Jack Kirby Thoughts

The gang over at eXpert Comics asked if I’d put together a few words about Jack Kirby during the week celebrating what would have been his 100th birthday. Here’s what I wrote for them:

With no trade paperback program to speak of and minimal reprints available, I had no idea growing up how much of the “modern” Marvel Universe was derived from Jack Kirby’s creations.

His hard-edged bodies, chisel-topped fingers and black bubbles of cosmic energy stood out as distinctive to me even before I started collecting books based on creators instead of characters, but it wasn’t until years later that I had a chance to really dig in to classic comics and appreciate how much he blazed the trail.

What I thought were original ideas coming from current creators were actually Kirby creations retooled for a new generation.

While other artists were creating distracting yarns, Jack was building worlds that inspired. In his prime he pulled the camera back to bring a sense of epic scale to his stories like no one else. His environmental artwork had a mythic quality to it, a bold approach that couldn’t be contained by the panels they were placed in.

Best of all, he populated those stunning vistas with heroes and villains just as distinctive. His characters struggled against impossible odds, emoting through their entire bodies in a way that was instantly clear and engaging.

Unconstrained, unfettered, impossible – a strange and wonderful fusion of geometric forms mixed with pop art power. The work always stressed drama over realism, and the more comics I create, the more I realize how important that was (and still is).

In short – if Marvel is the ‘House of Ideas’, then the stirring imagination and stunning output of Jack Kirby is the fertile ground that house was firmly built upon. They called him “The King” for a reason. That crown isn’t going anywhere.

  1. Kirby stands alone in the pantheon of comic book creators.

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