ITEM! Time for an art history lesson, True Believers. Before you yawn, yelp or yowl — relax. It’s a Merry Marvel art history lesson! Kick back, get out your MMMS stationary, and take notes, of you wish. Today’s subject: the unsung iconic art of Jack King Kirby and Sturdy Steve Ditko!
The Wikipedias define iconography as “the branch of art history which studies the identification, description, and the interpretation of the content of images. The word iconography literally means "image writing." Looking at all that Silver Age Marvel merchandise yesterday reminded me just how much of a debt we all owe Jolly Jack and Sturdy Steve. Those guys were amazing, and that’s no fantasy! In the normal everyday course of creating comic book art for page rates, these guys created symbolic representations of these characters that were so iconic they were used repeatedly in merchandising until the very images themselves became embedded in all of our collective consciousnesses! That’s quite an accomplishment, Tiger! Quick — what’s the last cover image from recent years that you can remember being used on a poster, t-shirt or toy package?
And as much credit as Yours Truly would like to take for my part in merchandising these characters, I would be remiss in not pointing out that the iconic nature of these images has absolutely nothing to do with wordsmithing — which let’s face it is my speciality. Kirby and Ditko were able to create these iconic images by taking, of all things, guys running around in capes and their PJ’s, and forging them into images that evoke raw power, pathos, and heroism with a single glance. Da Vinci and Michelangelo got nothing on these two.
Thus endeth the lesson, Frantic Ones. You may put your pencils down now!