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.
New York City feels like there's a museum on every block. I've lived here my whole life, and I like to think I've spent a good amount of that time as a semi-regular visitor of some of the historical sites and cultural institutions my hometown has to offer, yet I am not remotely close to having seen even a quarter of the museums this city has to offer. Many of them you know -- some are iconic, seemingly enormous, and world renowned, while others are smaller and occasionally temporary, but nonetheless significant. Basically, when it comes to taking in the culture in the largest city in the history of civilization, you do the best you can.
But sometimes you make seeing something a priority. And Prototype Alpha -- the "Pop-Up" museum created by the Jack Kirby Museum and Research Center that was open for seven days only this past week -- was one of those times. Located on Manhattan's Lower East Side, just a few blocks from where the iconic artist was raised, the museum was the first physical presence for the organization, and served as a wonderful testament to a man who is inarguably one of the most important artists New York City produced in the 20th century.
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