Little Lord Fauntleroy Smash!

by John Holbo on March 3, 2005

I’m reading Ronin Ro’s Tales To Astonish, about "Jack Kirby, Stan Lee and the American comic book revolution." So far I’m not finding it clearly written. Of Jack "Jacob Kurtzberg" Kirby’s early days:

It was a difficult time to be a twelve-year old boy. Everywhere, kids were forming gangs. Kids on Suffolk Street became the Suffolk Street Gang and fought the Norfolk Street Gang. Then they fought Irish and black gangs. Some of his peers started running with the well-dressed mobsters hanging around the neighborhood. If he couldn’t become an actor, Jacob figured, he’d do this, too, or become a crooked politician, like the ones he saw holding conferences and spending money in neighborhood restaurants.

But thoughts of the future had to wait. For now, he had to maintain his reputation and look out for his brother, David. Their mother wanted David to wear nice clothes, but velvet pants, a lace collar, and shoulder-length curly blond hair (at the height of the Depression) had made the kid a perpetual target. Five years his junior and over six feet tall, David was stocky and tough, but no match for the street-hardened gangsters stepping up to confront him. David did what he could when the gangs attacked, but sometimes Jacob would leave school, see his brother under a pile of opponents, and leap at them with both fists swinging.

Lessee: David, aged 7, over six feet tall, stocky, dressed in … Can you even BE stocky if you are over six feet tall? I’m getting a Little Lord Fauntleroy Smash! vibe off this. Gangs of New York era tyke, Bruce Banner, after inheriting a fortune and being exposed to gamma radiation, is taken by "Dearest", to live with … It’s the sort of thing only Kirby could dream and draw. [If Mary Pickford is unavailable, I think ‘Dearest’ could be a sort of ‘Motherbox’, like Orion has got.] The gangs, the kids, the bizarre monstrosity. Clearly Kirby grew up with it all.

Kirby dating Roz: "Her father worked in a factory as a seamstress on women’s dresses." Now this is not clearly wrong. See this definition. But I think ‘worked sewing womens’s dresses’ would avoid the problem.

On Jack Kirby’s war experience: "War was a series of events." That’s right up there with "And, inevitably, the years passed."

Still, I’m such a Kirby fan. I’m enjoying it despite the stylistic lapses.



Matt Weiner 03.03.05 at 4:34 pm

I didn’t pick up on this in the first post, but I kind of like “And inevitably, the years passed.” It reminds me of “To begin with, she was just a baby, then a four-year-old, then twelve years passed and she was Paul’s age, sixteen.” And I think it sums up certain parts of To The Lighthouse and The Years very well (please tell me you’re not a Woolf-hater).

Pity that Ronin Ro has ripped off the plot of Kavalier & Clay, though.


Jeremy Osner 03.03.05 at 4:52 pm

I can’t make any sense of that paragraph about David. Does it mean something? If there’s a grammatical switch that would make it make sense I am missing it — John’s surrealistic vision seems like the only plausible interpretation of the text. But surely that’s not what the author means?


jholbo 03.03.05 at 5:08 pm

I honestly don’t know what it’s supposed to say, Jeremy. You might think it was supposed to say Jack Kirby himself was a big 12 year old. But he wasn’t. He was a little guy.


Jeremy Osner 03.03.05 at 5:31 pm

Yes, and anyway a 6’+, stocky 12-year-old would be similarly freakish to a 7-year-old of those dimensions.


Aryky 03.03.05 at 7:11 pm

I was thinking that maybe it was a typo – “junior” for “senior.” And Jack was just being an impressively loyal, if rather over-ambitious, younger brother. But when I continued reading the passage, I realized that made no sense.


Matt Weiner 03.03.05 at 7:23 pm

If you strike “and over six feet tall” it makes sense (right)? I’m tempted to say that that phrase must be what’s called an editing error. Or aryky’s reading might make sense if you also take away “stocky,” though I don’t see why a 17-year-old would submit to being dressed like that. Oh well.


imag 03.03.05 at 7:52 pm

On Jack Kirby’s war experience: “War was a series of events.”

A series of unfortunate events?

“That’s not the army, Mr. Poe! It’s Count Olaf in disguise!”


John Emerson 03.03.05 at 10:56 pm

The champ is Van Halen: “Only time will tell if we stand the test of time”.


Tom T. 03.04.05 at 12:14 am

As to young David and Jack Kirby, I’m picturing something along the lines of Snookie McFoul and his big brother Snake-Eye.

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