutionary times and the revolution in Kirby’s own creative life as he freed himself from supercilious Stan’s strictures at Marvel. By Jimmy Olsen # 138 (June 1971), published 50 years ago today, April 13th 1971, the parents have taken over the party and Jimmy as defiant, confrontational youth is replaced by an after-the-fact freckled pout face.

Jimmy Olsen was always aimed younger readers, the other Fourth World titles deal with much bigger subjects and themes, different audiences, different sets of  characters, the New Gods (the adults), Forever People (the youth) and Mister Miracle (the individual). Kirby’s tremendous efforts on the other three titles appear to not have left enough in the tank to challenge the reader in the same way.

Readers Ed Newsom and Karl Merris comment on the earlier Jimmy Olsen issues in the letter column for Jimmy Olsen # 138. 



They see Kirby’s sensitive treatment of hippy Hairies, they understand the Biblical allusions with Genesis/New Genesis as the beginning and the Apocalyptical/Apokolips as the end, from Revelation the final book of the Bible, the end of everything. 

If there is one redeeming feature about Jimmy Olsen # 138 that lifts it above a straightforward and admittedly rewarding fight between Superman and the DNAlien (s), it is Kirby’s continuing interest in the apocalypse, what he calls the ‘holacaust’, the ‘disaster’ and how it informs his work and reflects the times.

As Jacob Kurtzberg, a Jewish man, he fought the Nazis in World War II. It was literally life and death, for him, for his buddies, for his people, for the freedom of the Western allies against fascism and the fight to stop the Shoah/Holacaust against European Jews. To say Kirby must have felt the urgency of the fight would be an understatement. Either win or lose everything. There were no other choices. 

As the clock ticks down on the destruction of the Project’s atomic reactor which would result in a massive explosion, killing everybody and destroying Metropolis, you can’t help but lift your head outside the pages of the comic book and see corresponding levels of apocalyptic desperation in the Cold War world of 1971 and ask, like Marvin Gaye, ‘….what’s going on?’¹

In the weeks leading up to the publication of Jimmy Olsen # 138, the left-wing Weather Underground planted a bomb at the US Capitol which resulted in an explosion, Lieutenant William Calley was found guilty for 22 murders at My Lai, Charles Manson was sentenced to death, a toxic Vietnam war seemed to have no end in sight despite President Nixon’s promise to bring 100,000 troops home by Christmas, the inescapable fear for any male youth turning 18 was ever-present that they could be drafted to fight. 

A March 1971 Supreme Court decision took away the ‘just war’ defence for conscientious objectors.² You couldn’t be just against one war, you had to be against them all to avoid a Vietnam tour. A lot of older brothers of Jimmy Olsen readers would have had the very real fear that They Are Coming For Me.

Time Magazine, 22 March, 1971, pg. 52

The apocalypse can be personal, it can come from things you cannot control or it can be self-inflicted. The loss of freedom, loss of property in fire, flood, earthquake, a divorce, the loss of a loved one, the private and public feelings of isolation and disconnectedness as the COVID-19 pandemic stopped everything we knew, changed our safe assumptions about the world and how it worked. So many warnings and then Something Bad Really Did Happen.

Kirby’s comic book countdown to Doom is avoided by a super saviour’s saving grace. In a world like the one we live in, we’ve really got “…to find a way to bring some lovin’ here today…”³Whether it’s the impending apocalypse of environmental or viral/bacterial destruction or a more personal doom, the Apocalypse is a warning to change our ways. You only have so much time. There is a countdown, ‘evil never rests.’ Kirby’s call is always to open your eyes and see the world and yourself differently, don’t let others control you, don’t let big outside forces decide what you think, determine your future. Be your own Revelation. Never the End.

¹Marvin Gaye’s single, ‘What’s Going On’ was at number # 2 in the Billboard top 100 in the week of Jimmy Olsen # 138’s publication.

²In the third week of March, 1971, the US Supreme Court ruled eight to one that conscientious objection is an all-or-nothing proposition. It does not exempt those, however sincere, who object to some wars but not others.’ Time Magazine, 22 March, 1971, pg. 52.

