Tuesday, 22 April 2014

Was Star Wars based on Jack Kirby’s Fourth World?



There are, it has to be said, some striking similarities between the two. New Gods #1 was published in 1971, Star Wars came out 6 years and 3 months later in 1977. Here’s a  few facts – 

The FOURTH WORLD is a space opera, a Greek tragedy played out among the stars with epic scope, an overshadowing war caused by previous events, complicated families & lots of zooming around in space.
STAR WARS is a completely different space opera, a Greek tragedy played out among the stars with epic scope, an overshadowing war caused by previous events, complicated families & lots of zooming around in space.

The FOURTH  WORLD has “The Source” a mysterious almost religious energy. Characters use the Source to draw power from.
STAR WARS has the completely different “The Force” a mysterious almost religious energy. Characters “Use the Force” to draw power.

The FOURTH WORLD has a  hero, Orion, who is accompanied by a happy-go-lucky, reckless companion called Lightray and trained by Highfather, an old man with incredible powers.
STAR WARS  has a completely different hero, Luke, who is accompanied by a happy-go-lucky, reckless companion called Han Solo and trained by Obi-Wan Kenobi, an old man with incredible powers.

Darkseid and Darth Vader - separated at birth?

FOURTH WORLD’s main villain is Darkseid (pronounced Dark Side) whose real son was brought up by one of the good guys.
STAR WARS main villain is the completely different Darth Vader (who uses the Dark Side) whose real son was brought up by one of the good guys.

Apokolips and the Death Star - separated at birth?


The FOURTH WORLD has Apokolips, an incredibly oppressive planet-sized regime watched over by hordes of masked soldiers. Basically it looks like a planetoid with big circles on the surface.
STAR WARS has the completely different Death Star, an incredibly oppressive planet-sized regime watched over by hordes of masked soldiers. Basically it looks like a completely different planetoid with completely different big circles on the surface.

The FOURTH WORLD has “Mother Box” an electronic device that communicates by making “ping ping” noises.
STAR WARS has the completely different R2-D2 a robot that communicates by making ping ping, beep & whistle noises.

Jack Kirby’s the FOURTH WORLD has great character names like Mark Moonrider,
STAR WARS has completely different great character names like…. Luke Skywalker.

I could go on. Was Star Wars based on Jack Kirby’s Fourth World

Kirby says - Don’t ask! Decide for yourself! May the Source be with you.

For more info, see a video of me talking about this at a BettaKultcha event.


....and to the person who commented saying Orion looks nothing like Luke, you were looking at a drawing of him with his helmet on. Here's Orion without his helmet next to a photo of Luke, you decide....


Tuesday, 15 April 2014

The Thin Black Line – Perspectives on Vince Colletta


The Thin Black Line – Perspectives on Vince Colletta

The tired Colletta clich├ęs are – “you either love him or hate him”, “he polarizes opinion”. You hate him for ignoring Kirby’s pencils and leaving out stuff or you love him for his fine feathered work on Thor, you hate him for not caring enough about the art and employing “assistants”, or you love him for the letter he wrote to Marvel when Jim Shooter left.


I certainly started out in the anti-Colletta camp, a few years ago I even took a side swipe at Vinnie on a BBC blog I wrote –

I met a man called Hans today. Hans looks like Jack Kirby drew him. He has a large head, a brow overhang that juts way over his eyebrows leaving his eyes in permanent shade, a thickset square jaw, wide mouth and hands like industrial shovels. He must have been inked by Vince Coletta though as his left thumb is missing.”

Now, as well as learning to spell his name correctly, I’ve learned to appreciate him slightly more, but I’d actually say I still agree with all those opinions above to some extent, deleting-bad, Thor-good, assistants-bad, funny letter-good, so I approached the book with mixed feelings and an open mind.


It’s quite a slim volume, you’ll easily finish it in a couple of sittings, and there’s not really a massive amount of biographical detail, some interesting quotes from his family I hadn't seen before, lots of online stuff I had seen before. Art examples, and decent panel comparisons, most pages have an example panel or two, examples good and bad from across the span of his career, so giving a fair and rounded view, which I liked. Not a hatchet job that just laughed at his lazy deleting, or a love letter that ignored the negatives, it was balanced by examples of his work that showed he could be great when he had time, and gave some insights into why he often didn’t have time.


The book is split up more or less chronologically, covering stages in his career. The early chapters and the ones covering his time as art director for DC probably interested me most, nothing really new in the Kirby section, and this is a personal bias, but I would have loved to see a more detailed breakdown of what exactly happened between him and Kirby, it’s covered, but I wanted nitty gritty detail.


The titbits of information from actress and model ladyfriends are fascinating, as are the quotes from his family and insights into how his massive mortgage overshadowed his life. His family mafia connections one generation removed that he played up, and the affection with which just about everyone who worked with him has.


If you’re expecting a biography, this isn’t it, if you’re expecting a thick coffee-table book devoted to Colletta art, this isn’t it either, but neither of those things exist, so this is the best you’ll get for now, it’s a collection of anecdotes collected via phone, email, and from online forums, peppered liberally with art examples. That’s not a criticism of the research, nothing wrong with getting your source material from phones calls and emails, the title of the book isn’t misleading, it’s exactly what this is – people’s perspectives on Colletta. I’d just have liked to see more personal information on the man himself, more biographical details we don’t know, more photos from his life, more pages. In saying that though, even a hardened comic lover who has spent the last 40 years obsessing over Colletta’s inks will find something in here to enjoy, and it’s a great springboard to use as a way to open up a fresh debate with any Coletta hating/loving friends you have.


Most disappointing omission is Jim Shooter, he declined to comment on the book because he felt it would not give Colletta a fair shout, he was wrong, it does, and it left me with a renewed admiration for the man. The best bits, like the letter he wrote to Marvel and most of the Kirby panel comparisons, I'd already seen, so that probably lessened my enjoyment, still well worth reading though, I'd recommend it. An absolute must buy if you’re a Colletta fan, but also highly recommended if you’re not, maybe you’ll learn to appreciate Vinnie for what he was, the most prolific inker of all time, the man who discovered Frank Miller, a complicated man who met his deadlines even if it meant staying up all night in the poolhouse, working till he dropped, because of that he cut corners and despite that produced some work that was outstanding.


Should you buy it? You know what Kirby said –“Don’t ask.” It's available now from TwoMorrows publishing.


Thursday, 3 April 2014

Comic Lettering, Logos and Titles

Infinite Timelines Primetime Paradox - MC Wyman / Russell Payne

The very latest Infinite Timelines commission has been posted on ComicArtFans! This is Infinite Timelines: Primetime Paradox Chapter 11, just one of literally hundreds of commissions the incomparable Aidan “Re-Legion” Lacy has posted. MC Wyman pencilled and inked this one, I did logos, titles and added the lightening background.

If you need any comicbook lettering, logos, titles or digital manipulation, get in touch. Price depends on the volume and complexity of the job. I’ll have availability to take on larger projects from 31st July 2014.

Plenty of examples of my work can be found by searching under Russell Payne or Russ Payne on the Comicartfans website.