Jack Kirby is arguably the single most influential figure in the history of American comics. He produced countless stories in a career that spanned seven decades, inventing and re-inventing genres and styles every step of the way. He inspired generations of artists and writers; created and co-created thousands of characters; defined the visual vocabulary of superheroes; and believed in the potential of comics to be both entertainment and art, long before most people imagined these stories would be remembered past the four weeks that they sat on newsstands.
This Thursday would have been Kirby's 97th birthday. We've assembled some pieces to celebrating the life and work of the man American comics also knows as "the King." This one focuses on Kirby's strength as a cover illustrator.
I'm not really a beer drinker -- I prefer my alcoholic beverages to be the sort of sugary concoctions that either involve a handful of fruit and a blender or about as much chocolate as your average donut -- but if there's one thing that could get me to check out a bottle of pale ale, it'd be tying it to the legendary King of Comics, Jack Kirby. Which, believe it or not, is something that's actually happening.
Here's a pretty good sign Jack Kirby was one of the greatest comic book artists who ever lived, if not the greatest: The museum that bears his name and a historian who was also a family friend of the Kirbys are in a public spat over photocopies of his pencil work. Not the originals (many of which are more than likely lost). Photocopies.
Here's the long and short of it: Historian and illustrator Greg Theakston says he gave The Jack Kirby Museum and Research Center the 3,000-plus copies as a loan, not as a donation. He has asked for it back. The museum isn't giving it back, saying Theakston provided the art as a donation. So Theakston filed a stolen goods report with the Hoboken, N.J. police.
Now in its third year, the Kirby4Heroes campaign headed up by Jack Kirby's granddaughter, Jilian Kirby, is setting its sights a little higher.
It's increasing its fundraising goal, which benefits comics creator non-profit group the Hero Initiative, from $10,000 to $15,000, and is aiming to get even more artists and comics shops involved in the effort. It's also been endorsed by ComicsPRO, the trade organization for comic retailers, according to the LA Times' Hero Complex.
It's never a safe bet to think the United States Supreme Court will take on any particular case -- it only accepts a handful each year -- but the credibility of Jack Kirby's family's case against Marvel Comics got another big boost recently.
Attorney Tom Goldstein, the founder of SCOTUSblog, one of the most widely-read online sources for Supreme Court commentary, has opted to co-represent the Kirby family as it fights for copyrights for characters Kirby co-created between 1958 and 1963, which include the Hulk, the X-Men, the Fantastic Four, and a slew of others. Goldstein's name puts considerable muscle behind the Kirby family's claim, which Marvel has asked the Supreme Court to dismiss because it doesn't "merit review."
Of all the characters that Jack Kirby created for DC Comics in the 1970s, a roster that includes OMAC and the Demon, the ones that have always resonated the most with readers are undoubtedly Mister Miracle and Big Barda. The story of a super-escape artist who fled an oppressive planet rather than be changed into something he wasn't, and a fierce warrior who overcame her brutal conditioning and learned to love, and how they conquered evil is, one of the most compelling things Kirby created in a long and unmatched career in superhero comics, and it's been a favorite of subsequent creators over the past 40 years too.
One such creator is Ramón Pérez, the Eisner-winning cartoonist of Jim Henson's Tale of Sand, who revealed on Twitter this week that he pitched a Mister Miracle and Big Barda series that "died because of the New 52."
Truly, we are living in a fallen world, but the good news is that you can at least check out a sample of Pérez's work.
Jack Kirby's family has some powerful friends on its side in its legal battle with Marvel to claim back copyright of characters Kirby created between 1958 and 1963 -- characters that include the Fantastic Four, The Hulk, and the X-Men -- but Marvel's attorneys are trying to shut the whole fight down before it advances any further.
Marvel and Disney have filed formal paperwork requesting that the U.S. Supreme Court reject the case of Kirby V. Marvel, saying it doesn't "remotely merit this Court's review."
Ravage 2099 and Stripperella co-creator Stan Lee has been channeling Andy Rooney in a series of videos on World of Heroes called "Stan's Rants." Like those missives of the late American broadcaster, these clips are mostly benign "cranky old man" bits. His newest one is about how he hates being on hold, for example.
But the video above, which is from last week, is a knife in the guts of less famous comics creators -- which is to say, nearly all of them. In the video, Lee complains about having to sit through long credits at the end of movies, including superhero movies.
"Nobody knows who [these people] are, nobody can read them and nobody cares," he says, astonishingly.
But here's the problem: Those credits are usually where the names of comics creators who wrote and drew the characters the movies are based on actually get seen.
The Marvel Unlimited app is a gigantic, messy cache of awesome and terrible old comic books: a library of 13,000 or so back issues of Marvel titles, available on demand for subscribers with tablets or mobile phones. Like any good back-room longbox, it’s disorganized and riddled with gaps, but it’s also full of forgotten and overlooked jewels, as well as a few stone classics. In Marvel Unlimited Edition, Eisner-winning critic Douglas Wolk dives into the Unlimited archive to find its best, oddest and most intriguing comics.
Two spin-offs of Guardians of the Galaxy launch in recent weeks: The Legendary Star-Lord and the already-surprise-hit Rocket Raccoon. Marvel Unlimited's got a fairly thorough, if not quite complete, selection of most of the Guardians' previous appearances, especially the ones in the Annihilation/Annihilation: Conquest/Annihilators sequence. But their prehistory is worth digging into, too, and there's some choice proto-Guardians material in the archive.
If our weekly Ask Chris column isn't enough of definitive comic book (and pro wrestling) opinions for you, good news: ComicsAlliance is proud to present Here's The Thing, a series of videos where you can join our own extremely opinionated senior writer, Chris Sims, as he dives into comics history to explain why you're wrong and he's right.
This week, a viewer writes in with a question about where to start with the King of Comics, Jack Kirby. With a career that spanned six decades and a masterpiece (or three) in every era, the sheer amount of work that Kirby produced can be daunting for a new reader. Fortunately, we've got some suggestions.
It appears that you already have an account created within our VIP network of sites on .
To keep your personal information safe, we need to verify that it's really you.
To activate your account, please confirm your password.
When you have confirmed your password, you will be able to log in through Facebook on both sites.
It appears that you already have an account on this site associated with . To connect your existing account just click on the account activation button below. You will maintain your existing VIP profile. After you do this, you will be able to always log in to http://comicsalliance.com using your original account information.