And yet the Energy Beam that's supposed to draw your eye is the only energy without Kirby Dots
"Right, the war. We've been at war with Apokolips since forever and then some. It's had its ups and downs, frankly. (...) Although, I have to admit it... that time also introduced those strange, glowing black dots upon which our society is built. Would
you want to live upon a dotless New Genesis? Right, I didn't think you did..."
, Mightygodking's Remix Comic
of Death Of The New Gods
Kirby dots are a method of showing a crackle of energy such as a lightning bolt or a Battle Aura
. They've been widely used in US superhero comics ever since they were first developed, by influential artist Jack Kirby
in the 1960s. Sometimes referred to as 'Kirby Krackle'.
The technique consists of drawing a series of overlapping dots along the edge of the energy effect in question, forming a fractal-like edge. It is used primarily in print comics, but is sometimes replicated in animation by particularly slavish adaptations.
There now exists a CGI tool
for automatically creating Kirby Dots, and even animating them. Interestingly, an analogous technique called 'particle emission' is used in Video Game
graphics for rendering fire, smoke, clouds and, not surprisingly, energy fields. This is, however, mostly because of technical limitations — it's just really hard and computation intensive to create a polygonal object that changes shape the way fire does. Particle emissions are merely the next best thing.
Not related to a dot named Kirby
. Name is used as a Shout Out
by the Nerdrock Band Kirby Krackle
- Deliberately invoked in the Disney film Atlantis The Lost Empire, especially for the massive energy discharges of the mechanoid beast that guards the undersea passage to Atlantis. The director discusses their use and origin by name on the commentary track.
- Ben 10 has a bunch of Kirby Dots against a green background during most of Ben's transformations. Also, the 0 in Ben 10 has a bunch of dots in the middle. This makes sense, as the series was influenced by comics.
- An episode of Superman: The Animated Series had Supes attacked by an Apokolips war machine with animated Kirby dots on its front panel.
- Batman: The Brave and the Bold, being heavily inspired by the Silver Age, features Kirby Dots in several background instances, including Blue Beetle's power-up sequence. It's also very noticeable in the highly Kirby-inspired episode "The Last Bat On Earth!", as well as in Omac's transformation sequence. (Omac, of course, is another Kirby creation.)
- Shego's energy powers exert this effect in Kim Possible.
- In the 2003 TMNT series, they did a tribute episode to Jack Kirby, Kirby Dots and all.
- In The Super Hero Squad Show Ms. Marvel calls Galactus's energy attack a "Kirby Krackle".
- All over the place in The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes.
- The Hulk once saw a commercial for Kirby Kibble dog food, containing "Kirby Dots of real beef".
- The short lived Silver Surfer animated series combined this with Conspicuous CGI with inconsistent effectiveness.
- Special mention goes to Kirby's renditions of God. See here.
- Also, Jack Kirby himself in the cover of Comic Book Comics #4 is holding drawing tools glowing with his signature dots.
- This Silver Age style fanart of Mega Man X contains it as a deliberate homage.
- Sunspots appear on the surface of stars during periods of intense magnetic activity and appear as (wait for it) a series of dark overlapping dots. They may have been Jack Kirby's inspiration for this particular technique.