1917 (New York City)
1994 (Thousand Oaks, California)
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|This biography from the Archives of AskART:|
|Jack Kirby, the "king" of American comic books and comic strips as an artist, writer and editor, was born Jacob Kurtzburg on August 28, 1917 in "Hell's Kitchen," in New York City. His career began in 1935 as an illustrator for Max Fleischer's animation studio. A year later, he was creating "Abdul Jones", "Socko the Seadog" and the "Black Buccaneer" for the Lincoln Newspaper Syndicate, until 1938 when the company went out of business. Briefly with the Eisner-Iger studios in 1939, he worked on Jungle and Jumbo Comics. Also with other companies, he drew the complete first issue of Captain Marvel. |
Kirby, and his partner, Joe Simon, working together in a common studio, were approached early in 1941 by Martin Goodman, the publisher of Timely Comics, to create a patriotic hero to compete with Pep Comics' The Shield. They responded with the superhuman Captain America, who became an anti-Nazi hero, appearing in ten issues that Kirby drew in pencil and Simon worked in ink, until 1942, when they went to DC Comics, attracted by better pay and better billing.
In 1943, both artists were drafted into the army. After the War, the team worked for several publishers, including National and Harvey Comics, creating Stuntman and Boy Explorers for the latter company. They re-introduced Headline Comics for Prize/Crestwood in 1947 and Justice Traps the Guilty, both in the crime genre, and Black Magic in the field of horror in the 1950s. They also created the first "romance" comic book with Young Romance Comics. They continued as partners until 1956, creating prototypes for all the later comic books with kids as their subject matter and heroes.
To make more money, Kirby and Simon became publishers in 1954 with Mainline Comics, producing Police Trap, Bullseye, Foxhole and In Love. When Timely/Atlas revived their Captain America hero in that same year, they created The Fighting American, which was very popular but ended after seven issues, probably due to the collapse of the comic book industry.
From late 1954 to early 1955, three hundred fifty comic titles disappeared due to pressure exerted by those who thought comic books caused juvenile delinquency, including articles in Reader's Digest, Senate hearings, and public pressure. Kirby's production dropped from twenty pages of drawing a week to twenty pages total between February and May 1955.
Jack Kirby went back to drawing, with Joe Simon editing, Young Love and Young Romance for Crestwood (now Prize) until the company went out of business late in 1956, also ending the Kirby-Simon twenty-year partnership. Kirby was forced back to DC Comics, drawing mystery and science fiction subjects, and illustrating Adventure Comics' Green Arrow.
In 1957, Kirby created "Challengers of the Unknown", four crime-fighting super-heroes, survivors of a plane crash on a Pacific island. They would evolve, in 1961, into Kirby's Fantastic Four, which announced the return of super-heroes into comic books once more. Returning to Marvel Comics (where he worked with Writer/Editor Stan Lee from 1961-1970), Kirby was responsible, either on his own or with others, for reviving the comic book industry by the creation of several years' worth of Marvel super-heroes (and their villain nemeses), including the Fantastic Four, The Hulk, Spider Man, Thor, Iron Man, Ant Man, Nick Fury, the X-Men, The Avengers, Silver Surfer, as well as the third go-round of Captain America.
Kirby left Marvel, after a disagreement with Lee, returning to National as a writer/editor/artist, then DC Comics, where he created Kamandi, The New Gods, the Forever People, and Mister Miracle, but none of his dozen new titles reached the level of success he had achieved with Marvel Comics. In the 1980s he drew Captain Victory and Silver Star for Pacific Comics.
In a prolific, seventy-year career in the comic book business, Jack Kirby is estimated to have drawn over 24,000 pages, in addition to work in the film industry and hundreds of comic strips. His influence touched nearly every visual concept and design in comic book art.
Jack Kirby died on February 6, 1994.
|This biography from the Archives of AskART:|
|The following was written and submitted by Nick Caputo, December 2003.|
Kirby is one of the most prolific creators in the world of comic books,
spanning over 50 years of production. In 1940, with partner Joe Simon,
he created Captain America for Timely Comics (later known as Marvel
Comics). He continued into the 1940s with partner Simon creating kid
gangs (mimicking the popular Dead End Kid formula in the movies) on The
Newsboy Legion and the Boy Commandos at DC Comics. The team also
invented the popular genre of Romance comics.
In the 1950s Kirby
latched onto the enthusiasm of space exploration and produced the comic
strip Sky Masters of the Space Force, aided by Wally Wood. In the 1960s
Kirby, with editor/writer Stan Lee, created a new generation of heroes
that has stood the test of time and conquered other media: the X-Men,
the Hulk, Fantastic Four, Thor, Silver Surfer. In the 1970s Kirby moved
to DC comics where he created another line of new characters and
concepts; the New Gods, Forever People and Mr. Miracle.
Kirby is not the creator of Spider-Man. Stan Lee and Steve Ditko
co-created Spider-Man. Kirby was involved in an earlier version which
did not see print, and he drew the first cover, misleading many people
to believe he created the character.
Nick Caputo writes: "I am a
comic book fan/historian who has researched many of these artists and
have had articles published in various trade magazines (Comic Book
Marketplace, Comic Book Artist, Alter Ego)".
|Biography from Heritage Auctions:|
|Jack Kirby (American, 1917-1994) : Jack Kirby has received world-wide recognition for his long comic book career and accomplishments. He is regarded by historians and fans as one of the major innovators and most influential creators in the comic-book medium, thus earning the nick-name "King." |
Among Kirby's many co-creations are Captain America, the Newsboy Legion, the Challengers of the Unknown, the Fantastic Four, the Hulk, Thor, the Avengers, the X-Men, Silver Surfer, the New Gods, and countless other memorable heroes and villains.
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