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Today we present a special guest post from Kandou Erik. He will tell us all about how to get 3D comics by Jack Kirby right onto your iPad!

We encourage you to visit his Comics, Japanese Stuff, and More, and his Japanese Power Rangers site Super Sentai.

Captain 3D and Jack Kirby 3D Comics
By Kandou Erik

Jack Kirby’s art has always been described as being so action-packed that it seems the characters are jump right off the page. When I found out that Jack had done two 3D Comics books, I thought I’d like to see that for myself.

I recently began reading some comics digitally and creating my own digital comics (where you scan pages onto your computer, and then put them in a zip file.) I downloaded a free Comic Reader App. I think there are a few out there, but the one I like and use is called GrassGames’ Comic Reader, for the iPad. It’s pretty bare bones, with a zoom feature which can lock, for easier reading when flipping pages, and a crystal clear display – somewhat better than Comixology.

GrassGames’ Comic Reader gives you three issues as an example of what it’s like. Just tap on the side (don’t slide, only tap,) and you’ll flip through the pages. Touch the bottom of the screen to display the menu, where you and navigate to different pages, see settings, and go back to your list of issues by pressing the “+” icon. It’s pretty easy once you know how to use it but can feel cumbersome at first.

To download new files onto it, all you have to do is connect your iPad to the computer and, through iTunes, go to “Sharing Files.” There you can place files onto the GrassGames Comic Reader app. If you make your own issues by scanning an issue you have into the computer, remember to number the files in order. Cover is 1, pages are 2, 3, etc. If you don’t, it can get all mixed up.

The place they suggest for downloading free comics is the Digital Comic Museum. You have to sign up for free to download anything. But, once you do, you have access to a wide array of unique comics. They stress that they carefully check to make sure all issues offered are in the public domain. So, there isn’t much in the way of Superman or Batman. Captain Marvel and Plastic Man, strangely enough, are there – while other characters you’d think might be public domain (like Jack Kirby’s Fighting American) aren’t available.

I specifically wanted to look for Jack Kirby issues. While they don’t have some of his more famous books, they have a lot of his older work like Black Cat Mystery, Alarming Tales, Justice Traps the Guilty, The Strange World of Your Dreams, and other books. You have to look around for what you like and see whether it’s good quality or not. Sometimes the scans aren’t very good to begin with as some people are scanning from their very own copies.

Anyway – I was surprised to see Jack Kirby’s Captain 3D! I only know of two 3D books he did: Captain 3D, and later The Battle for a Three Dimensional World, the latter not being available in the public domain.

Still, here was my chance to try out Jack Kirby’s artwork in 3D! I was happy to discover that it works perfectly well on the iPad. All you need are old versions of 3D glasses with red and bluish green lenses. The issue is presented in black and white. So, if you’re able to see the artwork clearly (without many double lines,) then the art should generally look white as well. It’s not perfect – there are a few inherent inconsistencies – but for the most part, it really works! I actually don’t see this much depth even in movie theaters.

Just like Kirby draws his art, there are layers of background, characters, and foreground objects. Given his already dynamic art style, it works extremely well here. One panel, where Captain 3D is punching out a gang of thugs, looks great. All the enemies are kind of floating right there on the panel, mid punch! Another page shows a downward view on a high-rise skyscraper under construction. It really looks incredible!

The story, also, isn’t half bad. It essentially tells the story of a young boy named Danny, who runs a book store his parents left to him. A man hurriedly brings in a book and gives it to Danny. Before he knows it, an unknown assailant fires a ray gun that melts the man into nothingness. Danny tries tell a police officer but isn’t believed. Later, he looks at the book, and there’s a strangely dressed man and some 3D Glasses. Wearing the glasses, Danny looks at the book, with the man on the page leaping out of it and into Danny’s world. The book is called “The Book of D.” Captain 3D explains that he is a survivor of a long-dead society with highly advanced technology that allowed them to suspend the Captain inside The Book of D.

The Book of D gets passed from generation to generation to keep it safe from mankind’s deadly enemy, the Cat People. These Cat People appear like normal citizens but, through the gaze of the lenses, Danny can see them for what they really are. Apparently the Cat People originally destroyed the long-dead society and have through the ages tried to recover The Book of D for themselves.

Danny goes on an adventure with Captain 3D in the next story (split up into 3 parts) facing a leader of the Cat People, a woman named Tigra. She wants to be able to create an army using the same technique used to create the book of D. Captain 3D and Danny stop her, of course, with her manufactured soldiers burning up and dissolving into the paper they once were. The third story has a more conventional super-hero adventure: Danny and Captain 3D try to stop a gangster with a distinctive metal plate in his head. It’s less exciting, detached from the previous narratives, but has some cool 3D shots.

I believe only one issue was published. The idea of “Cat People” was a little strange. But, overall, the character and the story are very engaging, especially so for young children who originally read it. Partnering Captain 3D with Danny gave the story a somewhat Captain Marvel-like quality, where this young boy can call upon powers beyond himself.

There’s something funny to read in the opening pages, where they explain 3D Comics to kids. 3D Comics obviously didn’t set the world on fire – but with fine-print safety directions like this, they sure gave it their all!

In the gallery below, you’ll find a few images from the series. Some are 3D, and others are examples of the art Kirby created to make these books. You can see the difference in styles in Kirby’s artwork as some of the images come from “The Battle for a Three Dimensional World.”

You can look up the GrassGames Comic Reader App by searching for it in the app-store on an iPad.
– The Digital Comic Museum: http://digitalcomicmuseum.com/
– Direct link to the Captain 3D issue: http://digitalcomicmuseum.com/index.php?dlid=2269