Wednesday, October 03, 2012

Comics are Magick: Horoscope Phenomenon

I mentioned my first encounter with Jack Kirby via a DC house ad for The New Gods and The Forever People in The Witching Hour #12 (contrary to current misconception, no one really referred to those books as the "Fourth World" until much, much later, and the term itself - most likely actually coined by DC editorial and adopted by Kirby after the fact - didn't show up until several issues into the project's run). 

It all seemed like a really cool party I wasn't invited to, like the Bohemian and showbiz parties my parents went to. I remember there was one group of friends of my parents who were into Astrology and the rest of the pop occultism that was circulating in suburbia at the time. Their apartment seemed like a pagan temple to me, with a lava lamp and beaded curtains in the doorways. I can only imagine the effect this story would have had had I read it at the time.

In it, people experience dreams and visions relating to their astrological signs; Pisces, Cancer and Virgo in this case. In each case the sign manifests in the form of a goddess. And not just any goddess- tripped-out Kirby super-goddesses in all their glory.  In each case, the rather startling appearance of these figures come to save the witness or bestow on them treasures or discoveries.

This is the kind of story Kirby would probably write had you left him in a room without any prompting as to deadlines or sales. This isn't his most coherent plot ever, and I wonder if this was part of a larger project involving characters based on the Zodiac. That's certainly a project I'd love to read.

Here we also see the catalog of Kirby's obsessions- trauma-induced madness, extranormal or spiritual communication, hidden treasure, lost civilizations and on and on and on. The man was nothing if not consistent.

This isn't my favorite period for his art, however - Kirby quit Marvel for DC thinking he'd be able to leave the grind and create concepts for other writers and artists to execute only to have the rug pulled out from under him once the ink was dry, and the rushed quality of the art reflects his disillusionment--as well as the crushing 60 page a month (!) quota he had to fill under his contract. And his finishing man at DC, Mike Royer, was only ever as good as Kirby's pencils were.

I wasn't the only one who was hypnotized by Pisces, apparently. Batman: The Animated Series producers Bruce Timm and Glen Murakami illustrated a comic based on the series and used her in a dream sequence in which the goddess appears to Batman in a dream, only to morph into Talia Al' Ghul.


  1. Hi Christopher,

    How do I get the images that you posted into a larger size? I can't quite read them (senior sitting-zen) and they look very interesting, as usual.

    Been talking with a cartoonist friend who wants to display her cartoons in a series of 12 which made me immediately think of the Zodiac....And lo and behold you mentioned Pisces, and then (your own) Cancer type stuff (in its monster form). There being no coincidence, only synchronicity, I thought Hey,,,,,,Mr Knowles will know.

    Love your indepth consciousness as usual.

    Hope you and yer extended family are more than good,

    Floss x

  2. Just click on any of them- you'll get a groovy slideshow! Thanks as always for your support...

  3. Great story. More like an interesting fragment than a coherent narrative, but still great. Reading it it now, it seems rather sophisticated compared to today's cultural climate.