Yarva Etrigan Deamonicus! I summon the Demon Etrigan!
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"Change! Change, O' from of Man!

Release the Might from fleshy mire!

Boil the Blood in Heart of Fire!

Gone! Gone!... the form of Man!

Rise, The Demon Etrigan!!"

 

I was first introduced to this yellow-skinned netherworld denizen with twin ruby pupil-less orbs, through Alan Moore's revisionist and ground breaking work on Saga of the Swamp Thing. The Demon Etrigan, came to assist Swamp Thing on several occasions, most notably as a guide in Hell to free the elemental's soul mate, Abigail Arcane, and was even present in the battle against The Darkness (an entity akin to the summation of all which is devoid of light and goodness, but, shall not be mistaken as a representation of evil, brought forth to our world by a coven of witches from South America). Under Moore's authorship, the Demon was given high rank among the forces of Hell, and became a rhyming demon conversing in dialogue more akin to riddles filled with great mystery. Etrigan also acquired the ability to spew venomous hellfire from his maw, often to the detriment of his adversaries.

 

From this albeit brief and startling introduction, I was intrigued by this occult personage and always wanted to know more. In my limited knowledge and understanding of the character, I knew he was a Jack Kirby creation, but little else.

 

Sometime last year, I set my sights on acquiring his first appearance, and I searched several months through various auction houses for a decent graded copy.

 

In December, on eBay, I actually placed what I thought at a time, to be a very high bid for a Demon #1 in 9.6. Sadly, if I recall correctly, I lost to the winning bidder who walked away with it at a price between: $550 - $600. The Demon, like the echoes and screams which quickly fade away when one awakens from a ghastly nightmare, eluded me.

 

Eventually, I journeyed to Midtown Comics Grand Central and bought DC's hardcover edition, Jack Kirby's The Demon (2008), reprinting the entire first volume: 1 -- 16. But I never opened it, vowing to keep it in its plastic foil encasement (like Merlin in hibernation), until the faithful day when an original copy would be mine.

 

Since then, very few Demon's have made themselves readily available, and when they have, they have appeared when the opportunity wasn't economically viable for me... that is until about two weeks ago, when MyComicsShop/Lone Star Comics sent me a message in which one had become available for purchase at fair market value... at a respectable representation... graded 9.2 (Near Mint-). So, finally... after waiting for what seemed to be an eternity, I have one to call my very own. And with it, I ripped opened the plastic foil to the hardcover edition reprints, and finally read a Jack Kirby DC work.

 

The introduction to the book is written by Mark Evanier, a one-time assistant to Kirby, and a notable writer in his own right. Mark penned a tribute to the King, a 2008 book entitled: Kirby: King of Comics (that one is on my must have list).

 

In the intro, Mark informs the reader the genesis and humble beginnings of The Demon. Can you believe Jack "the King" Kirby, in an episode which can only be described as a true "flash of genius", conjured him up over an impromptu dinner at a Howard Johnson's restaurant? Here's an excerpt: "Sunday, Steve and I were out there working with him. He finished that Forever People late in the day, about the time his wife Roz came in and announced we were all going to the nearby Howard Johnson's restaurant for supper. 'We' meant the two of them, daughters Lisa and Barbara, and Steve and me, all sardined into the family station wagon. After we'd all ordered, Jack got strangely quiet. He just sat there as we talked, saying nothing, retreating (or more accurately, advancing) into some other world. It may even have occurred to me to think, 'Hey, Jack's writing something'. Ten or fifteen minutes later, the server brought us our dinners. For some reason, I recall that I had a hot turkey sandwich. As we all stopped conversing to eat, Jack softly and without preamble began to tell a story about someone named Jason Blood. It was the complete plot of the first story of The Demon, including the basic premise and characters and setup, and it was pretty much what he later drew and what was published in the first issue. It, along with all the others, is reprinted in this volume. Between the time he'd ordered a burger and the arrival of the burger, Jack Kirby had created a new comic book. Right there in the Howard Johnson's. Had it been anyone else describing a new project in such detail, you would have assumed he'd been working on it for weeks."

 

Can you imagine that? That just blows my mind! Incredible! It just goes to show you Jack Kirby was a genius... a true creative genius unlike many this world has produced. But there's more this so very interesting and insightful story that I am compelled to share this with you all (if you're at all interested... if not, go about your Sunday and enjoy!).

 

So Mark Evanier continues: "We all said things like, 'That sounds great, Jack. Could you pass the butter?' He passed the butter, then hurried through that burger of his because he had to get home and to the board. Less than an hour later in his studio, Jack pulled out a pile of books that reprinted Prince Valiant, the classic strip by Hal Foster. He paged through them until he found a sequence he recalled, wherein Valiant disguised himself by stretching a goose skin over his head, thereby creating a grotesque mask... a memorable visual that Jack (and many readers of the strip) had recalled for decades. Jack thought it would serve as an inside joke for readers who recognized the source if he patterned the look of his new character after that mask. He moved immediately to his drawing table and sketched out the first image of The Demon. The final version was almost identical to that drawing."

 

Simply incredible! To be privy to an artistic geniuses processes... the birth, genesis, and creation of a something so grandiose... must be like transforming into a man with wings who flies over the ocean and catches a fleeting glimpse of the setting sun and the majestic brilliance of a thousand scintillating colors as they reflect off the waters... divine inspiration!

