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Jewogle - Jack Kirby

Jack Kirby

Jack Kirby

Jack Kirby (August 28, 1917 – February 6, 1994), born Jacob Kurtzberg, was an American comic book artist, writer and editor regarded by historians and fans as one of the major innovators and most influential creators in the comic book medium.

Growing up poor in New York City, Kurtzberg entered the nascent comics industry in the 1930s. He drew various comics features under different pen names, including Jack Curtiss, ultimately settling on Jack Kirby. In 1940, he and writer-editor Joe Simon created the highly successful superhero character Captain America for Timely Comics, predecessor of Marvel Comics. During the 1940s, Kirby, generally teamed with Simon, created numerous characters for that company and for the company that would become DC Comics.

After serving in World War II, Kirby returned to comics and worked in a variety of genres. He contributed to a number of publishers, including DC, Harvey Comics, Hillman Periodicals and Crestwood Publications, where he and Simon created the genre of romance comics. He and Simon also launched their own short-lived comic company, Mainline Publications. Kirby ultimately found himself at Timely's 1950s iteration, Atlas Comics, later to be known as Marvel Comics. There, in the 1960s, he and writer-editor Stan Lee co-created many of Marvel's major characters, including the Fantastic Four, the X-Men, and the Hulk. Despite the high sales and critical acclaim of the Lee-Kirby titles, however, Kirby felt treated unfairly, and left the company in 1970 for rival DC.

There Kirby created his Fourth World saga, which spanned several comics titles. While these series proved commercially unsuccessful and were canceled, several of their characters and the Fourth World mythos have continued as a significant part of the DC Comics universe. Kirby returned to Marvel briefly in the mid-to-late 1970s, then ventured into television animation and independent comics. In his later years, Kirby, who has been likened to "the William Blake of comics", began receiving great recognition in the mainstream press for his career accomplishments, and in 1987, he, along with Carl Barks and Will Eisner, was one of the three inaugural inductees of the Will Eisner Comic Book Hall of Fame. The Jack Kirby Awards and Jack Kirby Hall of Fame were named in his honor.

Early life (1917–1935)

Jack Kirby was born Jacob Kurtzberg on August 28, 1917, in New York City. His parents, Rose and Benjamin Kurtzberg, were Austrian Jewish immigrants, and his father earned a living as a garment factory worker. Growing up on Suffolk Street, Kirby was often involved in street fights with other kids, later saying that "fighting became second nature. I began to like it." Through his youth, Kirby desired to escape his neighborhood. He liked to draw and sought out places he could learn more about art. Essentially self-taught, Kirby cited among his influences the comic strip artists Milton Caniff, Hal Foster, and Alex Raymond, as well as such editorial cartoonists as C. H. Sykes, "Ding" Darling, and Rollin Kirby. He was rejected by the Educational Alliance because he drew "too fast with charcoal", according to Kirby. He later found an outlet for his skills by drawing cartoons for the newspaper of the Boys Brotherhood Republic, a "miniature city" on East 3rd Street where street kids ran their own government.

Kirby enrolled at the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, at what he said was age 14, leaving after a week. "I wasn't the kind of student that Pratt was looking for. They wanted people who would work on something forever. I didn't want to work on any project forever. I intended to get things done".

Career

Entry into comics (1936–1940)

Per his sometimes-unreliable memory, Kirby joined the Lincoln Newspaper Syndicate in 1936, working there on newspaper comic strips and on single-panel advice cartoons such as Your Health Comes First!!! (under the pseudonym Jack Curtiss). He remained until late 1939, when he began working for the movie animation company Fleischer Studios as an inbetweener (an artist who fills in the action between major-movement frames) on Popeye cartoons. "I went from Lincoln to Fleischer," he recalled. "From Fleischer I had to get out in a hurry because I couldn't take that kind of thing," describing it as "a factory in a sense, like my father's factory. They were manufacturing pictures."

Around that time, the American comic book industry was booming. Kirby began writing and drawing for the comic-book packager Eisner & Iger, one of a handful of firms creating comics on demand for publishers. Through that company, Kirby did what he remembers as his first comic book work, for Wild Boy Magazine. This included such strips as the science fiction adventure The Diary of Dr. Hayward (under the pseudonym Curt Davis), the Western crimefighter strip Wilton of the West (as "Fred Sande"), the swashbuckler strip The Count of Monte Cristo (again as "Jack Curtiss"), and the humor strips Abdul Jones (as "Ted Grey)" and Socko the Seadog (as "Teddy"), all variously for Jumbo Comics and other Eisner-Iger clients. He ultimately settled on the pen name Jack Kirby because it reminded him of actor James Cagney. However, he took offense to those who suggested he changed his name in order to hide his Jewish heritage.

In the summer of 1940, Kirby and his family moved to Brooklyn. There, Kirby met Rosalind "Roz" Goldstein, who lived in his family's apartment building. The pair began dating soon afterward. Kirby proposed to Goldstein on her eighteenth birthday, and the two became engaged.

Partnership with Joe Simon (1940–1942)

Kirby moved on to comic-book publisher and newspaper syndicator Fox Feature Syndicate, earning a then-reasonable $15 a week salary. He began exploring superhero narrative with the comic strip The Blue Beetle, published January to March 1940, starring a character created by the pseudonymous Charles Nicholas, a house name that Kirby retained for the three-month-long strip. During this time, Kirby met and began collaborating with cartoonist and Fox editor Joe Simon, who in addition to his staff work continued to freelance. Simon recalled in 1988, "I loved Jack's work and the first time I saw it I couldn't believe what I was seeing. He asked if we could do some freelance work together. I was delighted and I took him over to my little office. We worked from the second issue of Blue Bolt..."

