Jack Katz is undergoing a renaissance at the age of 86. The creator of The First Kingdom, called by the late Will Eisner, known as the father of the graphic novel, "One of the most awesome undertakings in modern comic book history." This "awesome undertaking" was originally published in Berkeley from 1974 to 1983, in 24 successive comic book issues and became known as one of the first graphic novels ever published.
Now the Titan Publishing Group in the United Kingdom has begun publishing the entire 10,000-year Saga in six hardcover volumes. This June marked the worldwide publication of Volume Four, Migration (The first three voumes are: The Birth of Tundrun, The Galaxy Hunters and Vengence). "A remarkable creative vision", comments Jerry Siegel, creator of Superman on the cover of Migration. "I always knew The First Kingdom would be reborn", said Katz recently in an interview in his Richmond apartment. It was in a closet in that apartment that the original art, comprising some 1,070 Bristol boards, lay sheltered, waiting to be discovered for some twenty-seven years.
Through a series of coincidences, I was introduced to Jack Katz and became aware of the extraordinary cache of storyboards that he was holding on to. Some thirty-five years ago, as a young fan, I used to line up in front of Comics and Comix on Telegraph Avenue, waiting for the next installment of The First Kingdom. This galactic vision was a post-Apocalyptic, multi-generational Saga that traces the destruction of humanity through nuclear war and its rebirth into a new race of Space explorers. The art was incredible! Detailed beyond imagining.
Because I was a fan, I knew what Katz had in his closet. Because I was a Literary Agent, I knew who to approach for The First Kingdom's rebirth: the Titan Publishing Group, the foremost publisher of graphic novels in the world. The rest, as they say, is history. Two more volumes are due to be published to complete the six-volume set: The Space Explorer's Club in September of 2014 and Destiny in December of 2014. Currently, Katz is working on a new saga, Beyond the Beyond.