Archive for Do Anything

Bring Me the Head of Jack Kirby!


Do Anything, Vol. 1: Jack Kirby Ripped my Flesh by Warren Ellis

By now, I think we’re all aware that Warren Ellis, in addition to being a whiz-bang comics writer, is a heck of a prose stylist, too, right? I suspect we’ve read enough columns and op-eds and blog posts to recognize that he writes big, audacious, funny, offensive, brilliant stuff. And this is probably my favorite thing he’s ever written.

Ellis writes (wrote? will write?) a (semi-)regular column at Bleeding Cool called “Do Anything,” and this is the collection of a large chunk of those columns, edited, condensed down, and refined. It boils down to less than 50 pages, and it retails for six bucks, and this is why you want it in your life.

Ellis takes, as the central image that his essays are built around, the idea that he has on his desk the robot head of Jack Kirby, chewing on his cigars, periodically spitting out some bit of wisdom, and sometimes merging its consciousness with Phillip K. Dick or architect Philippe Druillet or some other artist. And that gives him the opportunity to discuss comics… and everything else in the universe.

From Jack Kirby, Ellis ranges over to the visual influences of “Star Wars,” musician Anthony Braxton, Frank Zappa, Archie Goodwin, Spain Rodriguez, Alex Toth, Brian Eno, Alan Moore, Robert Fripp, David Bowie, Takashi Miike, Jim Steranko, and so very many more.

In the midst of a discussion about DC having another artist draw Superman’s face in Kirby’s Fourth World comics, Ellis ponders how other artists, creators, and musicians would draw Superman’s head — Robert Crumb, Shary Flenniken, John Lennon, Emory Douglass of the Black Panthers, and Spain Rodriguez. He wonders what comics would be like if Kirby’s influence on popular culture would’ve been strong enough to bring other artists and intellectuals into the industry. He shows how Kirby influenced art and culture, how he interacted with people you never thought he interacted with, how he remade comics and molded history in both vast and mundane ways.

Verdict: Thumbs up. This is a surprisingly thin book — again, less than 50 pages, you can read it in a day if you work at it, or spread it out over a few days if you wanna take your time — but for such a small book, it’s absolutely packed to the gills with info and opinion and analysis and so dadgum much great stuff.

You should read this with Wikipedia open on your computer. You’ll need it to look up all the names Ellis drops — there are a bunch of artists, both comics and otherwise, who will be unfamiliar to you, and you’ll probably want to get acquainted with them.

Don’t know that there’s much more I can say about this one. Again, it’s just six dollars, it’s completely stuffed with way, way more than six dollars’ worth of amazing material, and you should go pick it up.

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