After leaving Fox and landing at pulp magazine publisher Martin Goodman's Timely Comics (the future Marvel Comics), Simon and Kirby created the patriotic superhero Captain America in late 1940. Simon cut a deal with Goodman that gave him and Kirby 15 percent of the profits from the feature as well as salaried positions as the company's editor and art director, respectively. The first issue of Captain America Comics, released in early 1941, sold out in days, and the second issue's print run was set at over a million copies. The title's success established the team as a notable creative force in the industry. After the first issue was published, Simon asked Kirby to join the Timely staff as the company's art director.

With the success of the Captain America character, Simon felt that Goodman was not paying the pair the promised percentage of profits, and so sought work for the two of them at National Comics (later named DC Comics). Kirby and Simon negotiated a deal that would pay them a combined $500 a week, as opposed to the $75 and $85 they respectively earned at Timely. Fearing that Goodman would not pay them if he found out they were moving to National, the pair kept the deal a secret while they continued producing work for the company. Goodman eventually learned of their plans, and Kirby and Simon left after completing their work on Captain America Comics #10.

Kirby and Simon spent their first weeks at National trying to devise new characters while the company sought how best to utilize the pair. After a few failed editor-assigned ghosting assignments, National's Jack Liebowitz told them to "just do what you want". The pair then revamped the Sandman feature in Adventure Comics and created the superhero Manhunter. In July 1942 they began the Boy Commandos feature. The ongoing "kid gang" series Boy Commandos, launched later that same year was the creative team's first National feature to graduate into its own title, sold over a million copies a month, becoming National's third best-selling title. They also scored a hit with the homefront kid-gang team, the Newsboy Legion in Star-Spangled Comics.

Marriage and World War II (1943–1945)

Kirby married Roz Goldstein on May 23, 1942. The same year that he married, he changed his name legally from Jacob Kurtzberg to Jack Kirby.

With World War II underway, Liebowitz expected that Simon and Kirby would be drafted, so he asked the artists to create an inventory of material to be published in their absence. The pair hired writers, inkers, letterers, and colorists in order to create a year's worth of material. Kirby was drafted into the U.S. Army on June 7, 1943. After basic training at Camp Stewart, near Atlanta, Georgia, he was assigned to Company F of the 11th Infantry. He landed on Omaha Beach in Normandy on August 23, 1944, two-and-a-half months after D-Day, though Kirby's reminiscences would place his arrival just 10 days after. Kirby recalled that a lieutenant, learning that comics artist Kirby was in his command, made him a scout who would advance into towns and draw reconnaissance maps and pictures, an extremely dangerous duty.

Kirby and his wife corresponded regularly by v-mail, with Roz sending "him a letter a day" while she worked in a lingerie shop and lived with her mother at 2820 Brighton 7th Street in Brooklyn. During the winter of 1944, Kirby suffered severe frostbite on his lower extremities and was taken to a hospital in London, England, for recovery. Doctors considered amputating Kirby's legs, but he eventually recovered from the frostbite. He returned to the United States in January 1945, assigned to Camp Butner in North Carolina, where he spent the last six months of his service as part of the motor pool. Kirby was honorably discharged as a Private First Class on July 20, 1945, having received a Combat Infantryman Badge and a European/African/Middle Eastern Theater ribbon with a bronze battle star.

Postwar career (1946–1955)

After returning from the army, Kirby's first daughter, Susan, was born on December 6, 1945. Simon arranged for work for Kirby and himself at Harvey Comics, where, through the early 1950s, the duo created such titles as the kid-gang adventure Boy Explorers Comics, the kid-gang Western Boys' Ranch, the superhero comic Stuntman, and, in vogue with the fad for 3-D movies, Captain 3-D. Simon and Kirby additionally freelanced for Hillman Periodicals (the crime fiction comic Real Clue Crime) and for Crestwood Publications (Justice Traps the Guilty).

The team found its greatest success in the postwar period by creating romance comics. Simon, inspired by Macfadden Publications' romantic-confession magazine True Story, transplanted the idea to comic books and with Kirby created a first-issue mock-up of Young Romance. Showing it to Crestwood general manager Maurice Rosenfeld, Simon asked for 50% of the comic's profits. Crestwood publishers Teddy Epstein and Mike Bleier agreed, stipulating that the creators would take no money up front. Young Romance #1 (cover-date Oct. 1947) "became Jack and Joe's biggest hit in years". Indeed, the pioneering title sold a staggering 92% of its print run, inspiring Crestwood to increase the print run by the third issue to triple the initial number of copies. Initially published bimonthly, Young Romance quickly became a monthly title and produced the spin-off Young Love—together the two titles sold two million copies per month, according to Simon—later joined by Young Brides and In Love, the latter "featuring full-length romance stories". Young Romance spawned dozens of imitators from publishers such as Timely, Fawcett, Quality, and Fox Feature Syndicate. Despite the glut, the Simon & Kirby romance titles continued to sell millions of copies a month, which allowed Kirby to buy a house for his family in Mineola, Long Island, New York.

Kirby's second child, Neal, was born in May 1948. His third child, Barbara, was born in November 1952. Bitter that Timely Comics' 1950s iteration, Atlas Comics, had relaunched Captain America in a new series in 1954, Kirby and Simon created Fighting American. Simon recalled, "We thought we'd show them how to do Captain America". While the comic book initially portrayed the protagonist as anti-Communist, Simon and Kirby turned the series into a superhero satire with the second issue, in the aftermath of the Army-McCarthy hearings and the public backlash against the Red-baiting McCarthy.

