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Jack Kirby: The Epic Life of the King of Comics

The Day That Would’ve Been Free Comic Book Day 2020

Saturday May 2, 2020 would’ve been Free Comic Book Day 2020 had it not been delayed. A special free comic book excerpt of my upcoming book “Jack Kirby: The Epic Life of the King of Comics” was going to be released to stores across the country as part of this event, a Gold Sponsor Book. The image above was an early cover concept for the book back when the working title was simply “Kirby.” The image shows Jack Kirby when he was a newsboy, like the ones he would later write and draw when he pioneered the “kid gang” genre with comics like “The Newsboy Legion” in the 1940s. “Jack Kirby: The Epic Life of the King of Comics” is the life story of Jack Kirby told in comics form. It covers the story of his parents, his childhood, his early experiences breaking into the newly formed comics industry, his wartime service, the postwar era of romance and horror comics, his comic strip days, his collaboration with Stan Lee, his auteur ‘70s work, his animation career in the 80s, and the ways his work continues to live on. You can preorder it here:

Americans, Barbarians, and Robots in March 2017 from IDW

March 2017 is a big month for me and IDW. I have three books coming out that month simultaeneously, which are now available for order in the Diamond Preview Catalog:


Transformers vs. G.I.Joe: The Movie Adaptation is a new one-shot that I wrote, drew and colored. It’s my triumphant return to the Hasbroverse. It’s the comics adaptation of the movie based on the comic Transformers vs. G.I.Joe.


American Barbarian: The Complete Series in Softcover

My creator-owned swords-and-sorcery-and-superscience webcomic is now being released from IDW in a new softcover edition with a new wraparound cover. It’s the story of a young warrior’s adventures in a post-post-apocalyptic America.


Transformers vs G.I. Joe: The Quintessential Collection

This coffee table book is an oversized hardcover collecting the entirety of me and John Barber’s original crossover event series.

Here’s the ordering information for all three books:


Transformers vs. G.I.Joe: The Movie Adaptation

Order Code:  JAN17 0502

(JAN17 0503 for the Robb Waters variant cover)


American Barbarian: The Complete Series

Order Code: JAN170566


Transformers vs. G.I.Joe: The Quintessential Collection

Order Code: NOV16 0422

Not from IDW: A new issue of Cave Carson, featuring the lastest chapter of my Super Powers series is in stores tomorrow from DC comics. Thrill to the adventures of Batgirl on a BMX bike, The Demon Angel Etrigan, Wonder Woman and basically the entire DC Universe as you’ve never seen them before.


Jack Kirby created the original Super Powers by merging his Fourth World New Gods Pantheon with the classic superheroes of the DC Universe in the service of selling toys. It’s a series of historic importance because it’s the first comic that Kirby got profit participation for a superhero comic he worked on. DC also gave him, in an unprecedented move, retroactive profit participation in his 1970’s work for the company.

DC Super Powers


On Friday at DC’s Young Animal panel at San Diego ComiCon, this image was released. It’s the wraparound cover for the upcoming Super Powers comic by Tom Scioli. Here’s a quote from Gerard Way and Jim Lee regarding the series:


Here’s the process that went into making that image, starting with the inital thumbnail:


Then comes a sketch the size of a printed comic:


Then the sketch is tightened up via lightbox:


Pencil tones are added. Formerly crayons were used for toning, but crayon sticks to scanner glass and is difficult to clean:


Tones are combined with a layer of flat color:


All the elements are combined with some digital trickery for the final image:



American Barbarian Returns!


Tomorrow, Wednesday August 5th, American Barbarian returns in a new hardcover edition from IDW Publishing.

American Barbarian: The Complete Series tells the story of Meric, the last American on a revenge quest across the POST-post-apocalyptic landscape of New Earthea. The half-tank/half-mummy Two-Tank Omen murdered Meric’s family and payback is due. The young barbarian will fight every zombie, mutant motorcycle gang, and robosaur (robotic dinosaur) if that’s what it takes to keep the American Dream alive.

American Barbarian: The Complete Series collects Scioli’s experimental webcomic in its entirety along with the never-seen-before process section “American Barbarian Apocrypha.” The story changes gears and shifts tone both in its writing and in its artwork. Kirbyesque cartooning gives way to watercolor and photocollage. It’s Jack Kirby meets Robert E. Howard meets Chuck Jones.
“It’s not just Kirby-influenced, it’s Kirby being channeled.“ – Robot 6

“American Barbarian is equal parts He-Man, Kamandi, and Braveheart, but with all of those known influences, it still somehow manages to be unlike anything you’ve read before.” – Multiversity Comics

“Traditional comics with all of the familiar elements turned up as loud as the knobs will go, pedal-to-the-metal, flaming, screaming, guitar-soloing, ne plus ultra COMICS with a capital C, O, M, I, C, S.” – Comic Book Resources

ISBN: 978-1-63140-332-3


Transformers vs. G.I.Joe [SPOILERS]

There’s finally a preview of Transformers vs. G.I.Joe that I can share. Here’s the pdf:

A process post on the making of these pages and the decision-making process is forthcoming, but for now, enjoy this early glimpse of the comic, available on Free Comic Book Day: May 3, 2014.

Diamond order code for this issue is JAN140007.

Avengers/X-Men Cover


I was recently commissioned by editor Jordan White to create a cover that references an iconic classic Marvel cover but with the roles of The Avengers and The X-Men swapped out. In this case, take the iconic Kirby cover for Avengers #4, which is in my opinion THE Marvel cover, featuring the return of Captain America, and replace the Avengers with X-Men. Jordan presented me with a couple of concepts to choose from, but the one we both liked best was Professor X casting aside his wheelchair and walking. Filling out the rest of the roles was easy enough. “Flying” X-Men replace the flying Avengers. Earnest Giant-Man replaced by the earnest Cyclops. Long-haired Thor replaced by long-haired Marvel Girl. I was tempted to give Marvel Girl a hula hoop, to reference the ring of motion that Thor generates by swinging his hammer, like how the wheel from Professor X’s toppled wheelchair forms a visual rhyme with Captain America’s shield.


