Celebrate Jack Kirby, the King of Comics
In comic books, there are origin stories, which give readers reason to celebrate. Jack Kirby, like so many comic artists, gave characters fascinating back stories and created detailed histories behind superheroes. The Incredible Hulk, for example, was originally a scientist who was exposed to the radioactive rays of a Gamma bomb. Captain America, was a scrawny but patriotic kid who enlisted in the army and was given a dose of Super Soldier serum. The much beloved Groot, from Guardians of the Galaxy, was the last of his kind from Planet X before he joined the ragtag team of heroes.
Every hero has a tale. However, behind all these origin stories was one man, Jack Kirby. While many recognize Stan Lee as the media-savvy creator of the Marvel Universe, only true comic book readers and fans recognize and celebrate Jack Kirby’s quiet contributions to both Marvel and DC comic universes. Hunched over his drawing board, Jack Kirby plotted out and drew the fantastic lives of many well-known and well-loved superheroes today. Not bad for a guy who learned to draw by tracing editorial cartoons from the newspaper!
Jack was the single most influential figure in the turnaround in Marvel’s fortunes from the time he rejoined the company … It wasn’t merely that Jack conceived most of the characters that are being done, but … Jack’s point of view and philosophy of drawing became the governing philosophy of the entire publishing company and, beyond the publishing company, of the entire field … [Marvel took] Jack and use[d] him as a primer. They would get artists … and they taught them the ABCs, which amounted to learning Jack Kirby. … Jack was like the Holy Scripture and they simply had to follow him without deviation. That’s what was told to me … It was how they taught everyone to reconcile all those opposing attitudes to one single master point of view. – Artist Gil Kane
Celebrate Jack Kirby Legacy and Artwork
These are just ten of the many wonderful characters (and comic book covers!) Jack Kirby created. Check them out and see how many of these guys you recognize:
Captain America, created in 1940 with Joe Simon The Fantastic Four, created in 1961 with Stan Lee Thor, created in 1962 with Stan Lee and Larry Lieber The Incredible Hulk, created in 1962 with Stan Lee
Iron Man, created in 1963 with Stan Lee, Larry Lieber and Don Heck Original X-Men and Magneto, created in 1963 with Stan Lee
Groot, created in 1960 with Stan Lee and Dick Ayers
The Silver Surfer, created in 1968 with Stan Lee and John Buscema
Darkseid, published by DC Comics in 1970
The Inhumans, first appeared in 1965 with The Fantastic Four, reappeared in 1967 with Thor, and had their own series in 1975. Created with Stan Lee.
Jack Kirby was clearly one of the most influential comic book legends in the industry.
Because today is his birthday, a selection of comics retailers across the country will donate a portion of their day’s sales to the Hero Initiative as part of the Kirby4Heroes drive. The Hero Initiative creates a financial safety net for comic creators who may need emergency medical aid, financial support for essentials of life, and an avenue back into paying work. Kirby4Heroes is a charitable venture which was launched to generate donations for the Hero Initiative, a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping comic book creators in need, and offering assistance to artists and writers.
Celebrate Jack Kirby with Beer
In addition to this, Schmaltz Brewery has created a special edition King Kirby Ale. They’ve organized a birthday event as a tribute to Jack Kirby and will be giving out samples of this new beer. Proceeds of this event will go to the Hero Initiative.
Hail to the King. Happy Birthday, Jack Kirby!
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Sources for info and images: Who Created Captain America, Top Marvel Characters, Blog Into Mystery, Capns Comics, Comic Book Daily, The Hero Initiative, Hero Complex