The 28th of August was the 100th birthday of Jacob Kurtzberg, known to the geeky amongst us as Jack ‘the King’ Kirby. It was be quite the achievement, but sadly the man passed away in 1994.
I never met the man, nor saw much of his life off the page, so I won’t pretend to miss him, or feel saddened for his loss. His family lost him, his friends lost him and his colleagues past and present lost him. I’m not going to pretend to have this great sense of loss, it would be disingenuous. But I also can’t say he didn’t have an effect on me either.
In the mid 1980’s a was given a copy of Original X-Men #1 which was a reprint title of the 1960’s X-Men. This was drawn and co-plotted by one Jack Kirby and I’ll be honest, I was entranced. The character design, the action and the just mad dynamism of those pages affect me even now. One of my early favourite artists was John Byrne, who was so very clearly influenced by Kirby as was Byrne’s contemporary Walt Simonson who did the greatest run on the Mighty Thor since, well the man who launched Thor to comic stardom, Jack Kirby. If you look at the marvel movies from the last year or so, or one of the DC movies from last year. You’d be hard pushed not to see Kirby’s influence 40-50 years after his work on these characters.
Batman vs Superman (the dream sequence was full of 4th world creations)
Captain America: Civil War (Captain America, Iron Man, Ant Man, Black Panther and even some of the original designs for Spider-Man, all Kirby)
Guardians of the Galaxy vol 2 (Ego, the Celestials, Warlock and Groot all have roots in Kirby’s work.)
Some later movies
Thor Ragnarok (Thor and Hulk)
Justice League ( Steppenwolf, the Mother Box etc)
All these million dollar ideas were all born from the pencil of Jack Kirby.
He inspired many artists who followed him and challenged many that worked alongside him. Comics wouldn’t be comics without him and to me, that would be a very sad place. He passed away and was the most part shafted along the way by suits as well as friends, but his legacy remains.
90% of the Marvel Universe, including the Inhumans, Avengers, X-Men, Fantastic Four, Black Panther, Adam Warlock, the Kree, the Skrull, Iron Man, Captain America, Thor, the X-Men, Galactus and the Silver Surfer.
The Fourth World
Devil F***ing Dinosaur
This man was an idea factory and came up with some of the wildest and most amazing ideas in sci-fi history as well as working for years in animation, adding to the creation of Thundarr the Barbarian and the Centurions amongst others. He was the man who drew Captain America punching Hitler long before the US became part of WWII and when it did, he signed up and fought.
I’m not going to get into the who did what debate between him and Stan Lee, but lets be honest without either of them, no one would care about what Marvel became and it’s the visuals that Kirby put down that remain with us.
But to get back to the point, without the work Kirby did, we wouldn’t have the Marvel Universe, a place I spent much more of my life than would be considered healthy. Years later I would be amazed by his 4th world stuff and would grab a new appreciation for his legacy and without that, I’d have missed out on a ton of stuff that has fired up my imagination. I’ve read a lot of cool comics, watched a ton of great tv and movies and have had some great conversations out of it. Comics were my escape, my passion and still now my favourite form of entertainment so for all of that….thank you Mr Kirby may your legacy endure.