³Lyrics from Marvin Gaye’s ‘What’s Going On’.

Research this article:                                           

Comics:

-Comics Journal # 134, February 1990 (Jack Kirby interview by Gary Groth)

-Mike’s Amazing World of Comics website

-The Indispensable Kirby & Lee: Stuf’ Said! (Jack Kirby Collector # 75: TwoMorrows).

Popular culture:

-Helter Skelter, the True Story of the Manson Murders (Vincent Bugliosi with Curt Gentry, W.W. Norton, 1994)

-There’s A Riot Going On (Peter Doggett, Canongate, 2007)

-Time Magazine, 22 March, 1971

-Uncovering the Sixties (Abe Peck, Pantheon, 1985) .

Michael Mead is a 54-year-old New Zealand comic book collector, who likes to think he can do "contextual" commentary reviews of old comics, asking: "where does this story come from?", looking at the social, political, cultural times it came from, the state of the comics industry, the personal and creative journey of the writer or artist, the personal journey of the reader as a child and as an adult. 

As part of this, he is vain enough to think he can bring new insights into Kirby's Fourth World comics and so, on the 50th anniversary of publication of each issue of Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen, Forever People, New Gods and Mister Miracle, he will publish a contextual commentary. Check out his earlier entries on this blog and tell him to stop talking so pretentiously in the third person for God's sake! 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thursday, April 1, 2021

Forever kind, forever justified

By April 1971, Nixon’s ‘Silent Majority’¹, the faceless, fatigued, flummoxed, fulcrum that would deliver the President a massive majority in the following year’s elections had had enough of the counter-culture. You can see and hear them in the opening page of Jack Kirby’s Forever People # 3, published 50 years ago today, 1 April, 1971.

Disgusted by the malleable morality of the hippie faithful and bewildered by what they perceived to be a raging, insulting, violent assault on their way of life, they were ready to strike back, to be justified, they were ripe for the words of someone like that ‘striking and vigorous dynamo of belief’, Glorious Godfrey, in his Fourth World debut: “Tell it Godfrey! Tell us how our pride is being attacked and dragged into the dust!” “It’s the others, Godfrey! Those who don’t think right!” “This is our world! They have no right to meddle with it!”

Like any Orthodoxy, left or right, when a dominant power feels threatened, it circles the wagons. It conceives its strength as a singularity, blank, closed, eyeless stares, old, threatened, unthinking, a no longer human mechanism, like extras in a scene from Fritz Lang’s Metropolis film². One ‘lefter/righter-than-thou’ view, one lord, one way of being Right.

Kirby is taking issue with what he perceives as the dangerous demagoguery of people like the Glorious Godfrey real world contemporary 1970s counterpart, the evangelist Billy Graham (check the physical resemblance³), whom Kirby believed to be anti-Semitic⁴ (White House tapes later revealed Graham making anti-Semitic comments in a 1972 conversation with Nixon, Graham would later apologise for the comments⁵). Jacob Kurtzberg/Jack Kirby invokes Adolph Hitler whom he quotes saying “That is the great thing about our movement – that these members are uniform not only in ideas, but, even, the facial expression is the same!”⁶

Glorious G invites his followers to wear metal mitres so they can be ‘justified’ and wield God-free death and pain. Godfrey’s head coverings are unlike those worn by real religious leaders. His cover the face, they deny the individuality. Kirby’s anti-life revelationist is one-part charming child salesman and one part terror pawn. His appeal is the removal of ambiguity, a God-free helper holds up a placard which says “Life will make you doubt! Anti-life will make you right!” When things get difficult and threatening, the simple black and white ‘truths’ of charlatans such as Godfrey are attractive to some people.

Forever People is a comic book about Truth and truth in conflict. Inevitably Godfrey’s justifiers and the Forever People, Mark Moonrider, Vykin the Black, Big Bear, Serifan and Beautiful Dreamer get set to fight for what’s right. The Forever People rescue their crippled child friend when the book-burning, scapegoat-sign-painting, justifiers come for him as the Nazis came for all those who weren’t ‘perfect’ Aryans.


