Yesterday, the New York Times reported
that there's been a sudden surge of interest in the concept designs and characters the legendary Jack Kirby created for animation that have never been realized. Kirby, of course, is the co-creator of Captain America, the X-Men, the Hulk, the Avengers, the Fantastic Four, the Golden Age Sandman, romance comics and -- let's be honest here -- comic books as we know them today, but after doing all that
, he took a job as a designer for Ruby-Spears animation in the '80s, where he created dozens of projects that many of his fans have never seen.
But they have
been released to the public before, and oddly enough, it happened through a 1994 series of trading cards by Comic Images called, fittingly enough, The Jack Kirby Unpublished Archives
. The set of 90 cards collected full designs and was a highly sought-after item for Kirby fans, and now that we're one step closer to actually seeing them happen, ComicsAlliance Senior Writer (and Kirby devotee) Chris Sims has gone through his set to pick out the Ten Unpublished Kirby Designs that Need To Happen!
1: ROXIE'S RAIDERS
Probably the simplest concept in the entire Ruby-Spears Kirby archives, Roxie's Raiders told the story of a gang of spies in the '30s, led by the whip-wielding redhead of the title, who were disguised as a traveling circus.
Roxie herself was an animal trainer (hence the whip), but each member of the Raiders had their own special abilities, like Toad, the unicycle-riding magician...
...Chameleon, who could blend in with his surroundings...
...and Big Hands, who... well, who had big hands, which he put to good use battling the Raiders' arch-nemeses, the pulp-style villains of the Empire of Steel:
Roxie's Raiders was designed to be a cartoon, but it's the kind of evergreen concept that would work in pretty much any medium. And really, if a show about pulp-inspired globetrotting super-spy circus action doesn't appeal to you, then I'm not even sure we're speaking the same language here.
Along similar lines, we've got Dragonspies, which is awesome not just because it promises dragons who are also spies, but because of the villainous Lord Thunder (seen above), who is rocking a helmet with two sets of horns, a waxed super-villain moustache and a beard, and a gold medallion, offset by a pair of plain red trunks. Beat that, Skeletor.
With its focus on a far-future setting and a hero who's the last Private Eye on Earth, Skanner is essentially "O.M.A.C." with a "Magnum P.I." moustache, and that is awesome, especially with the distinctly Kirby-esque concepts of mind-controlling Brain Mace and teenagers being kidnapped to provide new bodies for the elderly.
4: ROGUE FORCE
was another super-team, this time involving a bunch of characters from alternate dimensions that were also in the future brought back by a time-traveling scientist to save the world from certain doom. By Kirby standards, that's not all that wild, but what's notable here is the characters' truly incredible names, like the gun-toting Caroline Cupcake (seen above), and my personal favorite...
...Alexander the Greatest
, whose name is even more awesome than the Time Looter's outfit.
5: MASTER COMPUTOBOTS AND THE CAVEBOTS
These are caveman robots who wage war against humanity
. Further reasons why this story needs to be made immediately should be unnecessary.
6: THE CASETTE MAN
It's always interesting to see Kirby's versions of technology, but very few things even come close to matching his take on the casette tape. Seriously, even putting aside the green robot with pressure beams that "can push through steel and rock" and the fact that the casette dematerializes, if tapes actually looked like that, I'm pretty sure the CD never would've gotten a foothold in the market. Mark my words, this guy is begging
for a comeback as the iPod Speaker Dock Man.
7: WARRIORS OF ILLUSION
As the name suggests, the Warriors of Illusion
were a team of super-hero magicians, but rather than relying only on their skill at prestidigitation, but on also driving specialized cars that magnified their powers. Cloak, for instance, who specialized in disappearing acts...
...drove this rocket-powered war machine that featured another typically tricyclish Kirby design, while her teammate Deceptor...
...had what is basically the sweetest car ever.
8: THE EVERYTHING MULTI-CAR
And speaking of sweet rides, we have The Multi-Car! Most '80s franchises were content to have vehicles that turned into one different kind of vehicle (I'm looking at you here, "M.A.S.K."), but Kirby decided to go with a car that transformed into a boat, a plane, and two motorcycles that also had a spare tire that was actually a homing missile and a detachable bubble generator. In other words, this is the best toy you never got on Christmas morning.
9: THE CAMOUFLAGE CORPS
"The Camouflage Corps
," wherein everyday objects hid war machines, was obviously Kirby's take on shows like "Transformers," but where "Transformers" was content to have its shape-changing objects limited to cars and planes (and the occasional dinosaur or boombox), the Camouflage Corps apparently had no limitations. In the trading card set alone, there's a Victorian house that's actually a base for a helicopter...
...a barn that collapses to reveal a hot pink missile-launching rocket-powered half-lobster/half-tank (!)...
...a "Battle Whale"...
...and this scene, which depicts not only a passenger train that suddenly arms to take out tanks, but a giant piston robot that hangs out underneath the desert and wears tanks like a jaunty chapeau
. My favorite, though, is this one...
...if only because Kirby felt the need to inform Ruby-Spears that a passenger train that turned into a giant rail-tank with two laser cannons was becoming "an entirely different object." Toy design's loss was clearly comics' gain.
10: HIDDEN HARRY
Kirby's known for his super-hero work, but let it never be said that he didn't have a knack for horror as well, as we see from Hidden Harry, who is unquestionably the most horrifying thing that Jack Kirby ever drew. Small enough to fit in a hatbox, but with a full-size head that looks like Orion from the New Gods and complete with a Freddy Krueger-ish shirt and flat Don Martin feet, Harry is... just totally creeping me out. Guuuuuuhhhhh.
On second thought, let's leave him unpublished. But those other nine? Get on it, Ruby-Spears!