After Simon (1956–1957)

At the urging of a Crestwood salesman, Kirby and Simon launched their own comics company, Mainline Publications, securing a distribution deal with Leader News in late 1953 or early 1954, subletting space from their friend Al Harvey's Harvey Publications at 1860 Broadway. Mainline, which existed from 1954 to 1955, published four titles: the Western Bullseye: Western Scout; the war comicFoxhole, since EC Comics and Atlas Comics were having success with war comics, but promoting theirs as as being written and drawn by actual veterans; In Love, since their earlier romance comic Young Love was still being widely imitated; and the crime comic Police Trap, which claimed to be based on genuine accounts by law-enforcement officials. After the duo rearranged and republished artwork from an old Crestwood story in In Love, Crestwood refused to pay Simon and Kirby. After reviewing Crestwood's finances, the pair's attorney's stated that the company owed them $130,000 over the past seven years. Crestwood paid them $10,000 in addition to their recent delayed payments. However, the partnership between Kirby and Simon had become strained. Simon left the industry for a career in advertising, while Kirby continued to freelance. "He wanted to do other things and I stuck with comics," Kirby recalled in 1971. "It was fine. There was no reason to continue the partnership and we parted friends."

At this point in the mid-1950s, Kirby made a temporary return to the former Timely Comics, now known as Atlas Comics, the direct predecessor of Marvel Comics. Inker Frank Giacoia had approached editor-in-chief Stan Lee for work and suggested he could "get Kirby back here to pencil some stuff." While also freelancing for National Comics, the future DC Comics, Kirby drew 20 stories for Atlas from 1956 to 1957: Beginning with the five-page "Mine Field" in Battleground #14 (Nov.1956), Kirby penciled and in some cases also inked (with his wife, Roz) and wrote stories of the Western hero Black Rider, the Fu Manchu-like Yellow Claw, and more. But in 1957, distribution troubles caused the "Atlas implosion" that resulted in several series being dropped and no new material being assigned for many months. It would be the following year before Kirby returned to the nascent Marvel.

For DC around this time, Kirby co-created with writers Dick and Dave Wood the non-superpowered adventuring quartet the Challengers of the Unknown in Showcase #6 (Feb. 1957), while also contributing to such anthologies as House of Mystery. During 30 months freelancing for DC, Kirby drew slightly more than 600 pages, which included 11 six-page Green Arrow stories in World's Finest Comics and Adventure Comics that, in a rarity, Kirby inked himself. Kirby recast the archer as a science-fiction hero, moving him away from his Batman-formula roots, but in the process alienating Green Arrow co-creator Mort Weisinger.

He also began drawing a newspaper comic strip, Sky Masters of the Space Force, written by the Wood brothers and initially inked by the unrelated Wally Wood. Kirby left National Comics due largely to a contractual dispute in which editor Jack Schiff, who had been involved in getting Kirby and the Wood brothers the Sky Masters contract, claimed he was due royalties from Kirby's share of the strip's profits. Schiff successfully sued Kirby. Some DC editors also had criticized him over art details, such as not drawing "the shoelaces on a cavalryman's boots" and showing a Native American "mounting his horse from the wrong side."

Marvel Comics in the Silver Age (1958 – 1970)

Several months later, after his split with DC, Kirby began freelancing regularly for Atlas. Because of the poor page rates, Kirby would spend 12 to 14 hours daily at his drawing table at home, producing eight to ten pages of artwork a day. His first published work at Atlas was the cover of and the seven-page story "I Discovered the Secret of the Flying Saucers" in Strange Worlds #1 (Dec. 1958). Initially with Christopher Rule as his regular inker, and later Dick Ayers, Kirby drew across all genres, from romance comics to war comics, crime stories to Westerns, but made his mark primarily with a series of supernatural-fantasy and science fiction stories featuring giant, drive-in movie-style monsters with names like Groot, the Thing from Planet X; Grottu, King of the Insects; and Fin Fang Foom for the company's many anthology series, such as Amazing Adventures, Strange Tales, Tales to Astonish, Tales of Suspense, and World of Fantasy. His bizarre designs of powerful, unearthly creatures proved a hit with readers. Additionally, he also freelanced for Archie Comics' around this time, reuniting briefly with Joe Simon to help develop the series The Fly and The Double Life of Private Strong. He also drew some issues of Classics Illustrated.

It was at Marvel, however, with writer and editor-in-chief Lee, that Kirby hit his stride once again in superhero comics, beginning with The Fantastic Four #1 (Nov. 1961). The landmark series became a hit that revolutionized the industry with its comparative naturalism and, eventually, a cosmic purview informed by Kirby's seemingly boundless imagination — one well-matched with the consciousness-expanding youth culture of the 1960s.

For almost a decade, Kirby provided Marvel's house style, co-creating with Stan Lee many of the Marvel characters and designing their visual motifs. At Lee's request, he often provided new-to-Marvel artists "breakdown" layouts, over which they would pencil in order to become acquainted with the Marvel look. As artist Gil Kane described:

Jack was the single most influential figure in the turnaround in Marvel's fortunes from the time he rejoined the company ... It wasn't merely that Jack conceived most of the characters that are being done, but ... Jack's point of view and philosophy of drawing became the governing philosophy of the entire publishing company and, beyond the publishing company, of the entire field ... [Marvel took] Jack and use him as a primer. They would get artists ... and they taught them the ABCs, which amounted to learning Jack Kirby. ... Jack was like the Holy Scripture and they simply had to follow him without deviation. That's what was told to me ... It was how they taught everyone to reconcile all those opposing attitudes to one single master point of view.

