(This post originally ran in slightly different form on July 23, 2005)
Back in the fall of 1971, I was a freshman at Southwest Texas State University in San Marcos, about thirty miles south of Austin. One Friday afternoon I started home after my classes but stopped at Stuckey's in Round Rock, which at that time was about ten or fifteen miles north of Austin (it's town all the way between them now). When I got back in my car to head on home, it wouldn't start. Nothing I could do would make it run. I called my brother-in-law and he agreed to come help me, but it would be about three hours before he could get there. There was a convenience store just up the service road, so I walked over there to wait for help to arrive. The old man who ran the place was very talkative and was glad for me to wait there. There was a stack of comic books on the counter, so I picked up one of them to read. It was SUPERMAN'S PAL, JIMMY OLSEN #139, and when I opened it to the first page, I immediately recognized the artwork of Jack Kirby.
I'd been a Marvel fan since 1963 and was very familiar with Kirby's work, of course. I knew he had left Marvel in 1970 and gone to work for DC, but I had never read any of his comics for them and didn't even know he was writing and drawing JIMMY OLSEN, a book I'd never read. Not surprisingly, I was hooked right away and had to hunt up the back issues that I had missed. I also started reading Kirby's other "Fourth World" series for DC: THE NEW GODS, THE FOREVER PEOPLE, and MISTER MIRACLE. The art was great, the scope of the stories was epic, and the dialogue, while a lot more awkward than what Stan Lee had provided for Kirby over at Marvel, had its own goofy charm.
Recently DC has reprinted Kirby's JIMMY OLSEN run in a couple of nice, full-color trade paperbacks. I've read the first one, and I enjoyed the stories just as much now as I did nearly 35 years ago, maybe even more. I have the second volume and plan to read it soon.
By the way, my brother-in-law did arrive and got me and my junker of a car back home safely. The whole experience prompted me to write a song about it several years later, called "Round Rock Breakdown", one of my very, very rare ventures into songwriting. Don't worry, the song is long gone and I couldn't recreate it. I wouldn't even try.