This is an odd bit of Kirby- one that I remembered reading and enjoying back in the day, so when it was recently released and collected, I picked it up. Let's see what I can find to say about this.
I'll note that it's inked by Mike Royer, since I know that some of you folks like to compare Kirby inkers.
Devil Dinosaur #1 (April 1978): "Devil Dinosaur and Moon-Boy"
1)I'll cop to not being as much of a Kirby fan as some folks around here. Don't get me wrong - I admire him as a unique talent, I'm just not someone who feels a need to collect and read all of his stuff. I tend to like his quirkier stuff more than the cosmic stuff like the Eternals or the New Gods. I would say that Kirby's strength lies in the depiction of stuff that couldn't possibly have existed. He makes you believe in the impossible better than just about anyone.
2)Devil is a fun character design - what kid didn't want a pet rex at one point in their lives? Moon-Boy is kind of a necessary evil to me - since your lead character can't speak, he has to have a spokesman. It does tend to mean that Moon-Boy has to jabber incessantly. Perhaps Devil keeps him around as an emergency food supply, like Menchi in Excel Saga.
3)I like that Kirby feels it necessary to point out that he's translating Moon-Boy's dialogue.
4)We get DD's origin - he was orphaned when his mom was killed by the Killer-Folk (Which, to be fair, is the sort of thing that you would expect people called "the Killer-Folk" to do!) and rescued by Moon-Boy, who became his running buddy.
5)Heh, "DD". Be funny if he traded places with Marvel's other "DD". "Daredevil and Moon-Boy" might have its moments, but "Devil Dinosaur and Karen Page" would be hi-larious!
6)Seven-Scars becomes leader of the Killer-Folk by bopping Stone-hand over the head. So, politics hasn't changed much.
7)Cliffhanger: Seven-Scars starts a fire, hoping to lure Devil into pit filled with ...pointed sticks!
8)Text piece: Kirby sez, Yeah, I've got dinosaurs and ape-men together, so what? Just read it!
Overall: An amusing first issue.
Seven-Scars becomes leader of the Killer-Folk by bopping Stone-hand over the head.
We can only imagine how history would have changed had Seven-Scars tried that trick with Stone-head. Would Stone-hand quickly taken revenge, and remodeled his tribe after himself? Would the Killer-folk become the Sit-Around-and-Pick-Their-Noses folk? Would we know speak of Stone-head the Peacemaker? Would dinosaurs and man become allies in Nose-Picking?
The mind boggles.
Devil Dinosaur #4 (July 1978): "Object from the Sky"
We start out with some patented Kirby Brand Trippy Images (Accept no substitutes!) as Moon-Boy has a premonitory dream! Space aliens arrive and knock out Devil and capture Moon-Boy. The aliens start wreaking havoc. White-Hairs and Stone-Hand escape from the aliens (Wait, I thought Seven Scars killed Stone-hand! Maybe it was a common name back then and this is a different guy?) and team up with Devil to kill an alien. There's a GREAT scene where Devil stomps on the alien repeatedly with a loud BONK BONK BONK! Kirby = Genius. We end with Devil deciding to lure the aliens to the TOWER OF DEATH! What's that? Wait and see!
The text piece is about why we shouldn't think of Moon-Boy as a "primitive" even though he doesn't wear pants or have an assumable mortgage.
Overall: This is a fun issue! You knew Kirby wasn't going to go too long without drawing an insane-looking spaceship, and here one is! Good stuff!
Devil Dinosaur #5 (August 1978): "Journey to the Center of the Ants!"
Devil, with Stone-Hand and White-Hair tagging along, lured the aliens into the Tower of Death, which turns out to be the nest of a swarm of giant ants. The ants swarm the aliens and kill a bunch of them. Devil and his pals escape!
Overall: The title of this issue justifies the existence of comic books as a medium all by itself. This is the sort of thing that I admire Kirby for. What imagination! The idea of a dinosaur using giant ants to fight alien invaders! No one else could possibly have come up with this!
Devil Dinosaur #6 (September 1978): "Eev!"
Devil and pals encounter a female called Eev, whose insane beehive harido would probably get its own five issue mini-series today:
Eeve is an interesting character, but she feels a bit misused. She's defiant and independent, and Stone-Hand attmepts to force her to obey him, with what seems like an attempted rape:
We'll discuss her further when I get to the next issue.
Meanwhile, the ants swarm the aliens' ship. Moon-Boy escapes, and finds that part of the ship's computer survives. He goes to look for Devil, even as Stone-Hand and pals find the computer.
Overall: An interesting continuation. I never thought about it before, but four of this title's nine issues were devoted to the alien invasion arc!
Devil Dinosaur #7 (October 1978): "Demon-Tree!"
