Aug 27, 2010

Bigger, Stronger, Faster

Bigger, Stronger, Faster is a 2008 documentary film directed by Christopher Bell about the use of anabolic steroids as performance-enhancing drugs in the United States, and how this practice relates to the American Dream. Here is a clip from the film featuring Jack Kirby artwork originally used in The Marvel Super Heroes cartoons -- a Canadian-made animated television series starring comic-book superheroes from Marvel Comics in 1966.

The series had extremely limited animation, produced by xerography: photocopied images were taken directly from the comics and manipulated to minimize the need for animation. The cartoons were presented as a series of static comic-strip images where the only movement usually involved the mouth or the occasional arm and leg.

Here are comparisons of the original Kirby/Giacoia artwork next to screen captures of the cartoon images. The Kirby art is from Tales of Suspense # 63 (Mar 1965).

Great example of how Jack's straightforward cinematic style translated well to the big screen. Although the production values are pretty low on these cartoons, it's great to see Jack's pure style appearing in a cartoon as opposed to a watered-down version. As far as I know, there is no official version of these Marvel Superhero Cartoons for sale, but most of them are featured on YouTube.

In the past, I've seen some comic book fans blame Jack Kirby for the ultra-muscular superheores in modern comics, but I've always said that's like blaming Robert Johnson for rage rock. Kirby didn't invent gigantic men in tights colliding, he just came up with a more dynamic way to illustrate modern superheroes, and while Kirby's work was an influence on many popular comics artists, it's not Jack's fault these types of stories resonate with many young readers.