Green Lantern and Wonder Woman artist Liam Sharp, currently running a crowdfunder to publish The Unseen Jack Katz, pays tribute to the veteran creator of the epic The First Kingdom, and much more….
One of the hardest choices to make as a comic creator is whether to go it alone, completely independent, or try to get a job in the mainstream. Usually, it’s growing up reading mainstream that makes many of us want to be comic artists, and in some ways – if you are lucky enough – that’s the safest. I know that I’ve found the last few years some of the best while I’ve been on a regular title like Wonder Woman or Green Lantern. You get the character and brand recognition, and sales that lend at least a sense of security in the short term. If you go the independent route it’s much tougher – assuming you can find a publisher willing to support the project! That’s not even as easy as it may seem when you are apparently well-established!
There are, nowadays, the new crowd-funding options which are currently revolutionising so many things, so it’s changing a lot. But imagine what it must have been like in the early 1970s? No Image Comics, no Kickstarter, just a few mail on demand indie pioneers like Budd Plant. Old-school print, and files, photographic films of the art… all much more mechanical, and laborious. Cheques paid through the post! The risks – especially if you have family – are astounding!
And that, to come to my point, is just one of the reasons that Jack Katz‘s work on The First Kingdom is so staggering! And then when you factor in the fact that he did this for years, producing over 1000 pages of incredibly detailed art, and a story spanning generations… it’s an incredible feat! It’s mythic, and ‘visionary’ is really not too big of a word!
I only discovered Jack’s art in the early 2000s, and I thought it was criminal then that I had not heard of him. I still think that now. That he turned out to be a local was almost as if fate had a hand to play. I had written the afterword for the vast hardback Titan Books collection of The First Kingdom in 2013, and Jack and I became true friends about three years ago.
Since then Jack has made me the custodian of his life’s work – an honour I did not ask for for, but a great honour non-the-less – and it’s really that that has led to The Unseen Jack Katz book. As we grew closer, and he presented more and more astonishing work to me I couldn’t believe how much there was that had never been published, let alone seen! It was a treasure trove! So I suggested the idea of a book to him – and here we are!
Jack deserves to be more than a footnote and a fascinating curio. The risks he took – the nerve he showed! – are profoundly inspiring. It’s so single-minded.
He tells me he had no choice, he simply had to tell the stories – was compelled to, come hell or high water! It makes the rest of us look like pretenders.
This is true vision, true drive, and utterly uncompromising. He broke the rules, made no considerations for taste or sensibilities. He simply did what he felt he must, critics and even sales be damned!
If only we were all so brave!
In closing I want to ask you to spread a little love Jack’s way by backing The Unseen Jack Katz campaign. He deserves vastly more recognition for his monumental efforts, and now is the time while he’s still with us, still kicking ass at 93!
Here’s Sandra Hope‘s stunning inks over Jack (Katz) pencils for The Unseen Jack Katz.
“The story was drawn in the 1960s and the inks are pure state-of-the-art modern, but with incredible sensitivity,” says Liam. “I adore them!
“She’s inking a complete six page romance story, which will be presented in both the pure original pencil form and newly inked and lettered. It really is going to be a unique and beautiful one-off book celebrating a truly unsung master of the comics medium.