So, where is the Jack Kirby Museum?

When we first established the Jack Kirby Museum and Research Center in 2005, it was intended, as our mission statement illustrates, “to promote and encourage the study, understanding, preservation and appreciation of the work of Jack Kirby.” Being a true bootstrap enterprise, a “brick and mortar” presence for the museum was not necessarily practical or an immediate concern, despite our desire to see it happen.

1941 - Captain America Comics #1 cover
1941 – Captain America Comics #1 cover

But – whenever we set up at comic book conventions or attend any event, we’re always asked the crucial question: “Where is the museum located? I want to visit!” It’s a question we’ve fielded via snail mail, telephone, email, tweet, and Facebook, and one we’ve decided to finally tackle head-on.

Summer 2011 should have witnessed an explosion of interest in Jack Kirby and his legacy. Three feature films were released between May and July featuring characters that Jack created or co-created (Thor, X-Men, Captain America, and most of their milieu). As of this writing, those films have combined to capture more than $1 billion in box-office receipts – this is in addition to the revenue generated through advertising and licensing. Clearly, millions of people know Jack’s characters and stories. His original work on these characters continues to be reprinted and spotlighted as the genesis of these multi-million dollar properties, and Jack’s art is reaching thousands of new fans every day.

1963 - The X-Men #1 cover
1963 – The X-Men #1 cover

So, why is Jack Kirby still a secret?

As a potential answer to that conundrum, I’ve spent some time this summer with the Museum’s new volunteer assistant director Michael Cecchini scouting locations near where Jack grew up on New York City’s Lower East Side. When Kirby lived there, the Lower East Side was a hellish ghetto that he moved his family out of at the first opportunity. Now it’s one of Manhattan’s most interesting neighborhoods; there are shops, restaurants, clubs and galleries.

Our intention is to set up a temporary, or “pop-up,” brick-and-mortar location for the Jack Kirby Museum. We think the perfect opening time would be during New York Comic Con in October and have it run through the end-of-year holidays to the next January. The ideal size for this purpose is between 800-1,200-square-feet, and would feature original artwork, artifacts from Jack’s life, prominent guest speakers, educational programs and installation pieces inspired by and celebrating the unique work and life of Jack Kirby.

1962 - Journey Into Mystery #82 cover
1962 – Journey Into Mystery #82 cover

A space like this dedicated entirely to the life and work of Jack Kirby would be equally appealing to seasoned art patrons, pop-art connoisseurs, casual fans, tourists, and families. Successful implementation of this pop-up museum will allow us to pursue the ultimate goal of a PERMANENT space for the Museum in the near future.

Again, nothing like this has ever been attempted. And, in order to make this happen, we need funding.

This is where the Kirby fans come in. If you are a Kirby Museum member in good standing, know that your membership dues have helped us get to this point, but our trustees have required that we fund this exciting project independent of your membership fees. So, please, if you’re considering joining up, we’re happy for your support, and the same membership premiums apply. But if you’d like to help us attain this wonderful goal of giving the Jack Kirby Museum a home for a little while in the now-vibrant Lower East Side, please contribute specifically for that purpose using the “Brick and Mortar fund” button on this page (or just mention “brick and mortar” or “popup” fund in any payment).

Galactic Head - 18" by 30"  poster
Galactic Head – 18″ by 30″ poster

We understand that trying to raise significant funds in such a short amount of time is ambitious. Our current estimate is that we’d need more than $30,000 to fund the real estate end of the project (rent, legal, security, insurance, etc.) for ten to twelve weeks. While this sounds like an awful lot of money (and… it is!), it’s really just a question of finding 1,000 Jack Kirby fans willing to donate more than $30 each! Simplistic? Perhaps. We prefer “optimistic”, though. We don’t underestimate Kirby fans. Naming and sponsorship opportunities for exhibits, publications and programs are still being developed; we welcome any discussion going forward.

Everyone who donates $20 or more will have free admission to the pop-up Museum. If you’re already a Museum Member, a donation of $20 or more allows you to bring a friend for free. Everyone who donates will get some Kirby Museum postcards and stickers (new postcards and stickers coming in time for New York Comic Con in October!).

If we don’t meet our goal in time to open this October, we’re going to press on, keep raising the funds and open the pop-up as soon as we can (just not in the cold of winter). We’re making this project a major focus of the Museum until further notice, as we realize now, in light of recent events, that by far the BEST way to open eyes and minds to Jack Kirby and his legacy is with a physical location. And in the event that the generosity of Kirby fans allows us to exceed our goal? Well, then we’ll just have to keep the gallery open even longer, or maybe even investigate a long-term, permanent lease.

Remember, the Jack Kirby Museum and Research Center is a registered 501(c)(3) non-profit cultural and educational organization, so please, before making a significant gift, you should consult with your financial, tax, and legal advisors for a thorough analysis of your individual situation and the tax consequences.

If you know anyone willing to help with this project, please point them our way. We’d be honored by your generosity and support.

Thanks for your consideration and support,

– Rand Hoppe
(as well as Mike Cecchini and the board; David Schwartz, Tom Kraft and John Morrow)

Happy birthday, Jack!

“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!)

Kirby Museum at San Diego Comic-Con – Bring your Kirby!

The Kirby Museum will be at its own booth, #1504, this year!

1941 Capt. A. - 14" by 23" poster
1941 Capt. A. – 14″ by 23″ poster

We’ll be scanning, as usual, so consider this yet another call to all Comic-Con attendees – Bring Your Kirby Original Art! There are almost 1400 pages of art scanned at archival quality in the Museum’s Original Art Digital Archive, and it just keeps growing.