Highlights other than the Fantastic Four include: Thor, the Hulk, Iron Man, the original X-Men, the Silver Surfer, Doctor Doom, Galactus, Uatu the Watcher, Magneto, Ego the Living Planet, the Inhumans and their hidden city of Attilan, and the Black Panther — comics' first known black superhero — and his African nation of Wakanda. Simon and Kirby's Captain America was also incorporated into Marvel's continuity with Kirby approving Lee's idea of partially remaking the character as a man out of his time and regretting the death of his sidekick.

In 1968 and 1969, Joe Simon was involved in litigation with Marvel Comics over the ownership of Captain America, initiated by Marvel after Simon registered the copyright renewal for Captain America in his own name. According to Simon, Kirby agreed to support the company in the litigation and, as part of a deal Kirby made with publisher Martin Goodman, signed over to Marvel any rights he might have had to the character.

Kirby continued to expand the medium's boundaries, devising photo-collage covers and interiors, developing new drawing techniques such as the method for depicting energy fields now known as "Kirby Dots", and other experiments. Yet he grew increasingly dissatisfied with working at Marvel. There have been a number of reasons given for this dissatisfaction, including resentment over Stan Lee's increasing media prominence, a lack of full creative control, anger over breaches of perceived promises by publisher Martin Goodman, and frustration over Marvel's failure to credit him specifically for his story plotting and for his character creations and co-creations. He began to both script and draw some secondary features for Marvel, such as "The Inhumans" in Amazing Adventures, as well as horror stories for the anthology title Chamber of Darkness, and received full credit for doing so; but he eventually left the company in 1970 for rival DC Comics, under editorial director Carmine Infantino.

DC Comics and the Fourth World saga (1971–1975)

Kirby spent nearly two years negotiating a deal to move to DC Comics, where in late 1970 he signed a three-year contract with an option for two additional years. He produced a series of interlinked titles under the blanket sobriquet "The Fourth World", which included a trilogy of new titles — New Gods, Mister Miracle, and The Forever People — as well as the extant Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen. Kirby picked the latter book because the series was without a stable creative team and he did not want to cost anyone a job. The central villain of the Fourth World series, Darkseid, and some of the Fourth World concepts, appeared in Jimmy Olsen before the launch of the other Fourth World books, giving the new titles greater exposure to potential buyers.

Kirby later produced other DC features such as OMAC, Kamandi, The Demon, "The Losers", "Dingbats of Danger Street", Kobra and, together with former partner Joe Simon for one last time, a new incarnation of the Sandman.

Return to Marvel (1976–1978)

At the comic book convention Marvelcon '75, in spring 1975, Stan Lee used a Fantastic Four panel discussion to announce that Kirby was returning to Marvel after having left in 1970 to work for DC Comics. Lee wrote in his monthly column, "Stan Lee's Soapbox", that, "I mentioned that I had a special announcement to make. As I started telling about Jack's return, to a totally incredulous audience, everyone's head started to snap around as Kirby himself came waltzin' down the aisle to join us on the rostrum! You can imagine how it felt clownin' around with the co-creator of most of Marvel's greatest strips once more."

Back at Marvel, Kirby both wrote and drew Captain America and created the series The Eternals, which featured a race of inscrutable alien giants, the Celestials, whose behind-the-scenes intervention in primordial humanity would eventually become a core element of Marvel Universe continuity. Kirby's other Marvel creations in this period include Devil Dinosaur, Machine Man, and an adaptation and expansion of the movie 2001: A Space Odyssey, as well as an abortive attempt to do the same for the classic television series, The Prisoner. He also wrote and drew Black Panther and did numerous covers across the line.

Film and animation (1979–1980)

Still dissatisfied with Marvel's treatment of him, and with the company's refusal to provide health and other employment benefits, Kirby left Marvel to work in animation. In that field, he did designs for Turbo Teen, Thundarr the Barbarian and other animated television series. He also worked on The Fantastic Four cartoon show, reuniting him with scriptwriter Stan Lee. He illustrated an adaptation of the Walt Disney movie The Black Hole for Walt Disney’s Treasury of Classic Tales syndicated comic strip in 1979-80.

In 1979, Kirby drew concept art for film producer Barry Geller's script treatment adapting Roger Zelazny's science fiction novel, Lord of Light, for which Geller had purchased the rights. In collaboration, Geller commissioned Kirby to draw set designs that would also be used as architectural renderings for a Colorado theme park to be called Science Fiction Land; Geller announced his plans at a November press conference attended by Kirby, former NFL American football star Rosey Grier, writer Ray Bradbury, and others. While the film did not come to fruition, Kirby's drawings were used for the C.I.A.'s "Canadian caper", in which some members of the U.S. embassy in Tehran, Iran, who had avoided capture in the Iran hostage crisis, were able to escape the country posing as members of a movie location-scouting crew.

Final years and death (1981–1994)

In the early 1980s, Pacific Comics, a new, non-newsstand comic book publisher, made a then-groundbreaking deal with Kirby to publish a creator-owned series Captain Victory and the Galactic Rangers, and a six-issue mini-series called Silver Star which was collected in hardcover format in 2007. This, together with similar actions by other independent comics publishers as Eclipse Comics (where Kirby co-created Destroyer Duck in a benefit comic-book series published to help Steve Gerber fight a legal case versus Marvel), helped establish a precedent to end the monopoly of the work for hire system, wherein comics creators, even freelancers, had owned no rights to characters they created.

