When an article talks about Jack Kirby, there’s no comic book nerd out there who won’t know about him. Jack, along with Joe Simon, are some of the pillars of the entire comic book industry.
Jack Kirby was the comic book “Moses” while Stan Lee was the comic book “Aaron.” Bible connections aside, Kirby’s legacy spans decades, and up to now, fans and creators alike believe he’s the greatest of all time.
It’s apropos to start our journey with the greatest of all time and learn more about this enigma of a man.
The Creation of Jack Kirby
Born Jacob Kurtzberg to Austrian-Jewish immigrants, Jack came into the comic industry via newspaper comics. Like anyone from his time, he started with single and three-panel comics in a newspaper’s entertainment section.
He worked from Lincoln Newspaper Syndicate to Max Fleischer as an in-between guy. In the latter years of the 1930s, the comics industry is booming. Kirby worked under several pseudonyms making strips for Eisner-Iger.
Eventually, Jacob settled on Jack Kirby, inspired by vaudevillian actor James Cagney. He worked for Fox Feature Syndicate, working on the first iteration of superhero Blue Beetle.
Working there, he got into a professional partnership with Joe Simon. Eventually, the duo moved to Timely Comics and created Captain America.
In his first issue, Jack drew the iconic Captain America punching Hitler in the face cover art. The entire thing sold out, setting both Kirby and Simon as the two biggest creative forces in the comic book industry.
Jack Kirby Over The Years
Jack eventually had to serve in World War II, working as a recon scout for the 11th infantry. Postwar, Kirby and Simon worked on a few indies for the next decade. He drew different genre comic books, from romance to war comics.
He did freelancing work in the mid-50s for both Atlas and National Comis, eventually becoming Marvel and DC, respectively. He became a journeyman for this time until he worked in the newly established Marvel Comics.
Kirby hit his stride again, with Stan Lee becoming his writer, editor, and “ideas man.” Together, both created some of the superheroes we still know and love today. These include The Fantastic Four, Hulk, Iron Man, Thor, the X-Men, and Black Panther.
Eventually, Kirby and Lee gathered their creations and created the superhero team The Avengers. By the late ‘60s, Kirby wanted to move on, unhappy with his current work conditions.
Kirby moved to DC in 1979, having a short two-year stint in the company. During this time, however, he built entire worlds for the company. He created the Fourth World Saga, which contained the New Gods, Mister Miracle, and Darkseid.
Kirby came back to Marvel by 1976 and worked on existing properties. He also worked with smaller publishers and other indies in his later years.
Why Kirby is the Greatest Comic Creator of All Time
Jack Kirby is a genius and one of the greatest, if not the greatest, comic book creators of all time. He’s the foundation of the current comics industry and made many techniques mainstream.
His style always offers narrative movement, with dynamic motion becoming his signature. He revolutionized motion lines in the comic book industry, using techniques that showed active movement.
Kirby’s creations always felt alive. His genius added levels of details unseen in the comics industry during his time. Jack took to every painstaking detail the emotions of every panel and how they related to the space they stay.
He also had a way to visualize an entire scenario in his head. By doing so, he can draw complete panels without using preliminary sketches or guidelines.
Jack was a master penciler, but it was infrequent that he did inking on his own. He worked with many different inkers but didn’t care who did it. According to an excerpt from Stan Lee, Jack was confident enough that he still won’t be lost on the inker.
Jack was also a staunch believer in religious equality. He was Jewish by birth and disliked people for discriminating him for his beliefs. Stories of Jack Kirby include him going out and punching Nazis in the streets and people with Antisemitic views.
There Is Only One Jack Kirby
Jack Kirby is a pillar of the comic book industry for a reason. His diverse style, talent, and integrity as a comic book creator inspired countless people through the years.
His visionary work became the starting point for comic book creators we know and love today. There will never be another Jack Kirby, and that’s a good thing.
Jack is one of a kind, and we are at this point in the comic book industry because of him. His legacy and influence on everyone who knew his work are extensive. Jack is the one above all, and that will never change.
Jack Kirby – Wikipedia
This one Thor comic reveals Jack Kirby’s hidden genius (Marvel history) – Nerdsync
How Jack Kirby Left Marvel For DC And Created The Fourth World – SYFY WIRE, Youtube
Alter Ego #150 – Retrospective Stan Lee by Roy Thomas Jr., TwoMorrows Publishing.