Jack "King" Kirby - Appreciation Thread | Celebrating his 100th Birthday

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Jack Kirby, was one of the great American comic book artists and writers, and is widely regarded as one of the medium's major innovators and one of its most prolific and influential creators. Hew was born August 28, 1917, in New York City, NY.

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Jack was born Jacob Kurtzberg on New York’s Lower East Side, he grew up poor and was surrounded by local street gangs. So by necessity, young Kirby learned how to fight. As an adult, he served in World War II and was present at the liberation of concentration camps. When Kirby invented personifications of evil such as Nazi villain the Red Skull and the evil fascist god Darkseid, he knew what he was talking about. As everyone here probably already knows, one of his most famous covers was for Captain America #1 in 1941, which shows Cap punching Hitler in the face. This was before America had entered the war.

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Jack Kirby passed away February 6, 1994, Thousand Oaks, CA, but his legacy lives on with the characters he created and his dynamic and timeless artwork. August 28, 2017 marks his 100th birthday! So, post your favorite Kirby creation or cover, splash page, commission or panel here or tell us what experience you've had when it comes to the art of the "King"

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Learn much, much more about Jack Kirby's life and legacy by checking out the CGS crew's tribute to Jack in Episode 1663 - Spotlight on Jack 'King' Kirby (Part One) here - with @Adam_Murdough, @Pants, and yeoman's work by Professor Eberle of @wildpigcomics

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  • nweathingtonnweathington Posts: 5,216
    2012 art by Paul Carter.

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  • nweathingtonnweathington Posts: 5,216
    1992 photo by Susan Skaar.

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  • bralinatorbralinator Posts: 5,916
    Thanks for the photo and cover credits! I look forward to your Kirby contributions as well, Eric.
  • nweathingtonnweathington Posts: 5,216

    Thanks for the photo and cover credits! I look forward to your Kirby contributions as well, Eric.

    Hopefully I'll have a little time on Sunday to post a few things.
  • bralinatorbralinator Posts: 5,916



    Jack Kirby: Story Teller (Jack Kirby art) Full documentary




    Excerpt from 'The Masters Of Comic Book Art' hosted by Harlan Ellison.




    13 Facts about Jack Kirby by Comics Alliance




    An interview at Jack's home in Thousand Oaks, CA talking about life.




    Jack Kirby discusses Captain America at the Michigan at the Pure Imagination Fun Fair in '88
  • phansfordphansford Posts: 209
    Rather than starting a new thread..... I'll just add to this one.

    I just picked up two of the True Believer books that Marvel has released for Jack's centennial. (Avenger's #4 and Thor vs. Hulk). Classic stuff.

    It made me think.... if I had to chose a title or a single issue of Kirby's from the various eras that he worked.... what would those books be. Hopefully you'll add your list.

    Golden/Atomic Age - Boy's Ranch.
    Hands down the best stuff from Jack's pre-Marvel days. IMHO. If you can find the hardbound collection - get it. It's must read stuff. Mother Delilah from issue #3 should be required reading.

    Early Marvel (include Atlas if you want)
    Of course the Atlas monster stuff is great fun.... and the early super hero stuff is without question groundbreaking. But for me its the early run of Sgt Fury and his Howling Commandos. (#1-7 and #13). Billed as the War Comic for Readers that Don't Like War Comics.... this run is filled with stories about race, religion and freedom. The stories are action packed and providing in moral insight into both Kirby and Lee. This run is to me the best work these two ever did together. Hands down.

    Later Marvel..... before his exit to DC
    I have to go with Fantastic Four 84-87. The last Dr. Doom story line by Jack. I can't really explain why....

    DC - Bronze Age
    Hands down - Our Fighting Forces #151-163. The Losers. Kirby gives his personal insight into the war and the hatred that fueled it. Its powerful stuff. Forget the Fourth World or Kamandi..... this is the book from this era that everyone should read. #159 - Mile-a-Minute Jones is powerful stuff.

