Let’s all take a minute to celebrate the life and times of the undisputed King of Comic Books, Jack “King” Kirby! Comic book, movie, sci-fi, and pop culture fans all owe this man practically everything. Jacob Kurtzberg (August 28, 1917 – February 6, 1994), was born to the poor Kurtzberg family. His mother encouraged him to draw and as a young man he eventually started on newspaper strips. His career got the biggest boon when he created Captain America in 1941 with collaborator Joe Simon. Timely Comics (later Marvel) had a winning team on its hands. After switching from company to company and working on various projects, Kirby teamed up with Stan Lee to create The World’s Greatest Comic Magazine in 1961, The Fantastic Four, creating, in that single issue, the start of the Silver Age of comics and resurrecting Marvel Comics from the Power Cosmic. That year begat stories resonating with fans to this day and influencing our favorite summer superhero blockbusters with timeless characters.
The saddest part of Jack Kirby’s legacy is that he is not often credited in these movies, nor was he ever rightly compensated for the work he did as a creator. Before the creator’s rights revolution, partially spearheaded by Batman’s Neal Adams in the 1970s, all work for comic book companies was work for hire. All characters (to this day, this is sadly true for the Big Two companies, unless a contract denotes otherwise) are property of the parent company to do what they like with them.
And that’s all fine, but it should shock and surprise you, and make you drop your cereal spoon, to realize that Jack Kirby’s heirs receive NOTHING when a movie likeCaptain America is produced.
Luckily, his family is cool, and so are the people over at the Jack Kirby Museum and Research Center. Let’s tell you a few things about the cigar smokin’, page crankin’, sonuvvagun that you might not know!
1. Ben Grimm / The Thing is Jack Kirby!
Well, we are sure that Jack himself didn’t get irradiated in space and turn into a rock monster, but we can be sure that The King saw himself in his creation. I bet he would have clobbered the Yancy Street gang with big orange fists if he could have. But Jack found more time for drawing on fish paper with a No. 2 pencil than he did for fighting, so I guess we are lucky.
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