Hail To The King!
Jack Kirby's 106th Birthday Is Today
It’s with embarrassment that I admit I arrived late at the Jack Kirby party. I was obsessed with John Romita — his Marvel Comics were the first to land in my hand. What I recall of Kirby when I saw of him in my earlier years was that it seemed “old” to me.
I spent the 1980s with a terrible haircut and a worse opinion on the King Of Comics. Something happened in the early 90s, I was getting out of reading new material, and I can actually pinpoint the exact moment: I had a pull list at a comic shop in Boston during my freshman year at Emerson. I was reading less and less new comics for various reasons, not the least of which was a tight budget. I worked in the bars at night, and went to school by day. The straw that broke the camel’s back was actually The Death Of Superman.
I didn't object to the story, but the shop where I had my pull informed me that everyone with a pull list was going to get reorders of the book the week later, and that if we wanted to read the black bagged comic today…it was on the shelf to purchase. That’s right, they punished their regular readers in favor of the folks chasing a can’t miss valuable future family heirloom.
I may have sworn that I would not enter a comic shop again, but I know I never stepped foot back inside that one. I didn’t think I read a new comics for over five years…but there were stacks of other comics inside my dorm.
I lived in a historic building at 4 Charlesgate East. It was a fancy hotel, a transient hotel, an Emerson dorm, and now its condos.
There were stacks of comics inside multiple rooms, and there was a lot of swapping. It’s here that I fell in love with Jack Kirby for the first time.
Looking back I’m grateful I was ejected from the mainstream comics of the day. It gave me a chance to travel back in time and meet the creator of the Marvel Universe. Jack’s work felt like it was always about to leap off the page. Nobody did a double page splash like Jack, and it’s something that doesn't translate to e-readership. Here are a few of my favorites including the end of the first Treasury I read of his — the 1976 Bicentennial issue.
I took my love of Kirby west and continued to read anything I could get my hands on. Check out Captain Victory, not pictured here by the way.
In 2019 I was privileged write some weird cosmic stuff with a pair of my favorite creators, Mike & Laura Allred. We cooked up a one-shot featuring one of my favorite Kirby creations — KANG THE CONQUEROR. I’ve successfully grabbed for Kang several times and not had my hand slapped away by Tom Brevoort, and each time it’s been a joy. Kang has a citadel outside or at the end of time depending on what you’re reading and it’s always fun to pitch relics that he has collected over his lifetime. I usually leave demolitions of the fourth wall to Deadpool, but we couldn’t resist putting Jack’s desk in Kang’s collection.
Jack’s desk is the Big Bang of the Marvel Universe. Happy birthday, King. Thank you for inviting us into your imagination.