This timeline was first published in TwoMorrows Publishing’s Winter 2013 The Jack Kirby Collector 62. Many thanks to John Morrow for allowing us to publish it here. Be sure to read the Key 1960s Moments timeline, as well. Suggestions or corrections are welcome, please use the comments section below. – Rand
Continuing our look at key moments in Jack’s life and career from TJKC #59 (which covered Marvel in the 1960s), we present this timeline of key moments that affected Kirby’s tenure at DC Comics in the 1970s. Of invaluable help were Rand Hoppe, past research by Mark Evanier and Steve Sherman, and of course, the “X” list of Jack’s DC production numbers (an updated version is shown elsewhere in this issue).
This isn’t a complete list of every important date in Kirby’s DC 1970s history, but should hit most of the main ones. Please send us additions and corrections. Next issue, I’ll work on pivotal moments in Jack’s return to Marvel in the 1970s and beyond.
My rule of thumb: Cover dates were generally two-three months later than the date the book appeared on the stands, and six months ahead of when Kirby was working on the stories, so I’ve assembled the timeline according to those adjusted dates—not the cover dates—to set it as close as possible to real-time.
- Kinney National Company buys DC Comics, and Carmine Infantino is appointed Art Director. He initiates the era of “artist as editor,” bringing new talent and ideas in. Also, editor Jack Schiff retires from DC Comics, opening the door for Kirby to possibly return.
- January: The Kirby family moves to California, taking a loan from Martin Goodman.
- Mark Evanier and Steve Sherman become acquainted with Kirby through working on Marvelmania projects, and Mike Royer inks his first Kirby piece.
- Kirby meets with Carmine Infantino at a Los Angeles hotel to discuss the possibility of joining DC Comics, and Mort Weisinger retires from DC Comics, removing the last obstacle for Kirby returning.
- January: Kirby receives a “onerous” contract from Perfect Film to continue working at Marvel Comics, telling him “take it or leave it.”
- February: Carmine Infantino signs Kirby to a DC contract.
- Early March: Kirby turns in Fantastic Four #102, his final story for Marvel, and resigns. On March 12, Don and Maggie Thompson publish an “Extra” edition of their fanzine Newfangles announcing Kirby is leaving Marvel. That Spring, Mark Evanier and Steve Sherman become Jack’s official assistants.
- May-June: “The Great One Is Coming!” ad appears in various DC comics, trumpeting “The Boom Tube,” but does not mention Kirby by name.
- July (September cover date): The “Stan’s Soapbox” in Marvel’s comics tells of Jack’s resignation from Marvel, and Jimmy Olsen #132’s letter column announces Kirby will start in the following issue.
- Summer: “Kirby is coming” blurb appears in various DC comics. Also, Kirby’s three new core books are mentioned (with bullet art) in the 1970 San Diego Comic-Con program book.
- August (October cover date): Jimmy Olsen #133 published with Kirby’s first work for DC Comics.
- October (December cover date): “The Magic of Kirby” house ads appear in DC comics, heralding the first issues of Forever People, New Gods, and Mister Miracle.
- November (January 1971 cover date): Kirby stories in Amazing Adventures #4 and Tower of Shadows #4 published by Marvel, the same month as Jimmy Olsen #135 at DC Comics.
- December (February 1971 cover date): Forever People #1 and New Gods #1 published at DC Comics.
- January (March cover date): Marvel’s Fantastic Four #108 published from Jack’s original rejected FF #102 story, the same month that DC Comics publishes Mister Miracle #1 and Jimmy Olsen #136.
- January 31: Kirby and Infantino are interviewed for Comics & Crypt fanzine in the DC offices, during Jack’s trip back to New York City. Around this time, Carmine Infantino is promoted to publisher of DC Comics.
- May (July cover date): Lois Lane #111 is published, with a non-Kirby story that used his Fourth World concepts. Also, while drawing the end of Mister Miracle #5, Kirby conceives the idea of Stan Lee as “Funky Flashman” for #6.
- Mid 1971: After discovering inker Vince Colletta has been showing Fourth World pages around Marvel’s offices before publication, and being shown how Colletta omits details in the inking, Kirby insists on Mike Royer as inker. Mike starts with New Gods #5, Mister Miracle #5, and Forever People #6.
- June (August cover date): DC publishes Super DC Giant S-25, with 1950s reprints of Kirby’s Challengers of the Unknown, and a new cover and text feature by Kirby. Also, Carmine Infantino raises cover prices to 25¢ and includes Golden Age Simon & Kirby reprints in the back of Kirby’s Fourth World issues. One month after matching the increase, Marvel undercuts DC by dropping their cover prices to 20¢.
- June 15 and July 15: In The Days of the Mob #1 and Spirit World #1 published, but receive nebulous ads (left) and spotty distribution. Months later, ads for both books would appear in DC comics, offering unsold copies to readers by mail.
- October: Kirby draws his final issue of Jimmy Olsen (#148). Around this time, Kirby conjures up the idea for The Demon to replace Jimmy Olsen on his schedule.
- November (January cover date): Mister Miracle #6 published, with unflattering caricatures of Stan Lee as “Funky Flashman” and Roy Thomas as “Houseroy,” burning bridges at Marvel.
- December (February cover date): New Gods #7 is published, with the pivotal Fourth World story “The Pact.”
- December: Carmine Infantino instructs Kirby to add Deadman to Forever People #9-10, in an attempt to boost sales. The covers of Forever People #9 and New Gods #9 downplay the lead characters, in what seems to be an attempt to make the covers look more like mystery titles, which were selling well.
