Saturday, September 23, 2023


Sometimes it's just plain hard to figure out comic book publishers. Who knows what goes through their collectively fickle minds when deciding what to publish and what not to.

In this case, DC had a good thing going when Jack Kirby came aboard at the dawn of the Bronze Age of comics. With the promise of being the "master of his domain", Kirby set to work on creating some of the most imaginative and thought-provoking characters and titles ever.

In the early 70's, he was at the top of his game and brimming with all sorts of ideas to push the medium beyond what DC was typically publishing. For instance, he wanted to do his own version of HEAVY METAL magazine. He also wanted to do photo comics with authors such as Norman Mailer and Truman Capote writing the text (now, wouldn't that have been something?).

Last weekend, you saw here Jack's magazine-sized comic, SPIRIT WORLD, published under the DC imprint, Hampshire Distributors. The crime-themed, IN THE DAYS OF THE MOB was a companion volume. DC had the idea that they could elbow their way in to Warren's CREEPY and EERIE and the Skywald horror books with both these titles, but the whole concept died on the vine.

According to Steve Sherman (Kirby's assistant on the Hampshire titles), the cover was going to be "a photo of a gangland killing. We actually shot the photo, using us and Jack's son Neal and his daughter Barbara. We lined them up, and they all had guns to Mark (Evanier)'s head. Mark was bound and gagged and was gonna be killed in the fields of Thousand Oaks."

A second issue was planned and nearly completed but never saw any ink from a printing press. One story found its way into the first issue of DC's promotional magazine, THE AMAZING WORLD OF DC COMICS, and the entire unpublished issue was later included in a DC hardcover re-issue. Seems like DC thought they had something there after all, but it was too little, too late.

Kirby's second assistant on these two books, Mark Evanier said: "Jack never really liked black-and-white comics... I think (DC) cancelled the books and decided not to print the second issues before they even had any sales figures on #1. Steve (Sherman) and I went down to the (DC distributor Independent News) warehouse... in pick up copies. They had not even left the warehouse. DC actually later on sold them in ads in the comics because those issues had not gone out to whole states."

Here is the first part of IN THE DAYS OF THE MOB, Kirby's re-telling of real-life gangster stories.


Rip Jagger said...

I missed out on both In the Days of the Mob and Spirit World when they hit the newsstands. I have a vague memory of seeing In the Days of the Mob on a newsstand way up high where kids would not get at it, but I may have made that up over the years. I finally landed copies of both in the 80's when Indy stores began to open and stock back issues. As a diehard Kirby fan of this era of his art, I love both of them. Thanks.

John said...

A failed experiment, but not because of Kirby. The guy had a never-ending mind full of ideas.