Though estranged from Marvel, Kirby continued to do periodic work for DC Comics during the 1980s, including a brief revival of his "Fourth World" saga in the 1984 and 1985 Super Powers mini-series and the 1985 graphic novel The Hunger Dogs. And in 1987, under much industry pressure, Marvel finally returned much of Kirby's original art to him.

Kirby also retained ownership of characters used by Topps Comics beginning in 1993, for a set of series in what the company dubbed "The Kirbyverse". These titles were derived mainly from designs and concepts that Kirby had kept in his files, some intended initially for the by-then-defunct Pacific Comics, and then licensed to Topps for what would become the "Jack Kirby's Secret City Saga" mythos. Marvel posthumously published a "lost" Kirby/Lee Fantastic Four story, Fantastic Four: The Lost Adventure (April 2008), with unused pages Kirby had originally drawn for Fantastic Four 108 (March 1971).

On February 6, 1994, Kirby died at age 76 of heart failure in his Thousand Oaks, California home. He was buried at the Pierce Brothers Valley Oaks Memorial Park, Westlake Village, California.

Kirby's estate

Kirby's daughter, Lisa Kirby, announced in early 2006 that she and co-writer Steve Robertson, with artist Mike Thibodeaux, planned to publish via the Marvel Comics Icon imprint, a six-issue limited series, Jack Kirby’s Galactic Bounty Hunters, featuring characters and concepts created by her father for Captain Victory. The series, scripted by Lisa Kirby, Robertson, Thibodeaux, and Richard French, with pencil art by Jack Kirby and Thibodeaux, and inking by Scott Hanna and Karl Kesel primarily, ran an initial five issues (Sept. 2006 - Jan. 2007) and then a later final issue (Sept. 2007). The series was collected in hardcover (ISBN 0-7851-2628-7) in 2007, and in trade paperback (ISBN 0-7851-2629-5) the following year.

On September 16, 2009, the Kirby estate also served notices of termination to Walt Disney Pictures, 20th Century Fox, Universal Pictures, Paramount Pictures, and Sony Pictures to attempt to regain control of various Silver Age Marvel characters. Marvel is seeking to invalidate these claims. However, in mid-March 2010 Kirby's estate "sued Marvel to terminate copyrights and gain profits from [Kirby's] comic creations." On July 28, 2011, the U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York, ruled a summary judgment in favor of Marvel in the case "Marvel Worldwide, Inc., Marvel Characters, Inc. and MVL Rights, LLC, against Lisa R. Kirby, Barbara J. Kirby, Neal L. Kirby and Susan M. Kirby".

Dynamite Entertainment said in July 2010 that it would publish in 2011 Kirby: Genesis, an eight-issue miniseries by writer Kurt Busiek and artist Alex Ross, using Kirby-owned characters previously published by Pacific Comics and Topps Comics.

Legacy

The New York Times, in a Sunday op-ed piece written more than a decade after his death, said of Kirby:

He created a new grammar of storytelling and a cinematic style of motion. Once-wooden characters cascaded from one frame to another—or even from page to page—threatening to fall right out of the book into the reader's lap. The force of punches thrown was visibly and explosively evident. Even at rest, a Kirby character pulsed with tension and energy in a way that makes movie versions of the same characters seem static by comparison.

Michael Chabon, in his afterword to his Pulitzer Prize-winning novel The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay, a fictional account of two early comics pioneers, wrote, "I want to acknowledge the deep debt I owe in this and everything else I've ever written to the work of the late Jack Kirby, the King of Comics."

Several Kirby images are among those on the "Marvel Super Heroes" set of commemorative stamps issued by the U.S. Postal Service on July 27, 2007. Ten of the stamps are portraits of individual Marvel characters and the other 10 stamps depict individual Marvel Comic book covers. According to the credits printed on the back of the pane, Kirby's artwork is featured on: Captain America, The Thing, Silver Surfer, The Amazing Spider-Man #1, The Incredible Hulk #1, Captain America #100, The X-Men #1, and The Fantastic Four #3.

Various comic-book and cartoon creators have done homages to Kirby. Examples include the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Mirage Comics series ("Kirby and the Warp Crystal" in Donatello #1, and its animated counterpart, "The King", from the 2003 cartoon series) and Superman: The Animated Series' character Dan Turpin.

Awards and honors

Jack Kirby received a great deal of recognition over the course of his career, including the 1967 Alley Award for Best Pencil Artist. The following year he was runner-up behind Jim Steranko. His other Alley Awards were:

  • 1963: Favorite Short Story - "The Human Torch Meets Captain America", by Stan Lee & Jack Kirby, Strange Tales #114
  • 1964:
    • Best Novel - "Captain America Joins the Avengers", by Stan Lee & Jack Kirby, from The Avengers #4
    • Best New Strip or Book - "Captain America", by Stan Lee & Jack Kirby, in Tales of Suspense
  • 1965: Best Short Story - "The Origin of the Red Skull", by Stan Lee & Jack Kirby, Tales of Suspense #66
  • 1966: Best Professional Work, Regular Short Feature - "Tales of Asgard" by Stan Lee & Jack Kirby, in The Mighty Thor
  • 1967: Best Professional Work, Regular Short Feature - (tie) "Tales of Asgard" and "Tales of the Inhumans", both by Stan Lee & Jack Kirby, in The Mighty Thor
  • 1968: Best Professional Work, Best Regular Short Feature - "Tales of the Inhumans", by Stan Lee & Jack Kirby, in The Mighty Thor
  • Best Professional Work, Hall of Fame - Fantastic Four, by Stan Lee & Jack Kirby; Nick Fury, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D., by Jim Steranko

Kirby won a Shazam Award for Special Achievement by an Individual in 1971 for his "Fourth World" series in Forever People, New Gods, Mister Miracle, and Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen. He was inducted into the Shazam Awards Hall of Fame in 1975. In 1987 he was an inaugural inductee into the Will Eisner Comic Book Hall of Fame. He received the 1993 Bob Clampett Humanitarian Award at that year's Eisner Awards.

