If your a hard core comic collector, a casual reader, someone who loves comic book movies Jack Kirby has influenced what you enjoy with or without you knowing it. Sunday 28th August would have been The Kings 99th birthday. Do you think when he drew his first comic people would still be talking about the importance of his work eighty years later?
I suppose we should address the elephant in the room. The injustice Kirby and his estate have suffered down the years at the hands of Marvels lawyers. But we shouldn’t still be talking about it. I don’t want to sound blasé but it is a problem from a different era. I’m not saying Kirby supporters should go silent and let the injustice rest, but there is a time and a place for it. Kirby Week should be about the man and his art. The management and personnel have changed so many times over the years fans should not harass them when it comes to Kirby. A lot of Marvel staffers are comic fans. Jack Kirby means as much to them as he does anyone else. It is a problem they probably never wanted to inherit from regime change to regime change. I don’t envy them at all. Next year would be the big 100. Can we celebrate the man and his art and not mention the other stuff?
Since Fantastic Four #1 hit the stands in 1961 Jack Kirby remains as relevant and popular as ever. No one in any form of media has enjoyed such longevity! With good reason too, you don’t get the nickname ‘King’ by being bang average. I went onto Twitter with the simple task ‘One word or one piece to capture Jack Kirby?’ I got some good responses that helped fuel my passion in this blog. Artist Ryan Cody (@ryancody) gave me ‘excitement.’ It’s a simple word, but hard to disagree with. From a personal point of view Kirby has never had a strong input on the characters I collect. But you look at his art and it brings a smile to your face. His are images that remind you of a simpler time in comics when it was all about telling one good story a month. Creators were working issues to issues putting their all into never knowing if there would be work the next week. Kirby was a pioneer and the innovations and techniques he used paved the way for longevity of superhero comics right up to their dominance on the big screen. Mike Zapcic of AMC’s Comic Book Men offered this image https://twitter.com/michaelzapcic/status/768800532660121600. Powerful stuff, instantly recognisable as Kirby! Artist David Golding (@DavidGoldingArt) put forward the word ‘genius.’ While Kirby is predominantly thought of as an artist his writing duties aren’t to be scoffed at. The post-apocalyptic Kamandi and the first Black Panther on-going. Huge sagas for both Marvel and DC in the shape of The Eternals and The New Gods respectively. Paul (@pb609plus1) gave me a more colourful word with ‘unfuckwithable.’ Again its hard to disagree with when you look at the evidence. When you think of Kirby instinctively you think Marvel Comics and the era that launched today’s popular characters. There was a time when Marvels loss was DCs gain. He gave them gold! Darkseid often thought of as the JLA’s main protagonist is a Kirby creation. I found out the other day that he tweaked Green Arrows origin to the one we know today. The same one which was the basis for the flashbacks in season 1 of Arrow. Going forward the DCEU is going to be packed full of Kirby creations. We have already had glimpses of Steppenwolf, Mother boxes and Boom tubes. With Justice League out next year his creations are going to play an important roll in DC movies going forward. Which brings me to my next point. Has anyone put my original characters from comics to the big screen? (Remember we are ignoring the fact he hasn’t been properly credited). Captain America, Hulk, Thor, The FF, Black Panther, Silver Surfer, most of the X-Men. Add to that which ever DC characters they use going forward and I think he has it in the bag. The size and the diversity of his career also put him head and shoulders above everyone else. Especially his modern contemporaries. Jack Kirby done 102 consecutive issues of Fantastic Four. A superstar artist these days does one story arc and needs a break! Superheroes, Westerns, Crime, Horror, Romance, Sci-Fi. Kirby did it all and he did it with enthusiasm and to the highest standard.
So next year will mark what would be Jack Kirby’s 100th birthday. Maybe Marvel and DC can give him more than a week. Why not go all out? One Hundred years deserves a Kirby Con. If no one else does it I’ll do it online. Contact me via Twitter @ianwells87 or email firstname.lastname@example.org and we can put some ideas together.
Long Live The King