Thursday, October 21, 2010

The Classics - Kamandi #1

This particular issue of Kamandi really shocked me when I bought it - though not for the reason you think.

I didn't buy this issue when it was first published (the cover date is October-November 1972), though I'm not sure why. I generally bought everything Jack Kirby wrote or drew. Perhaps the issue was sold out by the time I got to the local newsstand, or perhaps I didn't have enough money. (I know, it only cost 20 cents - but that was a lot of money to a kid in school!)

Perhaps it's because I wasn't a big fan of Planet of the Apes, the obvious inspiration for the comic (although Kirby denied ever seeing that movie).

At any rate, it was years later that I made the effort to track down those old issues I had missed. I remember finding this one in a local comics shop incredibly cheap - it was priced at a dollar.

I picked it up, took it home, opened to the first page, and there was the shock. At the bottom of the page, the issue was (apparently) autographed by Kirby!

You can see it in this scan - and of course, there's no way to know if the signature is real of faked (although it certainly looks like Kirby's writing). I wonder to this day how someone could let this slip through their fingers? Was it an accident? Did they just not care? Had they forgotten? Is it a forgery?

I was never fortunate enough to have met Kirby, so I like to think it's real - a slender connection to one of the greatest artists in comics history.

Getting back to Kamandi - the comic tells the story of "The Last Boy on Earth," who finds himself in a post-holocaust world filled with all kinds of marvels (no pun intended) - including talking animals, mutants and incredible monsters.

It gave Kirby a chance to let his imagination run wild, and the comic is as big and over-the-top as possible. It's not too deep, but it sure is broad and loaded with action.

I find it funny that this comic - which I consider one of Kirby's lesser efforts - ended up being the longest-running title of those he created for DC in the '70s. Shows what I know!

But despite its shaky premise, it's a comic well worth tracking down - after all, Kirby could have made the phone book exciting.

And Kamandi was always good for a surprise or two.

Grade: A-


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