is an American comic book artist and writer, painter and art teacher
known for his graphic novel
A graphic novel is a narrative work in which the story is conveyed to the reader using sequential art in either an experimental design or in a traditional comics format...
, The First Kingdom
Early life and career
Katz was born in Brooklyn
Brooklyn is the most populous of New York City's five boroughs, with nearly 2.6 million residents, and the second-largest in area. Since 1896, Brooklyn has had the same boundaries as Kings County, which is now the most populous county in New York State and the second-most densely populated...
, New York
New York is a state in the Northeastern region of the United States. It is the nation's third most populous state. New York is bordered by New Jersey and Pennsylvania to the south, and by Connecticut, Massachusetts and Vermont to the east...
and moved to Canada
Canada is a North American country consisting of ten provinces and three territories. Located in the northern part of the continent, it extends from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west, and northward into the Arctic Ocean...
days after he was born. He returned to the United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...
when he was around eight years old. While attending the School of Industrial Arts in New York
New York is the most populous city in the United States and the center of the New York Metropolitan Area, one of the most populous metropolitan areas in the world. New York exerts a significant impact upon global commerce, finance, media, art, fashion, research, technology, education, and...
, NY, he established bonds of friendship with future comic artists Alex Toth
Alexander Toth was an American professional cartoonist active from the 1940s through the 1980s. Toth's work began in the American comic book industry, but is known for his animation designs for Hanna-Barbera throughout the 1960s and 1970s. His work included Super Friends, Space Ghost, The...
, Alfonso Greene and Pete Morisi
Peter A. Morisi , who sometimes went by the pseudonym PAM, is an American comic book writer and artist who also spent much of his professional life as a New York City Police Department officer. He is best known as creator of the 1960s Charlton Comics series Peter Cannon .....
Katz's work in mainstream comics
Comics denotes a hybrid medium having verbal side of its vocabulary tightly tied to its visual side in order to convey narrative or information only, the latter in case of non-fiction comics, seeking synergy by using both visual and verbal side in...
spans both the Golden
The Golden Age of Comic Books was a period in the history of American comic books, generally thought of as lasting from the late 1930s until the late 1940s or early 1950s...
and Silver Ages
The Silver Age of Comic Books was a period of artistic advancement and commercial success in mainstream American comic books, predominantly those in the superhero genre. Following the Golden Age of Comic Books and an interregnum in the early to mid-1950s, the Silver Age is considered to cover the...
, and was done under a variety of pseudonyms such as Jay Hawk, Vaughn Beering, Alac Justice and David Hadley. He got his start in the industry in 1943, working on the C. C. Beck
Charles Clarence Beck was an American cartoonist and comic book artist, best known for his work on Captain Marvel at Fawcett Comics and DC Comics....
and Pete Costanza
Pete Costanza was an American comic book artist and illustrator. He is best known for his work on Fawcett Comics' Captain Marvel and the Marvel Family during the World War II era fans and historians call the Golden Age of Comic Books, and served as one of Captain Marvel's longest-tenured...
Bulletman was a Fawcett Comics superhero created by Bill Parker and Jon Smalle for Nickel Comics #1 in May, 1940.-Fictional character biography:...
. Before landing at King Features in 1946, Katz worked briefly for Jerry Iger
Samuel Maxwell "Jerry" Iger was an American cartoonist. With business partner Will Eisner he co-founder of Eisner & Iger, a comic book packager that produced comics on demand for new publishers during the late-1930s and 1940s period known to fans and historians as the Golden Age of Comic...
and Ben Sangor. The time spent at Iger's shop in 1944 is notable for the young Katz's acquaintance with, and admiration for, artist Matt Baker
. 'He was, in my opinion, one of the top illustrators, and a good storyteller'.
The move to King Features as a "detail man" brought Katz in contact with Hal Foster
and Alex Raymond
Alexander Gillespie "Alex" Raymond was an American cartoonist, best known for creating Flash Gordon for King Features in 1934...
, two of the artists that inspired him most in his early years. Katz has considered Foster his "guiding light" since the age of six and believes that he laid the foundations for the graphic novel. Raymond praised Katz's illustrative style and said that working in comics was a waste of his time. Stanley Kaye, on the other hand, told Katz to stick with it: 'You're going to do something with comics'.
Katz went to work for Standard Comics (Better/Standard/Pines/Nedor Comics
Nedor Publishing was a comic book imprint of publisher Ned Pines, who also published pulp magazines under a variety of company names that he also used for the comics...
