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Art and prints from Jack Kirby the King of Comics. The Jack Kirby Store. Comic Books
Jacob Kurtzberg (/ ˈ k ɜːr t s b ɜːr ɡ /; August 28, 1917 – February 6, 1994), better known by his pen name Jack Kirby, was an American comic book artist, writer and editor, widely regarded as one of the medium's major innovators and one of its most prolific and influential creators.
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Jack Kirby was almost certainly the most important comic book artist of the 20th century. He was leagues ahead of anybody else, even in the creative maelstrom that was the 1960s. He played a major, massive role in making Marvel what it was, and became, and his influence is everywhere in popular culture.
- Ten Speed Press
- Tom Scioli
- Early Career
- DC Comics
- Wartime Activities
- Postwar Career
- New Gods
- Later Career
After publishing a few works in outlets for amateur artists, Kirby entered the world of professional cartooning in 1936. He was hired by the Lincoln Newspaper Syndicate to work on comic strips and advice cartoons. He stayed there until 1939. He then briefly joined the field of animation and was hired by the Fleischer Studios. He worked as an in-betweener in animated shorts, drawing intermediate frames between two images to give the appearance that the first image evolves smoothly into the second image. He quit after a short period, feeling dissatisfied with the factory-like conditions at Fleischer. In the late 1930s and early 1940s, the comic book medium was taking off and there were many available positions for writers and artists interested in working in the medium. Kirby soon joined the staff at the Eisner and Iger Studio, working under co-founders Will Eisner and Jerry Iger. The Studio was one of a number of pioneering companies, called packagers, selling completed comic book st...
At first DC was uncertain on what work to assign Simon and Kirby. After a few minor assignments, they were asked to contribute their own story ideas. The duo soon took over the already established Sandman series featured in Adventure Comics and revamped the character. They also created a new version of the Manhunter, this time as a superhero. Kirby and Simon wanted to name the character "Rick Nelson", but the editor changed the name to "Paul Kirk", essentially naming him after an earlier character called Paul Kirk, Manhunter. Simon and Kirby found more success with a non-superhero idea. They created the Boy Commandos, a combination of the "kid gang" concept that was already established in comic books with a then-modern war setting. The Commandos soon became one of the most popular DC series of their time, graduated to their own title, and reportedly sold "over a million copies each month". In their heyday, the commandos were the third highest selling characters DC had in its stable....
Kirby's comic book career had to be put in hiatus in 1943, when he was drafted into the United States Army. While he never took part in any major battle, he was deployed in the European theatre of World War IIin 1944. Following the Invasion of Normandy, Kirby was tasked with drawing reconnaissance maps and images of areas the Army was considering to occupy. He was effectively a military scout and reconnaissance agent and his work put him at risk. A case of severe frostbite in the winter of 1944-1945 resulted in his hospitalization. There were fears that his feet would have to be amputated for him to survive, though he managed to recover with no amputation necessary. He was discharged from the Army in July, 1945, having been awarded medals for his service.
Following his discharge from the Army, Kirby was reunited with Simon. Simon had spend the majority of the War serving in the United States Coast Guard. They were both looking for a way to return to comic book work, though their old jobs at DC had been taken by other creators. They spend the next several years working for Harvey Comics. For Harvey, the duo created some original characters such, as the superheroes Stuntman (1946) and Captain 3-D (1953). However, these characters were not as popular as their earlier creations. Besides their relatively steady work for Harvey, Simon and Kirby freelanced for other publishers. Their employers of the time included publishers such as Crestwood Publications and Hillman Periodicals. For Crestwood, Simon and Kirby created one of their greatest hits: Young Romance, the first of the romance comics. At the time traditional comic book genres such as superheroes were in decline and publishers and creators were looking for new ideas. Simon and Kirby...
