Worlds Gone Mad

Looking back on my childhood, it actually was not superheroes that I loved most about comics- it was loner antiheroes like Conan and Kamandi. I suppose that says a lot about how I perceived the world- both characters were lost souls fighting simply for survival in worlds gone mad. My favorite superheroes weren't exactly superheroes either- Thor was a god and Doctor Strange was a magician. Don't get me wrong, I read plenty of superhero comics too. But the stories that stuck with me were not the ones were the hero flies in from above and solves everyone's problems- it was the characters who won by living to fight another day.

In some ways, Kamandi was Jack Kirby's most personal strip- the world you see above is like a psychodramatic map of New York City during the early 20th Century. In other ways, it was his gift to the kids who were drawn to comics- loner outcasts trying their best to navigate the everyday world of cliques and bullies. Older fans hated it- maybe because in a decade marked by psychedelic navel-gazing and escapist "relevancy" it felt too much like the world they thought they left behind on graduation day.

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