 

Well... moving forward into the first journey of the yarn (from The Demon Volume 1, Number 1), and this is a major spoiler, so for those of you who don't want to know the origin of the Demon, please read no further. The set-up is quite simple, thousands of years ago (probably sometime in the 6th century), during the reign of King Arthur, the powerful wizard Merlin (a half-demon himself), does battle with Camelot's deadliest nemesis, Morgaine Le Fey (Arthur's evil half-sister and a powerful sorceress to rival Merlin). Morgaine Le Fey's, in her quest for immortality, seeks to wrest control of Merlin's tome: "the Eternity Book"... the key to immortality. Merlin summons the demon known as Etrigan, as his personal champion and guardian. When the armies of King Arthur and Morgaine Le Fey clash, it ultimately destroys Camelot, and forces Merlin to retreat into a state of supernatural slumber (I posit it to be a forced coma to regain the expended energies necessary to cast such powerful spells),... only to re-emerge millennia later when the moment is right. But before Merlin retreats, he grafts/supernaturally binds The Demon Etrigan to one of King Arthur's Knights... Jason Blood... thus makes the human host virtually immortal... to be summoned once again when Merlin awakens. Meanwhile, thousands of years go by and Jason Bloods lives, and so does Morgaine Le Fey, who has aged and grown weaker, hiding the visage of a hag behind a golden mask... and secretly plots for the day when Merlin returns to steal his book.

 

All writing, plotting, artwork, for this first issue is credited to Jack Kirby. I must say, the man is brilliant! We all know Jack Kirby is the undisputed greatest comic book artist in the history of the medium... but I must also say, Jack Kirby could also be its greatest writer! For the plot, sub-plots, the pace of story, the rich character development, and the dialogue all come together in a cohesive and masterful way... further cemented by his cinematic visuals... it truly demonstrates the man was a creative genius and a force of nature. Jack Kirby was touched by the divine spark! And we, his loyal readers and followers... are just so lucky... so very fortunate... for a brief and shining glimpse.

 

One thing to note, if anyone current owns a copy of the original comic, a full page was omitted (according to the book: "due to space restrictions"), and has been printed for the first time (see page 17). It is a stunning four panel page and a must for any Jack Kirby collector.

 

And to share amongst my friends and fellow collectors... I've included a pic of my recent acquisition.

 

I am so proud and thankful to induct The Demon into my collection.

 

Jack Kirby FOREVER!

 

SW3D

13697.JPG

 

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Never read The Demon but anything "The King" made, is great. I will definitely read some now. Thanks and Congrats!

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Hey JSJ,

 

Glad you enjoyed the journal.

 

I wholeheartedly agree... anything the King made is great.

 

Right now I'm trying to get Captain Victory and SilverStar... Kirby's work at Pacific.

 

Maybe you could share some stories about your collection.

 

SW3D

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Awesome journal SW3D! I am at a loss for words after reading that one.

Those Demon books are so under-rated in my humble opinion. Each and

everyone of them is a masterpiece, the cover colors jump out and seem to

grab you. I love your new #1, I have a couple copies but none graded yet and

I don't think I have one that will grade that high :(

 

Issues 2-up I have multiples and some very high grades to submit when I get around to it.

 

LMK which issues of Silver Star and Captain Victory your looking for I should have extra high grade copies that I can let go of :)

 

Long Live The King!

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Dear Alawson,

 

I sincerely appreciate your feedback and am so glad you enjoyed the journal.

 

I would love to contribute more journals about the King in much the same way David Swan wrote several entries about Steve Ditko. Lamentably, aside from a few FF's, a Thor issue, and The Demon #'s 1 and 7, I own very little of JK's works and feel my knowledge is quite limited of the master's grand breadth and scope of works. Perhaps with dillegence, hard work and patience, my JK collection will grow and remediate the great gulf of emptiness and divide which stands before me... and form a bridge of erudtion and illustrious understanding to florish and germinate the inspiration and creativity needed for such an undertaking.

 

Perhaps one day.

 

Until then... i will research and work on new topics.

 

Long live The King!

 

SW3D

 

 

Edited by screenwriter3d

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Beautiful book, amazing! It's as if the art is burning off the cover. Congratulations on your newest addition!

 

Great summary as well, I have always been curious about the Demon, I remember a Batman issue from the mid '90s with the Joker conjuring up the Demon, but I don't remember much of the story.

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I actually lit it on fire to create that effect. :)

 

Just kidding. But when one dabbles in Occult Sciences stranges things do happen!

 

Also kidding... just a trick of the light.

 

But you're right... it looks like flames escaping the very pages of the comic.

 

Thanks for your always supportive feedback!

 

SW3D

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Another note: With the absence of a 9.8 on the census, I believe your book to be closer to a 9.4 based on rarity. The number one issue is really hard to find even in as a 9.2. I have probably seen a couple dozen and never one that would have graded higher than a 9.0 in my eyes.

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So very true... which is why I was so very dissapointed when I missed out on a Demon #1 in 9.6 grade. Can you imagine... not one 9.8 at all? That's really incredible considering how long the CGC has been around and also considering the total population of Demon #1 at 159... not a huge number but a respectable number.

 

You're going to love this five part interview on Youtube about Jack Kirby.

Goto:

 

Steve Sherman and Mark Evanier as well as a who's who in the comic book field talk about their love and admiration for Jack Kirby.

 

Maybe you could post a journal about your JK collection... or other things you're collecting? I would very much like to read that!

 

SW3D

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