The Forever People realise that individually they cannot hope to defeat the Apokiliptan evil and they join together as the Infinity Man, a pentavalent equivalent of the Trinity, the best of five in one person, Mark Moonrider’s leadership, Vykin the Black’s science and spirit, Big Bear’s strength, Serifan’s hand of friendship, Beautiful Dreamer’s love. Their message is togetherness too but based on openness, celebration of difference, of complexity, values that will sustain their Taaru community of peace. They are brought together as always by a laying on of hands as they blend with the holy Mother Box spirit.


The Forever People are God-filled, they lose their lives to find it, in each other. They are the repudiation of Glorious Godfrey’s arrogant, proud justifiers, they live  by a different youthful code and reject the weight of the past:

‘You, who are on the road

Must have a code, that you can live by
And so, become yourself
Because the past, is just a goodbye...

….Teach, your children well
Their father's hell, did slowly go by
And feed, them on your dreams
The one they pick's, the one you'll know by.’

(Teach your Children, Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young, live version released on the double-album Four Way Street, the week after Forever People # 3).

While Infinity Man easily deals with Godfrey, even the faithfulness of Forever is not enough to beat the ‘Master of the Holacaust’ as Darkseid, along with his left hand of darkness, Desaad, defeat Infinity as the weakness of his complex structure literally undoes him.

Darkseid’s pursuit of and belief in the anti-life equation is then laid bare in what must be one of the single greatest Kirby one-page panels in the Fourth World. Like Mantis before him, Godfrey is just another Apokoliptian Corporal, Darkseid is the Leader, the revelation, the tiger-force, the living nightmare.

In contrast, the Forever People are young, vulnerable, seemingly defeated before they have begun, on the way to Desaad’s (concentration) ‘camp of the damned.’ Yet they are not afraid. They leave behind ‘…what cannot die – love! Friendship!’ They seek not glory or power over others, connected to the Source by the Motherbox, they speak their Truth quietly, intimately, to the weakest and leave them with the strongest message, ‘Donnie, life is good! Live it for others – not against them. In that way you will always be close to us.’

In that Truth, they live forever.

‘When I find myself in times of trouble, Mother Mary comes to me

Speaking words of wisdom, let it be
And in my hour of darkness she is standing right in front of me
Speaking words of wisdom, let it be

Let it be, let it be, let it be, let it be
Whisper words of wisdom, let it be.’

(Let it Be by the Beatles, 1970)

¹Nixon coined the term in a televised November 3, 1969 speech which he wrote himself, as he attempted to name the great mass of Americans who were confused and frightened by loud, counter-cultural excesses and show North Vietnam that most Americans supported him to strengthen his ability to end the War on his own terms. According to PBS, it was his greatest speech and resulted in 80,000 supportive letters and telegrams.

²Fritz Lang’s 1927 masterpiece features in film critic Roger Ebert’s words, “….a workers' city where the clocks show 10 hours to squeeze out more work time, the workers live in tenement housing and work consists of unrelenting service to a machine…”

³Kirby modelled Glorious Godfrey on evangelist Billy Graham. In the words of Mark Evanier who worked with Kirby on the Fourth World, “Kirby was appalled at some of Graham's apocalyptic sermons which — to Jack — were more calculated to instill fear than faith, and to stampede people into service of Graham's causes.” News from Me, March 7, 2002, 9.01pm.

Kirby was not unsympathetic to religion. Kirby’s family were Conservative Jews and he went to Hebrew School. In later life he attended ‘Temple’, Temple Etz Chaim in Thousand Oaks, California, with wife Roz. Author, writer, artists’ rights advocate and Vanguard Productions founder, J. David Spurlock, befriended Kirby in 1977 and remembers (Jack Kirby – The King of Comics Facebook group, March 23, 2021) that Kirby became more and more involved and attended regular services. When Kirby died, his family requested donations for just one charity: the Jack Kirby Memorial Fund at his temple, Etz Chaim, to benefit the temple’s Ner Tamid Education and Community Center.

