Crackle

vol 97

Today comic enthusiasts celebrate the 100th birthday of one of the medium’s most prolific and creative contributor: Jack Kirby.
Born as Jakob Kurtzberg to a couple of austrian refugees he lived a life that demanded a certain hardening; from the regular fights in his neighborhood, the people who took offense with his jewish heritage to the events he witnessed as a reconnaissance officer in World War II. But all those things it seems have been repurposed into fuel for his creativity. You have to really work on yourself if you probably propose[1] this as a depiction of mankind after you took a trip through the madhouse of war:

The first time i heard about the King of Comics was in the editorial of a german Spider-Man comic; it was his obituary. And to my discredit i admit that i quickly read over the text, stuttered a short “I’m sorry for the loss.” and continued to read the next installment of Maximum Carnage.
Over the coming years i continued stumbling over Jack Kirby’s legacy but it took me a while to finally look up the man’s body of work; which made me realize why he was called “The King” by his peers (after the title publisher Martin Goodman gave himself, and got mocked for behind his back): his work ethic and creativity made him produce a massive amount of pages, he had his hands in the creation of romance comics and helped invent the visual language of modern superhero comics. Mister Miracle, Big Barda, Darkseid as well as the rest of the Fourth World pantheon, Etrigan, Kamandi, the Challengers of the Unknown, OMAC, Machine Man, the Fantastic Four, the Hulk, the X-Men, the Avengers, the mighty Thor, the Eternals, Uatu the Watcher and Captain America are only a few of the figures that are still in use to this day; all of them played a role in my path through the world of visual storytelling.

But like many of the people who paved the way for modern comics his name isn’t the one on everyone’s lips. “Comics will break your heart.”[2] is a sentence of his that is uttered amongst the enthusiasts and pros alike. I hope it wasn’t the medium but the industry that caused his heartache[3], because i imagine this man sitting before his drafting table drawing and creating page after page, creating his legacy with a twinkle in his eye instead of constant resentment of his profession; because it would make feel the readers enthusiasm for his work like the crack of a whip.

[1] The Kirbymuseum website has a short article about it. [link]
[2] James Romberger was told by Kirby to put his art in galleries because the industry didn’t treat him very well. [link]
[3] One of the many articles on the web telling the troubled story of royalties and acknowledgement of their work. [link]
Further reading: a short story about the relationship between Stan Lee and Jack Kirby; Citizen Conn by Michael Chabon

Thank You for Your time!
Stay Cosmic!

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