DIAL B for BLOG
NEW ISSUE ARCHIVES BOARD FAQ LINKS CONTACT ADVERTISE
 
New Blurbs
Jack KirbyTHE BLURBS OF JACK KIRBY

Jack Kirby's unequaled contributions to comics have been well documented, but the blockbuster BLURBS Jack wrote for the covers of his DC "FOURTH WORLD" books have never been discussed at length --- until now, that is. Activate BOOM TUBE!

As the tumultuous 1960s came to a close, comic book nation experienced a sudden, massive upheaval of its own when long-time Marvel artist JACK KIRBY suddenly moved to DC. Kirby had worked for DC before, of course, but he had not done anything for the company in more than a decade. He was too busy creating the Marvel universe.

Fans had no idea what "The King" was going to work on at DC. Everyone was expecting something BIG, but no one was quite prepared for the massive scope and breathtaking originality of Kirby's new DC work. Whoever said "There's nothing NEW under the sun" never met Jack Kirby...
New Blurbs

Super DC ad designer Ira Schnapp had been forced out of the company in 1968, and the moment he left, the era of brilliant, custom-designed DC house ads ended forever. Ads formerly custom-tailored for specific individual stories were replaced by blurbs containing generic banalities such as "More for your money, and better!" But Kirby's ads were different. The initial ad for Kirby's upcoming books (shown below) was a marked improvement, and more than a bit shocking to longtime DC readers.

It didn't look anything like DC's unconscionably boring house ads of the time. It didn't show any titles or characters. Kirby's name wasn't even mentioned, except to the extent that in comics, "The Great One" could ONLY refer to a small handful of creators, and Kirby was certainly among them. The word from high is...

New Blurbs
A lot to absorb in a single ad! What the heck was a "Boom Tube"? And why were the events it heralded "so powerful in concept -- it's almost terrifying"? The Kirby ad below provides a look at the TITLES and LOGOS of the new books, all presented under the unifying theme of "KIRBY'S FOURTH WORLD."

Mark Evanier adds, "The logos for FOREVER PEOPLE and MISTER MIRACLE were created in New York. I'm about 99% certain that Gaspar Saladino did the latter and pretty sure he did the former, as well. The logo for NEW GODS was someone's (perhaps Gaspar's) tracing of a logo that Jack himself whipped up by cutting letters out of an ad he saw in some magazine. He saw this lettering and thought it would be perfect, and what's more, it had all the letters necessary to spell out NEW GODS. So he cut them out, pasted them up and sent them to New York with a note that said something like, "I'd like the logo to be something like this." What emerged was very close to the pasted-up lettering, if not identical. I never had the chance to compare them side-by-side, but I don't recall any difference."

(P.S. The "Jimmy Olsen" logo, seen in the ad below, was created by Ira Schnapp.)

New Blurbs

THIS was the "concept so powerful it's almost terrifying" -- Kirby's Fourth World! Four separate titles, each showing a different aspect of a vast, interplanetary war between gods. Two planets, the eden-like New Genesis and the wretched Apokolips, using earth as their battleground! But where did the term "Fourth World" come from?
Jack Kirby
According to Mark Evanier, "Steve Sherman — who worked with me as Jack's assistant at the time — recalls Jack coming up with it as a variation on the term, 'The Third World,' as used in a socio-economic context. Apparently, Jack also told a few folks that he considered the material his fourth universe in comics. Personally... I think it was just a term that popped into Jack's head and he liked the sound of it. Later on, he came up with several different retro-active explanations."

Whatever the phrase's original meaning, it has since become a blanket term for the titles relating the cosmic tale of Jack Kirby's earthbound god-war. At the center of the conflict was ORION, pictured below in Kirby's original 1968 concept sketch for the character. Kirby pencilled it, Don Heck inked it and then Jack colored it. (Note the photographic eyes, which would later be replaced by drawn eyes.)

New Blurbs

How to encapsulate Kirby's triumph into a single, powerful cover blurb? When Kirby came to DC, he was the EDITOR as well as writer and artist on all his new titles. To a large degree, he called the shots. Kirby decided that the cover of his first "Fourth World" story would be graced with the immortal blurb seen below:
New Blurbs

Kirby's grand "EPIC FOR OUR TIMES" was originally scheduled to debut in SHOWCASE #94. For the cover, Kirby's Orion concept sketch was placed over a hand-drawn star-field background, a line of copy was added above the logo, and the blurb shown above was placed in the lower right corner:
New Blurbs

That's right -- the first NEW GODS story was scheduled to be a typical Showcase-style "prologue" that would lead into the first issue of the NEW GODS own title. Ironically, the story itself begins with an "Epilogue" about the death of the "old gods," and the final page (pictured below) says PROLOGUE in huge letters (by JOHN COSTANZA).

NG1
So, how come the first new gods story never ran in Showcase? Mark Evanier explains, "Jack objected to this. He felt that readers would not commit to an 'epic' that was being offered to them on a trial basis, so DC cancelled Showcase and a book called NEW GODS appeared on the schedule in its place."
New Blurbs
The DC House ad above shows the reworked cover of the first issue of NEW GODS, complete with the "EPIC FOR OUR TIMES" blurb, still in lower right corner. On the book's final cover, shown below, the slogan "KIRBY IS HERE!" has been added at the top of the cover, and, for some reason, the "EPIC" blurb has been slightly reworded ("AS" changed to "READ") and split into two sections moved far apart from each other.

When the cover to NEW GODS #1 was being planned, Jack sent the drawing to DC. Someone in New York, probably Jack Adler, re-colored the image, more or less following Kirby's coloring from the Orion presentation piece. Below is the final cover of NEW GODS #1, February-March 1971.
New Blurbs

AND NOW...
New Blurbs