Posts Tagged ‘Larry Bowa’

Branding Jack Kirby

Monday, October 3rd, 2011

The Fall Classic is upon us and here in the Philadelphia area we baseball fans have reason to be excited! The Phillies are making their fifth trip in a row to the playoffs, hoping to reach the World Series for the third time in four years!

Sports and comics have a lot in common, challenge, conflict, victory, colorful uniforms drenched in primary colors and heroes, plenty of heroes. In sports heroes come and go. A hero one day may be the goat the next. Some heroes become legends and their exploits border on the mythic. The greatest tragedy in sports is when the most idyllic of heroes fall from grace crushing the hearts of all their faithful fans and admirers.

Phillies fans, though currently enjoying a great era of success, have a long history of witnessing failed efforts so the few highlights in their history shine like beacons. We all know that the Phil’s first World Series Championship, won in 1980, would never have happened without, then first baseman, Pete Rose.

It was a great team and had been for a few years with heros like Mike Schmidt, Steve Carlton, Larry Bowa, Greg Luzinski, Bob Boone and other greats but the acquisition of Pete Rose made the difference. He was Charlie Hustle, Mr. Baseball.  Even when Rose played for the opposing Cincinnati Reds, as much as he was a hated rival, he had to be admired. Pete Rose was the kind of player every fan wanted on their team, hard working, skilled and doggedly determined to win.

Pete Rose defined everything that was great about baseball and was one of the sport’s greatest heroes.  When he was banned from Major League Baseball in 1989 and later from the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1991 because of his admissions to gambling and betting on his team, his situation ignited a firestorm of contention among baseball fans that continues today.

Many believe that Pete Rose’s banishment from Major League Baseball and the Hall of Fame is unfair, deprives fans of an accurate accounting of history and is a hypocrisy when compared to the inductees that are known drinkers, wife beaters, drug users, etc.

Pete Rose at the Museum in Cooperstown

But this is Charlie Hustle, and when I heard that there was a Pete Rose Museum in Cooperstown I gloated at the thought of Mr. Baseball erecting a gleaming shrine to himself right in the shadow of Baseball’s hallowed Hall of Fame redirecting the foot traffic through his doors and reaping financial rewards and well deserved glory from adoring fans ravenous for memorabilia with his name on it. I imagined Pete standing in his door thumbing his nose at Major League Baseball, then going to the bank, everyday.

In actuality the Pete Rose Museum is a modest hall of memorabilia on the second floor of a brick building a block away from the Hall of Fame sitting atop the Mickey Mantle Museum and Pete Rose continues to face his life sentence with dignity and respect to the sport that he so loved.

So what does this all have to do with Jack Kirby?

Pete Rose’s story in some ways reminds me of Jack Kirby’s story. Kirby dedicated his life to the mastery of the comics medium he loved. In the eye’s of many, he was the greatest but for all his accomplishments he was denied the final rewards of his endeavors, some rights to the many, many characters he created. Jack Kirby’s characters continue to make millions of dollars for the corporations that claim the rights while his heirs continue to fight for some reasonable compensation.

Heated discussion has continued for decades as to what is fair in the case of Jack Kirby and other comic artists with similar issues that will probably never be settled.

My thought is that maybe, like in the case of Rose’s museum, focus should be trained away from the monolithic industry and aimed at the man himself, or in this case, the King, Jack Kirby.

It is time that the name Jack Kirby become a brand that is synonymous with all that is great and can be great about comics. Beyond all the characters that Jack Kirby created, there is a style that is distinctive solely to him a style that has affected pop culture for decades.

Imagine a Jack Kirby retail store that sold only product that was derived from Kirby’s original creations. Sure, it would look like a comic shop littered with product produced by Marvel and DC but the retail revenue instead of meager royalties  from the wholesale revenue would go to holders of the Jack Kirby store who would either be the heirs or someone who pays the heirs for the rights to use Jack Kirby’s name.

How about Jack Kirby comic conventions? Kirby Con International? There might be a few bucks to be made there!

The Jack Kirby brand in a strange turn could license rights from Marvel and DC to produce all kinds of Jack Kirby branded merchandise. Everyone makes money and the Kirby legacy lives on providing the heirs with fiscal security for generations.

Kirby’s distinctive style could lend to clothing designs that could rival anything on the market today. Instead of Coogi, stylish folks could wear Jack Kirby. Why not?

Stan Lee has turned his name into a brand. Can you say Walt Disney? Why not Jack Kirby? Forget about the characters and turn the legacy of the man into the commodity. Is he not the King, after-all?

In terms of strategy, I guess this would be considered “Beat them at their own game.”

Just an idea, inspired by a guy who never gave up.

Go, Phillies!

Making Comics Because I Want To

Gerry Giovinco


Baseball Cards, Slurpee Cups and Comic Books

Monday, June 20th, 2011

It has been popular lately to reminisce about personal early comic book reading experiences. We all remember the moment that our imagination was permanently captured by the medium and, of course, the experience is unique for everyone. Don Lomax who’s CAPTAIN OBESE comic is a feature here at CO2 Comics recently talked about his early comic reading experiences and how they influenced his comic creating in this interview.


