Comic shops around the country have been abuzz celebrating Jack Kirby’s centennial this week. The undisputed King of Comics would have turned 100 this past Monday, August 28th. For a guy as influential as Walt Disney or George Lucas, it’s a shame how few people recognize his name or appreciate his contributions to comics, entertainment, and popular culture. Despite a #doodleforjack campaign, Google didn’t get it together in time to enlighten the masses with some Kirby crackle or dream machinery (we, did however, learn a little bit more about James Wong Howe on the 118th anniversary of the cinematographer’s birth).
But we know how important Kirby is, and each and every Idler, just like every one of you reading this blog, has his or her own favorite Kirby creation or a story about discovering his genius for the first time. And it’s up to us to spread the word. Take a friend to the comic shop this week, and act as a docent through the living museum of Kirby’s 2017 impact. Several one-shot specials are being released this month by DC and, this week from Mark Evanier and Scott Kolins, is the Darkseid Special. Be sure to point out the fact that the Justice League movie coming out in a few months looks to feature one of Jack’s most inventive concepts, as well as the Lord of Apokolips, one of the most insidious villains in comics. This oversized special also has a new OMAC story, and two classic Kirby reprints. And for more Fourth World fun, you could also pass along the new Black Racer and Shilo Norman special, by Reginald Hudlin and Ryan Benjamin, which also contains some great Kirby originals.
Continue reading Jack Kirby’s 100th
As I wrote before, Mister Miracle has always been the Kirby creation that I have loved through and through. His escape routine and relationship with Big Barda have always been inspirational to me. So leave it to Tom King (Vision) and Mitch Gerads (Punisher) to take this character I’ve always idealized as a superhero and reduce him to basic humanity, struggling with depression.
I will admit, on paper this sounds like a real bummer. Mister Miracle depressed and dealing with suicide? In most cases, I’m not really onboard with it but King and Gerads tell the story with such care and detail that I couldn’t help but become engrossed with the material.
Continue reading Mister Miracle
Picking a Kirby story is hard enough, let alone a Kirby character. For me, his New Gods space opera for DC will always be the quintessential King. It’s Kirby at his most expressive and free as you see the love put into every page and character. The story is simple: two planets full of gods have been at war since they split. One, New Genesis, is the beautiful unsullied world of the nice gods while the other, Apokolips, is the hellhole nightmare world run by a tyrant. The rulers decide to a truce by sending their sons to the other planet which cues the birth of my favorite character, Scott Free aka Mister Miracle. Continue reading Jack Kirby’s Mister Miracle
My love of Kamandi began in college. Though I had been a fan of comic books nearly all my life I had yet to delve into their history. I had always thought that older comics were corny, or too message-based to appeal to me. I like badasses like Spawn and Wolverine. I admit I even had a fondness for the extreme 90s styling of Rob Liefeld. It wasn’t until high school that I began to branch out of Marvel and into DC, and even then it was only Batman and Birds of Prey that caught my attention. At some point in those halcyon days of Mountain Dew and Taco Bell I remember seeing an old issue of Kamandi: The Last Boy On Earth for sale at my local comic book store. At first I thought the book looked ridiculous; here was this boy with flowing golden hair, Hulk-like ripped pants, and a gun. Once I opened the pages though I remember seeing the genius of Jack Kirby in full view. A tribunal of Ape-men sentencing a Lion-man and a Dog-man to death with the caption “Clemency denied!” I wish I had picked up that book and began my love of Kamandi and Kirby a few years early.
Still, that initial exposure to the world of Kamandi stayed with me. Though the boy’s name was soon forgotten, that imaginative world, that Planet of the Apes on acid, stuck with me until one day at the SF State campus bookstore I saw the Kamandi Omnibus Volume 1 for sale. There he was, there was that lost world again. So I sat down and read the entire thing, completely forgetting the two or so classes I had that day. It was okay though, my teachers would understand. There were gorillas riding jeeps into battle with a tiger army that was a bit more pressing than Philosophy of Art. Continue reading Jack Kirby’s Kamandi: The Last Boy On Earth
Captain America Comics #1 burst onto newsstands in 1941 with that now-famous flying right hook to the jaw of Adolf Hitler. The book and cover are largely credited to Joe Simon, but his young partner Jack Kirby, 23 at the time, became an increasingly integral part of the design and development of one of popular culture’s most enduring characters.
When Kirby came back to Marvel in the early 60’s to partner with Stan Lee on the birth of the Marvel Universe, he also helped bring back a character who many thought might have just remained a campy footnote in the propaganda-laden pulp trade of the 1940’s. In an even more memorable issue with a singularly milestone cover, Captain America became well and truly Jack Kirby’s superhero. Continue reading Jack Kirby’s Captain America
I remember the day I played sick from high school to read entire collections of Mark Millar’s Ultimate X-Men, thus kicking off an expensive habit of collecting the trades as they came out. And I collected every stupid iteration of the team from X-Babies, to Exiles, and those gory X-Force books, because the depth and width of their universe is fucking incredible. These days I don’t read many comics, but I always find myself asking MMDG or another Idle Timer about what’s going on with my team. I love those X-books, and I guess I kind of love Jack Kirby for starting it.
Truth be told, Jack Kirby didn’t have to do with much of the X-Men I know. Wolverine, or Hugh Jackman, as some people may know him, was the brain-baby of Len Wein, Roy Thomas, and John Romita Sr, before being fleshed out into the tormented berserker by Chris Claremont. A lot of the stories and characters from the X-Men cartoon are from the Claremont/Cockrum/Byrne era, too.
So why give thanks to Jack Kirby? Continue reading Jack Kirby’s The X-Men
This Friday will mark the 98th birthday of Jack “The King” Kirby, legendary artist whose creative genius helped give life to many of the most recognizable characters in the Marvel universe, and whose iconic style also served to usher in an entirely new era of superheroic imagination.
Kirby passed away in 1994, but his legacy endures. That legacy extends far beyond the close to four billion dollars earned by Hollywood films featuring his characters. Beginning in the 90’s, and inspired by the Kirby estate’s efforts to regain rights and credit for Jack’s work, a movement for creators’ rights took shape that changed the landscape of the comic book industry.
From the Image revolution through the Hollywood success of creations such as Mignola’s Hellboy and Millar and Romita’s Kick-Ass, today’s creators owe much to the activism that began when Kirby and his supporters started championing the rights of comic book artists and writers. Continue reading Long Live The King: Celebrating Jack Kirby’s 98th