The Equine Torch!

My favorite of the various Equine Torch Multimedia Compositions.

My favorite of the various Equine Torch Multimedia Compositions.

So last week, at this time, I was busy criticizing our school’s “Testing Evolution.” In my Homage to Fantastic Four No. 1, 1961, there was a depiction of a flaming, flying pony. It turns out that Pony was popular. I got a comment, and a large number of e-mails, and decided that I needed to celebrate that with a posting.

So…obviously, the shot above is the Equine Torch flying over New York. That was my favorite, but I did a number of mixed media collages, some digital, some print, after coloring the image.

What’s a collage? Good question!

Collage is a technique of art production, primarily used in the visual arts, where the artwork is made from an assemblage of different forms, thus creating a new whole. A collage may sometimes include magazine and newspaper clippings, ribbons, paint, bits of colored or handmade papers, portions of other artwork or texts, photographs and other found objects, glued to a piece of paper or canvas. The origins of collage can be traced back hundreds of years, but this technique made a dramatic reappearance in the early 20th century as an art form of novelty. The term collage derives from the French “coller”. This term was coined by both Georges Braque and Pablo Picasso in the beginning of the 20th century when collage became a distinctive part of modern art.

Jack Kirby loved collaging. More about that in a bit…lets see another composition:

Also a fun digital collage!

Also a fun digital collage!

The first step, of course, was a color image of the Equine Torch!

Gah!  Color!

Gah! Color!

Then, for the two digital images above, I needed to isolate the Torch from the background. In real collaging, that’s a literal “cut and paste” issue. Here’s the digital cutout…

Whoa!  Digital Cutout!  Suitable for use in other stuff!

Whoa! Digital Cutout! Suitable for use in other stuff!

So…collages made it into comics pretty early in the Silver Age, without digital assist, as above. Reportedly, it was Kirby’s intention to render the entire Negative Zone storyline in the Fantastic Four in collage, a pursuit he abandoned due to his page rate, the speed of his pencil and the printed result. Still, he would continue with this new passion through the 1970s, carrying the technique over to DC. Kirby’s Fourth World comics featured myriad collages.

Removed from sequential storytelling and employed rather as illustration, these collages stand on their own as singular works of art. Kirby was so passionate about this art-form, that when he was asked if they should bring anything, he would request visitors to his home bring periodicals as fodder for his collages.

Kirby’s interest in collage was so keen that in the early 70s he desired to create fumetti comics, comprised entirely of photographs with captions, but could receive no support from DC. Ever ahead of his time, these became popular at the end of the decade in the United States with comic adaptations of films such as Star Trek, Grease, Saturday Night Fever, Rocky II, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, and Battlestar Galactica, although the medium had been popular prior in France, Spain and Latin America.

One of Kirby's Fantastic Four Collages.  This is when FF was great.  Great!

One of Kirby’s Fantastic Four Collages. This is when FF was great. Great!

Another mind blowing Kirby Collage!

Another mind blowing Kirby Collage!

...and another!

…and another!

Sadly, we all seem to remember collages as some lame project from elementary school, as opposed to a real, dynamic art form. That’s a bit sad, upon reflection…

Using some serious digital editing, and a cool filter algorithm, I too the cover to Anderson, Bruford, Wakeman and Howe’s self titled album, and edited in the Equine Torch. After that, I reflected it horizontally, and added the waterline effect….producing this digital motion collage out of a realtime paste up…

I hope that Jack looks at this kind of attempt to expand his ideas, and smiles.

I hope that Jack looks at this kind of attempt to expand his ideas, and smiles.

If the water isn’t moving, click on the image, BTW. That was some serious effort, and I still don’t love it. I kind of think, or hope, that Jack Kirby felt the same way…that he had done something interesting, but still had a way to go with it.

Next Issue: Mitch Watch!

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