As for my own experience, comic strips were my first introduction to sequential art. I remember, when I was a very young child, anxiously looking forward to the Sunday paper each week so I could sprawl out on the floor and be mesmerized by the colorful pictures that seemingly came to life on the expansive sheets of paper. I couldn’t read but I had a good sense for what was going on especially in the action comics I was drawn to like Buck Rogers, Prince Valiant, Popeye, Alley Oop and Dick Tracy.

Buck Rogers, Prince Valient, Popeye, Alley Oop, Dick Tracy.

Silly Putty made reading the comics more tactile as I was fond of capturing the images on the rubbery clay and distorting them with seemingly limitless possibilities.  This was probably how I conjured the first notion that I could exercise my creative urges with comics.  A long weekend afternoon of rolling gleefully on sheets of newspaper  would leave me fully smudged with cheap ink, my toddler’s clothes permeated with the musty odor of newsprint and my imagination broadened with the endless creative potential that was  exhibited in those color drenched comics.

My local newspaper, the Norristown TIMES HERALD had a weekly supplement for children, it was a four-page, black-and-white,  pull-out called TINY TURTLE that was mostly a cartoony activity sheet that encouraged children to color, draw, do puzzles, read and learn. It featured a monthly calender and was always specific to the season. This came in the Saturday edition of the paper ensuring that my childhood weekends were fairly occupied by my local press.

Gerry Giovinco after open heart surgery

Collections of Charles Schulz’ PEANUTS were my first recollection of enjoying comics bound by covers. My uncle would bring the pocket book size collections over to amuse me while I recovered from open heart surgery. I was nine years old and I would read them front to back before ever putting them down. They were the best distraction from my physical ailments and proof that laughter was, in fact, the best medicine. Nothing was funnier to me than the exploits of Charlie Brown, Snoopy and the gang and I would torture my family by reading the gags aloud and describing the pictures. Somehow the jokes were never as funny when I retold them but my own sides still split with laughter upon each retelling.

I was an avid reader in grade school and gravitated toward adventure and mystery stories. I remember enjoying series books like The BOBBSEY TWINS, The HARDY BOYS and TOM SWIFT. During this time I remember Big Little Books capturing my attention as well.  Big Little Books were chock full of illustrations on every other page and I found myself just as drawn to the images as I was toward the words.

Trips to the barber shop were where I first encountered comic books. I remember there being two magazine racks in the back of the shop, one for the men and the other for the boys. The men’s rack was chock full of PLAYBOY magazines and the best way to get a glimpse of their voluptuous subject matter was to spend as much time as possible by the other precariously close rack that contained comic books.

Though the comics were at that point a precocious end to a means, I would spend a lot of time thumbing through them and I soon discovered that there was a difference between the Marvel and DC comics. The DC comics at the time had a lot of short stories in them and I found that I could enjoy them more because I could get a full story while I waited. The Marvel comics always left me hanging and though I found the images and story more dynamic, I would always be left disappointed, not knowing how the story ended.

As I became a little more independent I would make frequent trips to the local 7-11 convenience store that could be reached through a network of shortcuts through neighbors’ yards. The mission was always the same, milk and bread for Mom, baseball cards and Slurpees for me and my brothers.

The Slurpee cups at the time had images of baseball players on them and my brothers and I were avid collectors, especially hunting for cups of our beloved Phillies.  We were always on the prowl for cups featuring our heroes Steve Carlton, Greg Luzinski, Larry Bowa and Mike Schmidt. Inevitably we had stacks of those baseball cups featuring stars from every team in MLB. This went on for a couple of seasons then one day everything changed. The Slurpee cups featured something different… Marvel characters!

Captain America 167

I had already been picking at comics and had, despite my earlier convictions about Marvel comics, recently been enamored with issue #167 of CAPTAIN AMERICA and the FALCON by Steve Englehart and Sal Buscema. I remember rushing home and reading it beneath a peach tree in my back yard on a particularly balmy fall day, I then spent  the afternoon recreating the cover while sitting at the dining room table.

Captain America Slurpee Cup

The Slurpee cup completist in me along with the Marvel story arcs  fueled my need to collect the comics and soon I was a master at knowing the delivery dates of the magazines of every convenience and drug store in my immediate area. I started collecting only CAPTAIN AMERICA then titles that featured CAPTAIN AMERICA soon I found Cap crossing over into title after title and before I knew it I was hooked on the whole Marvel Universe.

In the process I was collecting those Slurpee cups too and found that I loved to copy the classic images off the cups. I probably learned more about drawing the human figure from those images on the cups than any single other resource at the time.

By the time I got to high school my fate was sealed. I knew I wanted to make comics when I grew up and that became the focus of my education until I left college to co-found COMICO the Comic Company.

Making Comics Becuse I Want To

Gerry Giovinco



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