His work was honored posthumously in 1998: The collection of his New Gods material, Jack Kirby's New Gods, edited by Bob Kahan, won both the Harvey Award for Best Domestic Reprint Project, and the Eisner Award for Best Archival Collection/Project.

The Jack Kirby Awards and Jack Kirby Hall of Fame were named in his honor.

With Will Eisner, Robert Crumb, Harvey Kurtzman, Gary Panter and Chris Ware, Kirby was among the artists honored in the exhibition "Masters of American Comics" at the Jewish Museum in New York City, New York, from September 16, 2006 to January 28, 2007.

Bibliography

Comics work (interior pencil art) includes:

DC

  • Adventure Comics (Sandman) #72-97, 100-102 (1942–46); (Manhunter): #73-80 (1942-1943); (Green Arrow) #250-256 (1957)
  • Boy Commandos #1-6, 15,17,19,21,23,24, 29-33 (1942-1943; 1946-1949)
  • Challengers of the Unknown #1–8 (1958–59)
  • DC Comics Presents #84 (1985)
  • DC Graphic Novel #4: "The Hunger Dogs" #4 (1985)
  • Demon #1–16 (1972–74)
  • Detective Comics (Boy Commandos) #64-83, 85, 128, 134, 136-137, 150 (1942-1944, 1947-1948)
  • 1st Issue Special #1 (Atlas), #5 (Manhunter), #6 (Dingbats of Danger Street) (1975)
  • Forbidden Tales of Dark Mansion #6 (1972)
  • Forever People #1–11 (1971–72)
  • Heroes Against Hunger (2-pages only) (1986)
  • In the Days of the Mob #1 (1971)
  • Justice, Inc. #2–4 (1975)
  • Kamandi: The Last Boy on Earth #1–40 (1972–76)
  • Kobra #1 (1976)
  • Mister Miracle #1–18 (1971–74)
  • New Gods #1–11 (1971–72)
  • O.M.A.C. #1–8 (1974)
  • Our Fighting Forces (Losers) #151-162 (1974–75)
  • Real Fact Comics #9 (1947)
  • Sandman #1, 4-6 (1974–76)
  • Spirit World #1 (1971)
  • Star Spangled Comics (Newsboy Legion) #7-30, 53-56, 58-59 (1942–46)
  • Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen #133-139, 141-148 (1970–72)
  • Super Powers #5 (1984)
  • Super Powers vol. 2 #1-5 (1985-86)
  • Weird Mystery Tales #1-3 (1972) [material intended for Spirit World #2]
  • World's Finest Comics (Sandman) #6-7, (1942); (Boy Commandos) #8-11,13,14 (1942-1943); (Green Arrow) #96-99, (1957)

Marvel

  • Amazing Adventures #1-6 (1961)
  • Amazing Adventures, vol. 2, #1-4 (Inhumans) (1970)
  • Astonishing Tales #1-2 (Ka-Zar) (1970)
  • Avengers #1-8 (full pencils), #14-17 (layouts only, pencils by Don Heck) (1963–65)
  • Black Panther #1–12 (1977–78)
  • Captain America #100–109, 112 (1968–69); #193–214, Annual #3-4 (1976–77)
  • Chamber of Darkness #4-5 (1970)
  • Devil Dinosaur #1–9 (1978)
  • Eternals #1-19, Annual #1 (1976–78)
  • Fantastic Four #1–102, 108 (1961–70), Annual #1-6 (1963-1968)
  • Incredible Hulk #1–5 (1962–63)
  • Journey Into Mystery #51-52, 54-82 (1959-62); (Thor): #82-89, 93, 97-125, Annual #1 (1962–66)
  • Machine Man #1–9 (1978)
  • Marvel Treasury Special Featuring Captain America's Bicentennial Battles (1976)
  • Sgt. Fury and his Howling Commandos #1–7, 13 (1963–64)
  • Silver Surfer #18 (1970)
  • Strange Tales #67-70, 72-100 (1959-62); (Human Torch): #101-105, 108-109, 114, 120, Annual #2 (1962–64); (Nick Fury): #135-153 (layouts only, pencils by John Severin, Jim Steranko and others) (1965–67)
  • Strange Worlds #3 (1959)
  • Tales of Suspense #2-4, 7-35 (1959-1962); (Iron Man): #41, 43 (1963); (Captain America): #59-68, 77-86, 92-99 (1964–1968)
  • Tales to Astonish #1, 5-6 (1959-1962); (Incredible Hulk):, #68-72 (full pencils), #73-84 (layouts only, pencils by Bill Everett and others) (1965–66)
  • 2001: A Space Odyssey #1–10 (1976-77)
  • 2001: A Space Odyssey treasury special (1976)
  • Thor #126–177, 179 (1966–70)
  • What If #11 (Fantastic Four) (1978)
  • World of Fantasy #16, 18 (1959)
  • X-Men #1-11 (full pencils), #12-17 (layouts only, pencils by Werner Roth) (1963–65)

Timely

  • All Winners Comics #1-2 (1941)
  • Captain America Comics #1-10 (1941-1942)
  • Daring Mystery Comics #6 (1940)
  • Marvel Mystery Comics #13-15, 17, 19-28 (1940-1942)
  • Red Raven Comics #1 (1940)
  • Young Allies Comics #1 (1941)
  • Other publishers

