Saturday, June 28, 2014

Kirby's Legacy Lives On

[Starting to run out of comics-commentary "reprints" from my defunct Kracalactaka blog. Here's one from 6 August 2010 on a tribute to Jack Kirby in the pages of Alan Moore and Rick Veitch's Supreme.] 

I was reading Alan Moore's wonderful revamp of Rob Liefield's Supreme last night and came across a page by artist Rick Veitch that demonstrates Kirby's influence.  Of course, it's not particularly a surprise that this page is Kirbeyesque: the issue from which it's taken (issue #6 of Supreme: The Return) is an explicit homage to Kirby's lifework.  Nevertheless, Veitch's work here is more than a pastiche of Kirby's style, but a testament to his mastery of Kirby's layout techniques.  The page above is from a sequence in the comic where Supreme encounters a cigar-chomping "imagineer" who prefer to go by the sobriquet "King."

There's so much to love about this page.  Matt Yackey and Digital Broome (the colorists) use the traditional "color spectrum" to generate an "X" layout for the page: panels 1 and 4 form one stroke of "X," giving us natural colors brown and green bounded by "cool" colors violet and blue, while panels 2 and 3 use the "warm" colors yellow and red to form the other stroke.  Veitch strengthens this second stroke with the motion lines in panel 2, diagonals replicated by the Kirby krackle cigar in panel 3.

Veitch also uses the "Z" layout we saw in the Kirby page I analyzed in my last blog entry.  Supreme (drawn by Veitch in the 1990s Image style customary to the character) navigates his way across the four panel layout.  In panel 1, he flies away from us and to our right, drawing the eyes to panel 2--where he turns toward us and flies down and left to panel 3.  In panel 3, Supreme turns again, still facing us, but this time flying down and right into panel 4.  There he ends the page pointing up and to the right, with his back turned to us: a pose basically identical to the one he assumed in panel 1.

At the same time, Veitch makes Supreme progressively larger in each panel, an increase in size that heightens the Kirbyesque sense of motion on the page--a nice contrast to the more static quadrants of the "King"'s face.  Even there, though, there is motion as each quadrant shifts in color and texture from one of the four classical elements to another (earth to air to fire to water).

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