Life and Times of Jack Kirby
This man was not always the revered artist many know him as currently. Jack Kirby hails from the Lower East side of New York City. Born on August 28, 1917 to the Kurtzberg family. Like any other kid, he partook in the thrill of being young, as well as a little reckless with some street fights. What captivated Kirby the most were movies, story-telling, and his insatiable urge to draw on almost any piece of paper he got his hungry hands on. Flash Gordon strips by Alex Raymond were the main source of inspiration for Jack, as well as many other artists and companies delving into the comic book style. He did what few can do and that is create his own style out of his artistic influences, rather than just mimic. Kirby crafted his own style that represented his emotions, experiences, and interests in the work that he did.
This time spent was not unsuccessful, though. It led him to enrolling into Pratt Institute to further his abilities. However, he dropped out the first day due to family financial troubles. Though, it ends up being a turn for the better as you’ll soon find out.
- Jack Kirby in his uniform.
- 1945. World War II.
- War changed and shaped Jack, for better or for worse. Clearly, his fascination with space and technology was heavily influenced from this time.
- The KIRBY KRACKLE is a great example of how the technology and weapons he came across in war influenced his style but there’s more on that later…
Animated cartoons, they were Kirby’s beginnings. No, not comics like he is known for, but it all works out! Jack ends up working for Max Fleischer as an “in-betweener” on Popeye cartoons for just a few months. Then he jumped ship for a more stable job with the Lincoln Newspaper Syndicate for about three and a half years. Jack specialized in political cartoons and gag strips here. This propelled him to working for Victor Fox, a superhero publisher. The importance of Kirby working for Fox is not just the superhero line he was getting involved in but the connection built between he and Joe Simon. They were a dynamic duo that churned out characters like the Hurricane, Tuk the Cave-Boy, Mercury, the Vision, Red Raven, Comet Pierce, and the most illustrious Captain America. Simon and Kirby worked for the emerging, Timely Comics Company, which only had two stars previous to the duo being hired: The Human Torch and the Sub-Mariner. These two had such an incredible gift when working together that even while they were stationed at different companies they would often call on each other to work on certain projects. Simon & Kirby’s exceptional work on Captain America garnered them a place at Detective Comics (DC Comics) and from there we know Kirby really honed in on his comic skills, creating more content and characters than the monthly publication could handle physically and monetarily. Later, Kirby would transition to Marvel by the 1960s, then back to DC Comics from 1970 – 1974, with another return to Marvel after the DC stint was over. Marvel is home to a majority of Kirby’s work and arguably, his best work that solidified his place in the comic realm.
- Here are a few examples of his Marvel work, featuring the successful series, X-Men:
Please refer to the link below if you’d like to check out more on Jack Kirby’s life 🙂