  • All-New Comics #13 (1946) (Harvey Comics)
  • Airboy Comics, vol. 4, #5-11 (1947) (Hillman Comics)
  • Black Cat #6-8 (1947) (Harvey Comics)
  • Boy Explorers #1-2 (1946) (Harvey Comics)
  • Boys' Ranch #1, 3-6 (1950-1951) (Harvey Comics)
  • Blue Bolt Comics #2-6, 8-10 (1940-1941) (Novelty Press)
  • Captain Marvel Adventures #1 (1941) (Fawcett Comics)
  • Captain Victory and the Galactic Rangers #1-13 (Pacific Comics, 1981–84)
  • Clue Comics #13 vol. 2, #1-3 (1947) (Hillman Comics)
  • Champion Comics #10 (1940) (Harvey Comics)
  • Charlie Chan #2 (1948) (Prize Comics)
  • Crash Comics Adventures #1-3 (1940) (Holyoke Publishing)
  • Destroyer Duck #1-5 (with Steve Gerber, Eclipse Comics, 1982–83)
  • Famous Funnies #63, 84 (1939) (Eastern Color)
  • Frankenstein Comics #7 (1947) (Prize Comics)
  • Green Hornet Fights Crime #37-39 (1947-1958) (Harvey Comics)
  • Headline Comics #24-26, 30 (1947) (Prize Comics)
  • Jumbo Comics #1-3 (1938) (Fiction House)
  • Justice Traps the Guilty, vol. 2, #1, 4-7 (1948) (Prize Comics)
  • My Date Comics #2 (1947) (Hillman Comics)
  • Mystery Men Comics #10 (1940) (Fox Comics)
  • Prize Comics #7, 9 (1940-1941) (Prize Comics)
  • Prize Comics, vol. 6, #3 (1947) (Prize Comics)
  • Real Clue Crime Stories vol. 2, #4-6 (1947) (Hillman Comics)
  • Satan's Six (8 pages, Topps Comics, 1993)
  • Science Comics #4 (1940) (Fox Comics)
  • Silver Star, 6-issue mini-series, Pacific Comics (1983–84)
  • Silver Surfer: The Ultimate Cosmic Experience (1978) (Simon & Schuster)
  • Stuntman #1-3 (1946) (Harvey Comics)
  • Treasure Comics #10 (1946-1947)
  • Young Romance #1-2, 4, 6, 8-13, 15-17, 19, 21-22, 24 (1947-1950) (Prize Comics)
  • Western Love #1, 5 (1949-1950) (Prize Comics)
  • Wow Comics #1 (1940-1941) (Fawcett Comics)
  • Young Love #13 (1950) (Prize Comics)

Collected work

  • Marvel Masterworks:
    • Golden Age Captain America Vol. 1 (includes #1-4, 264 pages, March 2005, ISBN 0-7851-1619-2)
    • Golden Age Captain America Vol. 2 (includes #5-8, 280 pages, July 2008, ISBN 0-7851-2959-2)
    • Golden Age Captain America Vol. 3 (includes #9-10, 280 pages, January 2009, ISBN 0-7851-2878-6)
    • Tales to Astonish Vol. 1-2
    • Tales of Suspense Vol. 1-2
    • Fantastic Four Vol. 1-10
    • Hulk Vol. 1-3
    • Thor Vol. 1-8
    • Human Torch Vol. 1-2
    • Iron Man Vol. 1
    • Sgt. Fury and his Howling Commandos Vol. 1
    • Avengers Vol. 1-2
    • Captain America Vol. 1-3
    • X-Men Vol. 1-2
    • Nick Fury, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. Vol. 1
  • Marvel Omnibus:
    • Captain America Vol. 1
    • Captain American by Jack Kirby
    • Eternals
    • Fantastic Four Vol. 1-2
    • Hulk Vol. 1
    • Thor Vol. 1
    • X-Men Vol. 1
  • Essential:
    • Captain America: Volume 1 (includes Captain America #100-102, 520 pages, January 2008, ISBN 0-7851-3006-3)
    • Captain America: Volume 2 (includes Captain America #103-109,112 512 pages, January 2002, ISBN 0-7851-0827-0)
  • Best of Simon and Kirby Titan Books, hardcover
  • The Boy Commandos by Joe Simon & Jack Kirby, Volume 1 (collects Detective Comics #64-73, World's Finest Comics #8-9, Boy Commandos #1-2, hardcover, 2010, ISBN 978-1-4012-2921-4)
  • Captain America: Madbomb (collects Captain America #193-200, 152 pages, August 2004, ISBN 0-7851-1557-9)
  • Captain America: Bicentennial Battles (collects Captain America #201-205 and "Marvel Treasury Special Featuring Captain America's Bicentennial Battles", 176 pages, June 2005, ISBN 0-7851-1726-1)
  • Captain America: The Swine (collects Captain America #206-214, Captain America Annual #3 and Captain America Annual #4, 240 pages, December 2006, ISBN 0-7851-2078-5)
  • Black Panther, Volume 1 (collects Black Panther #1-7, 136 pages, February 2005, ISBN 0-7851-1687-7)
  • Black Panther, Volume 2 (includes Black Panther #8-12, 112 pages, August 2006, ISBN 0-7851-2069-6)
  • Challengers of the Unknown Archives: Volume 1 (collects Showcase #6-7, 11-12, Challengers #1-2, ISBN 1-56389-997-3)
  • Challengers of the Unknown Archives: Volume 2 (collects Challenger #3-8, ISBN 1-4012-0153-9)
  • Showcase Presents Challengers of the Unknown Volume 1 (collects Showcase #6-7, 11-12, Challengers #1-17, 540 pages, September 2006, ISBN 1-4012-1087-2)
  • Eternals, Volume 1
  • Eternals, Volume 2
  • Jack Kirby's The Demon Omnibus, 384 pages, November 2008, ISBN 1-4012-1916-0
  • Jimmy Olsen: Adventures by Jack Kirby:
    • Volume 1 (collects Jack Kirby's the Forever People #133-141, 160 pages, July 2003, ISBN 1-56389-984-1)
    • Volume 2 (collects Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen #142-150, 192 pages, December 2004, ISBN 1-4012-0259-4)