Whom to put in the inset box above was a little trickier. The Beast would’ve made sense, but in the original version it was Sub-Mariner, who was always a loner, belonging to no group at the time. I thought Spider-Man fit that role, the perennial outsider. Putting Spider-Man on a cover doesn’t hurt sales, either. I added the subtle flourish of a stamp border around his portrait.

I decided to use this cover as a place for stylistic experimentation. I’m trying to figure out the perfect look for Transformers/G.I.Joe. One that I’m considering, is printing directly from my pencils. Working on Satan’s Soldier for the past year, I really liked the results I was getting from intense colors over loose pencil drawing. I wanted to see what intense colors over a tight, meticulously-crafted pencil line would look like.


I was commissioned to provide black and white line art, to be colored by someone else. I’d recently made the decision that going forward, even if I’m just being hired for black and white art, I’d also color it. If the client decides to keep my color, great. If they decide to have somebody else color it, the colorist will at least know what my intentions were for the piece. The colorist can feel free to go in whatever direction he’d want with it, but at least he’d understand what everything’s supposed to be. That’s something you can’t take for granted. Sometimes areas of overlap can be confusing. Is that an upper lip or teeth? Is that shape part of the foreground character’s leg or the background character’s arm? These things are often difficult to discern.

In essence what I’ve created is at best, actual finished colors, at worst, a color guide, which many artists provide when they do black-and-white line art.

I drew it in pencil, then redrew it a couple of times. Instead of inking it, I redrew it again as a pristine, blemish-free, camera-ready super-tight pencil drawing. I like the variation you get with a dark pencil line. It breathes a little more than the crisp ink line I usually use. On a separate layer, I played with the contrast to make sure that, it could be easily adjusted into a proper hard digitally-inked line if need be.

First I added flat colors, then successive layers of modelling and color adjustments:XFlat



Here are my final colors:


Usually when somebody else colors my work, they make it less poppy, more modeled. In this instance, the colorist did the opposite. My version has soft, modeled colors, a subdued line and a somber palette reminiscent of Suydam, while the colorist went with a flatter Pop Art approach with a cheery palette and increasing the contrast on the linework.
As with the Deadpool cover, I feel like the end result is stronger than my initial version.


What the colorist made is richer than what I’d provided, but I can also see the influence that my guide had. Without that guide, I feel that the cover, for better or worse, would’ve been very different. I’ve been pleased with the results I’ve been getting from this approach and feel it’s worth the extra effort.

Transformers/G.I.Joe Process

This weekend a new series, Transformers (vs?) G.I. Joe was announced by me and John Barber. Here are the steps that led to the final image that was used for the announcement.


I’d pitched a number of possible compositions with the idea of it being big, bold and Kirbyesque. This is the one we settled on, trying to capture the essence of Kirby’s big fisheye lens warped-perspective battles like Daredevil #43 or Captain America #106, with Destro and Duke fighting in the foreground like Destro and Col. Hawk from Herb Trimpe’s excellent cover to G.I.Joe #6 (one of my favorite  issues of the series).




In addition to taking inspiration from Trimpe’s Joe cover for Destro and Duke, I also wanted to capture some of the extreme body language in Orion and Darkseid’s big battle to the death in Kirby’s New Gods story “Even Gods Must Die!”


Trying to channel the combined essence of these images while maintaining my own voice, I take a first pass at the pencils:


I feel like the fist needs to be bigger to really sell the perspective. Here it is with the bigger badder fist:


Here’s the inked version.


Here it is with eye-searing psychedelic color:


If this were “Starmorrfens vs. The Icelandic Army” this cover would be perfect, but it’s “Transformers vs. G.I. Joe.” I can take these characters into whatever crazy realm the story demands, but they still need to be recognizable as the characters they are. There’s a learning curve to getting comfortable with drawing characters you haven’t drawn before, and with each attempt the likenesses keep getting better. Paying careful attention to keeping the characters on-model, while still putting my stamp on them, I make alterations to the figures.


Here’s the finished cover, utilizing the same palette that I used for American Barbarian. I’m pleased with the results and am looking forward to sharing other images I’ve drawn for this series when the time is right. I’ve been experimenting with a range of styles. I have enough lead time on this project that I’m able to craft the story and art with an exacting attention to detail I’ve never before attempted.



Satan’s Soldier #3 Premiers Saturday 9/10/13 at SPX


Satan’s Soldier #3 is premiering at this weekend’s SPX 2013 (Small Press Expo) in Bathesda, Maryland.

Issue #3 is the Return of the Jedi/Superman III/Search for Spock/Escape from the Planet of the Apes/Batman Forever/MI:3/Dark of the Moon of Satan’s Soldier comics. It’s an all-ages, bubblegum pop, good-timing installment of the acclaimed series.


The greatest superhero ever fights an endless army of Manichean space gods and techno demons who have joined forces to take him down. The arena for this cosmic battle royale? Planet Earth.


The dusky cloaked avenger, D’Ark, and the ring-slinging valkyrie, Heroine,  get caught up in the gladiatorial globetrotting. Be there for the first appearances of an array of international strongmen including Union Jack the Ripper, Herr Doktor Glockenspiel, and Pablo Picasso.

Who will live, who will die, who will return from the grave? Find out in this full color, 50-page adventure presented in the burning neon hues of SCIOLI-VISION.