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Jack Kirby, the "King" of Comics

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Psycho
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« on: June 30, 2007, 01:28:57 am »


Jack Kirby (August 28, 1917 – February 6, 1994) was one of the most influential, recognizable, and prolific artists in American comic books, and the co-creator of such enduring characters and popular culture icons as the Fantastic Four, the X-Men, the Hulk, Captain America, and hundreds of others stretching back to the earliest days of the medium. He was also a comic book writer and editor. His most common nickname is The King.

He was inducted into comic books' Shazam Awards Hall of Fame in 1975.

The Jack Kirby Award for achievement in comic books was named in his honor.
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Psycho
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« Reply #1 on: June 30, 2007, 01:30:10 am »

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« Reply #2 on: June 30, 2007, 01:31:28 am »

Biography

Early life



Born Jacob Kurtzberg to Jewish Austrian parents in New York City, he grew up on Suffolk Street in New York's Lower East Side Delancey Street area, attending elementary school at P.S. 20. His father, Benjamin, a garment-factory worker, was a Conservative Jew, and Jacob attended Hebrew school. Jacob's one sibling, a brother five years younger, predeceased him. After a rough-and-tumble childhood with much fighting among the kind of kid gangs he would render more heroically in his future comics (Fantastic Four's Jewish Ben Grimm was raised on rough-and-tumble "Yancy Street", and was predeceased by his older brother; in addition to sharing Kirby's father's first name, his middle name is Jacob, Kirby's first name at birth). Likewise Nick Fury's backstory is faithfully modelled after Kirby's own childhood. 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".[1]

Essentially self-taught, Kirby cited among his influences the comic strip artists Alex Raymond and Milton Caniff.

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« Reply #3 on: June 30, 2007, 01:32:59 am »


The Golden Age of Comics

Captain America Comics #1 (March 1941), art by Jack Kirby (penciler) and Joe Simon (inker).Per his own 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, then worked for the movie animation company Fleischer Studios as an "in-betweener" (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."[2]

Around this time, "I began to see the first comic books appear".[2] The first American comic books were reprints of newspaper comic strips; soon, these tabloid-size, 10-inch by 15-inch "Comic books" began to include original material in comic-strip form. Kirby began writing and drawing such material 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.[3] 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. Kirby was also helpful beyond his artwork when he once frightened off a mobster who was strongarming Eisner for their building's towel service.

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 (January–March 1940), starring a character created by the pseudonymous Charles Nicholas, a house name that Kirby retained for the three-month-long strip.
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« Reply #4 on: June 30, 2007, 01:34:32 am »

Simon & Kirby

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. Speaking at a 1998 Comic-Con International panel in San Diego, California, Simon recounted the meeting:

“ I had a suit and Jack thought that was really nice. He'd never seen a comic book artist with a suit before. The reason I had a suit was that my father was a tailor. Jack's father was a tailor too, but he made pants! Anyway, I was doing freelance work and I had a little office in New York about ten blocks from DC's and Fox [Feature Syndicate]'s offices, and I was working on Blue Bolt for Funnies, Inc. So, of course, 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... [4]
 ”


 
"Daring Disc", page 2. Note kinetic similarities to Capt. America's shield.and remained a team across the next two decades. In the early 2000s, original art for an unpublished, five-page Simon & Kirby collaboration titled "Daring Disc", which may predate the duo's Blue Bolt, surfaced. Simon published the story in the 2003 updated edition of his autobiography, The Comic Book Makers.[5]

After leaving Fox and landing at pulp magazine publisher Martin Goodman's Timely Comics (the future Marvel Comics), the new Simon & Kirby team created the seminal patriotic hero Captain America in late 1940. Their dynamic perspectives, groundbreaking use of centerspreads, cinematic techniques and exaggerated sense of action made the title an immediate hit and rewrote the rules for comic book art. Simon and Kirby also produced the first complete comic book starring Captain Marvel for Fawcett Comics.

Captain America became the first and largest of many hit characters the duo would produce. The Simon & Kirby name soon became synonymous with exciting superhero comics, and the two became industry stars whose readers followed them from title to title. A financial dispute with Goodman led to their decamping to National Comics, one of the precursors of DC Comics, after ten issues of Captain America. Given a lucrative contract at their new home, Simon & Kirby took over the Sandman in Adventure Comics, and scored their next hits with the "kid gang" teams the Boy Commandos and the Newsboy Legion, and the superhero Manhunter.

