Tuesday, September 27, 2005

 

Maximum Fantastic Four

From Publishers Weekly's Comics Week email newsletter comes the following tidbit, which is so interesting that I'm reprinting its entirety. I find this concept fascinating, and more so because of the players involved.

Mosely, Marvel Team Up To offer Maximum Fantastic Four
Calvin Reid
-- Publishers Weekly, 9/27/2005

Like a lot of comic book lovers, Walter Mosely—yes, that Walter Mosely—has a thing for the work of Jack Kirby. Mosely discovered the Fantastic Four, Kirby and Stan Lee’s groundbreaking 1961 super hero comic book series, when he was eleven and he’s never forgotten the dazzling impact of Kirby’s art on his young imagination.43 years later, Mosely remains passionately connected to the Fantastic Four and he’s worked to turn that early inspirational encounter into a fitting tribute to the art and creative influence of Jack Kirby.

In November Marvel Comics will publish Maximum Fantastic Four, an oversized hardcover recreation of Fantastic Four #1 that reprints that first issue with an important graphic twist.In the new book each of Kirby’s vividly rendered panels is enlarged and given an entire page—turning a 32 page classic comic book into a lavishly designed 224 page artbook—in effect recreating, says Mosely, the visual power and emotional connection he remembers from his first readings of the Fantastic Four.Maximum FF offers up each of Kirby’s panels as a carefully rendered graphic composition—reminiscent of the early comic book panel paintings of Roy Lichtenstein—but with Stan Lee’s narrative intact.

Mosely, who has published more than 20 novels, including his bestselling Easy Rawlins series, isn’t shy about ranking the cultural importance of Kirby, Lee and the beginnings of the Marvel Age of comics. “I think Kirby’s drawings rival those of Goya or DaVinci,” says Mosely. “No one else brought the emotion and kinetic energy to the printed page that Kirby’s drawings did.”And he’s quick to credit Kirby and Lee’s influence on his own writing, pointing to the physical description of Lee’s characters and the ways in which he pushes characters beyond their limits. “Kirby drew characters that really looked like Lee’s characterizations,” he says. Mosley hit on the idea of “visually deconstructing” FF#1 and took his notion to Marvel chairman Avi Arad, who gave him the go ahead. Book designer Paul Sahre was brought in the design the book, adding gatefolds and a book jacket that unfolds into a poster witha photo reproduction of every page in the original comic. Comics historian and former Kirby assistant Mark Evanier puts this whole effort in context in an essay that looks at business and editorial side of Marvel Comics in the early 1960s.

Mosley acknowledges the nostalgia attached to the project. “But there’s an esthetic value to this comic book.Jack Kirby and Stan Lee created a template that you can put yourself into and learn about the world.”

From the article, it's difficult to discern just what Mosley's contribution to the finished product will be, aside from originating the concept. I'd hope for an essay at least, about the project's genesis.

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