Welcome to yet another segment of Stalkbacker in which I revive the old articles from Talkbacker but with added material. Think of it as my very own “Director’s cut” and you’ll get the gist of it right away.
“And I was thinking how the world should have cried
on the day Jack Kirby died I wonder if I’m ill, yeah”
Lyrics are from the Song, “Melt” Courtesy of Monster Magnet
What do Galactus, Darksied, Black Bolt, Hulk, Thor, Black Panther, Adam Warlock, the Fantastic Four, X-Men, Captain America and so many other iconic heroes and villains all have in common?
Well for starters, they are among the many creations or co-creations of the legendary artist and co-collaborator of the most iconic and obscure comic book characters in history. The Man, the Legend, Jack “King” Kirby!
Many may believe that Elvis is the King of Rock n’ Roll, but when it came to comics, Kirby has more than earned his crown. Not only did he create incredible characters, but also astonishing universes.
In honor of the King’s 98th Birthday, this retrospective to pay homage and respect to the King’s various contributions to not only comics, but pop culture in general.
This was the Man who not only saved the comic industry, but revolutionized it with mind-blowing aesthetics and the tenacity to co-plot and draw five different books within a week. Many of his ideas came to fruition, however, “someone else” took most of the credit for Kirby’s contributions. Here are but a few examples of his amazing work;
Not only was every Comic Cover from Kirby was mind-blowing, but the same could be said for his two page- canvas that’s full of detail, dialog and were the geek’s answer to a “Centerfold”.. Well, c’mon, which would you rather hang up on your wall? (0;’
During a segment of Stan Lee: With Great Power documentary, Lee claims to have been responsible for creating The Black Panther. That’s bullshit! The idea to create the first black superhero was Kirby’s.
I remember watching some interview with Kirby in which he mentioned that why weren’t black people represented in comics and that his first childhood friend was black.
Here is the first concept of what would is now known as The Black Panther.
Okay, it’s not what I would expect from a brilliant artist like Jack, but it’s a start in the right direction I guess. (0:’
Despite Kirby’s fascinating run of BP during the late 70’s, the book was cancelled after nine issues. (Deja Vu)
Jack Kirby-A Real American Hero
In 1979, Kirby drew concept art for film producer Barry Geller’s script treatment adapting Roger Zelazny’s science fiction novel, Lord of Light. In collaboration, Geller commissioned Kirby to draw set designs that would also be used as architectural renderings for a theme park in Colorado to be called “Science Fiction Land”. Geller announced his plans at a November press conference attended by Kirby, former NFL football star Rosey Grier, science fiction writer Ray Bradbury, and others. Although the film Lord of Light did not come to fruition, Kirby’s illustrations were used for the CIA’s “Canadian caper”, in which members of the U.S. embassy in 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 as witnessed in the Ben Affleck- film Argo, co-starring Michael Parks as Kirby.
As a result of Jack’s contribution, the hostages in Iran were rescued. What a Real American Hero!
And yes, he also served in the armed forces during World War 2.
In 1970, Jack Kirby left Marvel Comics to work at DC Comics, where he began the saga of the New Gods, an epic story involving mythological and science fiction concepts that was so influential, that even George Lucas took notice. *WINK*
Although Kirby planned to have a definite ending for his Fourth World opus, the series was left incomplete after the cancellation of all titles involved. Kirby than began The Eternals when he returned to Marvel. The Eternals‘ saga itself was similar to that of the New Gods‘, and eventually that series was also cancelled without resolving many of its plots, particularly the subplot involving the Celestials’ (Space Gods) judgment over humanity. Initially, the comic book was never intended to be part of Marvel’s continuity (That explains the “Cosmic Powered Hulk” plotline I guess.)
I was more into The Eternals than say, New Gods because of its unapologetic camp and there was something brilliant about the introduction of the Celestials as well as the three Species-Man, Deviant and Eternal; The aesthetics were eye-catching and one of the main protagonists, had a kickass outfit and those eyebeams.
Giving credit where credit is long overdue
“I got to know Jack Kirby’s work and remarkable creativity quite well and witnessed his characters and stories as they evolved. There is no question in my mind that Jack Kirby was the driving creative force behind most of Marvel’s top characters today including “The Fantastic Four,” “The Mighty Thor,” “The Incredible Hulk,” “X-Men” and “The Avengers.” The prolific Kirby was literally bursting with ideas and these characters and stories have all the markings of his fertile and eclectic imagination”.
More than anyone around him, Kirby was aware of the magnitude of his contributions, yet he never evidenced a moment of public arrogance or conceit.
Lee started out early with his self-serving, self-claiming, self-gratifying style, of giving credit and then undercutting the giving by taking away or claiming most or all of the credit.
Throughout the decades, Stan Lee has been known to take most of the credit for so many Marvel concepts and characters, and thanks to his cousin Martin Goodman owning the company and being “Lawyered” up, Lee was able to “Convince” nearly everyone that he was the sole driving force behind Fantastic Four and such. When it was actually Kirby that created most of said concepts.
“On September 16, 2009, the Kirby estate also served notices of termination to Disney, 20th Century Fox, Universal, Paramount, and Sony 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.” In July 2011, the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York issued a summary judgment in favor of Marvel, which was affirmed in August 2013 by the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.
As of September 2012, Hollywood films based on characters Kirby co-created have collectively earned nearly $3.1 billion. Despite the fact that these Films have grossed billions, not much if any royalties were given to the Kirby Estate”.
This just goes to demonstrate how unfair life itself can be. There are givers and there is the takers.
Jack had given so much of his life to Marvel and time away from his family yet those bloodsucking leeches at Marvel (including Stan) had taken most of the credit and royalties from Kirby’s contributions. Another reason why I have such contempt for lawyers.
What’s funny is when Kirby left Marvel (twice), Stan didn’t write nearly as many stories or create new characters especially compared to what Kirby has done. Even if some of his creations weren’t as successful, there was a huge abundance of ideas from Jack’s brain.
Quentin Tarantino did a script polish for Crimson Tide and added dialog for this particular scene of who draws the best Silver Surfer-Kirby or Moebius?
Nuff said, Denzel.
Storyboard artist Alan Kupperburg paid homage to Kirby when he did the layout for the teaser trailer of T2: Judgment Day.
Skip to 0.41
Kirby is truly one of the unsung Heroes of pop-culture, for he has contributed so much to the medium of comics, animation and even movies, yet not rewarded enough thanks to shady business partners and greedy ass companies. But those of us know that had it not been for his contributions, Marvel would nowhere be near as successful as it is today and as long as fans such as yours truly is around, his legacy shall never be forgotten. Thank you, Jack. And if there truly is a heaven, may you keep on banging out those wonderful splash pages. In closing, I leave what is a fitting tribute courtesy of noted Kirby- fans Bruce Timm and James Tucker. Respect!!
“The World didn’t need a Superman, but a brave Man”.
Now You Know…
Prior to leaving DC Comics back in 1974, Kirby had laid groundwork for a new series based on an international terrorist and mad scientist. Here’s the “twist”: The series was named…
Now, I didn’t know.
And knowing is half the Battle!