Tuesday 25 March 2008

in my book, After The Snooter, I drew this scene in which I discovered my first American comic book.

A fine chap named Tim Stark wrote his thesis on my stuff and pointed out something I never noticed while drawing the piece (though it looks so obvious I feel stupid saying so), namely that wee Eddie, probably eight years old, is having an artistic epiphany while in hospital wearing a bandage on his head after being hit by a car, and the big moment of his enlightenment is focused upon a comic book whose title is: OPERATION BRAIN BLAST. This wasn't literally the first American comic book I fastened my eyes upon, but out of the bunch of contenders this one had the right resonance, so presumably my brain was still making important decisions at some subconscious level, blasted or not. In the anecdote I had been given a kiddie's comic while the guy in the next bed was given this wondrously exotic and adult looking object (I've even managed to catch a snippet of the back cover ad, something about boys vis-a-vis men and physical fitness.)

So in the middle of the night I sneaked over to the other kid's bedside table and secretly read his comic. For a moment I thought of stealing it, but then in that special logic of childhood I figured that anything as wondrous as the drawings of Jack Kirby would be missed and the hospital would send somebody out after me to get them back.

Shortly after this I started collecting the black and white British reprints of the Marvel material. I used to colour them with wax crayons because I knew the originals were in colour as I'd seen one that day in the hospital, and I wouldn't stand for anything incomplete in my collection. Virtually all of the Marvel line was represented across five weekly titles. I recently came across a couple of loose pages I picked out of the pile as mementos before I threw it all in the trash.

These are dated '68. I'd have been 11/12 years old.

I coloured ALL of the stuff, all the Hulks and Avengers, the whole lot, but the thing you should notice about the pages I chose to keep is that they are examples of THOR that were inked by Vince Colletta. The British publisher was in the habit of removing the credits, but that never fooled wee Campbell; it just made him look harder. A while back I wrote a post here about how Colletta was my favourite comic book inker of the 1960s. For some unfathomable reason beyond all absurdity, it was and continues to be the most visited post I've written. I almost said popular there, but that would be the wrong word, for I was vilified in many places for uttering such an opinion. Even people you would think could not possibly give a hoot, I found them stopping me in the street, in San Diego during the convention, the only place everybody knows my name, sadly, and even somebody such as Gary Groth had to get his two cents in and call me an idiot. People generally can't stand by and allow you to have an opinion they don't share.

My old pal Lew Stringer writes about those old British reprints
and again
And never one to miss a detail, he shows here how the English publisher sometimes changed stuff

Wikipedia on the subject

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Threw them out???!!


B Smith

PS I picked up one of those weeklies decades ago at a church fete and discovered that someone had applied their colour pencils to a few pages of the Iron Man story....I tell you what, they did a top notch job; if I were Stan, I'd have given 'em a job on the spot.

25 March 2008 at 17:52:00 GMT-5  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


I was going to say that that caption captures everything that was both exactly right and exactly wrong about comics from the late 60s.

But then it occurred to me that that premise is not all that far from the Telchines vs. Joe Theseus stories. Now I'm confused.

Which makes me wonder, tangentially, how much the whole Bacchus cycle is based on your childhood reading Kirby's Thor stories, and if you've written (or been interviewed) about the connection anywhere.

Loved the colored pages! Makes me want to get my Jack Kirby Collectors and start doing the same while my daughter is in her coloring books.

Michael Grabowski

25 March 2008 at 18:29:00 GMT-5  
Blogger Eddie Campbell said...

well spotted.
but perhaps you overlooked the article I wrote in one of the 'Kirby Collectors' about how i picked up the mythology bug form the lee-Kirby Thor.

I can't recall which issue...

25 March 2008 at 18:49:00 GMT-5  
Blogger Mark Parsons said...

Waiting for THOR masterworks has been excruciating! A new one on the way though...

Eddie, I have a permission question relating to an academic project. May I email you (can't locate address) or pose the query in this comments forum?

25 March 2008 at 20:10:00 GMT-5  
Blogger Eddie Campbell said...


when I get a query like this I normally would leave contact details in The questioner's blog, but I see you don't have one. Either leave a contact email address here (I can copy and then delete it) or just ask the query here.


25 March 2008 at 20:22:00 GMT-5  
Blogger James Robert Smith said...

Don't feel bad. I know lots of comic fans who think Vinnie Colletta was Kirby's best inker. No matter what anyone else says, Kirby must have thought he was a good inker, for he inked so much of Kirby's work. I think he would have put a stop to that if he felt it wasn't good up to standards.

25 March 2008 at 20:53:00 GMT-5  
Blogger Eddie Campbell said...

on the contrary, Kirby didn't like Colletta inking his work, but he didn't have much choice in the matter.

26 March 2008 at 00:10:00 GMT-5  
Blogger Mark Parsons said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

26 March 2008 at 12:56:00 GMT-5  
Blogger James Robert Smith said...

"on the contrary, Kirby didn't like Colletta inking his work, but he didn't have much choice in the matter."

Oh. Well.

26 March 2008 at 16:21:00 GMT-5  
Blogger desembrey said...

Were these the UK reprint editions that always had, from memory, 2 ink colours - black and green (Hulk?) or black and red (Daredevil?), etc? With an occasional full colour story? I have such fond memories of the UK reprint of the first X-Men vs The Juggernaut story as being the very first Kirby drawn comic I ever read. And I read it to death. Time after time for months. Had no idea who the characters were, but the whole thing was just wonderful to me at the time. And such a difference to the B&W reprint books in Australia that used to have a mixture of Curt Swan Superman stuff, Adams' or Robins' Batman stories, and a sizable dose of reprints of Dick Sprang and Wayne Boring and their colleagues of the earlier years. Ah those were the days! When a story was fun and continuity was a novelty. Superman AND Batman in a story together. The Human Torch in an X-Men story. Wow!! Now its all so serious. I think Mr Colletta's fine line work that suffered so badly at the hands of poor printing back in the 60's would be seen by the detail obsessed readers of today in a much better light with the better printing that is now used. Its truly sad that people like Vince Colletta and Don Heck and Wayne Boring are looked upon poorly now. These were fabulous artists producing some marvelous entertainment in such short timeframes and being paid so poorly for their efforts.

29 March 2008 at 05:32:00 GMT-5  

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