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Argo…and Jack Kirby

I finally got around to seeing Ben Affleck‘s new suspense thriller Argo. It’s a fantastic film, made all the more incredible in that it is based upon a nearly unbelievable, riveting true story.

Much to my surprise, Jack Kirby (played by Michael Parks) is a character in the film! Jack was the actual guy who created the storyboards for the sci-fi movie subterfuge. Jack’s storyboards for the film adaptation of Roger Zelazny‘s novel Lord of Light were used as “proof” of the movie production during the actual event to fool the Iranian officials.

The storyboards that were used as props in the Affleck movie are credited as being drawn “in the style of Jack Kirby.” I sure wish Ben had hired me for that gig. Besides the obvious connection of my having inked an issue of Jack’s comic The Demon, I also was the designer for a proposed movie adaptation of Roger Zelazny’s Chronicles of Amber books. In addition, I met John Chambers (played by the always brilliant John Goodman in the movie) in 1968, back when I was an art student. Our storyboard class toured 20th Century Fox studios during the making of the first Planet of the Apes.

Kudos to John Goodman and Alan Arkin (Peevy in The Rocketeer) for their spot-on performances in the film. Without overplaying their roles, they perfectly nailed the personalities of so many of the people I’ve worked with in the movie business.

I highly recommend this movie. It’s the right film at the right time. And that last white knuckling half hour will leave you absolutely breathless. In my book, Ben Affleck has now hit three homers in a row as a director. What a talent!

…and don’t forget, comics fans, to watch for Michael Parks as the King of Comics, our own beloved true-life hero, Jack Kirby.

7 thoughts on “Argo…and Jack Kirby

  1. After hearing you talk about helping Royer out on that issue of the Demon, for years I’ve wondered what a Bill Stout version of the Demon would look like. Sounds like a future commission! I could not imagine holding Kirby pencils with the task of inking them.

  2. Hi Jeremy,
    I learned an enormous amount inking that book.

    Inking Jack’s pencils wasn’t intimidating, as I was simply trying to stay as true to them as possible, just inking what was there and using the occasional straight edge when necessary. I definitely did not want to put my own imprint upon them — that wasn’t the job at hand. Now, if I had tried to do that, then I think I would have been terrified of screwing up his art.

    It would be fun for me to draw my own version of The Demon, as I spotted the Hal Foster influence right away in Jack’s design (The Demon is very similar to a Prince Valiant disguise in one of the early Prince Val stories). I could draw from both sources for inspiration!

  3. Haven’t seen the movie yet….but interesting that Jack was involved. Yes, a Stout Demon would be cool.


  4. Bill,

    That’s why Royer has always been my favorite Kirby inker. He didn’t try to embellish Jack’s art, he was true to the pencils.

  5. I will definitely put this on my list of movies to see. Thanks! And I hope you and your family have a Happy Thanksgiving, Bill. Cheers!

  6. I was wondering if Hank Mayo did the prop storyboards in Argo because they filmed his hand drawing but cut that scene out. I didn’t think so because I know Hank’s style and his ability to get closer to a Kirby style if he wanted to. Then I found out my own agents represent the guys who did the prop boards and the storyboard animatic at the beginning of the film. It still stings that I wasn’t considered since I illustrated (with storyboards) the Wired article the film is based on. Here they are:

  7. Just found out about the Kirby connection and now I have to see it! I only had the chance to see Mr. Kirby once at the San Diego Comic-con in ’91 (?) … I just couldn’t get up the nerve to meet him or shake his hand … sad… And, yes, you should have been the “in the style of…” artist!!!

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