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Darius, Julian: The Weirdest Sci-Fi Comic Ever Made. Understanding Jack Kirby’s 2001: A Space Odyssey. Edwardsville: Sequart Research & Literacy Organization, 2013. (82 S.) 
Added by: joachim (28 Jul 2013 22:57:56 UTC)   Last edited by: joachim (21 Apr 2016 07:35:34 UTC)
Resource type: Book
Languages: englisch
ID no. (ISBN etc.): 9781489566188
BibTeX citation key: Darius2013
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Categories: General
Keywords: "2001", Adaption, Film, Kirby. Jack, Science Fiction, USA
Creators: Darius
Publisher: Sequart Research & Literacy Organization (Edwardsville)
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Abstract
In 1976–1977, comics legend Jack Kirby, known for his bombastic super-heroes, produced an adaptation and continuation of Stanley Kubrick’s cinematic sci-fi masterpiece 2001: A Space Odyssey. One could hardly imagine more celebrated creators in their respective fields — nor a greater clash of personal styles. The result, according to Dr. Julian Darius, was a mad clash of themes and tones that reveals much about Kirby, 2001 itself, and even 2001 novelist Arthur C. Clarke.
  
Notes
“Julian Darius’s The Weirdest Sci-Fi Comic Ever Made: Understanding Jack Kirby’s 2001: A Space Odyssey largely consists of close readings of Kirby’s series, initially in juxtaposition to Kubrick’s film. The introduction describes the forces that created this unlikely series and its even more unlikely contents. Darius argues that it is a mess but a fascinating one. It appeared eight years after the original novel and film, and unlike the Star Wars comics (which had not even happened at that point), 2001 was not part of a franchise, so it did not represent a narrative universe that Marvel could capitalize on in the long term. In the eight years since the film was released, it had become an SF classic and one of Kubrick’s most respected creations, so the low status that comics held would not have been nearly as intuitive a connection as the aforementioned Star Wars comics would be just one year later; so the marketing was all wrong, but so was the stylistic pairing of Kubrick and Kirby. Kubrick’s slow, deliberate planning bears no resemblance to Kirby’s feverish output. The film’s slow pace and symbolic visuals are the polar opposite of Kirby’s bombastic action and cosmic fantasies. Similarly, the film’s minimalist dialogue is radically different from Kirby’s great volumes of often very purple prose. They are simply nothing alike. Darius emphasizes that it is not the case that Kubrick’s work is superior to Kirby’s, although many at the time would readily think so. The book’s sections are not numbered, but there are effectively three chapters in addition to the introduction. The first section is a close analysis of the first issue of the series, a ‘prestige’ format book that adapts the entire film. It is largely, although not exclusively, a formal comparison: Kubrick vs. Kirby. Darius argues that Kirby’s choices almost consistently clash with Kubrick’s, and that the book, while clearly not an adaptation of Clarke’s book, is also an odd mixture of the shooting script and the theatrical release. The second section details the first four issues of what then became a series. Here, Darius effectively argues that Kirby went completely off-script—Kubrick’s or Clarke’s—and turned 2001 into ‘a Kirby space adventure comic’ (p. 27), although admittedly one that mimics the film’s narrative beats. A short subsection also discusses Clarke’s sequels—20102061, and 3001—and reaches the conclusion that while Kirby’s comic book followed the existential elements of the original, Clarke followed the more grounded space-travel elements. Darius’s last and longest section, taking up nearly half the book, consists of a series of close ‘readings’ of the rest of Kirby’s series, which consists of a satire of superheroes (nos. 5–6), a continuation of the ‘star child’ narrative hinted at in the film (no. 7), and finally, the story of Mr Machine, who is vaguely connected to the monoliths in the film (nos. 8–10). Darius argues, quite convincingly, that these three issues represent Marvel and/or Kirby giving up on a high-minded science fiction comic book and reverting to the superhero formula.” (Orion Ussner Kidder: “Comics”, part of: James Gifford (et al.): “American Literature: The Twentieth Century.” In: The Year’s Work in English Studies (2016). DOI: 10.1093/ywes/maw019)
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