Barry Milavetz (Jack Kirby! Facebook group, March 23, 2021),says Kirby actively participated in services at Etz Chaimand drew bar/bat mitzvah cards for congregation members. Two of Barry’s friends had cards.

⁴Evanier says “Jack's belief — which he expressed on several occasions — that Graham and the president he counseled were both virulent anti-Semites.”

Whitehouse tapes released in 2002 contain anti-Semitic comments from both Nixon and Graham. Graham later apologised for the comments.

⁶Der Fuehrer: Hitler's Rise to Power by Konrad Heiden, 1944.

Research this article:

Comics:

-Comics Journal # 134, February 1990 (Jack Kirby interview by Gary Groth)

-Mike’s Amazing World of Comics website

-News From Me, March 7, 2002, 9.01pm (Mark Evanier’s blog)

-The Indispensable Kirby & Lee: Stuf’ Said! (Jack Kirby Collector # 75: TwoMorrows).

Popular culture:

-Politico Magazine, 21 February, 2018, ‘When Richard Nixon Used Billy Graham’ by Jeff Greenfield

-RogerEbert.com, June 2, 2010, ‘Urban Renewal on a Very Large Scale’

-There’s A Riot Going On (Peter Doggett, Canongate, 2007)

-Uncovering the Sixties (Abe Peck, Pantheon, 1985) .

Michael Mead is a 54-year-old New Zealand comic book collector, who likes to think he can do "contextual" commentary reviews of old comics, asking: "where does this story come from?", looking at the social, political, cultural times it came from, the state of the comics industry, the personal and creative journey of the writer or artist, the personal journey of the reader as a child and as an adult. 

As part of this, he is vain enough to think he can bring new insights into Kirby's Fourth World comics and so, on the 50th anniversary of publication of each issue of Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen, Forever People, New Gods and Mister Miracle, he will publish a contextual commentary. Check out his earlier entries on this blog and tell him to stop talking so pretentiously in the third person for God's sake! 

 

 

  

Tuesday, March 16, 2021

Through fire and rain, free

Take my voice, take my heart, take my guts, I will still rise above you and defeat you. Scott Free as Mister Miracle in Mister Miracle # 2 (May – June 1971), published 50 years ago today, 16 March, 1971, invites death to rip him open, defiant in his vulnerability, like Jesus in red tights. His escapes are like executions, as he places himself on the Whipping Post, re-experiencing all the emotions of an abused Apokoliptian child, the desperation, the helplessness, the inverted sense of responsibility, welcoming death as a peace offering.


‘Sometimes I feel, sometimes I feel,
Like I've been tied to the whippin' post.
Tied to the whippin' post, tied to the whippin' post.
Good Lord, I feel like I'm dyin'…’

(Whipping Post, Allman Brothers on Live at the Fillmore East, live version recorded 13.3.1971)

Scott pushes the boundaries to their sharpest edge because he knows that the evil he faces will not rest until it has exploited every last facet of his personality, every chink, every kindness, to defeat him. He must be ready, he must be his strongest, his most active, the ‘madness’ of his more and more dangerous training is as much about building inner resilience, belief, love, as it is about creating technical skills. He’ll need everything because he is up against Granny.



Granny Goodness, in her debut, is a reptilian, lizard-mother dominatrix with her sickly, frightening bug-eyed toy boys.  She ostensibly hunts Scott because he was the first, and at this stage only, escapee from her terror orphanage. The deeper reason is that Granny is angry with Scott because he does not love her with the kind of distorted devotion that abusive tyrants prize, based on a degraded form of loyalty, bowing down to the one who hurts you, losing control of yourself, sacrificed to the unquenchable ego of someone to whom too much is never enough. Like the March 1971 debut Album from Alice Cooper, Granny Goodness’ key performance indicator, is Love It To Death.¹

Oberon asks Scott about his past and Scott tells the small Kirby avatar how he escaped, through the cosmic womb of the Boomtube and the Mother Mary Motherbox, birthed into a much better world than the Apokiliptic one he left: “…it can be a way of escape! – And I took it! I had to survive as an individual – as myself!’’

