Today one of the worlds most influential comic book creators ever, Jack “The King” Kirby had the one-hundredth anniversary of his birth. Now I know that this blog is normally centered around anime, but this man and his work has meant so much to me over my life that I felt I had to talk about it. In case you aren’t in the know, Jack Kirby was an American comics book creator and artist, born Agust 28, 1917 who died February 6, 1991. Throughout his life, Jack Kirby created and co-created some of the worlds most well-known and beloved superheroes. Some of these creations include Thor, The Fantastic Four, Captian America, Silver Surfer, Cyclops, Etrigan The Demon, and Kamandi:
The Last Boy On Earth.But in this post, I don’t want to give you a simple history lesson. In this post, I want to write something more personal. I’m going to give you my history with this man’s art, and what it’s meant to me over my life. The first memory I have of encountering his work was when I was twelve years old. I was at a local comics book/ video store and was going through some of their back issues when I stumbled upon an issue of what is now my favorite comic of all time, OMAC: One Man Army Corps #4. Right out of the gate I was blown away with the amazing art which this series had. I loved the was his machines were so intricately designed and the dark thick shadowing on the blocky square -awed characters. I loved the way that he screwed with proportions, yet his characters never looked off. This style of shading and proportions would heavily influence my future artistic endeavors.
But it wasn’t just his art that drew me into his stories it was something deeper. Although I didn’t realize what this was until I have embedded myself deeply into the work of Jack Kirby (which involved reading all of The New Gods saga, as well as Journey Into Mystery, OMAC, and Fantastic Four, among others). What I loved in his work even more than his writing are his themes. Jack Kirby’s work tended in his early days to have themes of war with Captain America being the prime example. But the theme that appears in his later work is what I truly resonate with, the theme of pushing towards the future. Jack Kirby seems to have had an incredibly optimistic view of the future, with his later work tending to have some sort of route in sciences. Fantastic Four is the first of these, with Cosmic Rays, and the like being worked into his stories, but where I feel this theme really shined is once again in the great, OMAC.
This series featured a look into the future, where the world is united and is looked after by the Pece Agents. These men and women protect the entire world with their identities hidden by cosmetic spray as they represent the whole world, not just a single country. I have always found this idea quite appealing, a world where crime is judged by many an unbiased people, not a jury of random people off the street, or a single judge both of which, could (in some occurnce) be paid to slant the decision in one way or another. This world while it may seem perfect (to some) still has problems and that’s why I find it so interesting because humans are always compromisable and are never truly good nor evil, meaning that a perfect world can never exist. This idea has shaped the way that I look at the world and human life until this very day.
Before I finish this post there is one last thing I would like to touch on in relation with Jack “The King” Kirby, and that is the way he wrote dialogue. In the world where books like Teen Titans and other teen-oriented books were trying to be “hip” and always used the slang of their area in the dialogue, Kirby’s work stood out among the rest. His dialogue was always packed to the brim with meaning and was writing in a way that makes it seem timeless and so it can be enjoyed in any era. Jack Kirby’s characters were the few of the time that didn’t sound like some sort of hilariously campy uncle or a generic “rad” teenager. They sounded like people. Real honest to god people with actual emotions, which even today is really special. The characters weren’t constantly spewing 60s or 70s slang, they just spoke in English. No frills. No silly eloquences like Stan Lee’s writing tended to have. They spoke like an average joe you’d find on the street. And that’s something which has rarely been done right, even to this day.
Well, I hope you enjoyed this “little” post about what, Jack Kirby’s writings meant to me and why I enjoy it so much even to this day. See you in the next one.