Kirby 100, Part 1

This month would be Jack Kirby’s 100th birthday, and though things have been busy for me lately, I’m going to try to post some things this month by way of celebrating.

Most visitors here likely already know who Jack Kirby is. I don’t think it’s possible to overstate his importance as a comics artist and creator. So many of the characters we’ve been enjoying in the Marvel films, more often than not, Kirby either co-created them or flat-out created them himself.

But you can find all that history elsewhere. The point I want to make here is that Kirby’s work mattered a great deal to me personally. I believe he was the one of the first comic book artists who I came to recognize by his name and his work. When I first came across it, it was powerful. It was, to my thinking, comics the way they should be.

I went through a phase in high school where I was trying very hard to draw like Jack Kirby. Not the most uncommon thing among fan artists back then, but (this is the embarrassing part) my reasoning was that at some point Mr. Kirby would retire, and there needed to be someone to pick up the baton. I thought (in my naiveté) maybe that should be me. As I said, it’s embarrassing to admit, but I was young, and this shows how important I truly felt his work was.

Of course, I grew out of this phase of thinking I needed to be the next Jack Kirby (A change I’m sure Jack would approve of). But there are still valuable artistic lessons I picked up from studying his work that I can see in my work even today.

An explanation of this piece: years back now, a photocopy of a Jack Kirby Red Skull sketch came into my hands. Dated 1970, as my tracing over his signature indicates. It was closer to a layout than the full pencils we usually see, but something about it spoke to me, compelled me to take a crack at inking it. I colored it for its appearance here.

I’ll be back soon with another piece.

Happy Kirby 100!

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2 Responses to Kirby 100, Part 1

  1. John Pierce says:

    Oddly enough, Mark, for some reason I recently was thinking about Kirby and his influence. I consider him to be part of a triumvirate of top-notch creators of the field, the other two being Carl Barks and Will Eisner. No one else could touch them in terms of overall imagination and creativity. I tend to think that you might agree with me on this, and I suspect that if other fans would ponder this a bit, they would also agree. This doesn’t mean that they are my personal favorites, necessarily. I trust that I am approaching this somewhat objectively, and recognizing that they were the best in the field.

    • Mark says:

      A perfectly fair way to look at it. It’s possible to recognize a creator’s importance without necessarily having them as a personal favorite, as that’s a different thing. I have no quarrel with people who aren’t particularly Kirby fans, yet can still recognize his significance, and his huge contributions to the field.

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