    Late Marvel. The Return
    I have to tell you... and this was the stuff I was buying off the spinner rack. I would be hard pressed to pick a book or an issue from this era. I found his drawing style to have become extremely wooden from this point forward. It was my first exposure to Kirby and I found it hard to see what all the excitement was about... and the books were a bust for me. But for nostalgia reasons I would take the Captain America run.... as bad as it was.... because it was the first Kirby books I bought.

    But honestly........ if Jack Kirby did the phone book, I'd read it.

  • TheOriginalGManTheOriginalGMan Posts: 1,639
    I feel kind of guilty saying this ... but I've never been a fan of Jack Kirby's art. The characters and ideas and world-building that he created? Oh, absolutely. The man was a genius. A McCartney or Lennon to Stan Lee's George Harrison. But his actual drawings themselves? Eh.

    (*ducks for cover*)

    That having been said, here's one of my favorite Kirby images. Not for the art though (because, well, you know) but rather because of what it represents. What a huge moment this turned out to be in the history of comics ... the re-introduction of Captain America into the Marvel universe, an event that bridges not only the Golden and Silver age of comics, but Kirby masterpieces, as well.

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  • matchkitJOHNmatchkitJOHN Posts: 983
    edited August 16
    Kirby's Cap run is what first caught my attention. FF came a bit later when I started reading the reprints.

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  • nweathingtonnweathington Posts: 5,216
    Double-page splash from Captain America #105, inked by Dan Adkins.

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  • nweathingtonnweathington Posts: 5,216
    Double-page splash from Boy Commandos #2, written and drawn by Kirby, inked by Joe Simon.

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  • nweathingtonnweathington Posts: 5,216
    The Losers flush out a Nazi U-boat in a double-page spread of original art for Our Fighting Forces #156, written and penciled by Kirby, inked by Mike Royer.

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  • nweathingtonnweathington Posts: 5,216
    edited August 18
    My best of Kirby list:

    Pre-War (1938-43): The Boy Commandos
    Kirby did a lot of kid gang books over the years, but this one stands out for me for some reason. More of a sense of charm to it, I guess.

    Post-War Simon & Kirby (1945-55): Boys’ Ranch
    Kirby was the driving force, both writing and penciling these stories. The series only ran six issues, but it was one of the best westerns of the period.

    The Years of Uncertainty (1956-61): Sky Masters of the Space Force
    Okay, technically this is a newspaper strip, not a comic. So sue me. Wood inks over Kirby pencils are sublime.

    The Marvel Age (1962-70): “Tales of Asgard”
    No, it doesn’t have all the crazy ideas and concepts of Fantastic Four, or the dynamic action of Tales of Suspense’s “Captain America”, or the thematic relevance of Sgt. Fury, but I love these back-up stories.

    The “F. U. Marvel” Years, a.k.a. the DC Years (1971-75): The Demon
    Mister Miracle and “The Losers” are both great as well, but The Demon is just so much fun. And Klarion and Teekl are probably my favorite of all the supporting characters Kirby ever created.

    The “Guess It’s Back to Marvel” Years (1976-78): The Silver Surfer GN
    I found a copy of this in the early ’80s at a local bookstore’s “going out of business” sale, and eagerly scooped it up. As much as I love Cap’s Bicentennial Battles, and the wonderful artwork in Devil Dinosaur, they can’t top the raw power and transcendent grace to be found in this book.

    The Final Years (1979-94): Captain Victory and the Galactic Rangers
    This is a bit of a cheat, as the first two issues were actually drawn in 1975. Kirby had intended to release it as an independent graphic novel, but never did. So the artwork in the first two issues is considerably better than the rest of the series. But the story is actually pretty good all the way through, and even ties into the Fourth World (with names and likenesses changed to protect the innocent).
  • nweathingtonnweathington Posts: 5,216
    Original art for the opening splash page of Boys’ Ranch #3.

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  • nweathingtonnweathington Posts: 5,216
    Sky Masters of the Space Force dailies.

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  • nweathingtonnweathington Posts: 5,216
    Kirby pencils for the “Tales of Asgard” backup in Journey into Mystery #121...

