A deluxe edition of Sky Masters of the Space Force by Jack Kirby and Wally Wood is now crowdfunding on Zoop as a hardcover edition, which compiles the complete set of out-of-print Sunday pages. With the help of the Jack Kirby Museum and Research Center, the deluxe edition even goes as far as to contain extras, for example, 20 original color guides created by Kirby himself, a large section of original art, and even articles from acclaimed experts. 

Recently, The Beat had the opportunity to catch up with the crowdfunding campaign over email. We asked about the decision to run this campaign through the crowdfunding service Zoop and how the collaboration between the museum and the research center came about!

Sky Masters of the Space Force Cover in black and white

Diego Higuera: What inspired the decision to launch this campaign and make Kirby’s work available through crowdfunding?

Kirby Museum: The Jack Kirby Museum is a small operation with limited resources. Crowdfunding, really, was the best way to move forward.

Higuera: How did the collaboration with the Jack Kirby Museum and Research Center come about for this crowdfunding campaign?

Kirby Museum: The folks at Zoop have been approaching the Kirby Museum for a while, mostly stopping by the Museum’s booth at conventions. We are excited to be able to take this step forward with them. We liked that Zoop is extremely enthusiastic about working with us on a relatively unknown Jack Kirby work and that they are similarly scaled. We are working with them one-on-one.

Higuera: What role do Tom [Kraft] and Rand [Hoppe], the President and Director of the museum, play in the campaign? What insights can they offer about Kirby’s history and legacy?

Kirby Museum: Museum trustees Rand and Tom are directly involved in the campaign, with help from Trustee Mike Cecchini, too. Rand assisted Ferran Delgado when he was producing the first edition of this book, which was nominated for an Eisner Award. Ferran’s been providing suggestions about how to improve this edition since he’s had five years of reviews and reflection. Rand is also making the t-shirt, sticker and giclee designs. Tom converted Ferran’s design files and reproofed the text of the whole book. Mike will be helping with the final copy edit. The combination of acquiring the English language rights for Ferran’s incredible work and the first edition’s scarcity made the idea of crowdfunding a 2nd edition a natural first project.

Jack Kirby was the ultimate comic book creator. There’s a good reason he was called the King: his wife Roz put a crown on his gravestone. He knew that great stories combined with impactful art were the foundation of great comics. His development of panel-to-panel action and page-to-page continuity, using techniques informed by comic strip artists like Milton Caniff, is groundbreaking and so embedded in comic book language that we often forget that it was Kirby who brought it about. Will Eisner and Jack Cole were innovating at the beginning, too. Kirby’s work for Marvel in the 1960s and subsequent work at DC in the 1970s remains his greatest legacy of stories, characters, and art. His personal interest in welcoming fans to his and Roz’s home in Thousand Oaks, California, and encouragement of comic conventions like that in San Diego made him a father figure to comics culture beyond the printed page.

Sky Masters Color Pages

Higuera: How does the book capture the historical context of the 1950s-1960s and contribute to preserving the legacy of Jack Kirby’s work?

Kirby Museum: The strip narrates, with a realistic approach, the adventures of Major Sky Masters during the early days of space exploration in the late 1950s, just as a new front opened in the Cold War between the U.S. and U.S.S.R.: a frenzied space race. Sky Masters is the missing link in Kirby’s work between the Challengers of the Unknown for DC/National and the Fantastic Four for Marvel.

Higuera: Are there more plans or projects in the pipeline for the museum’s press division?

Kirby Museum: There are! We have a significant digital archive of Kirby’s art and are in regular contact with writers and scholars who are eager to produce with us. Unfortunately, I don’t want to say anymore, but, hey, these projects will be about Jack Kirby, so they’ll be AWESOME.

For more information, check out the crowdfunding campaign here!