) in 1951, doing horror, war and some romance comics until the company went out of business. From this period comes some of the earliest work that can be identified as his, such as Adventures into Darkess
#10 (June 1953). In the mid-1950s Katz landed a job with Jack Kirby
Jack Kirby , born Jacob Kurtzberg, was an American comic book artist, writer and editor regarded by historians and fans as one of the major innovators and most influential creators in the comic book medium....
and Joe Simon
Joseph Henry "Joe" Simon is an American comic book writer, artist, editor, and publisher. Simon created or co-created many important characters in the 1930s-1940s Golden Age of Comic Books and served as the first editor of Timely Comics, the company that would evolve into Marvel Comics.With his...
, working alongside Mort Meskin
Morton "Mort" Meskin was a prolific American comic book artist best-known for his work in the 1940s Golden Age of comic books, well into the late-1950s and 1960s Silver Age.-Early life:...
and Marvin Stein
Marvin Stein was an American comic book artist, who also worked in animation, advertising, illustration and television broadcast graphics....
. Kirby taught Katz how to ink and use lighting to emphasize dramatic scenes. A slow-worker due to heavy detailing (influenced by the style of illustrator Dean Cornwell
Dean Cornwell was an American illustrator and muralist. His oil paintings were frequently featured in popular magazines and books as literary illustrations, advertisements, and posters promoting the war effort. Throughout the first half of the 20th century he was a dominant presence in American...
), Katz was let go and moved on to Timely Comics
Timely Comics, an imprint of Timely Publications, was the earliest comic book arm of American publisher Martin Goodman, and the entity that would evolve by the 1960s to become Marvel Comics....
under Stan Lee
Stan Lee is an American comic book writer, editor, actor, producer, publisher, television personality, and the former president and chairman of Marvel Comics....
around 1954. Katz worked on war and horror comics, as well as Westerns, but his pacing continued to cause friction. Without Lee's knowledge, Katz worked on the side for Fiction House
Fiction House is an American publisher of pulp magazines and comic books that existed from the 1920s to the 1950s. Its comics division was best known for its pinup-style good girl art, as epitomized by the company's most popular character, Sheena, Queen of the Jungle.-History:-Jumbo and Jack...
, which slowed him down even more. In 1955 he left mainstream comics to paint and teach art, both privately and for the YMCA
The Young Men's Christian Association is a worldwide organization of more than 45 million members from 125 national federations affiliated through the World Alliance of YMCAs...
in New York City. His hiatus from the industry lasted fourteen years.
Impressed by Jim Steranko's
James F. Steranko is an American graphic artist, comic book writer-artist-historian, magician, publisher and film production illustrator....
Captain America is a fictional character, a superhero that appears in comic books published by Marvel Comics. The character first appeared in Captain America Comics #1 , from Marvel Comics' 1940s predecessor, Timely Comics, and was created by Joe Simon and Jack Kirby...
, Katz entered mainstream comics for a second time in 1969 and bounced around from job to job. He first found work with Stan Lee at Marvel Comics
Marvel Worldwide, Inc., commonly referred to as Marvel Comics and formerly Marvel Publishing, Inc. and Marvel Comics Group, is an American company that publishes comic books and related media...
and worked on books such as Sub-Mariner
, Monsters on the Prowl
and Adventure into Fear
Adventure into Fear is an American horror comic book series published by Marvel Comics from cover dates November 1970 through December 1975, for 31 issues...
. Katz then worked on House of Secrets
and romance comics for DC
DC Comics, Inc. is one of the largest and most successful companies operating in the market for American comic books and related media. It is the publishing unit of DC Entertainment a company of Warner Bros. Entertainment, which itself is owned by Time Warner...
before moving on to write and illustrate stories for Jim Warren
James Warren is a magazine publisher and founder of Warren Publishing.Magazines published by Warren include Creepy, Vampirella and Famous Monsters of Filmland...
Katz got a job with Skywald Publications
Skywald Publications is a 1970s publisher of black-and-white comics magazines, primarily the horror anthologies Nightmare, Psycho, and Scream. It also published a small line of comic books and other magazines....
around 1970, where he believed that he would be able to write his own stories. While there he worked on "Zangar" (from the Jungle Adventures
comic book) and is credited with the full art and script for "The Plastic Plague" from the horror comics magazine, Nightmare
#14 (August 1973). Katz moved permanently to California
California is a state located on the West Coast of the United States. It is by far the most populous U.S. state, and the third-largest by land area...
in the early 1970s while with Skywald as an associate editor. It was there that he began writing The First Kingdom
, integrating ideas into the story that he'd had since his time with Warren Publications.
The First Kingdom
Moving to California in the early 1970s led to Katz's introduction to underground comics. Through independent publishing he saw the potential to create his own story without editorial interference. The First Kingdom
is a 24-issue, 768-page graphic novel that took Katz twelve years to complete, outside of writing the story. He finished two books per year, intentionally totaling twenty-four in order to mirror the number of books in Homer's
In the Western classical tradition Homer , is the author of the Iliad and the Odyssey, and is revered as the greatest ancient Greek epic poet. These epics lie at the beginning of the Western canon of literature, and have had an enormous influence on the history of literature.When he lived is...