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    ...and the opening page to “ToA” for Thor #128.

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  • phansfordphansford Posts: 209
    edited August 18

    Original art for the opening splash page of Boys’ Ranch #3.

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    If this is in your collection..... FANTASTIC.



    The Marvel Age (1962-70): “Tales of Asgard”
    No, it doesn’t have all the crazy ideas and concepts of Fantastic Four, or the dynamic action of Tales of Suspense’s “Captain America”, or the thematic relevance of Sgt. Fury, but I love these back-up stories.

    Tales of Asgard are great. Kirby's short - filler stories are great. There are a couple of western shorts he did in Rawhide Kid that were just great American Spirit kind of stuff. I can't remember the title of the stories. But clearly - Jack put has much effort in those 4-6 pagers as he did in his full issue efforts.
  • nweathingtonnweathington Posts: 5,216
    The fall of Camelot from Demon #1.

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  • nweathingtonnweathington Posts: 5,216
    phansford said:

    Original art for the opening splash page of Boys’ Ranch #3.

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    If this is in your collection..... FANTASTIC.
    Ha! No, I don't have that kind of money, and I'm not old enough to have come across it when it was still relatively affordable. But the inking here is interesting. I think Kirby may have inked it himself rather than Joe Simon, as Simon was always more feathery than this when inking Kirby. This is rather bluntly inked, and with few solid areas of black—a sharp departure from most of Kirby’s finished art.
  • DanDareDanDare Posts: 27
    TheOriginalGMan said:
    I feel kind of guilty saying this ... but I've never been a fan of Jack Kirby's art.
    Completely subjective, of course, but in this excellent documentary Neal Adams, Jim Lee and other legends talk about their journey from quizzical disdain to qualified appreciation to outright awe of Jack Kirby's art- only Simonson and Barry Windsor-Smith seemed to 'get' the genius straight away!
    ...and here I thought that I was the only one!

    Kirby possessed MAGIC GOGGLES- a portal to a four color alternative reality replete with alien anatomy and perspective which allowed for more strrreeeetch and POP (!) than this world does. Jack also had a MAGIC PENCIL so he could create a verisimilitude of that other world that somehow remained confined to the paper though it strained mightily to break through into our reality.

    Johnny Romita Sr. said, "You could draw like Jack but you couldn't think
    like Jack!"

    When I was ten I considered myself an 'expert' on comic book art and Kirby was favorite artist. By the time I was a skinny twelve year old desperately trying to build biceps in my garage I was also a self certified 'expert' on anatomy and Newtonian physics. And so, demanding 'realism', I haughtily disdained Kirby's "sausage people" with their five triceps heads and six quadriceps. My new favorites were John Buscema and Neal Adams. (Whom I still love to this day, of course.)

    I don't know when it happened exactly- late Jr HS (?). As I remember it, I was reading a back issue of FF one day when Ben Grimm simply reached out of a panel grabbed me by my pencil neck and pulled me into the page! I 'got' Kirby (again) just as years later I would finally 'get' Van Gogh.
  • DanDareDanDare Posts: 27
    Screwed up link but was referring to Jack Kirby Story Teller. On YouTube in its entirety.
  • DanDareDanDare Posts: 27
    nweathington,
    Sky Masters of the Space Force dailies.
    Wow! I have never seen these before. Mid-1950's? That is awesome! Where can I get my grubby mitts on those?
  • nweathingtonnweathington Posts: 5,216
    DanDare said:

    nweathington,
    Sky Masters of the Space Force dailies.
    Wow! I have never seen these before. Mid-1950's? That is awesome! Where can I get my grubby mitts on those?

    Late ’50s. Greg Theakston published a complete collection back in 2000, but it’s out of print. Hermes Press has recently begun a series of reprint volumes. I can't speak to the quality of the reproductions though. Sometimes Hermes can be a bit on the iffy side.
  • DanDareDanDare Posts: 27
    And the good folks at Hermes have brought me my Phantom back too! Thanks for the info. That instrument panel! The detail of the ships interior! (I am reminded a bit of Frank Hampson's Dan Dare- which was essentially a weekly strip- at least in tone.) Awesome stuff!
  • nweathingtonnweathington Posts: 5,216
    DanDare said:

    (I am reminded a bit of Frank Hampson's Dan Dare- which was essentially a weekly strip- at least in tone.)

