Jack Kirby, the King of Comic Books

Jack Kirby (1917-1994) is an American comic book legend. When one talks about creative giants –– Disney, Einstein, Steinbeck and Mozart –– Jack Kirby’s name should be among them.

Jack is responsible in whole and in part for giving the world Captain America, Thor, Iron Man, The Fantastic Four and the original X-men. He was a prolific artist, a reliable company man and an indirect teacher and mentor to perhaps every single artist in comics and pop culture. Anyone who has ever attempted to draw a superhero or envision a new alien galaxy owes a debt to Jack.

Jack defined the standard for depicting power and majesty of super beings. His work represents the best of the genre at a time when a hero’s myth ruled supreme. His art can be described as being from the cubist school on steroids: distinctive, strong use of sharp angles, larger than life imagery and exceptionally loud panel composition. Jack’s work explodes off the comic’s page, demands your attention, threatening to hit you in the face if your get too close to the action. His pages posses a kinetic rhythm often imitated but never duplicated. There is Jack Kirby, and then everyone else.

One can’t imagine what else Jack would do with his life than draw comics. He dabbled in animation, influencing the show Thundarr the Barbarian, but it is unclear if his unique style of art would have translated to gallery showings and other media. Jack and comics seem to be made for each other.

Photo credit: Susan Skaar

Kaja Blackley is the author of Maggie MacCormack and the Witches’ Wheel now on sale at: maggiemaccormack.com