In 1953-1954, Simon and Kirby were annoyed to find out that Atlas Comics (the then-current name of Marvel Comics) was reviving Captain America. They had never asked for any input from Simon and Kirby to do this, nor offered to rehire them. Seeking for a way to outdo their old creation, the duo created a new superhero called Fighting American (1954) for Crestwood Publications. At first conceived as a serious 1950s take on the old patriotic hero concept, Fighting American's series soon became largely satirical. It never sold well and did not last long, though it has left enough of a mark in the comic book medium to be constantly reprinted and occasionally revived from a relatively high number of publishers. In late 1953-1954, Simon and Kirby founded their own comic book publishing company: Mainline Publications. At the time the comic book industry was under attack by psychiatrist Fredric Wertham (1895-1981) and politician Estes Kefauver (1903-1963). Many of the older comic book publis...
In 1961, Atlas/Marvel editor-in-chief Stan Lee wanted to create a new superhero team to compete with DC's Justice League of America, which was turning out to be a hit. He decided to collaborate with Kirby, reworking the basic concept of the Challengers in combination of Lee's ideas for more complex characterization, to create the team, the result being the Fantastic Four. For the first story of the new team, Lee created a synopsis of what he wanted the story to be like. Kirby then incorporated his own ideas and drew the whole story. Then Lee added his own dialogue to the finished artwork and narrative captions. The finished story was then offered for further inking, coloring, and eventual publication. This was the so-called "Marvel Method" of producing stories (Also known as "Plot-Scripting"), where both co-creators had considerable influence on what was being created as effectively co-writers. In later years, both Kirby and Lee would argue over who was the true creator of the Fanta...
By the early 1970s, Kirby felt increasingly dissatisfied with his working relationship with Marvel. He was paid much better than before, earning about 35,000 dollars per year. But he felt that he was not given adequate credit for his own creations, that his plot contributions went mostly uncredited, and that Marvel was earning much more money from characters that he had created. His latest contract drove the point home, filled with unacceptable clauses such as a prohibition against taking legal action against the company. When Kirby protested at this treatment citing his creative contributions, he was bluntly dismissed by the neogiatators who claimed that Lee was solely responsible. Insulted, Kirby consequently left Marvel, and accepted a standing offer with DC Comics, as the result of a deal with editorial director Carmine Infantino. Kirby's contract with DC, produced in 1970, gave him essentially a free reign as writer and penciller in whatever title he worked on. He soon worked i...
In 1975, Marvel Comics announced that Kirby would return to work with them. He was soon producing new runs as sole writer and penciller of Black Panther and Captain America. His most enduring work, however, was in the creation of new series and characters. His best known work was The Eternals (1976-1978), a 19-issue series about immortal gods active on modern Earth. It was very similar in concept to the New Gods. The human-looking gods were called Eternals, their demonic looking counterparts were the Deviants, and they were both inferior to the mysterious space gods called the Celestials. The series was never a best-seller but has its dedicated fans. The characters and concepts have been incorporated to the wider Marvel multiverse, with several other creators adding to them over the decades. Somewhat less ambitious were the rest of the Kirby creations of the 1970s for Marvel. They included Machine Man (1977) and Devil Dinosaur (1978). Each held its own short-lived series, but enduri...
May 28, 2021 · Though Jack Kirby is known primarily as one of the main architects of Marvel Comics, in the long term, his creations have also had a massive impact on the DC Universe as well.
Jack Kirby was one of the greatest creators of American comic book super-hero mythology. Sadly, the period of his career from the 1970's onwards seemed to be littered with failed attempts by Kirby to expand on his mythology.
- Charles Hatfield
- University Press of Mississippi
Aug 28, 2020 · Here are Jack Kirby's ten most-iconic Marvel Comics covers. Updated on August 28th, 2020 by Josh Davison: Jack Kirby's imprint on modern pop culture is immeasurable. He created countless iconic characters and created an artistic style that inspired and molded thousands, if not millions, of artists that followed him.
- CBR Staff
22 hours ago · One gets the sense reading OMAC that Jack Kirby’s heart wasn’t fully invested in the comic. The art at times feels rushed and sloppy like this was a paycheck comic for Kirby more than anything else. Some of the faces lack the detail and pop energy that comics like New Gods or Mister Miracle pack with every page. And he didn’t even do the ...
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