So much of Mister Miracle is the individual’s journey, the creation of an identity that is resilient, that will stay in shape, that will not buckle under intense pressure. Like a comics version of James Taylor, Scott has been through extremes of experience, been pushed mentally and emotionally far beyond normal limits, through fire and rain, from an abyss to a place of strength in serenity, in gentleness but with a lived-in, purposeful vision that comes from knowing himself at a young age when all seemed lost. Scott, like Taylor ‘….references roads travelled and untravelled, to fears spoken and left unsaid – reaches a level of both intimacy and emotion rarely achieved….”²

Kirby’s hero reflects the changing concerns of the times and the way these concerns were expressed in popular culture. The braggadocio of loud guitar-dominated group Rock, the mass demonstrations of the Movement to End the War in Vietnam, the overwhelming explosion of different voices, is gradually replaced by the individual needing the time and space to process what just happened. To hear their own voice, distinct from what Old Mole called  an increasingly shrill ‘more-left-than-thou’ ideological group-think.³

The question is not ‘where are we now?’ but ‘where am I?’ 

For Scott that is down in the X-Pit, the technological torture chamber as he and Oberon seem destined for defeat by Granny. He triumphs (of course!) because throughout his ordeals, he backs himself, his knowledge of the machine and his faith in transforming negative forces to positive, anti-life to life. He stops what seems to be a huge and overwhelming evil and makes it small.

Scott Free is on a mission of kindness, of victory over death, of beauty from pain. He wants to free himself and others from the ultimate trap, not the external evil of villainous death machines created by his enemies but the self-imposed doubts and fears that come from within. Pour out your love, pour out your belief, pour out your hope. You will be your own miracle.

‘Oh, I've seen fire and I've seen rain

I've seen sunny days that I thought would never end
I've seen lonely times when I could not find a friend
But I always thought that I'd see you again.’

(Fire and Rain, James Taylor, from the Album Sweet Baby James, released 1 February, 1970)

Footnotes:

¹Love it To Death was released on March 9, 1971. Pictured below is the original cover which features Cooper using his thumb to appear like a penis. Warners later censored this in later pressings of the album.


²From Time Magazine, March 1, 1971, pg 34. James Taylor may have made sweet-sounding music but it came from a lot of pain. He lost a friend to suicide, became a heroin addict and ended up in a mental hospital, by the time he was 20.

³From Uncovering the Sixties, pg 256. Writers at the counter-cultural Old Mole magazine, lamented the balkanisation of the Movement, saying in a November1970 issue, “As long as we are caught in the competitive cycle of being ‘more left than thou’, we will keep getting further out and more unable to communicate with most Americans.”

Research this article: 

Comics:

-Comics Journal # 134, February 1990 (Jack Kirby interview by Gary Groth).

-Mike’s Amazing World of Comics website

-The Indispensable Kirby & Lee: Stuf’ Said! (Jack Kirby Collector # 75: TwoMorrows).

Popular culture:

-There’s A Riot Going On (Peter Doggett, Canongate, 2007)

-Time Magazine, March 1, 1971

-Uncovering the Sixties (Abe Peck, Pantheon, 1985) .

Michael Mead is a 54-year-old New Zealand comic book collector, who likes to think he can do "contextual" commentary reviews of old comics, asking: "where does this story come from?", looking at the social, political, cultural times it came from, the state of the comics industry, the personal and creative journey of the writer or artist, the personal journey of the reader as a child and as an adult. 

As part of this, he is vain enough to think he can bring new insights into Kirby's Fourth World comics and so, on the 50th anniversary of publication of each issue of Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen, Forever People, New Gods and Mister Miracle, he will publish a contextual commentary. Check out his earlier entries on this blog and tell him to stop talking so pretentiously in the third person for God's sake! 

 

 

 

 

  

Black Power goes skiing

It would be tempting to simply see the Black Racer as Jack Kirby doing the Silver Surfer at DC but Vietnam veteran William Walker/Black Race...