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Crystal Skillman And Fred Van Lente Launch ‘King Kirby,’ A Kickstarter-Funded Play About Jack Kirby’s Life

If you’ve read Fred Van Lente and Ryan Dunlavey‘s Comic Book Comics, then you already know that Van Lente is pretty passionate about comics history in general and the life of the great Jack Kirby in particular, and with good reason. Kirby’s story is fascinating, and, as Van Lente says, covers a massive chunk of the history of American comics, starting at their beginning in the late ’40s and continuing all the way to his death, while still producing stories, in 1993.

Now, Van Lente and playwright Crystal Skillman are set to bring Kirby’s story to the stage in a play they’ve written called King Kirby, and they’re raising the money to do it via Kickstarter.


King Kirby, art by Ryan Dunlavey


According to the Kickstarter page, the husband-and-wife team of Van Lente and Skillman aren’t just doing a dramatized biography of Kirby, they’re using his story to examine ideas of legacy, and what happens when a man’s lasting creations are things that he doesn’t own. That’s a major sticking point for both Kirby as a creator and for fans of his work — he was, after all, the co-creator of the Marvel Universe and the majority of its most famous characters, but was relatively unknown in his lifetime while others were in the spotlight.

The play is already set to take the stage at the Comic Book Theater Festival at the Brick Theater in New York, with Steven Ratazzi, the voice of Dr. Orpheus from The Venture Bros., as Kirby, directed by John Hurley, who previously worked with Skillman on both her award-winning The Vigil and the stage adaptation of Van Lente and Dunlavey’s Action Philosophers. Backers will fund the production, and in return, rewards include copies of the script, audio recordings of the play, and more — including tickets to see it if you happen to be in New York City.

With 29 days to go on the Kickstarter, Van Lente and Skillman have already raised over half of their initial goal, and it’s definitely worth backing. Anything that gets Kirby’s life and legacy out there to the public is something I’m happy to support.



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