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New look for the Fantastic Four

13/12/2005. Contributed by Jessica Martin

Buy Fantastic Four in the USA - or Buy Fantastic Four in the UK

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Popular novelist Walter Mosley wants to show you the Fantastic Four in a new way.

In 1961, Marvel Comics released the very first issue of Fantastic Four. Stan Lee and Jack Kirby took the comic book conventions and clichés of the time and turned them on their ear, lighting a fire under comics fans and creating a shared universe of characters and situations that continue to inspire creators to this day.

Numerous comic artists and writers unabashedly cite Fantastic Four as the genesis of a movement that helped form the modern industry. Literary writers from Jonathan Lethem to Michael Chabon have paid their tribute to the form. Now, there is Walter Mosley and Maximum Fantastic Four, a new addition to the comic book format: comic book as art book.

The first coffee table art book that Marvel has produced on its own, Maximum Fantastic Four presents the inaugural issue of the superhero group in a super-size, digitally re-mastered, panel-by panel format. Mosley's introduction and afterward to the large volume will be complimented with an art commentary by Kirby-expert Mark Evanier.

"Readers will witness a journey through a comic that, though reprinted many times before, has literally never been seen like this before," Marvel Publisher Dan Buckley told SFcrowsnest.com. "I fully realize that comic fans have heard statements like that many times in the past but I say it with the most sincerity I can muster: this is a book that belongs on the shelf of every single Kirby enthusiast, Fantastic Four follower, and comic book aficionado."

The project is the brainchild of Mosley, whose introduction to the Fantastic Four comic book was a very personal one. Growing up African American in the early Sixties and living with a father who disdained comics, Mosley saw certain truths and sanctuaries in the world of Mr. Fantastic, the Invisible Girl, the Human Torch, and the Thing, and became enamored of the art of the King of Comics, Jack Kirby. As an adult he attempted to recapture that feeling, that moment he "learned that entertainment, education, and art could all coexist in one form" by blowing up each page of FF #1 and view its detail in a fresh fashion.

"I wanted to capture the feeling I had as a child when I would bear down and examine each panel with the kind of scrutiny that opens up worlds. I found that when I blew up the image - each panel comprising its own page - I was able to recreate that same experience. As an adult I can also see the parallels between some of the greatest painters and Kirby's compositions - from Goya to the grotesques DaVinci drew, on to some of the most dynamic painters of our last century. Jack Kirby's unique sense of composition and narrative put him in a league along with these masters."

Mosley is the author of such books as LITTLE SCARLET, THE MAN IN MY BASEMENT, FEARLESS JONES, and the continuing adventures of his character Easy Rawlins.

Maximum Fantastic Four is scheduled for release in December 2005 in comic shops and bookstores. It will feature a four-color dust jacket that unfolds into a giant full-color double-sided poster (25" X 36"); a matte laminated case with spot UV; and 224 interior pages composed mostly of high-resolution art.

More on Mosley's writings can be found at his website, www.WalterMosley.com

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