Wake Up And Draw! (2018)

Cap can sleep through a lot. A LOT.

Today would have been Jack “The King” Kirby’s 101st birthday. For the past few years, there has been a charitable event on The King’s birthday, called “Wake Up and Draw.” The proceeds from the event went to Hero Initiative, a charity that helps comic book creators in need. This year, the event isn’t happening, because The King’s granddaughter (Jillian Kirby) is deep in study at a Masters Degree program in biomedical engineering. The fact is…that’s important work as well, and is a vast time commitment.

Over the time that it was an active campaign, the Kirby4Heroes raised one hundred thousand dollars for the Hero Initiative charity. Jillian did a fantastic piece of work in Kirby’s memory, and in raising awareness of the King’s role in creating so much of the comics that we love.

Although Neil Gaiman is famous for his work on the “Sandman” books for DC’s “Vertigo” imprint…the chatty guy in today’s art is a different Sandman entirely, done years earlier, for DC Comics. Obviously, by Jack Kirby.

The Sandman of the seventies was created by Joe Simon and Jack Kirby. Issue No. 1 was intended as a one-shot, but five more issues and an additional story followed. All covers were by Kirby, and the fourth issue noted his return to the interior artwork on the cover.

This Sandman was originally intended to be the actual Sandman of popular myth, “eternal and immortal”, despite his superhero-like appearance and adventures. The Sandman is assisted by two living nightmares named Brute and Glob, whom he releases from domed cells with the help of a magic whistle. Using security monitoring devices, the Sandman can enter the “Dream Stream” or the “Reality Stream” (in which he acts like the superhero he looks like), and he carries a pouch of dream dust with which he can cause anyone to sleep and dream. The Sandman’s main task is protecting children from nightmare monsters within their dreams, especially one young boy named Jed, who lives with his grandfather, Ezra Paulsen, as well as to ensure that children have an appropriate level of nightmares rather than dealing with such anxieties in real life.

It’s surprisingly weird and heavy stuff for the brief run. It’s super creative, and little known to readers. Most of all, it always reminds me of one of my favorite quote by Jack Kirby, something that I think about often while drawing, or while struggling with life:

“Our dreams make us large.”

Without a doubt, Jack. Without a doubt.

Hero Initiative is still an active charity, so if you are inclined to make a donation in honor of the King, check the links to your right.

Usually, Cap is yelling at us in the “Wake Up and Draw!” art, or riding some kind of awesome Kirby vehicle. I like the counterpoint here, where she is trying to sleep, despite all that nightmare nonsense that the Sandman has brought from the Dream Dimension. She seems to be doing a pretty good job of ignoring all of that, which is mildly impressive. Some of those guys are pretty weird.

Dream largely, True Believers.

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