Dave Itzkoff at the NY Times uncovers the story of a vault of 600 pages of unpublished Jack Kirby concept art. After leaving DC in the ’70s, the King went on to work in animation for Ruby-Spears through the ’80s, designing such things as Thundarr the Barbabian, among others. But so prolific was Kirby’s imagination that he just kept churning out concepts and new characters, whether anyone wanted them or not. The art for these unseen projects sat in some boxes at the Ruby Spears vaults…until now.
Now, a partnership between that studio’s founders, Joe Ruby and Ken
Spears, and Sid and Marty Krofft, the longtime children’s entertainment producers (“H. R. Pufnstuf,” “Land of the Lost”), is planning to revive these unseen Kirby characters in as many forms as possible. It’s a proposition that faces challenges as the studios scour the landscape for the next comic book or cartoon character they can transform into a franchise, but also one that has piqued the interest of some powerful Hollywood players.
While the ideas may be ones that no one has ever heard of, there’s got to be gold in them thar hills somewhere. For instance…
A female Indiana Jones accompanied by a midget magician on a unicycle and a cowboy with giant hands? It writes itself!
“Roxie! Look out! My unicycle has become stuck in this molten alloy and I can’t move!”
“Don’t worry, L’il Mojo, Big Hand Luke will fan out the fires with his massive mitts!”
This one should be rennamed…”The Turban Squad!” But our favorite…
“Nekrona, hurry! You’ve got to contain that floating skull before it grabs the last Jelly Filled Munchkin!”
“I’m trying, Dr. Zadge! But its chattering teeth are disrupting my spell!”
…etc., etc., etc.
It’s infectious. Truly, The King looms overs us all; we’re blanching midgets in the light of his titanic imagination.
Heidi MacDonald is the founder and editor in chief of The Beat. In the past, she worked for Disney, DC Comics, Fox and Publishers Weekly. She can be heard regularly on the More To Come Podcast. She likes coffee, cats and noble struggle.