Kirby married Rosalind "Roz" Goldstein (September 25, 1922–December 22, 1998) on May 23, 1942. The couple would have four children: Susan, Neal, Barbara and Lisa. The same year that he married, he changed his name legally from Jacob Kurtzberg to Jack Kirby. The couple was living in Brighton Beach, Brooklyn, when Kirby was drafted into the U.S. Army in the late autumn of 1943. Serving with the Third Army combat infantry, he landed in Normandy, on Omaha Beach, 10 days after D-Day.

As superhero comics waned in popularity after the end of World War II, Kirby and his partner began producing a variety of other genre stories. They are credited with the creation of the first romance title, Young Romance Comics at Crestwood Publications, also known as Prize Comics. In addition, Kirby and Simon produced crime, horror, western and humor comics.

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« Reply #5 on: June 30, 2007, 01:36:26 am »



After Simon

Sky Masters comic strip by Kirby & Wally Wood.The Kirby & Simon partnership ended amicably in 1955 with the failure of their own Mainline Publications. Kirby continued to freelance. He was instrumental in the creation of Archie Comics' The Fly and The Double Life of Private Strong reuniting briefly with Joe Simon. He also drew some issues of Classics Illustrated.

For DC Comics, then known as National Comics, Kirby co-created with writers Dick & 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. In 30 months at DC, Kirby drew slightly more than 600 pages, which included 11 Green Arrow stories in World's Finest Comics and Adventure Comics that, in a rarity, Kirby inked himself.[6] 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 after 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 sued Kirby and was successful at trial.

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« Reply #6 on: June 30, 2007, 01:38:31 am »


One of comics' most famous covers: The Avengers #4. Art by Kirby & George Roussos.


Stan Lee and Marvel Comics

Kirby also worked for Marvel, on the cusp of the company's evolution from its 1950s incarnation as Atlas Comics, beginning with the cover and the seven-page story "I Discovered the Secret of the Flying Saucers" in Strange Worlds #1 (Dec. 1958).[9] Kirby would draw across all genres, from romance to Western (the feature "Black Rider") to espionage (Yellow Claw), but made his mark primarily with a series of monster, horror and science fiction stories for the company's many anthology series, such as Amazing Adventures, Strange Tales, Tales to Astonish and Tales of Suspense. His bizarre designs of powerful, unearthly creatures proved a hit with readers. Then, with Marvel editor-in-chief Stan Lee, Kirby began working on superhero comics again, 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 coincidentally well-matched with the consciousness-expanding youth culture of the 1960s.

For almost a decade, Kirby provided Marvel's house style, co-creating/designing many of the Marvel characters and providing layouts for new artists to draw over. He would often place objects of exaggerated size in the foreground, capturing action with startling immediacy. The characters he drew seemed to burst right off the page.[citation needed]

Highlights besides the Fantastic Four include Thor, the Incredible Hulk, Iron Man, the original X-Men, the Silver Surfer, Doctor Doom, Galactus, 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 & Kirby's Captain America was also incorporated into Marvel's continuity.

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.[7]

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 and 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.

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« Reply #7 on: June 30, 2007, 01:42:23 am »


Premiere (March 1971) of The New Gods, flagship of the Fourth World titles. Cover art by Kirby & Don Heck.


Later career
 
Kirby returned to DC in the early 1970s, under an arrangement that gave him full creative control as editor, writer and artist. He produced a cycle of inter-linked titles under the blanket sobriquet The Fourth World including a trilogy of new titles, New Gods, Mister Miracle, and The Forever People, as well as the Superman title, Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen which he worked on at the publisher's request. Kirby claims to have picked this Superman family book because the series was between artists 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 titles such as OMAC, Kamandi, The Demon, and (together with former partner Joe Simon for one last time) a new incarnation of the Sandman. Several characters from this period have since become fixtures in the DC universe, including the demon Etrigan and his human counterpart Jason Blood; Scott Free (Mister Miracle), and the cosmic villain Darkseid.

Kirby then returned to Marvel Comics where he 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 influenced the evolution of life on Earth. 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. He also wrote and drew The Black Panther and did numerous covers across the line.

