Jack “the King” Kirby (1917-1994)

There was an amazing exhibit of Jack Kirby’s comic book artwork on display at CSUN. I was lucky enough to see it with a friend before the show closed down. Kirby is by far one of the most prolific and influential comic book artists/creators the medium has seen (and quite possibly ever see). Most people know of Stan Lee but many do not know Kirby. Without Kirby there really would not be a “Marvel” today.  His touch on the medium (especially the Stan Lee years) have created the look of what we know of comics today. He co-created Captain America, Fantastic Four, Thor, X-men, and the Hulk, and many more.

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Something I did not know is he co-created with Joe Simon the genre of romance comics. Which during their heyday accounted for 1/4 of total comic sales.

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Kirby became the style of Marvel. All new artists were to emulate and go thru a Kirby-esque training regime. Kirby also worked after feeling stymied at Marvel for DC comics as well. Creating an amazing mythos for them, The Fourth World saga. It comprised of the New Gods, Mister Miracle, the Forever people, and more. While at DC he also created OMAC, Kamandi, the Demon, and many more.

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I grew up reading comics by some of my most favorite artists/writers of my time period. I was introduced to the likes of John Byrne, Alan Davis, Jim Lee, George Perez, Marv Wolfman, Peter David, etc. When you look at the work that they did it all stems from the ground work of Kirby. The amazing thing of all this hard work it was when the industry paid very little for the pain, sweat and tears of these creators. Most were forced into Work for Hire contracts. It’s hard to imagine now with the powerhouse of comics in the Movie industry and in Toys, but most to almost all of the creators never received any major restitution.

It was humbling seeing the prolific nature of his work and knowing the effect of his creations on the history of comic books. Anyway I just wanted to share a little on this great man.

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