Of course, we’re looking forward to meeting all the Kirby fans at the con. We’ll have a limited number of prints, portfolios and posters at the booth to offer as gifts to new and renewing members. The Museum’s Mother Box will be there, as well, to take your donations for our stickers and postcards.

The annual Jack Kirby Tribute Panel is Sunday, 24 July at 10:00am in Room 5ABC. Moderator Mark Evanier will be welcoming Walter Simonson, Erik Larsen, Mike Royer, and Richard Kyle this year. TwoMorrows publisher John Morrow, Jack Kirby Museum curator Rand Hoppe and What If Kirby’s Tom Kraft will be there – we hope you will be there, too!

Recommended reading: Joe Simon’s Autobiography

I enjoyed reading Joe’s MY LIFE IN COMICS; in fact, I breezed through it in almost one sitting.

If you’re interested in what it was like to be a pioneer comic book creator, look no further. Want to learn more about Joe and Jack Kirby’s partnership? Here’s some prime material.

I especially enjoyed the section where Joe reminisces about a hot fudge sundae he had in Times Square. If only Hugo Weaving knew! Real fun. Read the book!

Thanks, Joe!

NYT’s Brent Staples re: Kirby and Disney/Marvel

Brent Staples, who wrote a wonderful piece in the New York Times in 2007 titled “Jack Kirby, Comic Book Genius, Is Finally Remembered,” has written “Marvel Superheroes and the Fathers of Invention.”

I posted to the Museum’s Discussion group on June 8th:


Obviously, I am not a lawyer or a copyright expert, but it seems that the case hinges on the legal state of what appeared on the page via a pencil in Kirby’s hand during those years.

It looks to me like the Marvel/Disney argument is a work-for-hire argument – that the rights to whatever Kirby put on paper were owned, at the moment he created it, by Martin Goodman who transferred to Perfect Film, which renamed to Cadence Industries, then… bla bla bla Disney.

And that the Kirby argument is that the rights to whatever Jack Kirby put to paper were owned, at the moment he created it, by Kirby, who then assigned his rights to Goodman… Disney.

This is, as I understand it, the scope of the laws that have been put in place by our US legislators, which allows creators, or their estates, to terminate the assignment of those rights a determined number of years after the works’ creation.

Look again at the back of Dick Ayers’ check from 1974. A scan is attached, hope you can see it. The text that the company stamped on the back is about the signer assigning rights to the work to Magazine Management. That means the creator/signer had rights to the work when they created it. This is important!!!!

Work-for-hire means the creator/signer is an employee who has no rights to the work when they created it. Marvel’s text on the back of the checks after 1976 (Ayers’ 1986 is also attached) does not mention any assignment of rights.

Was Jack was an employee of Goodman’s in the early 1960s? This is why there is all the talk of health insurance, vacation time, supplies, pay for rejected work, in the filings…

I re-recommend “Who owns Light Man?” an informative podcast by real, serious, hardcore US copyright experts/lawyers:


It’s Father’s Day: Neal Kirby writes about his dad, Jack

Neal Kirby wrote a touching Father’s Day tribute to his dad, Jack, on CO2 Comics:

(I tweeted this a few days ago, but since today is Father’s Day, I think it’s fair to repost.)

The Kirby Museum will be at the Calgary Entertainment Expo this weekend!

We’ll be at the show with a scanner, so bring your Kirby original art! We hope to meet with all kinds of Kirby fans, meet Museum members new and old, offer stickers and postcards for donations, and just talk about Jack all weekend. Be sure to stop by!

1951 - Boys' Ranch 4 pages 15-16 original art colored by Kirby
1951 – Boys’ Ranch 4 pages 15-16 original art colored by Kirby

Kirby Museum will be at the Hawthorne NJ High School Comic Convention

Tom Kraft, Museum Trustee and genius, and I will be attending the Hawthorne High School Comic Convention in Hawthorne, New Jersey this Saturday.

We’ll have a table with a small Kirby display, some membership premiums, and a scanner. At noon, I’ll be talking about “The Jack Kirby Legacy” in a classroom down the hall.

The convention is a fund-raiser for the school’s Cartooning and Art Clubs, and admission is $4.

Google Map link

New Kirby prints at MoCCA!

The Kirby Museum will be at NYC’s MoCCA Festival this weekend – table D8. This year, we’re offering a pair of 11×14 prints called “Psychedelic Fliers.” As with the SPQR portfolio, I’m printing HP Vivera ink on 100% Cotton, 50lb Hahnemuhle Photo Rag paper. A small first edition will be run and offered in an archival print sleeve as a membership premium. (The $ level has yet to be decided.) They’re beautiful!

2011 - Psychedelic Fliers 11x14 prints
2011 – Psychedelic Fliers 11×14 prints

Yes, we’ll be selling postcards and Kirby books, as well as offering mini-comics, posters, portfolios and prints to our new and renewing members. We’ll have our backpack raffle. Feed the Mother Box and take some Jack Kirby stickers!

Thanks to Lisa Kirby and John Morrow for their help with the “Psychedelic Fliers.”

This Thursday – the voice of Resistance (Gallery) shouts, “Hail To The King!”

Kirby Museum members Jason Atomic and Garry Vanderhorne are curating “Hail To the King!” – a Jack Kirby tribute art show at Resistance Gallery at 265 Poyser St. in London, England.

“Hail To The King!” presents pieces by several internationally renowned artists that express how Jack Kirby’s work has influenced them.

The opening this Thursday, 7 April, starts at 7pm and runs through 11pm.