Bill Sienkiewicz has turned a meme celebrity into a super-powered space being. The legendary comic artist has rendered a portrait of “Success Kid,” which he shared with the public on his Facebook page.
Sienkiewicz redid this famous photo of Sammy Griner in monochromatic black-and-white with the spacey flourishes characteristic of Jack Kirby’s “cosmic gods” art style. It was in honor of “someone who represents the best-case scenario in this surreal era of fickle Internet celebrity slash infamy,” as he wrote on his Facebook post. As it so happens, Sienkiewicz is friends with Justin Griner, Success Kid’s father. The original photo of Griner’s then 11-month-old son Sammy, which become a meme sensation, was first uploaded to Flickr in 2007.
Justin Griner was diagnosed with kidney failure soon before the birth of his son, and -- in April 2015 -- his wife Lainey Griner set up a GoFundMe to raise funds to pay for Justin’s medical care. She was reluctant to use their son’s Success Kid image to promote this effort, but eventually changed her mind; this led to major news outlets reporting on the family’s situation, and the Reddit community pitched in to help to raise more than enough money for Justin's care. Justin received a transplant on August 2015 and has successfully recovered.
“In fairness, Sam’s a bit embarrassed by all the attention. I think he’s a hero,” wrote Sienkiewicz on Facebook. “So although I should apologize for possibly making him uncomfortable, I don't think anyone deserves Kirby-krackle™ more.”