King Kirby Deep Cuts: Peeper
This is Peeper. He is a mutant, one of Magneto's lackeys from Jack Kirby's Captain America Annual #4, published back in 1977. He pretty much serves as a a stand-in for The Toad from the original Brotherhood of Evil Mutants, and I think the assemblage of genetic misfits seen in the Annual might have been a new version of the old Brotherhood. I'm too lazy to go get the book I referenced this from to see if Mister Peeps here was indeed part of a totally legit new Brotherhood of Evil Mutants. Which also included a crowd of chromosome-challenged chumps sporting such epic names as Burner, Lifter, Slither and Shocker. I think there was a Shocker. Not the Shocker from Spider-Man, the dude with the comfy-looking padded suit and the jolt-happy mother's little helper wristbands. Different Shocker. Happens, sometimes.
If those names don't exactly inspire fear, or interest, well, that's because they shouldn't. There's nothing inspired about them. They're perhaps one step above naming your bad guy, "Bad Guy." Actually, "Bad Guy" might be better, it sounds like it might be ironic, as opposed to moronic. Don't get me wrong, I love Kirby, but this is brain-coasting even for him. He clearly wasn't in any particular mood to dicker around with clever villain names during the ten or fifteen minutes he spent whipping this annual up. "Okay, we got Captain America, we got mutants, and we got Magneto, which is Doctor Doom for mutants. And who I gotta use, because the office told me to. Okay, whatever. But to hell with Magneto's old gang, they can keep that. I'm not looking that shit up, and I don't wanna do that same old stuff again, anyway. I'll make some new guys. Yeah, new guys, I can do that like breathing. I can piss new guys out like a race horse with Charlton rates. Whatever the hell that means. So, yeah. Need some new guys. Need some new guy names. Names...names...where's my cigar? How about...Lifter? Yeah, sure, Lifter, a strong guy that lifts. Burner...a fire guy that burns. I swear that cigar was here not two minutes ago. Slither. Snake guy that slithers. And Peeper, with the eyes, and boom-boom-boom, here I go and look at this, I got three pages penciled here, an I didn't even know I was holding the goddamned pencil!".
Anyway, Peeper and his Pals...they're not very good. That jerky drawing up there --? He doesn't look any more imposing or threatening in the comic. One of his pals is a snake-guy, he's sort of cool, I guess. One of the other mutants has a mustache...I guess what I'm trying to say here is that it's very difficult to get excited about these boys. And, again, those names -- those low-rent, purely descriptive names! Lifter, Burner, This-er, That-er, I mean, He-Man villains would laugh at them. Very young children would retract those names immediately if proffered up for their own fantasy characters during play-time, they'd instinctively develop editorial skills and revise them, maybe even apologize, or withdraw from society. ("Okay, I take that back, my guy's not really named Lifter. I just went stupid all of a sudden. He's Murder Man. That's better, right?") I assume these monikers will never grace the card art on any action figures anytime soon (although I might be wrong and they've made a Lifter Heroclix or a Peeper resin bust, considering the crazy hardcore bat-shit junk that gets made these days. And even if I'm right, you never know. I mean, it only takes one former fan-child with a hard-on for super-obscure/oddball curtain-jerkers and a high enough position at Marvel or a toy company and ka-pow -- there's a listing in Diamond Previews next month for folks to scan, upload and write nerd-snark about). I mean, does anyone like these characters? Does anyone remember them, even? I can't say I love them, beyond the sheer wonderful dumbness of characters named Lifter and Burner.
That being said, I never forgot these Ed Wood players. Especially Peeper ("What? Jack named him "Peeper"? Jesus Christ, he's making comics look silly! Oh, by the way, John, we need those corrections on Giant Size Man-Thing today"). I was one of those kids who bought all the Kirby Marvel books in the 70's, and I enjoyed the hell out of them, even if they were whack-a-nuts and felt completely out of step and out of touch and out of line with what was going on in the "real" and "serious" Marvel Universe. Roy was Stan if he really, really believed, Englehart seemed daring at the time (at least to a kid), Gerber was edgy (or whatever we called "edgy" back then -- "weird"? "Messed up"? "The Howard the Duck Dreaded Deadline Doom issue"?) and that all felt "happening" and "with it" and shit but I still loved whatever Kirby did. Even if his versions of Cap and the Panther felt like you were reading haphazardly-translated Mexican bootlegs. They were just off. Kirby in the 70's -- well, you've either experienced it or you haven't. If I can't post a hundred images, or a few stories, then there's no point in going into it. It's like telling a drug story, you had to be there, and you had to be on drugs, to actually get it.
So, here's where I admit I have no idea where I'm even going with this (could you tell? Could ya, could ya?). Pretty much just typing to see what happens (It's not like I have to read this), so this is more scattershot than usual, which is saying something. I'm very tired and I'm feeling very lightheaded right now, because I'm staying up as long as I can to try to re-adjust my sleep schedule. For the past few weeks I've been getting up at a different time every day/night, working a few 18 hour days in a row and then crashing out, going to bed when the family's getting up, not leaving the house for a week at a time, that sort of thing. I'm sure a number of you freelancer-types out there know what I'm typing about. This past week has been especially long while I work on a few things at once which are due...yesterday or something. I need to put in as many hours as I can right now and I sure as hell don't bounce back from this sort of schedule like I used to when I wore a younger idiot's clothes. I was finishing up an inking job tonight, actually, that would be today, ha ha, and I wanted something throwaway to work on while the last few pages I was shuttling back and forth were drying. I figured I'd do another Kirby character because people seemed to like the Demon piece I posted the other day. To make a long, boring-as-shit non-story short: Peeper.
No, I don't know why. Arnim Zola has better street cred, the Swine would get a better laugh, but I went with Peeper. The power of Kirby compelled me.
He's got eye powers, you know? Could you tell? He can see real far. And rays shoot out of his eyes.
I gotta get some sleep.