Friday, April 25, 2014

BLAST OFF!

In the 1950s, Kirby did a comic book called RACE TO THE MOON for Harvey Comics. It ran for only three issues, despite having some great artwork and a decent concept. Apparently, Harvey had intended a fourth issue, but cancelled the book. Still...they had some unpublished artwork featuring Kirby's "3 Rocketeers" characters--that art stayed at Harvey for some years.

Then, in 1965 Harvey decided to finally publish those brief stories, along with some other material they had on hand as BLAST OFF #1. Although Harvey had moved into the very young children's market with titles like RICHIE RICH, CASPER THE FRIENDLY GHOST, WENDY THE WITCH, LITTLE DOT, etc., they had once published all sorts of comics, including adventure stories. So this was likely a move to test the waters and see if they could generate some income with that kind of project once again.

However, sales must not have been very good, despite the fact that all of the art in this issue is about as good as it gets. The Jack Kirby stories were inked by the ultra-talented Al Williamson. And there are backup stories in the book completely illustrated by Williamson. So as an art-lover's book, it's a true gem of a comic.

My copy of BLAST OFF #1!
The combination of Jack Kirby and Al Williamson produced some stunning work!

What came first? These images, or Rock 'Em Sock 'Em Robots?

Kirby creatures and technology as inked by Williamson! What joy!

And all published by Harvey Comics! What's not to love?

Comics from the 40s through the mid 60s would often include two pages of text stories. One old pulp writer I used to know (Ryerson Johnson) wrote a lot of these for both Dell Comics and DC Comics. He said that they were included because of an obscure rule in Postal regulations that gave cheaper postage rates for publications that had a certain amount of text, as opposed to just comic images. Thus, it was profitable for publishers to pay authors to pen these short-shorts for their books. A lot of great writers worked in this form for the publishers in the day, but the lion's share of them seem to have been written by Otto Binder, who was half of the "Eando Binder" pen-name...the brothers Earl and Otto Binder, most famous for the great pulp novel ADAM LINK: ROBOT.

2 comments:

Kirk G said...

Doesn't the cover remind you of "ZO" from Captain Marvel #12 (1969)... or is it the other way around?

James Robert Smith said...

ZO came later, didn't it? I never cared for the CAPTAIN MARVEL title, nor the character (until Starlin took over).