Jack Kirby Centennial 100
August 23, 2017
"...Kirby worked for Marvel as a freelancer, not a staff artist. Under the terms of his deal, he did not participate in revenues from licensing on properties he created, or receive royalties when his work was reprinted. He did not even get his original artwork back after it had been published, even though that was the practice in other fields of commercial art and illustration. He was willing to overlook those slights to maintain good relationships with his employers, but it soon became obvious that everyone was making millions off Kirby’s work except for Kirby.
...By the late 70s, Kirby was engaged in a protracted legal struggle to establish his rights – a struggle that would last the rest of his life. The issue would not be resolved until Disney, which purchased Marvel in 2009, settled with his estate to avoid a Supreme Court ruling on the entire issue of work-for-hire and copyright ownership that could have upended the entire entertainment industry. That settlement took place in 2014, twenty years after his death and half a century after he’d established the bulk of his creative legacy."
"...There is no hard evidence that says George Lucas stole the design for Vader from Jack Kirby, but it is more than enough to raise an eyebrow. Regardless, they don't call him King Kirby for nothing. The man created Captain America, Black Panther and a whole host of incredible characters for Marvel and DC Comics during his lifetime. Not the least of which was Doctor Doom. And, even if we can't say for sure, he very well may have had a big part in influencing one of the greatest villains ever in any medium with Darth Vader from Star Wars. All hail the king."
"Kirby would have turned 100 on August 28. It may seem a little strange for us to be celebrating him just a few weeks after worrying that comics publishers are becoming little more than IP factories for Hollywood. After all, if DC and Marvel have become IP factories, then it was Kirby who laid the factories’ foundation."
"Jacob Kurtzberg was a thug by default. His immigrant family paid $12 a month to live in a Suffolk Street tenement, where violence was as ubiquitous as poverty. For protection more than sadism, Kurtzberg’s friends were gang members, engaging in what they called “climb-outs,” the art of chasing or being chased up fire escapes to get money or settle scores."
"...Captain America was not an instant, universal American icon in 1941. Kirby and his co-creator Joe Simon, both Jewish, received death threats. A biographer, longtime Kirby assistant Mark Evanier, described Kirby getting a phone call from someone urging him to come down to the lobby of Timely Comics (the company that would become Marvel), where three thugs wanted “to show him what real Nazis would do to his Captain America.” Kirby, Evanier recalled, “rolled up his sleeves and headed downstairs.”
- Captain America Comics #1 (1941)
- Young Romance #12 (1949)
- Challengers of the Unknown #3 (1958)
- Tales to Astonish #13 (1959)
- Fantastic Four #51 (1966)
...There is no doubt in my mind, and the minds of others, that he is easily one of the most important artists of the 20th century, up there with Picasso, Louis Armstrong, Elvis, Chuck Berry, the Beatles and Andy Warhol.
...Kirby never really saw the financial rewards of his labor. From “The Incredible Hulk” TV show in the late 1970s to the upcoming “Justice League” movie in which denizens of Apokolips look to be the main villains, properties that he created are worth quite literally tens of billions of dollars. Did Kirby receive the compensation he was due in his lifetime? Nope. Will his descendants? It’s not looking good.
"To mark the 100th anniversary of Jack Kirby’s birth, the Jack Kirby Museum and Research Center will open a special, limited-engagement event, celebrating the life, legacy, and boundless creativity of the King of Comics. "Jack Kirby 100 Years" will take place at One Art Space, located at 23 Warren Street in New York City, from August 27-30."
New Page August 31, 2017