History: The name ‘Jack Kirby’ is be one that every comics fan should immediately recognize: the artist behind the creation of some of the most recognizable comics characters ever, such as Captain America, the Fantastic Four, the Incredible Hulk, the Uncanny X-Men., as well as drawing just about every major comics character in existence for just about every comics company around. He was called Jack “The King” Kirby and “The King of Comics“1 and deserved ever accolade given him.
But there was a time when he wasn’t working in the comics industry. Disaffected with both Marvel and DC, he went to Hollywood and worked for the Ruby-Spears animation company, where he helped create the visuals for such animated series as “Thundarr the Barbarian” 2 and “Mister T” 3. But that wasn’t all he did: he created a large set of preliminary artwork for a number of other characters and groups which have not seen the light of day until recently.
Description: One of these groups was entitled the “Warriors of Illusion”. From what I have been able to gather, these warriors were all a master of some form of illusion: for example, the one on the left appears to be a master of the art of escape illusions, judging from the locks and chains motif. The lone female, who used the name Cloak, was a master of disappearances. Not sure if they specialized only in stage magic but the floating yogi with the levitating rope seems to indicate that some kind of mystical power was involved. Note that they all share a common insignia, the staring eye. Most have it centered on the “third-eye” chakra point, while the one in the center, apparently the leader, has it on his glove.
Not only did they were they magicians, they also had a specialized vehicle: Cloak (above) has a very Kirby-esque tr-wheeler while Deceptor (below) has what one commentator described as “a cross between a ’67 Chevy Impala and a dragon.”
Commentary: Illusions are a way to deceive and therefore manipulate and control the mind, so its appropriate material for the blog. Besides, the ‘staring eye’ motif is so heavily connected with hypnosis that there had to be some kind of mystical illusions involved, not just the standard stage magic tricks.
Besides, this is Jack Kirby. What more reason do I need to include it?
Addenda: The artwork was released at a set of trading cards.
I have to include the following card, just for the image in the upper left. “The Bad Guys” were the members of the Empire of Steel, the opponents to another of Kirby’s hero teams, Roxie’s Raiders. That is Roxy in the clutches of the evil doctor.
- Jack Kirby: Heroes in Waiting at the New York Times
- Jack Kirby: The Unpublished Archives
- 10 Amazing Jack Kirby Designs
- Ruby-Spears Uncovers Jack Kirby Concepts
- Kirby Characters Waiting to be Unleashed
- List of the Trading Cards based on the unpublished artwork
- Not to be confused with Johnny Carson, also known as “The King of Comics”. Johnny once discovered something that referred to Kirby as “the King of Comics” and wondered who this guy Kirby was and where did he do his comedy? Comics and TV writer Mark Evanier wrote to Johnny and explained that the two different fields of “comics” and that Jack was definitely entitled to be the “king” of the comics books. Johnny, once he understood the difference, apologized to Jack on air.
- The evil wizard Gemini is a classic Kirby design, for example.
- I’m not going to hold the latter against him. Ruby-Spears possibly paid Jack more for the few years he worked for them than anything he ever got from working all those years at Marvel or DC. That was just the way the comics business was back then.