    That’s a reasonable comparison, though Sky Masters is much more grounded than “Dan Dare”.
  • DanDareDanDare Posts: 27

    DanDare said:

    (I am reminded a bit of Frank Hampson's Dan Dare- which was essentially a weekly strip- at least in tone.)

    That’s a reasonable comparison, though Sky Masters is much more grounded than “Dan Dare”.
    "grounded" ...and they're both about man in space! LOL! (I'm easily amused). I look forward to reading this. Obviously I love the sci-fi of that time- esp the fifties era sci-fi pulps (Galaxy, Worlds of If, etal).
  • nweathingtonnweathington Posts: 5,216
    DanDare said:

    DanDare said:

    (I am reminded a bit of Frank Hampson's Dan Dare- which was essentially a weekly strip- at least in tone.)

    That’s a reasonable comparison, though Sky Masters is much more grounded than “Dan Dare”.
    "grounded" ...and they're both about man in space! LOL! (I'm easily amused). I look forward to reading this. Obviously I love the sci-fi of that time- esp the fifties era sci-fi pulps (Galaxy, Worlds of If, etal).
    I haven't read very much of Sky Masters, but what I've read is quite entertaining, mostly from the art perspective. I guess I should have said it's not as pulpy as “Dan Dare”, more near-future. I wouldn't exactly call it hard science fiction, but it's a far cry from space opera.
  • DanDareDanDare Posts: 27

    DanDare said:

    DanDare said:

    (I am reminded a bit of Frank Hampson's Dan Dare- which was essentially a weekly strip- at least in tone.)

    That’s a reasonable comparison, though Sky Masters is much more grounded than “Dan Dare”.
    "grounded" ...and they're both about man in space! LOL! (I'm easily amused). I look forward to reading this. Obviously I love the sci-fi of that time- esp the fifties era sci-fi pulps (Galaxy, Worlds of If, etal).
    I haven't read very much of Sky Masters, but what I've read is quite entertaining, mostly from the art perspective. I guess I should have said it's not as pulpy as “Dan Dare”, more near-future. I wouldn't exactly call it hard science fiction, but it's a far cry from space opera.
    Don't want to stray to far off topic here but in Dan's first debut (1950/Venus) there's a scene and dialogue that's remarkably similar: Dan, Digby and Sir Hubert are anxiously gathered around the monitor praying for the Kingfisher's success when they hear:

    "Its in the impulse cylinders, Sir!"
    "Stop Jets! Close 5, 7 and 8 bulkheads!Break out emergency oxygen! ..."
    is in space, after all>
    RADIOMAN: "Kingfisher! Kingfisher! KINGFISHER!"

    Dan soon figures out that there's some anomalous electromagnetic field near Venus disrupting the radio impulse engines. He suggests they go back to the ancient legacy rocket technology. (The story is set in the far future- the nineteen eighties!) They have to build three humongous rockets due to the fuel requirements.

    Eagle had actually retained a then little known polymath and fledgling scifi writer named Arther C. Clarke as science consultant. I bet that's where all that 'impulse power' stuff came from. Its actually explained in some detail in strip and it sounds very plausible.

    I always thought of 'space opera' as a story that takes place in space but could, with very little changes (ray guns into Winchesters) work in any genre. But then that's just the definition of a great story!

  • DanDareDanDare Posts: 27
    typo
    (They're in space, after all)
  • nweathingtonnweathington Posts: 5,216
    DanDare said:

    I always thought of 'space opera' as a story that takes place in space but could, with very little changes (ray guns into Winchesters) work in any genre. But then that's just the definition of a great story!

    That’s pretty much what it is. Sky Masters is concerned with rocket launches and orbital space stations and Cape Canaveral—no aliens, no space battles, no laser guns, etc.
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