In my February 23rd blog post, I wrote about how back in May 2000 I came to start my theme sketchbook featuring the character Beautiful Dreamer from the Forever People, who had been created by the legendary Jack “King” Kirby. At the end of that post, I mentioned that I also happened to have a tattoo of the character. Here’s how that came about.
Jack Kirby passed away in 1994. I am a huge fan of his work, and I have always regretted that I would never have the opportunity to meet him, much less get a sketch of Beautiful Dreamer by Kirby himself. Also, pretty much all of Kirby’s artwork is way beyond my budget. So I didn’t think I’d ever own an original piece drawn by him. And then Michele came up with a suggestion, the next best thing, you might say… why not get a tattoo of Beautiful Dreamer?
I had previously gotten a Watchmen smiley face tattoo done by Becca Roach. I was happy with her work, so I decided to go back to her for this new ink. I searched through my collections of Kirby’s wonderful “Fourth World” stories. I finally located the perfect image, a bio picture of Beautiful Dreamer drawn by Jack Kirby & Greg Theakston that appeared in Who’s Who: The Definitive Directory of the DC Universe #2. It was later reprinted, along with all the other bios of the New Gods from that series, in Jack Kirby’s Fourth World Omnibus Volume Four.
I had the tattoo done on my left leg. Becca did impeccable work. You can see it below, side-by-side with the original Who’s Who profile (click to enlarge):
Becca is currently working at North Star Tattoo, located at 74 East 7th Street in NYC. You can view her tattoo work and her paintings on her website, http://www.beccaroach.com/
A few years later, at the 2012 New York Comic Book Marketplace, I met Greg Theakston. In addition to his excellent work inking Kirby in the 1980s, Theakston is a talented artist in his own right, as well as a comic book historian, an expert on Bettie Page, and a publisher who has reissued a variety of Golden Age material through his Pure Imagination imprint. I had corresponded with Greg on Facebook, but this was the first time I had a chance to talk face to face. He remembered me very well, since I’d previously e-mailed him a photo of my tattoo. He mentioned in passing that he thought he still had the original ink artwork from the Who’s Who entry. I just shrugged it off, though, since I figured it was out of my price range.
So today I received a package in the mail from none other than Greg Theakston. I wasn’t expecting anything from him. I mean, a few weeks back he had asked me what my mailing address was, but I didn’t think anything of it, just guessing that he might send me a copy of one of his books or something. But what I got in the mail this morning was much too small to be a book. I opened it up, and discovered this:
Yep, it was the original ink artwork that Greg did on vellum for the main image of Beautiful Dreamer from the Who’s Who bio. In the 1980s, a great deal of Kirby’s artwork was inked separately on vellum via the use of a lightbox. That meant that Kirby’s original pencils remained, in addition to the inked work which was then used for publication.
Of course, this means there’s still Kirby’s original pencil drawing somewhere out there. I don’t know who owns it. I certainly do know that at this point in time there is no way in hell I could afford to purchase it. But that’s okay.
I am very grateful to Greg for this kind gesture. To tell you the truth, my life has been very crazy lately, with a great deal of stress and a lot of emotional ups & downs. I have had to put up for sale some pieces of comic book artwork from my collection that I really liked because I urgently need to pay bills. So this generous gift from Greg really means a lot to me. Thanks!