Last week, when Dynamite Entertainment announced that painter Alex Ross was “bringing a friend” on to the long-promised relaunch of Jack Kirby’s creator-owned characters, eagle-eyed fans pointed in the right direction as the publisher confirmed today via press release that writer Kurt Busiek is indeed joining Ross on the incoming comic book series.
Known for their breakout partnership on 1993’s “Marvels,” the series that that launched Ross’ status as a comics art titan, and their world-building work on Busiek’s WildStorm series “Astro City,” the pair will be co-plotting “Kirby: Genesis” which will feature a stand-alone story incorporating Kirby characters, from the Silver Star to Satan’ Six and many more, into one cohesive superhero universe. “This ‘Kirby world’ that we’ll develop will be something fresh for the two of us to butt heads about together and really try and build something new and fresh,” Ross told CBR. “Hopefully, the Kirby world will represent so much of the basic creativity that you could find of any of the published material you’re familiar with. When you see the various characters that the [Kirby] family owns, they do feel familiar to all the various things that were covered in the many creations of Kirby -Â everything from Galactus to Fighting American or whatever. You get a sense of all of those things embroiled in this world in all the properties we have access to.
“And, hopefully, it becomes, with Kurt’s aid, a series that’s worth creating -Â a project worth getting into action on that says something about the nature of comic books and that particular form of creativity.”
And while the painter likely won’t be providing every page of interior art for the “Genesis” comic once its final format is decided (he joked that “Right now, I’m Brian Bolland as far as people know”), Ross explained that he and Busiek are both fully committed to bringing off this new collaboration with the same attention to detail as their initial, marquee partnership. “We’re more concerned with telling one grand project that would be held up against ‘Marvels,’ as the fit comparison point…[then] we’ll have to figure out where that core series will dovetail out and spin certain characters into their own books.”
In early talks on “Genesis,” the creative team has been faced with the challenge of making the disparate pieces of character and design from across The King of Comics’ storied career work as a coherent whole they were never meant to be. “Kurt’s a big fan of the source material, and he knows a lot about how they work, having been a part of the Topps version of the Kirbyverse years ago. He knows what the stuff is, and he’s ready to address some of these things in terms of how they can fit together. I know ‘Satan’s Six’ he believes is one of Kirby’s humor books that wouldn’t immediately fit into the world of Silver Star or Captain Victory, and I want to make sure that these things all share space so we’re showing the breadth of this bulky world that Jack created and getting it all in there. It’s really a vast coordination that’s affected and conceived through so many different things. I think it’ll get everything in there, but it’s not all about how these things interact or seem to be appropriate for each other. They’re all aspects of ways of telling different kinds of stories.”
Aside from characters who already have a publishing history, “Genesis” will be incorporating some “lost” Kirby work as well, as Ross explained. “Already, at the very start of the concepts we’ve discussed, there’s characters from works of art that Jack did that he didn’t develop any stories around or comics that we’re incorporating which will be fundamental to the plot of this. That’s something that will throw people. This won’t just be based on the properties that Topps did – it’s based on the very artistry of the man. If there’s a deep story somewhere in a piece he did, maybe we can just investigate that, and that’s what we’ll have the freedom to do.”
To help announce the official project, Dynamite commissioned Ross to paint an expansive battle scene featuring many of Kirby’s heroes, and the artist explained that while a piece of his inspiration came from George Perez in balancing out such a large crowd scene, he hopes to do well by Kirby in terms of his storytelling contributions to this new comic. “I enjoy transplanting his imagery through my hands where I’ll let it influence the way I do a lot of the body structures, and I’ll think on his layouts and his sense of impetuous energy. I try to translate all that while still retaining the rendering style you’ll see from me -Â the heavy-handed light and color and the photographic realism. I felt like I was walking that fine line well enough in some previous work I’ve gotten to do based on his stuff -Â which wasn’t terribly much, but included the third issue of ‘Marvels’ that included Galactus and the very little bit of the Fourth World stuff we were able to incorporate into ‘Kingdom Come,’ mostly in the added sequence Mark Waid and I did in the middle of the series when we went to Apocalypse. That’s something where I felt there was a good synergy between the hand of Kirby and what I could interpret it as.
“But I also don’t wish to over-interpret his work in a way where I’m going, ‘I know how to design this thing better!’ I want his designs to be very thoughtfully translated by me without deciding that details need to be thrown out and reexamined. I’ll apply different sheens and fabrics – superficial details that are pure window-dressing -Â but not go in there and redesign any costumes. I don’t think there’s any purpose to that when we’re trying to honor what this designer thought of so cleanly and so well. I want to show my respect for that.”
Check back with CBR later this week for word from Kurt Busiek on his contributions to “Kirby: Genesis”!