Comic book legend Jack Kirby was responsible for the iconic looks of such famous superheroes as Captain America, Hulk, the X-Men, Thor, and the Fantastic Four.
But back in the 1960s, Kirby put his mark on the Bard when a theater group at the University of California at Santa Cruz asked the famed artist to design costumes for their production of William Shakespeare's Julius Caesar. Kirby happily obliged, and the resulting outfits were beyond rad.
This story begins in 1969, when director/UC Santa Cruz staffer Sheldon Feldner wrote to Marvel Comics asking if an artist would be willing to draft costumes for the college's performance of Julius Caesar.
Marvel bigwig Stan Lee — a Shakespeare appreciator himself — responded to Feldner and put him in contact with Kirby, who had recently moved to Irvine. What happened next was amazing. As Feldner explained to a Santa Cruz newspaper in May 1969:
An assistant and I drove down and stayed at Jack's overnight. We watched 'Spartacus' on TV and talked about Roman armor. But mostly we listened to Jack talk about 'Julius Caesar.'
Kirby's costumes for this play — which were made out of military surplus, plastic, and vinyl — hint at the regalia he would later give to DC Comics' interstellar New Gods, who later appeared in 1971. For the love of the Highfather, does anybody have footage of this production? Email me if so.
These wonderful images come courtesy of the Kirby Museum, which has a wealth of lesser known work by Kirby, including the times he drew Mickey Mouse in 1991 (last two images, below).
[Kirby Museum via R/Comics]