There has always been something I’ve found fascinating about Silver Surfer’s origin story hinging on a wanderlust inspired act of self-sacrifice. There is something I enjoy about his less-is-more aesthetic. There is something I relate to in his unassailable yet melancholy morality. He is a loner, reclusive and suffering. At the same time he is soulful and capable of great love. I really feel that Jack Kirby succeeded in creating a character that can stand shoulder to shoulder with the greats in the pantheon of mankind’s collective mythologies.
The Silver Surfer debuted in 1966 as an unplanned addition to Fantastic Four #48. When Kirby turned in his pencil art for Fantastic Four #48, he included a new character he and Stan Lee had not discussed. As Lee recalled in 1995: “There, in the middle of the story we had so carefully worked out, was a nut on some sort of flying surfboard.” He later expanded on this, recalling: “I thought, ‘Jack, this time you’ve gone too far’.”
Kirby explained that the story’s agreed-upon antagonist, a god-like cosmic predator of planets named Galactus, should have some sort of herald, and that he created the surfboard “because I’m tired of drawing spaceships!” Taken by the noble features of the new character, who turned on his master to help defend Earth, Lee overcame his initial skepticism and began adding characterization. The Silver Surfer soon became a key part of the unfolding story.
And so, knowing that the readers of this site are quickly bored without talk or images of the little plastic people, here follows a handful of photos capturing different incarnations of Silver Surfer and Galactus. Thanks to my buddy, xrmc20, for some toy assists.
Toy Biz Fantastic Four
Toy Biz Marvel Legends
Hasbro Marvel Universe
Hasbro Superhero Squad
Hasbro Mighty Muggs
And now the story of my recent adventure with these epic characters and their creator, Jack Kirby. A long time ago I decided at exactly the same time that 1) I wanted a tattoo, and 2) that it would be of the Silver Surfer. Now, ink might be something you rush into when you are 18, but when you are in your mid-30’s a more circumspect approach prevails. I started by gathering reference materials. Basically, I collected all the Silver Surfer images that I liked and thought would translate well into body art. From the get-go I knew I wanted a more Kirby-inspired retro feel. Of course, the image of Silver Surfer emerging from Galactus’s giant hand is meaningful and iconic. But the piece of art I kept coming back to was the first page of Silver Surfer #18. (Didn’t hurt that I’m also a big fan of the Inhumans who guest star in that ish.)
And so, finally armed with more than enough reference material I began the exhaustive search for a local tattoo artist that I could trust to translate my vision. Whenever I saw someone with a tattoo that I liked and had a similar feel to what I was after I would ask them where they got it done. The same answer kept coming back: Aaron Coleman at Immaculate Tattoo. Aaron specializes in merging traditional Americana and Japanese styles, throwing some Rat Fink in for good measure. And because he is damn good he’s one of the most popular artists around. I made an appointment to discuss the project and knew right away that this was my guy. So I got on the six month waiting list! Gave me plenty of time to chicken out.
The Silver Surfer tat took two good sessions. First Aaron did all the outlining and then he did the shading and coloring. I’ll spare you the details about pain and whimpering. After the Silver Surfer tattoo was done Aaron says nonchalantly: “So, it’d be cool to do Galactus’s head on the inside.” I think I let out something like this: “Ohhhh. Yeahhh.” So I scheduled another appointment for the space-god.
Although I had a good idea what I wanted for content and some basic ideas about aesthetic, I also really wanted Aaron to insert as much of his style as possible. And he did. I really feel that, in the end, I got a perfect synthesis of Jack Kirby and Aaron Coleman to proudly carry around with me for the rest of my days! And, dang if I don’t feel a little imbued with the Power Cosmic now!
Thanks to local photographer, Art Holeman, for shooting my arm when he was in the studio the other day.