Today marks the 98th anniversary of the birth of Jack Kirby. So let’s take a few minutes to talk about the King of Comics and revisit 98 of our favorite images from his career.
Born Jacob Kurtzberg, the New York City native was not only a once-in-a-lifetime (or a lifetime of the planet) stylist and thinker, he was also an integral part of the history of comic books, from the art form’s earliest years — a creative visionary who shaped the medium without peer.
Of course, most folks may know Kirby as the co-creator of the majority of the Marvel Comics pantheon of heroes…
Or as the creator of some of DC Comics’ wildest and weirdest characters, from the New Gods to Kamandi and beyond…
But he also was a pioneer in creator-owned comics, with his all-original efforts running from the ’40s into the ’90s!
Many of Kirby’s earliest creations were done with partner Joe Simon. From their earliest collaborations, Kirby’s prowess as a cartoonist and cover designer was undeniable.
Of course, Kirby’s lengthy, Marvel Universe-defining collaboration with Stan Lee and his subsequent years working solo at DC were the eras where the master realized the full might of his talent, and showed readers that no one could beat him when it came to drawing gods…
So unique was the King’s style that almost anything you can name was something no one could beat him at. No one could draw faces like Jack Kirby.
No one could draw hands like Jack Kirby.
No one could draw action like Jack Kirby.
Absolutely no one could draw eyes like Jack Kirby.
In fact, Kirby was so unique in his style that he created any number of new techniques now used across the comics landscape. But perhaps his signature “Kirby Krackle” method for showing cosmic energy is the most famous.
When you add it all together, Kirby’s work is almost overwhelming for its pure graphic impact. But the King never lost sight of making a story work on his pages — even his biggest ones ever.
It was because of his idiosyncratic storytelling skill that Kirby was able to create so many classic stories still being talked about and reimagined today.
Kirby’s creative life extended outside of comics as well. The master also worked in animation, including at the pioneering Fleischer Studios on adaptations of his own “Fantastic Four” work, for Hanna-Barbera and for Ruby-Spears.
Kirby also pioneered with his collage work, which was used in his comics, as well as at home, as a creative release.
He created a treasure trove of non-comics and personal work over the years, including paintings and theatrical designs.
There’s so much Kirby work out there that we’re constantly rediscovering lesser-known aspects of his creative life. Did you know he once redesigned the uniforms for the NFL?
Even today, in an unparalleled age of access to high-resolution copies of modern artists’ work, nothing can compare to poring over Kirby’s original comic page pencils.
We all have our personal favorite Kirby images.
Celebrate Jack Kirby’s birthday by checking out the rest of our 98 hand-picked Kirby images and sharing yours in the comments.
Stop by Kirby4Heroesto find out how you can make a donation to the Hero Initiative in Kirby’s name.
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