I began writing this book in 2007, which seems an awfully long time ago, now. It began as a hobby that soon grew into a passion. As I shared my early chapters with interested readers, the passion spread, and I received a generous offer from Dave Sim to edit the text. Dave’s contributions were, as are the contributions of any fine editor, invaluable. Dave had an uncanny knack for figuring out what I was trying to say, and then demonstrating a better, and more clearly concise way of saying it. I took his comments and criticisms to heart, and made many sensitive edits based on his particular and often counter-viewpoint. And although he disagreed with much of what I had to say (no big surprise there, really), he did confide to me that By Jingo! was the book Jack would have wanted written about his work. On that point, I hope you’ll agree.
Volume One contains chapters on Forever People #11, Demon #1, Kamandi 1-20, OMAC, and Our Fighting Forces (The Losers), with an optional chapter on Demon 8-13. Volume Two, if ever written, would contain commentary on the Fourth World Books, Captain Victory, and Silver Star.
As the chapters began to take their final forms, I started making enquiries about publishing. The fact that it is now 2011, and I’m addressing you good readers on a web page, tells you all you need to know about how that little endeavor went.
There is a happy coda, however. A thirty page excerpt, comprising of selected passages from the first four chapters of By Jingo! is appearing in John Rovnak’s massive comics anthology, Panel To Panel: Exploring Words and Pictures (www.paneltopanel.net), which is awaiting it’s first print to order run .
In the meantime, to celebrate DC’s serendipitous release of the latest Jack kirby Omnibus, featuring Kamandi, 1-20, I have decided to post my complete chapter on the Last Boy On Earth, which also happens to cover Kamandi 1-20. How convenient is that? My thesis is unexpected: I hypothesize that Kamandi 1-20 can be read as a complete graphic novel, and that it is, as presented, in the classical sense, a tragedy.
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The other important aspect to By Jingo!’s composition is my use of nostalgia. I had the advantage of reading Kirby’s work hot off the presses in the 1970s, and I felt it was important for me to convey what reading Kirby was like within the world as I experienced it at that time. Younger readers may not be able to fully appreciate what it was like to encounter “The Pact”, or “Himon”, in 1971, and how shocking those two particular stories were (and remain), just as I can’t fully appreciate how King Kong sent audiences screaming from the theatres in 1933. True readers of comics know how special they can be. In the 1970s, Kirby’s work was most special to me, and remains so to this day. I hope this chapter is able to offer you a glimpse into that special time and place and, more importantly, into the special world and mind of Jack kirby.
Your comments and criticisms are welcome. If you would like to read further chapters, I may be persuadable.