Although often artistically successful, the books did not connect with an audience to the same extent as his earlier work for Marvel in the 1960s. Many of the themes of his 1970s work - aging and immortality, helplessness in the face of unknowable and inconceivable powers beyond one's control - were those of a man in late middle age and were not likely to connect with younger readers.

Still dissatisfied with Marvel's treatment of him, and their refusal to provide health and other employment benefits, Kirby left Marvel to work in animation, where 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.



 
Topps Comics' Bombast #1 (April 1993). Cover art by Kirby

In the early 1980s, Pacific Comics, a new, non-newsstand comic book publisher, made a then-groundbreaking deal with Kirby to publish his series Captain Victory and the Galactic Rangers: Kirby would retain copyright over his creation and receive royalties on it. This, together with similar actions by other "independents" such as Eclipse Comics, helped establish a precedent for other professionals and end the monopoly of the "work for hire" system, wherein comics creators, even freelancers, had owned no rights to characters they created. 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".

In 1985, screenwriter and comic-book historian Mark Evanier revealed[citation needed] that thousands of pages of Kirby's artwork had been lost by Marvel Comics. These pages became the subject of a dispute between Kirby and that company. In 1987, in exchange for his giving up any claim to copyright, Kirby received from Marvel the 2,100 pages of his original art that remained in its possession. The disposition of Kirby's art for DC, Fawcett, and numerous other companies has remained uncertain.

Kirby died at age 76 of heart failure in his Thousand Oaks, California home.

Kirby's daughter, Lisa Kirby, announced in early 2006 that she and co-writer Steve Robertson, with artist Mike Thibodeaux, plan to published via the Marvel Comics Icon imprint a six-issue miniseries, Jack Kirby's Galactic Bounty Hunters, featuring characters and concepts created by her father.

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« Reply #8 on: June 30, 2007, 01:44:22 am »

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
•   1964: 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
•   1968: 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[10]
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.
His work was honored posthumously with the 1998 Harvey Award for Best Domestic Reprint Project, for Jack Kirby's New Gods by Jack Kirby, edited by Bob Kahan.
The Jack Kirby Awards and Jack Kirby Hall of Fame were named in his honor.
In 2006, he was voted the #1 artist on Comic Book Resources ' All Time Top 100 Writers and Artists.  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 Sept. 16, 2006 to Jan. 28, 2007.
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« Reply #9 on: June 30, 2007, 01:45:49 am »

Legacy

Kirby is popularly acknowledged by comics creators and fans as one of the greatest and most influential artists in the history of comics. His output was legendary, with one count estimating that he produced over 25,000 pages during his lifetime, as well as hundreds of comic strips and sketches. He also produced paintings, and worked on concept illustrations for a number of Hollywood films.

The most imitated aspect of Kirby's work has been his exaggerated perspectives and dynamic energy. Less easy to imitate have been the expressive body language of his characters, who embrace each other and charge into everything from battle to pancakes with unselfconscious exuberance; and such constantly forward-looking innovations as the then cutting-edge photomontages he often used. The "Kirby Crackle" is the often imitated technique of visually depicting crackling energy using an arrangement of black dots. He (along with fellow Marvel creator Steve Ditko) pioneered the use of visible minority characters in comic books, and Kirby co-created the first black superhero at Marvel (the African prince the Black Panther) and created DC's first two black superheroes: Vykin the Black in The Forever People #1 (March 1971) and the Black Racer in The New Gods #3 (July 1971).

Al Williamson: "If you told me or most of my buddies to draw fifty spaceships, they'd all look like they were built in the same plant. If Jack drew fifty spaceships, they'd look like they were built by fifty different alien races."[11]

Joe Simon: "My favorite artist was Lou Fine. He was also Jack Kirby's favorite artist. I know that Jack was a fan of and greatly influenced by Fine’s work".
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« Reply #10 on: June 30, 2007, 01:50:00 am »

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« Reply #11 on: June 30, 2007, 01:52:05 am »

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« Reply #12 on: June 30, 2007, 01:53:36 am »

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« Reply #13 on: June 30, 2007, 01:55:01 am »

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« Reply #14 on: June 30, 2007, 01:57:45 am »

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