The Iliad is an epic poem in dactylic hexameters, traditionally attributed to Homer. Set during the Trojan War, the ten-year siege of the city of Troy by a coalition of Greek states, it tells of the battles and events during the weeks of a quarrel between King Agamemnon and the warrior Achilles...
The Odyssey is one of two major ancient Greek epic poems attributed to Homer. It is, in part, a sequel to the Iliad, the other work ascribed to Homer. The poem is fundamental to the modern Western canon, and is the second—the Iliad being the first—extant work of Western literature...
. During Kingdom's
creation, many sacrifices were made and harships endured by Katz and his wife at the time, Carolyn. For this reason, every issue is dedicated to her.
The epic was published by Comics & Comix Co. from 1974 to 1977, at which point publication was taken over by Bud Plant (a Comics & Comix co-founder) and completed in 1986. Early praise for Kingdom
came from Playboy
Playboy is an American men's magazine that features photographs of nude women as well as journalism and fiction. It was founded in Chicago in 1953 by Hugh Hefner and his associates, and funded in part by a $1,000 loan from Hefner's mother. The magazine has grown into Playboy Enterprises, Inc., with...
magazine and the Rocket's Blast Comicollector
fanzine, but it was never a commercial success due in part to the frequency with which it came out and its adult content. Another contributing factor may have been that Kingdom
was sold strictly through mail-order and specialty comic stores.
Attempts have been made to reissue Kingdom
as collected volumes. Wallaby Pocket Books published a large-format version of the first six books in 1978. In 2005, Century Comics (under its former name, Mecca Comics Group) released the first volume of an anticipated four-volume set, collecting issues 1-6. The second volume collected issues 7-12 and followed months later, but Century Comics went out of business before it could publish the final two volumes.
There are a number of things that set Katz's illustrative style in Kingdom
apart from that of other comic artists. It is hyper-detailed, all of his human (and humanoid) forms have ideal, heroic bodies rendered with anatomical accuracy, there are no gutters and murals fill single-panelled pages throughout the work. The quality of Katz's art matures as he progresses further into the story: the panels get larger and he shifts from pen to brush in the fifth book, a suggestion from Jim Steranko.
William Erwin "Will" Eisner was an American comics writer, artist and entrepreneur. He is considered one of the most important contributors to the development of the medium and is known for the cartooning studio he founded; for his highly influential series The Spirit; for his use of comics as an...
and Jerry Siegel
Jerome "Jerry" Siegel , who also used pseudonyms including Joe Carter, Jerry Ess, and Herbert S...
among many others considered Kingdom
to be innovative in many respects. In the foreword to Book 23, Eisner claims that the work helped carve a niche for the graphic novel medium. Comics historian R. C. Harvey
Robert C. Harvey , popularly known as R. C. Harvey, is an author, critic and cartoonist. He has written a number of books on the history of the medium, with special focus on the history of the comic strip, and he has also worked as a freelance cartoonist.Harvey describes himself as having created...
believes that Katz was the, '...first person in comics to pursue a personal vision at such length'. Its density of plot and art alike pushed beyond comics' unidimensionality: "[Katz] believed in the unlimited potential of the comic art medium to become a vehicle for mature, literary, and sophisticated storytelling". To trailblaze was Katz's intention from the start, stating in the introduction to Book One that, "The work I am undertaking...is the first in a series of books in which I hope to extend the dimension of comics to the potential art form that one of its earliest and greatest artists, Hal Foster, laid down the foundations for."
The First Kingdom
is the first part of a trilogy, which will include Space Explorers Club
. Its genre is sci-fantasy with a heavier emphasis on science fiction
Science fiction is a genre of fiction dealing with imaginary but more or less plausible content such as future settings, futuristic science and technology, space travel, aliens, and paranormal abilities...
after Book Six. The story opens on a new, post-nuclear prehistoric era with tribes fighting for survival on a primitive, fantastic Earth
Earth is the third planet from the Sun, and the densest and fifth-largest of the eight planets in the Solar System. It is also the largest of the Solar System's four terrestrial planets...
filled with gods and monsters. Gods meddle in human affairs, their appearance, temperament and vices resembling the gods of Ancient Greece
Ancient Greece is a civilization belonging to a period of Greek history that lasted from the Archaic period of the 8th to 6th centuries BC to the end of antiquity. Immediately following this period was the beginning of the Early Middle Ages and the Byzantine era. Included in Ancient Greece is the...
