Jack Kirby

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Jack Kirby (1982)

Jack "King" Kirby (born August 28, 1917 in New York City as Jacob Kurtzberg , † February 6, 1994 in Thousand Oaks , California) was an American illustrator, writer and editor of comics. He is considered one of the most important people in the history of the medium.

Early career

In 1935 Kirby began working for Fleischer Studios , where he helped design the Popeye cartoon. From 1936 to 1938 he worked for the Lincoln Newspaper Syndicate. During this time he met Joe Simon . The two young men began working together and producing comics. Among other things, they created the character of Captain America for publisher Martin Goodman in 1941 . Kirby's dynamic perspectives, exaggerated action, and application of cinematic techniques made the series an instant hit. At this time he created the adventures of the Newsboy Legion for DC Comics while he shot some stories about Wojtkowski's Blue Beetle for the King Feature Syndicate .

As superheroes began to lose popularity after the end of World War II , Kirby and Simon began producing various stories in other genres. For example, the creation of the first romantic comic, Young Romance Comics, is one of Simon's and Kirby's achievements.

Kirby and Simon's partnership ended in 1954, a time when the comic industry was struggling against censorship and the very negative image created by Fredric Wertham's book Seduction of the Innocent and the creation of the Comics Code Authority , a censorship agency for Comics, culminated. Kirby stayed true to the medium nonetheless. He reworked Green Arrow in Adventure Comics and created the Challengers of the Unknown , a forerunner of the Fantastic Four .

Stan Lee and Marvel Comics

Kirby also worked again for Martin Goodman, who now ran Atlas Comics, which would later develop into Marvel Comics . Kirby created monster, horror and science fiction stories for Atlas. In 1961 he began working again with Stan Lee in the superhero genre.

Kirby was involved in the creation of almost every Marvel Comics character for the next several years. Some of the most famous are the Fantastic Four , Thor , the Incredible Hulk , Iron Man , the X-Men , the Silver Surfer , The Avengers , Doctor Doom , Galactus, and Magneto .

Career after Marvel

After falling out with Stan Lee, Kirby joined Marvel's greatest competitor, DC Comics, in the early 1970s . For DC he created several series that became known as Jack Kirby's Fourth World . In addition to the new creations The New Gods , Mister Miracle and The Forever People , Kirby also took over the series Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen . Kamandi , OMAC and The Demon are other titles that Kirby created while at DC. Also a short-lived Sandman series was among them, this was Kirby's last collaboration with his first partner Joe Simon. Neil Gaiman later picked up elements from this series for his own Sandman series.

Kirby later returned to Marvel, where he again drew and wrote Captain America. Other titles from Kirby's late stage at Marvel include Devil Dinosaur , The Eternals, and a comic book adaptation and expansion of 2001: A Space Odyssey . After leaving Marvel, he worked for Pacific Comics , where he started the series Captain Victory . It was unusual for the time that Kirby kept the rights to the series and got royalties. In doing so, he set a precedent to help other draftsmen who also wanted to keep the rights to their creations.

In the 1980s, Kirby was working on character drafts for animated series. Among other things, he designed for Turbo Teen and Thundarr the Barbarian .


Kirby is recognized by comic book makers and fans as one of the greatest and most influential cartoonists in comic history. His productivity was legendary, it is estimated that he illustrated over 25,000 pages during his career. A large percentage of the characters published today by American comic publishers (especially Marvel) were either designed by Jack Kirby or are based on his ideas.

The Kirby Awards were named after Jack Kirby.

Fumetto - The Int. In 2010 the Comix Festival Luzern presented the first extensive retrospective of Jack Kirby, also known as the “King of Comic”, in Europe. Many other comic artists have made their personal memorial to Kirby, such as Eastman and Laird in their Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles comic series "Kirby and the Warp Crystal", in which Kirby appears as the main character. This story was also adopted for the episode "The King" (German: "Homage to Jack") for the 2003 animated series .

Jack Kirby's importance is also illustrated by the appearance of the one-above-all in several Marvel comics since 2004, for example Fantastic Four . This is an omnipotent creator - the most powerful entity in the Marvel multiverse - whose appearance is modeled on Jack Kirby. The character created by Mark Waid and Mike Wieringo is understood as a tribute to the famous artist.

Lawsuit of the heirs

The children Lisa Kirby, Susan Kirby, Barbara Kirby and Neal Kirby tried to file claims in court in July 2011. It was about characters that Kirby created between 1958 and 1963 together with Marvel's comic book writer Stan Lee . The court ruled in favor of Marvel Characters, Inc. Also in an appeal before the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals in New York, the court found in its judgment published on August 8, 2013 that Kirby had drawn the characters at the expense and on behalf of Marvel . "There is no question that Kirby was a freelancer," the court wrote. "He determined his own working hours and worked from home" and was paid per page drawn. But Kirby and Marvel were closely related during the time.


  • Ro, ronin. Tales to Astonish: Jack Kirby, Stan Lee and the American Comic Book Revolution . (Bloomsbury, 2004). ISBN 1582343454


2017: Posthumous induction into the Science Fiction Hall of Fame

Web links

Commons : Jack Kirby  - Collection of pictures, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. Message on the ComicRadioShow
  2. ^ Science fiction awards database - Jack Kirby . Retrieved November 24, 2017.