DC Actually Hired Jack Kirby to Draw Superman, Then Erased His Work

When legendary Marvel artist Jack Kirby jumped ship to draw Superman, DC Comics edited out his work – for the worst possible corporate reason.

When legendary comic book artist Jack Kirby was hired to work on Superman titles, many fans in the comic book industry were thrilled that the man who helped build Marvel from the ground up would bring his talents to the Distinguished Competition. DC and Marvel have never seen eye-to-eye, so an artist like Kirby jumping ship to the other side of the industry was seen as a massive event. Unfortunately, a combination of Kirby’s own aspirations and corporate decisions resulted in DC stunningly erasing Kirby’s work on, of all things, Superman’s face.

Dissatisfied with Marvel management and Stan Lee’s insistence on taking credit for most of (if not all) of his artist partner’s contributions to the story and characters of multiple titles, Jack Kirby decided to leave Marvel Comics in 1970 and work for DC. The editorial staff planned to give Kirby any title he wanted, but Kirby did not want to oust any existing creative team from their books, and thus chose a book without a regular team: Superman’s Pal Jimmy Olsen. The series sold very well in the 60s and 70s, and working on the title would allow Kirby to introduce his Fourth World characters in the series before creating their spin-off title. Unfortunately, according to his production assistant Mark Evanier, Kirby’s plans were continually meddled with – for numerous reasons.


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Jack Kirby’s signature style was filled with angles and somewhat severe faces with wide-eyed expressions. This worked well for Marvel and their “realistic” approach when it came to superheroes, but DC felt that Kirby’s pass on Superman’s face did not line up with the classic Golden Age style of the character (plus, Kirby had some difficulty recreating Superman’s chest symbol). In a stunning move, DC decided to use artists Murphy Anderson and Mike Royer to erase and redraw Superman’s face in every Kirby-drawn panel in the book – without count Kirby.

When Jack Kirby inevitably discovered DC’s deception, he said nothing to the editors – but in private, he felt insulted. To make matters worse, his Fourth World books were not the smash hit he desired. Editors were dissatisfied with Kirby’s work, and the artist eventually returned to Marvel in 1976 (and many of his Fourth World ideas would later be found in the Eternals series). While his work survives in most of his Superman titles, panels with an unedited Superman face drawn by Jack Kirby are quite rare.

Jack Kirby’s contributions to the DC Universe are many; the character Darkseid is perhaps the most threatening DC villain in the company’s history, and the rest of the New Gods would become very important characters in their own right. It was heavily rumored that Kirby’s work was deliberately sabotaged to show DC fans that Kirby was not needed to make the company succeed. In any case, Jack Kirby’s work on Superman titles still stands today … just not the hero’s face.

Next: Batman Can Be A Better Symbol Of Hope Than Superman (And DC Knows It)

Source: newsfromme.com

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