. The story spans generations and has a huge cast of characters. It abounds with theories to account for religion, evolution, migration and why humans allow themselves to be distracted from the, "plaguing questions of our existence". The story's protagonist, Tundran, is introduced in Book Four. He overcomes obstacles in order to return to his father's usurped kingdom of Moorengan as a liberator. Along the way he falls in love with Fara, a "transgoddess" incarnate, and their adventures together represent the most linear plot line in the story.
Katz admits that the first twenty issues are the introduction to the real Kingdom
story, issues 21-24. The first twenty issues are filled with past histories that are interwoven and repeat the same doomed cycle: a hard-won ascent from primitivity blossoms into a golden age of scientific advancement which inevitably devolves into war and a preoccupation with survival and superstition. Katz's fears concerning the human condition are revealed here. His characters haven't been able to transcend their "early programming" born out of environmental stresses; they can't escape their base motivations such as greed, envy, jealousy, etc. The chance for humanity to break this cycle comes with the arrival of Queltar in Book 20, who encourages a select few to join him and embrace their true potential among the stars.
Later life and career
Since the Kingdom
years, Katz has focused on teaching, painting and working on graphic novels. Katz currently teaches art at a community college in Albany, California
Albany is a city in Alameda County, California, United States. The population was 18,539 at the 2010 census.-History:In 1908, a group of local women protested the dumping of Berkeley garbage in their community...
. Students of his have helped publish a number of books of his works. These include an anatomy book for students (Anatomy by Jack Katz, Volume One
) and two books of his sketches (Jack Katz Sketches, Vol. 1
and Jack Katz Sketches, Vol. 2
). In 2009, Graphic Novel Literature published Katz's second graphic novel, Legacy
. Charlie Novinskie, former president of Century Comics, helped script Legacy
. Katz has three graphic novels awaiting publication, two of which are the final parts of the Kingdom
trilogy: Space Explorers Club
and Cry of the City
Katz's painting style - like his comic art style - focuses on human subjects and anatomy. "The figures in the paintings...embrace, entwine, writhe, contort, and suckle. The work blends the realistic with the exaggerated. It is a 1930s, 1940s world, its view unimpeded by fifty years of art trends and theory. The Ashcan School
The Ashcan School, also called the Ash Can School, is defined as a realist artistic movement that came into prominence in the United States during the early twentieth century, best known for works portraying scenes of daily life in New York's poorer neighborhoods. The movement grew out of a group...
comes to mind."
Katz's work spans decades and includes contributions to mainstream comics, graphic novels and art books.
- Adventure into Darkness (pencils, 1952–53)
- Exciting War (pencils, 1952)
- Lost Worlds (pencils, 1952)
- New Romances (pencils, 1952)
- Out of the Shadows (pencils, 1952)
- The Unseen (pencils, inks, 1952–53)
Marvel Comics (and related imprints)
- Annie Oakley (full art, c. 1955)
- Arrowhead (full art, 1954)
- Astonishing (full art, mid-1950s)
- Battle Action (full art, mid-1950s)
- Battle (full art, 1955)
- Battlefront (full art, 1954–55)
- Battleground (full art, 1954–55)
- Fear (pencils, 1972)
- Journey into Mystery (full art, 1955)
- Journey into Unknown Worlds (full art, 1955)
- Jungle Tales (full art, mid-1950s)
- Marines in Battle (full art, 1954)
- Marvel Tales (full art, 1954)
- Menace (full art, 1954)
- Monsters on the Prowl (pencils, 1971)
- My Love (full art, c. 1971)
- Mystery Tales (full art, 1955)
- Mystic (full art, 1954)
- Strange Tales (full art, 1954–55)
- Sub-Mariner (pencils, 1969)
- Uncanny Tales (full art, 1954–55)
- Unknown Jungle (full art, 1954)
- War Comics (full art, 1955)
- Western Kid (full art, mid-1950s)
- Wild Western (full art, mid-1950s)
Skywald Publishing Company
- Nightmare (pencils, 1970–1973)
- Psycho (pencils, 1971–1974)
- Tender Love Stories (pencils, 1971)
- Zangar (pencils, 1971)
DC Comics (and related companies)
- Falling in Love (pencils, 1972)
- Heart Throbs (full art, c. 1972)
- House of Secrets (pencils, 1972)
- Love Stories (pencils, 1972–73)
- Young Love (pencils, 1971)
- Young Romance (writer, full art, 1972)
Wallaby Pocket Books
- The First Kingdom (includes #1-6, 191 pages, 1978, ISBN 0671790161)
Mecca Comics Group/Century Comics
- The First Kingdom, Book 1 (includes #1-6, 198 pages, 2005, ISBN 0976665107)
- The First Kingdom, Book 2 (includes #7-12, 2006, ASIN 097666514X)
- Anatomy by Jack Katz, Volume One (2nd ed., 152 pages, 2008, ISBN 0977292614)