Michel Gagné restores Jack Kirby’s Romance Comics

I ran into animator Michel Gagné at the Annie Awards last week (where he picked up an Annie for Best Video Game, Insanely Twisted Shadow Planet) and asked him about his next project. Turns out Gagne had been toiling on a labor of love (literally) that has just gone on sale this week. Says Gagné:

“I have a new book that just came out. I’ve always had a very particular vision of how books reprinting old comics should be restored and presented, so a few years ago, I decided to put my own historical collection together covering a subject that had never really been documented before. I worked on the project for many years and last year it was picked up by Fantagraphics. The book was released last week.

That book, Young Romance: the Best of Simon & Kirby’s Romance Comics, is not the usual thing we endorse here at Cartoon Brew – but as a life-long Jack Kirby fan and oddball comic book buff, this project is right up my alley. Gagne writes more about why he wanted to do this project, and how he did the restorations on his website. I’ve ordered my copy and highly recommend it, sight unseen. Thanks, Michel!


  • eeteed

    young romance also featured the work of other important artists; mort meskin and bruno premiani (two of my favorites) come to mind.

    i hope mr. gange will consider restoring some of these stories as well.

  • Billy Batz

    Thanks for putting this up, Comics and animation are related, as Jack Kirby worked as an inbetweener at Fleischer for a bit. Had no idea this was out, I’m a huge Jack Kirby fan this is great! Don’t worry that your post wasn’t usual Cartoon Brew fare, Walt Kelly(Pogo) worked at Disney before he did his comic strips, and I know in France, all those comic artists are animation fans.Granted in America there is a stigma that Cartoons are only funny animals and cute characters, but for me Cartoon also means animation and all styles are represented.

    • http://braveandboldbackgroundpaint.blogspot.com/ William Joseph Dunn

      Don’t forget Jack worked at Ruby Spears towards the end of his life designing characters on shows like “Thundarr the Barbarian”.

  • http://www.milkmoneycartoons.com Ohjeepers

    This book is the best presentation I have seen of Kirbys work hands down!

    The DC Omnibuses are great, and I eagerly buy each and every one on the day that it comes out. That having been said, the coloring can be a bit off at times. The 70′s stuff is recolored with the occasionally out of place Photoshop gradation appearing, and the 40′s material uses coloring taken from the original comics but looks slightly off when put against the harsh white gutters of the page.

    The Marvel collections are great thanks to their oversized art, but the use of glossy Baxter paper is always a bit troublesome in that it always seems to keep the line work and coloring from blending together naturally.

    Titan is doing a great job at getting the lesser known Kirby work out in a high quality package, but the coloring here also suffers from the an awkwardness that seems to result from the pitched up sampling of colors from the original comics set against the stark white of the page. It reads as an intense contrast of colors against each other, yet somehow those colors themselves seem really dull on the whole.

    For my mind “Young Romance” has none of these problems. The choice of a porous, off white, high quality paper succeeds at allowing the coloring to read well and feel naturally blended with both the line art and the page itself.

    All of the benefits argued for in the use of newsprint or Baxter paper are achieved here with out any of the negative aspects of either.

    Mr. Gagnes unintrusive approach to color restoration strikes the perfect balance of keeping the artist original intent in balance with the aesthetic reality of printing of the time.

    The cover design is tasteful, and the materials used feel great. I haven’t read my copy yet so I can’t speak to the story selection, but I have enjoyed thumbing through the art endlessly.

    I want Marvel to hire Michel Gagne to restore the entire Kirby/Lee run on Fantastic Four in this format… Ads included of course!

    • http://www.poptique.com Poptique

      Second that comment – I have tons of reprint books that only ever get one reading as I can’t stand the gaudy over-photoshopped recolour jobs they do, that also degrade the original inking to boot.

      They’re pretty much the comic-book equivalent of colourised movies from the 1980s.

      This book looks like a great standard barer for the way forward, so ta muchly for the tip.

  • akira

    i have a marvel romance collection from a just a few years back 2006, but it’s not such a nice presentation and not exclusively kirby work

  • http://markpudleiner.blogspot.com/ pudleiner

    Michel stayed over at my house in Vancouver a few weeks back. He brought a copy of the book for us to look through as he talked about the process. Very much a labour of love. Even the quality of the pages has the original feel to them.
    Beautiful addition to any library.

    My kids also benefited by playing the 360 video game
    ‘Insanely Twisted Shadow Planet’ with Michel.
    Btw, that is the ultimate ‘cheat’. Playing the game with the artist who created the game :-)

  • http://www.frankpanucci.com Frank Panucci

    How the heck is “Gagne” pronounced, anyway?

    • xevo

      I believe it’s “Gahn-yay.” Like the wrestler Verne Gagne.