- January (March cover date): DC runs ads for the Kirby Unleashed portfolio in its comics.
- February (April cover date): Jimmy Olsen #148, Kirby’s final issue, is published.
- March: Kirby is told by Carmine Infantino that due to under-performing sales, DC will be canceling New Gods and Forever People, and that he must move Mister Miracle away from its Fourth World ties. Kirby hurriedly switches gears and swaps his planned stories for Mister Miracle #9 (“The Mister Miracle To Be”) and #10, so he gets his “Himon” story into print. It’s too late to alter the “next issue” blurb in #8’s letter column (right) to reflect the change.
- April: Kirby draws his final issues of New Gods and Forever People.
- April (June cover date): Jimmy Olsen #150 is published, with a non-Kirby Newsboy Legion back-up story featuring Angry Charlie.
- May-June (July-August cover dates): DC finally gives in to sales pressure, and drops its cover prices to 20¢ to match Marvel Comics.
- May (July cover date): Mister Miracle #9 published, with the story “Himon”. Also, Kirby stories planned for the unpublished Spirit World #2 begin appearing in Weird Mystery Tales and Forbidden Tales of Dark Mansion.
- June: After Martin Goodman calls in Jack’s 1969 loan, Kirby “under duress” signs a copyright agreement with Marvel. Also, Demon #1 is published.
- July (September cover date): Jimmy Olsen #152 is published, with a non-Kirby wrap-up to the Morgan Edge clone saga, and a guest appearance by Darkseid and other Kirby Olsen characters. Also, Mister Miracle #10 is published, in an abrupt departure from the Fourth World. Jack keeps the title “The Mister Miracle To Be”, but the story has nothing to do with Scott Free’s early days.
- August (October cover date): New Gods #11 and Forever People #11 (the final issues) and Kamandi #1 are published.
- July (September cover date): Boy Commandos #1 is published, reprinting Golden Age stories.
- August: After being notified that Mister Miracle will be cancelled, Kirby draws a final issue that brings back Fourth World characters.
- September: Kirby considers returning to Marvel, but can’t get out of his DC contract.
- September (November cover date): DC begins publishing reprints of Simon & Kirby’s
Black Magic comics of the 1950s, working with Joe Simon as editor.
- Fall: Kirby begins work on OMAC #1 (it wouldn’t be published till almost a year later),
and Sandman #1, briefly reuniting with Joe Simon.
- December (February cover date): Mister Miracle #18, the final issue, is published.
- April: Kirby starts work on the Losers story in Our Fighting Forces #151, the first of a
dozen war stories he would chronicle for that title.
- May (July cover date): One story (“Murder Inc.”) from the unpublished In The Days Of
The Mob #2 appears in Amazing World of DC Comics #1.
- May 7: Kirby creates Atlas, who would debut in First Issue Special #1 several months
- July (September cover date): OMAC #1 published.
- September: Origins of Marvel Comics by Stan Lee is published, featuring Stan’s account of the creation of the Fantastic Four, the Hulk, Spider-Man, Thor, and Doctor Strange.
- February (April cover date): First Issue Special #1 is published, featuring Kirby’s Atlas.
- March 24: Kirby signs a contract to return to Marvel Comics, but must continue working for DC to finish out his contract with the company.
- April: Knowing Jack is leaving, DC brings in Gerry Conway as editor on Kamandi #34 to indoctrinate him to the series, eventually making him full writer/editor on Kamandi #38-40, Jack’s last three issues. DC would no longer commission covers by Kirby for any further titles he drew from this point on, undoubtedly to lessen readers’ association of Kirby with DC on newsstands.
- May (July cover date): Justice Inc. #2 is published, with Kirby art and Denny O’Neil
- June (August cover date): Richard Dragon, Kung Fu Fighter #3 is published, with
Kirby art and Denny O’Neil script. Also, First Issue Special #5 is published, with
Kirby’s revamped Manhunter, but DC created a cover from Kirby’s flopped splash
page, rather than commission a new one.
- July 1975: First Issue Special #6 is published, featuring the Dingbats of Danger
Street #1 story, a year-and-a-half after Kirby drew it. His completed stories for
Dingbats #2 and #3 remain unpublished to this day.
- September (November cover date): OMAC #8, the final issue, is published, with a
reworked last panel bringing the series to an abrupt end, instead of Kirby’s
planned conclusion to the OMAC #7-8 continued story.
- October: Son of Origins of Marvel Comics by Stan Lee is published, giving Stan’s accounts of the creation of the X-Men, Iron Man, The Avengers, Daredevil, Nick Fury, the Watcher, and the Silver Surfer.
- November (January cover date): Captain America #193 is published, marking Kirby’s return to Marvel.
- December (February cover date): Kobra #1 is published by DC, heavily altered, and with an Ernie Chua cover.
- February (April cover date): First Issue Special #13 (right) is published, a non-Kirby “Return of the New Gods” tryout. No mention of Kirby is made in the New Gods history article. This issue was published concurrently with Kamandi #40, Kirby’s final issue and last work for DC in the 1970s. Carmine Infantino is fired as publisher of DC Comics in early 1976, and Jenette Kahn is made publisher. Plans are made to include Kirby’s unpublished Sandman #7 story in Kamandi #60, but that title gets cancelled in the “DC Implosion”, and Sandman #7 is finally published in The Best of DC #22 (1982).
- April (July cover date): New Gods #12 published after a review of sales reports by DC’s new management of the Kirby issues and First Issue Special #13 showed it was a title worth reviving. The cover is drawn by Al Milgrom in a very Kirbyesque style.