House ad for In the Days of the Mob magazine (Fall 1971); printed in Detective Comics #413 (July 1971)
Ad designed and lettered by Gaspar Saladino, inset art by Jack Kirby
Speak-Out! No, that's not a command, that's the name of the series of magazines Jack Kirby created for DC in the early 1970s. There were two magazines published under a created-for-the-situation imprint "Hampshire Dist. Ltd." (with a third, Soul Love, planned), and after the first twoIn the Days of the Mob and Spirit Worldperformed poorly on the newsstand the series was yanked. Some of Kirby's planned work for later issues in the series were published in other magazines (like we saw in my post on Forbidden Tales of Dark Mansion). But even though it was one of Kirby's shortest-lived projects for DC, both black-and-white books remain some of my favorite of Kirby's work, the magazine format giving him both the freedom and the inspiration to stretch to different genres and story types. Artistic oddities and sales failures aside, the Speak-Out series is an attempt to preserve the diversity of the comic book subject with a tip of Jack's cigar to the Golden Age's crime and thriller comics...but unfortunately at a time when everything except superheroes were starting to dwindle in the comic book market.
In the Days of the Mob
Cover of In the Days of the Mob magazine (Fall 1971), pencils and inks by Jack Kirby
In the Days of the Mob is an anthology of stories about famous gangsters, bridged by the narration of our host, "Warden Fry" (tee hee!), who gives us a guided tour and an introduction to the crooks...in Hell! Nope, that's not an exaggeration...that's exactly where they are.
(Click picture to big-house-size)
Warden Fry introduces us to his helljail's inhabitants and tells stories of their bloody lives, including Al Capone...
..and a rogue's gallery of big names in crime: Jack "Legs" Diamond, Casper Holstein, Owney "The Killer" Madden, Arnold "The Brain" Rothstein, Arthur "Dutch" Schultz, and Abraham "Bo" Weinberg. Golly! I certainly don't approve of these terrible criminals, but you can't help but admire their snazzy nicknames. When I go into a life of shoot-'em-up organized crime I would like to be known as "Beans," please. Bully "Beans" The Little Stuffed Bull.
Mob featured several of Kirby's trademarks: the gorgeously detailed double-page spread...
...the EXTREME! KIRBY! CLOSEUP!...
...even some Kirby Krackle!
All this and what else more could you ask for? Why, how about a couple pages of mobster-themed gag cartoons by the one and only Sergio Aragonès?
And (alas), there was a house ad for the second, never-published issue of In the Days of the Mob.
House ad for Spirit World magazine (Fall 1971); printed in The Brave and the Bold #98 (October-November 1971)
The cover of Spirit World is bold and colorful, but it's not by Kirby, it's by Neal Adams. Mark Evanier says in an article with John B. Cooke in The Jack Kirby Collector #13: "Jack did a cover that was part collage, part drawing. Then they had Neal Adams re-draw the whole thing in New York with a similar layout. They changed a few things."
Our host for the spooky and unexplained mysteries of Spirit World is parapsychologist Dr. E. Leonard Maas. Which is an anagram for "Alarmed Noses." Or maybe it's supposed to be "Ransomed Seal." Or "Dorsal Enemas." You know, maybe that's not supposed to be an anagram at all. Either way, he's gotta cool collection of skulls in his office.
I happen to believe that ESP and future prediction is all a buncha hooey, but that doesn't stop me from admiring the intensity (complete with two-page photomontage spread) of Kirby's tale of a woman who predicts, and tries to avert, a major assassination:
Panels from Spirit World magazine (Fall 1971); script, pencils, inks and photomontage by Jack Kirby
(Click first panel to fright-size)
Again, you can spot Kirby tropes: the extreme close-up:
...weird, wild, photomontage...
...and, in a tale about the predictions of Nostradamus, Kirby Krackle and an mandatory underpants-changing final photomontage page.
Luckily, Paris was not the scene of a world-ending holocaust in 1983. Across the globe, however, Nostradamus apologists changed that date to 2013. Zut alors!
Spirit World also features something much better than the destruction of Paris: another two pages of Sergio Aragonés!
Here's a better-late-than-never attempt via DC house ad to sell off the rest of the stock of In the Days of the Mob and Spirit World:
House ad from Dark Mansion of Forbidden Love #3 (January-February 1972)
DC has recently re-released both magazines in two slender volumes which include additional material in each book. They're nice but very expensive ($40 each!) hardcover editions:
Department of Thank Yous by a Very Polite Little Stuffed Bull: I was especially aided in my research for this post by the following online blogs and articlescheck 'em out to learn more!
- "Kirby's Gangsters Never Get Their Day in Court: An Examination of In the Days of the Mob" by Tom Field in The Jack Kirby Collector #16
- "Are We on the Outside of the Spirit World?" by Rip Jagger on Rip Jagger's Dojo
- "Jack Kirby's In the Days of the Mob by Rand Hoppe on Den of Geek
- "In the Days of the Mob #1 " by Bob H. on The Jack Kirby Comics Weblog
- Jack Kirby's Spirit World: We Are on the Outside by Timothy Callahan on ComicsAlliance
- Jack Kirby's Spirit World by Christopher Allen on Trouble with Comics
- Spirit World by Harry Mendryk on The Jack Kirby Comics Weblog
- Soul Love: Fears of a Go-Go Girl! on True Love Comics Tales