I love comics, and moreso there are a few characters that hold a dear space in my heart. If you’ve been reading my posts you may have noticed that I usually make reference to Captain America. One of the greatest characters ever to grace American pop-culture. What is the first thing that pops into the mind of readers when they hear Cap’s name mentioned? It has been my sad experience that it isn’t Jack Kirby, nor does Jack come up when discussing other such great characters that he had a direct hand in crafting.
Like many others I had fallen into a pattern as a youth of thinking all Marvel characters a Stan Lee creation. I always thought that he had written and drawn the comics and the characters. I was still young when I discovered that this was not at all true. The great Stan Lee had dreamt of these stories, but they were never realized until he took them to Jack, his right-hand man. So Jack Kirby has had a hand in shaping the stories and their now common themes for us, but he has always been overshadowed by his longtime friend and collaborator Stan Lee, whose name is often the first that pops into people’s heads when they hear of the characters that populate our land of imagination.
Jack created such icons as the Fantastic Four, Iron Man, Black Panther, Thor, the Hulk, the X-Men, Magneto, Nick Fury, Galactus, Groot, Silver Surfer, and many others that are now seen on the screen and still read throughout the comic book universe. He wrote and drew for both Marvel and DC, long before and after they were known as such, and literally created the style of Marvel art. That’s powerful. You have to take the time to read the comics to see Stan Lee’s work, but Jack’s is so embedded into our culture that those who have never read a comic can still remember how the Hulk looks, still has their favorite X-Men character, and is still frightened of the planet eater Galactus, the big purple guy that comes out in the Marvel VS Capcom series.
That’s powerful, and yet he maybe one of the lesser known lights. Like a Nikola Tesla, a man who worked and strove all his life to create for others, only to be forgotten in the light that he created. We cannot allow that to happen to Jack. We as comic book lovers must remember this man, and as his birthday is the 28th of August we have to remember the life and work of Jack, which a small band of outlaws are trying to do through their Jack Kirby Museum and Research Center.
The Jack Kirby Museum has as their mission to “organize exclusively for educational purposes; more specifically, to promote and encourage the study, understanding, preservation and appreciation of the work of Jack Kirby”. This is great and much needed. If you are a novice to who Kirby is please refer to their site, KirbyMuseum.org, as they have a well written biography on the man, and look out for them at your next local convention.
This they do while there is a stemming fight right now between the Kirby estate and Marvel. In a brave move the daughter of Jack has been suing to get back her father’s characters. This could show the sheer magnitude of his work, if this goes through it will take back such characters as the Avengers, the Hulk, Iron Man, the Fantastic Four, Thor, and the X-Men. All of which have made the Marvel company billions. The case seems to have some big names attached to it, and it is actually bringing to light some very sad truths about Marvel Comics. For more on this please refer to ComicAlliance.com and view an article posted by Andrew Wheeler called, “Kirby V. Marvel May Head to Supreme Court, With Powerful Friends in The Kirby Estate’s Corner”.
But enough with the negativity. I only hoped to remind people of the Nikola Tesla of comics, and ask that all who love this man’s work, to please spend this 28th of August, which would have been his 97th birthday, reading some old Kirby comics, watching the movie magic that has brought the characters to life, play a round of a game with one of his characters and give the Jack Kirby Museum a like and follow. Until next time thanks for reading.