Happy Birthday, Jack Kirby

Jack ‘King’ Kirby

On this day in 1917, one of the most influential comic book artists of all time was born. The list of his creations and co-creations is longer than that of almost any other creator in comics, and almost any of them on their own would mark him out as one of the key creators in comic book history.

He was one of the few Golden, Silver and Bronze age comic creators, and one of the few to successfully navigate from Timely to National Publications, back to Marvel, then to DC, then back to Marvel once more. The small and big screens are littered with adaptations – both faithful and not-so-faithful – of his creations, characters and plots.

His name is Jack Kirby, and he is second only to Stan Lee in his influence on a small publishing company dipping its toes in the waters of super-hero comics for the first time in nearly a decade when in 1961 it produced – with Stan writing and Jack drawing – Fantastic Four #1.

Jack left us in 1994, years before I even began recognise the name, let alone comprehend the influence and legacy of his work. In more recent years, parts of his family have been in legal struggles with Marvel Comics, Disney and other companies using the characters and concepts Jack created or co-created. Whilst I don’t take a side in this debate, I do recognise that Jack Kirby and his struggles later in life and those of his family following his death have highlighted the need for creator rights in the comics industry.

Which is why today I’ll be donating to the HERO Initiative on behalf of Kirby4Heroes. The Kirby4Heroes was set up by Jack’s granddaughter Jillian in 2012, aiming to recognise both the anniversary of Jack’s birth and the fact that many creators sometimes need a helping hand when times are bad.

I hope that you too are able to spare a small amount to this campaign.

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