ITEM! Speaking of calamitous cameos, here’s a little blast from the provincial past: several of my audacious archival appearances in comic-book form, all skillfully sketched by Jack "King" Kirby.
First and perhaps most infamously, there’s this perilous portrayal, Funky Flashman from Mister Miracle #6. The Flashman is my all-time favorite, mostly because I was able to use this loving little lampoon as emotional blackmail to help talk King Kirby into coming back to Marvel in the mid-70s. Well, that and $10 more a page than he was getting at DC. And some vague promises of editorial freedom. But I digress...
You know pilgrims, Jolly Jack liked to pretend that Yours Truly was the only one in the Merry Marvel Universe who liked to see charismatic kisser in print. But right from the start, Jolly Jack was sneaking himself in their right alongside your Uncle Stanley. Witness this corner detail taken from FF #10 (Jan. 1963)... or our abortive attempt to attend Reed and Sue’s wedding in FF Annual #3 (1965, oh keeper of all things temporal).
But I guess the occasional Kirby self-promotion in our Merry Marvel Mags wasn’t the same as all the press that Ol' Smiley was garnering at the time in mainstream mags like The Village Voice. Okay, I get that. That was about the time that I started to sense the teensey weeniest bit of resentment wafting up from the King’s cigar-smoke-laden pencils. And when I tried to compensate a little by letting Jack both write and draw his own stories, what did I get? “This is a Plot?” (FF Annual #5, 1967) is what I got. Try saying that story title as if you were your own Jewish uncle, boy-chik. Is it just me, or does anyone else sense the sizzling sarcasm in this panel taken from that self-same sardonic story?
Still, as we both got older and moldier, Jack mellowed out a bit. Our last Kirby-created appearance together as rollicking cartoon characters was the fan-fave What If? #11 (also-known-as "What If the Marvel Bullpen had Become the Fantastic Four?"). This magnificent masterpiece was one of the surest, shiniest, most sensational show-stoppers in all Marveldom that I didn't personally write. It doesn’t get any better than Stan “the Man” Lee as Mister Fantastic, Jack “King” Kirby as The Thing, Fabulous Flo Steinberg as The Invisible Woman, and Sol “Who’s He?” Brodsky as The Human Torch. They just don’t make 'em like that anymore True Believers, and it’s probably a good thing they don’t!