Why did DC cancel Jack Kirby’s horror magazine after the first issue?

In the latest Comic Book Legends Revealed, find out if Jack Kirby’s horror magazine was canceled before DC even knew how much it sold.

Welcome to Comic Book Legends Revealed! This is the eight hundred and eighteenth episode where we take a look at three comic book legends and determine if they are right or wrong. As usual, there will be three posts, one for each of the three captions. Click here for the first part of this episode’s captions. Click here for part two of this episode’s captions.

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COMIC LEGEND:

DC canceled Jack Kirby’s horror comics magazine, The spirit world, before knowing how much the # 1 sold.

STATUS:

Seems to be true

In 1964, Warren Publishing began publishing Sinister, a black and white magazine in the style of old 50s EC horror comics …

By releasing the comic as a black and white MAGAZINE, Warren was able to avoid the pitfalls of the Comics Code Authority, so the books could be as gory as the market would bear. Originally published as a quarterly series, it quickly became a bimonthly and was joined by a sister title, Sinister

The funny thing about Warren’s late 1960s was that they weren’t even making that much money and yet DC and Marvel were SO jealous of them. Comics not approved by the Code and intended for adults sold on magazine racks? It was so convincing for both companies.

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Meanwhile, Jack Kirby had landed in DC from Marvel Comics in 1970 and although Kirby did not have a better financial deal from DC, the hope was that at least he would have more freedom with his DC job. and, for the most part in part, it was true, but Kirby soon learned that some of his more ambitious ideas were not going to work in DC. Kirby, who previously ran his own comic book company in the 1950s with Joe Simon, imagined himself doing similar things under the DC umbrella, such as a line of adult-centric, variety-based color magazines. of different kinds.

You can almost imagine it’s one of those things where Kirby says one thing as all of DC hears, “So … black and white horror comic magazines like Warren?”

And so DC approved two black and white magazines (well, a blue tint, at least) for Kirby, one about the Mafia and the other, a horror title called The spirit world.

You could tell how close DC was to the project when they asked Neal Adams to remake Kirby’s cover for the first issue, which came out in July 1971

Kirby drew the whole thing himself, with Vince Colletta in ink. Kirby has worked in striking collages on the issue, like the woman who imagined the Kennedy assassination …

but she failed to make anyone believe before Kennedy was killed …

There were other exceptional collages that make you wish it was all in color …

DC didn’t seem to have promoted the project much and its cast was horrible, as Mark Evanier explained to Jon B. Cooke in TwoMorrows’ Jack Kirby Collector # 13, “Independent News [a branch of the same company that owned DC] was one of the biggest distributors in the world at the time, but the comic book division did not control the distribution. The first problems [of Mob and SW] got a very bad distribution. Steve and I went to the warehouse in LA. We never saw a problem at the news stands in LA, so we went to the warehouse to pick up copies. They hadn’t even left the warehouse. DC actually sold them later in comic book commercials because these issues hadn’t aired in entire states. “

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Back then, you weren’t getting sales numbers on a series for a while, which is why when a company gives a book the green light, you are working on a few of them at the advance and Kirby has the second number The spirit world (and the Mob book) did when DC announced that # 1 was all the series would have. Evanier recalled in TwoMorrows’ Jack Kirby Collector # 6, “I think they canceled the books and decided not to print the second issues until they even had sales figures on # 1.”

I think he’s almost certainly right, because the timing really seems to justify his being canceled out of hand.

The material Kirby made for The spirit world # 2 were subsequently published in various DC anthologies.

Marvel, by the way, ALSO started doing black and white comic book magazines in 1971, starting with Wild tales

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OK, that’s it for this episode!

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