The computer zaps Devil, who withdraws, and eventually finds Moon-Boy. It keeps Stone-Hand, White-Hair and Eev prisoner in a garden-like environment. Oddly, Eev, who wanted no part of Stone-Hand in the last issue, now seems content to remain in the garden with him, and it is Stone-Hand who is eager to escape, especially after White-Hair dies of radiation poisoning. Stone-Hand attacks the computer, and Devil destroys it. Stone-Hand and Eev leave together (Was she just playing hard-to-get last issue?), and to remember the story.
Overall: It's only on re-reading this that I realized that this was Kirby re-working the story of the expulsion of Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden. It's an interesting idea, but it feels a little forced. Eev's character inconsistencies don't help, either.
Devil Dinosaur #8 (November 1978): "Dino-Riders"
Moon-Boy seeks out his own people even as a tribe that ride captive dinosaurs discovers them and covets Devil as a mount. The Dino-Riders attack Devil, and Moon-boy rallies the Small-Folk to help. Between them, they defeat the Dino-Riders.
Overall: An interesting look at how you get better results by being a friend than by trying to be a master.
Devil Dinosaur #9 (December 1978): "The Witch and the Warp"
Devil and Moon-Boy happen across the Hag of the Pits and her son. Devil falls into one of the pits and through a time warp, ending up in a strange and terrible place, i.e., Nevada in 1978. The locals react with the fear and savagery common to the America-Folk, and Devil goes on the run. Meanwhile, several million years earlier, Moon-Boy persuades the Hag to retrieve Devil. He is successfully rescued, and he and Moon-Boy go about their business."...and thus endeth the Chronicle..."
Overall: An interesting wrap-up to the series, a sort of tribute to the old 50's horror movies where monsters were always showing up in the Great American Southwest.
Well, I quite enjoyed re-reading this series, and I could see myself re-reading it again. An interesting, oddball little corner of the Kirby oeuvre.
“The title of this issue ["Journey to the Center of the Ants!"] justifies the existence of comic books as a medium all by itself. This is the sort of thing that I admire Kirby for. What imagination! The idea of a dinosaur using giant ants to fight alien invaders! No one else could possibly have come up with this!”
Exactly! Y’know, I would have turned my nose up at this series had I encountered it when I was ten. As it is, I bought it as back issues while I was in college and turned my nose up at it then. It wasn’t until I re-read it about 10 years ago that I fully appreciated it… for what it was, not what I wanted it to be. You can see why #5 is my favorite issue of the series.
I had forgotten until I re-read it again over the weekend that #4-5 are really parts one and two of a three-part story, and elements of part three still carry over into issue #7. You know that wild, double page spread on pages two and three of issue #5? Those pages were presented un-inked in The Jack Kirby Collector a while ago… back when it was BIG.
Does the tpb you read have the introduction by Tom Breevoort? Kamandi was Kirby’s most successful title at DC and was at the time under development for a Saturday morning TV show. In his introduction to the hardcover, Breevort explains that Marvel wanted such a property that, even if unsuccessful as a comic book might be shopped around as a television cartoon. Kirby had already done “The Last Boy on Earth,” so the flip side of the coin is the first boy on Earth, thus Devil Dinosaur and Moonboy were born.
Another thing: Kirby’s contract with Marvel at this time called for him to turn out a staggering 15 pages per week!
No, no Brevoort intro.
Looking at the ideas Jack Kirby had after leaving Marvel in 1970, New Gods, Forever People, Mister Miracle, Kamandi, Eternals, Devil Dinosaur, Demon, Captain Victory, Silver Star, you have to wonder what we lost when he stopped submitting his ideas to Marvel and DC and Pacific closed up. Does anyone have his notes or sketches of ideas he came up with but didn't or couldn't sell during the 1980s and early 90s? The guy that publishes the Kirby Collector maybe? I know a few series came out published by a baseball card company (I forget the name of it) that had covers and a few pages by Kirby but were otherwise written and drawn by other people and I believe his last character was a demoness with wings growing out of her head but I think he only made one drawing of her (can anyone tell me if I'm mistaken there?) But what did we lose during that time that has never seen the light of day?
You’re thinking of the “Kirbyverse,” Ron, published by Topps Comics in the ‘90s. More recently, Dynamite published a series of mini-series referred to as “Kirby Genesis.” Here’s a discussion I started at the time:
And here’s a look back at it by Chris Fluit:
There are at least two other short series based on Kirby ideas, but I’m blanking on them right now.
(I remember that wing-headed demoness, too.)
Jeff of Earth-J said:
It wasn’t until I re-read it about 10 years ago that I fully appreciated it… for what it was, not what I wanted it to be.
That is a brilliant insight, Jeff. You caught my reaction perfectly.
I hated Devil Dinosaur when it came out because I had spent my whole life to that point wanting and trying to get comics to be respected, and here comes this idiotic children's book. Thanks for nothing, Kirby! But it wasn't a children's book (it just looked like one) and it was worth doing. I just didn't want that sort of thing at the time from the "king" of comics. But now I know better!