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Year of the Artist, Day 2: Jack Kirby, Part 2 – The Strange World of Your Dreams #2

10-04-2013 12;41;27PM (2)

Every day this year, I will be examining the artwork on a single comic book story. Today’s artist is Jack Kirby, and the story is “The Girl in the Grave!” from The Strange World of Your Dreams #2, which has a cover date of September/October 1952. These scans are from the collection of the four issues of this series from Yoe Books and IDW, which was published in 2013. Enjoy!

As I noted when I reviewed this, The Strange World of Your Dreams is an odd comic, in which several artists illustrated supposedly “real” dreams sent in by readers, as well as some other things that struck their fancy. Kirby and Joe Simon didn’t do all the art, but they were basically the art directors, and it’s full of interesting creators from the 1950s. Kirby and Simon did, however, draw this story, so let’s get to it!

10-04-2013 12;38;20PM

This is the first panel in the story, and it sets up the young lady’s dream. Kirby doesn’t have room for a splash page, so he just gives us one panel. Kirby drew this about 10 years after yesterday’s entry, and one thing we can notice is a slightly rougher inking line, even though I’m not sure if that’s Kirby or Simon. Notice the spot blacks in the mist, making it more sinister, and the knotted tree forming a border on the right side of the panel, mirroring the gravestone on the left that helps focus our eye on the prone woman. Everything is tilted to the right, which moves us over the panel the “correct” way. Note the weird angel on the gravestone – I guess it’s a sculpture, but doesn’t it look real? It never shows up again in the story, so who knows if Kirby and Simon had any plans for it.

Then we meet our two principals – Richard Temple is the recurring character in this series, as he’s the “doctor” to whom people send letters with their dreams, and he interprets them. In this case, he’s bumped by the young woman, who spills coffee on him. He notices that she seems sleep-deprived, and he asks her what the problem is. When he introduces himself, it turns out she was heading to his office with a problem, which leads to this sequence:

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We see here a new Kirby template and one we saw yesterday. Richard Temple is, of course, a good-looking white man (with really creepy fingers, as we can see in Panel 1), and he could easily be mistaken for Reed Richards. Madelon Roberts is the typical Kirby female, with the hair curled in that particular manner and the high cheekbones. We saw this yesterday with the Green Sorceress, and a decade later, this is still Kirby’s beauty ideal.

Madelon tells Richard about her dream, which involves her going underground in a cemetary, underneath her own grave! She finds this:

10-04-2013 12;41;27PM

If you thought dreaming about bookkeeping was boring, think again! Notice how Kirby makes sure we’re always moving where he wants us to. In Panel 1, the smoke from the candles blows toward Panel 2. Madelon looks down in Panel 2, directing us that way, and in Panel 3, she’s looking to the right, which is where the water pours into the chamber from. In Panel 4, we once again see the spot blacks in the mist and water, making it more menacing. The inks are generally rougher in this series, and here they make a strong impression. Madelon is not in a pleasant place.

Richard interprets the dream as Madelon’s anxiety over starting a new job, and all is well in the world. Let’s leave with this panel:

10-04-2013 12;43;17PM

If that’s not Reed Richards, I’ll eat my hat.

Tomorrow: It’s Kirby doing superheroes! But not the superhero you might expect, at least not yet! What could it be? Be here to find out!

It’s a little early for archives, but they’re still there!

11 Comments

I’m gonna guess … Green Arrow!

Hoosier X: Ha! Good guess, but not quite. I don’t own his Green Arrow stuff – but the comic I’m looking at is from the 1950s, so you were close!

The Strange World of Your Dreams is one of Kirby’s best and one of the most underrated comics of all time.

The spot blacks in the smoke… prototype Kirby Krackle?

CLB: Ah, good point. Probably!

Hopefully the next installment is Simon and Kirby’s “The Fly.” He’s one of my favourite characters. I picked up a #2 issue at a Con a few years ago for $5! They had no idea what they were selling!

… Although Simon and Kirby’s 50′s Fighting American was fairly groundbreaking too. I reckon it has to be one of those two. Challengers of the Unknown’s not really superheroes IMO.

Marcius Fabiani

January 3, 2014 at 2:54 am

Great series, lots of illuminating insights. Hope you do some posts on Mignola, perhaps making some connections between Mike and The King — there is so much Kirby in those Hellboy stories! Thanks!

might not expect thinking maybe jimmy olson or his start of kamdie the last boy on earth. and love how the guy just tells the woman go get some sleep any way just nerves. which is was for a the job

I also thought the black spots bore a similarity to Kirby Krackle (which should be a breakfast cereal!). The blobbier form is definitely more creepy than cutting-edge science-fiction.

I also like how dwarfed she seems by the office furniture in the panels where she’s sitting at the desk. It adds a nightmarish quality to the image as she seems too small for the furniture even though the proportions seem normal.

Marcius: Your wish is my command! I will say, though, that I did Mignola’s evolution toward the artist we know and love today, so there’s a lot of early stuff. It’s coming!

chad: Right now, I’m doing early Kirby, so no stuff from the 1970s. Later this year I’ll probably get back into that Kirby, but I didn’t want to overload on one artist too early!

Derek: Good point about the furniture. I wonder if it’s because the rising water makes her ball up just a little, making her smaller. It’s a cool effect, though.

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