    Jack Kirby's Mister Miracle: Super Escape Artist (collects Mr Miracle #1-10, 256 pages, January 1999, ISBN 1-56389-457-2)

  • Jack Kirby's Fourth World: Featuring Mister Miracle (collects Mr Miracle #11-18, 187 pages, July 2001, ISBN 1-56389-723-7)
  • Jack Kirby's Fourth World Omnibus Volumes 1, 2, 3, 4, hardback.
  • Jack Kirby's New Gods, 304 pages, December 1997, ISBN 1-56389-385-1)
  • Jack Kirby's the Forever People, 288 pages, October 1999, ISBN 1-56389-510-2
  • Jack Kirby's O.M.A.C.: One Man Army Corps, hardcover, DC Comics, May 2008, ISBN 1-4012-1790-7
  • Jack Kirby Omnibus Vol 1 (collects Green Arrow from Adventure Comics and World's Finest Comics plus works from House of Mystery, House of Secrets, Tales of the Unexpected, My Greatest Adventure, All-Star Western, Real Fact Comics, 304 pages, hardcover, July 2011, ISBN 978-1401231071)
  • Kamandi Archive: Volume 1 (224 pages, October 2005, ISBN 1-4012-0414-7)
  • Kamandi Archive: Volume 2 (228 pages, February 2007, ISBN 1-4012-1208-5)
  • Kamandi Omnibus v1 by Jack Kirby (collects Kamandi: The Last Boy on Earth #1-20, 448 pages, hardcover, September 2011, ISBN 1401232337)
  • Kamandi Omnibus v2 by Jack Kirby (collects Kamandi: The Last Boy on Earth #21-40, hardcover, not yet released)
  • The Losers by Jack Kirby (collects Our Fighting Forces #151-162, 240 pages, hardcover, March 2009, ISBN 1401221653)
  • The Newsboy Legion by Joe Simon and Jack Kirby, Volume 1 (collects Star Spangled Comics #7-32, hardcover, 2010, ISBN 978-1-4012-2593-3)
  • Sandman by Joe Simon and Jack Kirby (collects World's Finest Comics #6-7, Adventure Comics #72-102, Sandman #1, hardcover, 2010, ISBN 978-1-4012-2299-4)
  • Showcase Presents Green Arrow Volume 1 (527 pages, February 2006, ISBN 1-4012-0785-5)
  • Marvel Visionaries: Jack Kirby:
    • Volume 1 (collects "Mercury in the 20th Century" from Red Raven Comics #1, "The Vision" from Marvel Mystery Comics #13, "Meet Captain America" from Captain America Comics #1, "UFO the Lightning Man" from Yellow Claw #3, "I Defied Pildorr, the Plunderer from Outer Space!" from Strange Tales #94, "I Am the Amazing Dr. Droom!" from Amazing Adventures #1, "Beware the Rawhide Kid!" from Rawhide Kid #17, "The Origin of the Hulk" from Hulk #3, "Spidey Tackles the Torch" from Amazing Spider-Man #8, "Captain America Joins the Avengers!" from Avengers #4, "The Fangs of the Fox" from Sgt. Fury #6, "The Coming of Galactus" from Fantastic Four #48-50; "This Man. This Monster" from Fantastic Four #51, "The People Breeders" from Thor #134-135, "To Become an Immortal" from Thor #136, "This is a Plot?" from Fantastic Four Annual #5, "The Inhumans!" from Amazing Adventures vol. 2 #1-2, "America Will Die!" from Captain America #200, "The Fourth Host" from Eternals #7 and "What If the Original Marvel Bullpen Was the Fantastic Four?" from What If? #11, 344 pages, hardcover, November 2004, ISBN 0-7851-1574-9)
    • Volume 2 (collects Captain America Comics #1, Marvel Mystery Comics #23, Yellow Claw #4, Strange Tales #89, 114, Two-Gun Kid #60, Love Romances #103, X-Men #9; Tales of Suspense #59, Sgt. Fury #13, Fantastic Four #57-60, Not Brand Ecch #1, Thor #154-157, Devil Dinosaur #1, 344 pages, hardcover, April 2006, ISBN 0-7851-2094-7)
  • Simon and Kirby Superheroes Titan Book, hardback
  • Spirit World (collects work done for Spirit World #1 and 2, 108 pages, hardcover, April 2012, ISBN 1401234186)

Posthumous

Work usually based on reworking unused notes and sketches:

  • Jack Kirby's Galactic Bounty Hunters (pencils, Icon Comics, July 2006 - November 2007, collected as, 256 pages, hardcover, October 2007, ISBN 0-7851-2628-7, softcover, July 2008, ISBN 0-7851-2629-5)
  • "Fantastic Four: The Lost Adventure" (with Stan Lee, unused story planned for Fantastic Four #102 some of which was reused in Fantastic Four #108 which is also reprinted, Marvel Comics, April 2008)
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