“I think that the human being is very important.” – Jack Kirby, 28 August 1987
Jack Kirby’s 94th birthday. Another day to celebrate one of the Twentieth Century’s greatest, yet secret, creative forces.
Jack Kirby created compelling, dynamic and imaginative comic book stories and characters from the start of his comic book career in 1939 to his retirement in 1987. Kirby loved movies, was a fan of science fiction, and, due to his outrageous experiences in New York City’s worst ghetto and the European Theater of World War Two, had a unique take on the human experience. He worked extremely hard to make exciting comic book stories that would sell, to keep his family financially secure. It’s a shame that someone has to clear a long-hovering cloud of hyperbole and look past the silence of Martin Goodman’s corporate heirs to learn about one of the creative powerhouses behind the Marvel works. Why is Jack Kirby a secret?
It’s been 17 years since he passed away, and he and his work still exert a deep influence on our cultural landscape. Right as two high-profile movies are released based on his work – usually something to celebrate, in a way – Judge Colleen McMahon determined that Kirby’s work for Martin Goodman between 1958 and 1963 was owned by Martin Goodman at the moment Kirby drew it.
I started writing a criticism of McMahon’s “Memorandum opinion,” but what’s important is that the Kirby heirs have filed an appeal, and obviously, the Museum supports them with their efforts.
Considering the recent, and forthcoming, high-profile movies as well as the maddening court decisions, I’m thankful there are a number of people out there supporting Jack Kirby:
Did you know Steve Bissette is boycotting Marvel product until Marvel pays the Kirby family, and acknowledges Kirby as the co-creator of all of the properties he co-created? Frank Santoro is doing so. I am doing so, as well.
Jason Garrattley’s Kirby-Vision blog is hosting a Kirby Tribute gallery today. Jason’s had a number of great pieces on Kirby-Vision recently.
And, of course, the Kirby Museum has a number of projects in the works:
In October, we’re manning a small-press booth in the Javits Center at New York Comic Con. To coincide with NYCC, we’re also mounting, with help from Karl Heitmueller, a Kirby Tribute art show at Maxwell’s in Hoboken, New Jersey, which is only a short ferry ride away from the Javits Center. I’m excited that folks like Tom Scioli, Frank Espinosa, Mark Badger, Jason Atomic, Norris Burroughs, Andrei Molotiu, and Mark Frauenfelder are interested in participating, as well as some of the best local Hoboken cartoonists. More artists are being invited and added to the roster every day. The art show will have an opening event, but the date hasn’t yet been nailed down. There’s also going to be a musical Kirby tribute on Saturday night – we’ll announce the acts shortly!
At NYCC, I’ll be presenting a panel with pop culture historian Arlen Schumer that draws a line in the sand regarding the comic book cartoonist/storyteller, with Jack Kirby being main subject. Also participating will be TwoMorrows Publisher/Museum Trustee John Morrow, as well as other luminaries. More to come.
We will, of course, be scanning Kirby art for our digital archive project, so please bring your Kirby art to NYCC!
In early December, the Museum plans to man a table at the Brooklyn Comics & Graphics Festival.
We’re also working on an amazing, incredible project for November/December, that we hope to make a big announcement about real soon now, with which we will need all your support and help. It’ll be an awesome tribute to Jack Kirby, if it all comes together. Jack Kirby must not remain a secret! Stay Tuned!
Please support the Museum by joining, and helping. Your support is what keeps the Jack Kirby Museum going.
Here’s a recording from 28 August 1987, Jack’s 70th birthday, when Jack was a guest on Robert Knight’s Earthwatch radio show on WBAI in New York City. Knight’s special co-host that night was Warren Reece. Max Schmid of Old Time Radio was on board, as well. Unfortunately the recording starts with the show already in progress. Near the end of the show, Stan Lee calls in. Enjoy!
I shrunk the YouTube player down, well, because it’s audio only. Here’s a link to the YouTube page.
(Many, Many Thanks to J.J. Barney for sending the Museum this recording for our archives. If you or anyone you know has a recording of the complete show, please let me know!)