Excerpt From Stan Taylor’s Kirby Biography

Stan Taylor is one of my favorite Kirby Historians. He’s written some great articles on Jack and he’s writing a very comprehensive book on Jack’s life. I asked Stan if he would consider sharing an excerpt from his book with all of us and he was gracious enough to do so. I added the photos. Thanks Stan!

Excerpt From Stan Taylor’s Kirby Biography

By Stan Taylor

While plotting Avengers #4, the world changed.  On Nov. 22, 1963 the world wept for a young lost leader. 

America lost its innocence that day, Jack and Roz sat glued to the TV set like all Americans, sobbing for the end to Camelot. It has been said that Jack Kennedy’s murder robbed us of our innocence.  Comic books seemed to become a little harder in the immediate future. Flo Steinberg: the Marvel gal Friday remembers. “It was the first time I ever saw everyone at the whole company listening to the radio.  It was a very sad time.  Things changed.” America needed a hero.

On Dec. 10, 1963, CBS news anchor Walter Cronkite aired a segment about the Beatles phenomenon in England that was filed by their U.K. correspondent, Alexander Kendrick. This was the first official commentary on the group in the U.S. The story contained a clip of the band performing “She Loves You” along with some interviews.

This clip created a strong and favorable impression on Marsha Albert, a 15-year-old girl from Silver Spring, Maryland. She would later be acknowledged by the Washington Post as the Beatle fan that kick started the whole “Beatlemania” craze on USA radio. 
     

However, Walter Cronkite recalled it differently: “In the wake of the [John F. Kennedy] assassination story, nothing else was happening in the world, at least in the United States — stuff that was important, that is. So we actually had an opportunity to use it. “I was not entirely thrilled with it myself, to tell you the truth. It was not a musical phenomenon to me. The phenomenon was a social one, of these rather tawdry-looking guys; we thought at the time, with their long hair and this crazy singing of theirs, this meaningless ‘wah-wah-wah, wee-wee-wee’ stuff they were doing.”

On Feb. 7th the Beatles land at Kennedy Airport in the USA. The young Liverpuddlians are greeted by 3,000 screaming fans. A reporter for the Saturday Evening Post noted: “Anyone listening to a pop radio station in New York would hear a Beatle record every four minutes and anyone listening to a juke box might hear one right after the other.” Beatlemania had arrived!! 

Feb. 9, 1963, the Beatles debut on the Ed Sullivan Show in New York; 50,000 fans apply for 728 available seats. An estimated 73 million viewers watch that night. 


America’s mourning period has officially ended.  The collective mindset has been diverted. The country was caught up in a new craze.  Camelot gave way to Liverpool.  Paul recalled the feeling the band felt while taping. “FEAR, FEAR, FEAR! ‘Cause you know, if somebody made the mistake of saying, ‘Oh, you know how many people are watching this?’ If someone had mentioned 73 million – Ohhhhhhh! So it was very very nerve racking. But you know, by then we had so much practice, that the nerves didn’t show. I can see them when I watch it. I can remember it.”

Avengers #4 hit the stands in Feb. 1964.  It opens with Submariner in a rage, he throws a huge block of ice bearing the body of a man into the sea-simply because some Eskimos were worshipping the figure in the iceblock.  

Caught in the ocean currents, the huge iceblock began to melt and when the Avengers cruised nearby they saw a figure floating in the ocean.  When they rescued the figure they recognized the costume the figure was wearing.  It was the long lost costume of WW2’s greatest hero, Captain America. 

But Cap wasn’t dead, just frozen in a state of suspended animation and the thawing revived him. This was the real Cap, not a pretend villain.   Cap awoke in a fright, reliving the last few seconds when his partner Bucky had died when a plane exploded.  The connection between the Golden Age Timely, and the new Marvel universe was now complete; Cap, Torch and Submariner had all returned, and this time for more than 3-4 issues.

As the Avengers explained to Cap what had happened in the last 18 years, he regained his full strength and fighting form. The Avengers asked him to join, thus Simon and Kirby’s iconic hero was once again brought back, this time to be drawn by the only hand to ever do him justice- Jack Kirby.  One leader lost, and one reborn, once again Captain America coming to America’s rescue in our darkest hour.