Monday, March 10, 2008

Kirby is Here!

I'd been waiting for Mark Evanier's biography of my hero, Jack Kirby, since he mentioned he was working on it a few years back. Now Jack Kirby: King of Comics is here and it was worth the wait. Kirby, in case you've forgotten, was the creator or co-creator of such comics legends as Captain America, The Hulk, Iron Man, the Fantastic Four, the X-Men, The New Gods, Mr. Miracle, The Mighty Thor, and many many more.
Evanier's book covers all the well known phases of Kirby's career. His time working for Victor Fox. His days in the comics job shop run by Will Eisner (another important figure if the history of comics). His first stays at DC and Marvel. His explosion into Comics legend during his 60s work at Marvel. His return to DC and the creation of his "Fourth World." His final return to Marvel. His days in the animation business. His entry into the then new independent comics industry. Viewed all together it's easy to see why Kirby is still considered the King of comics. At every stage of the industry, from the 1930s to the early 1990s, he was at the forefront, inventing characters, defining storytelling and art styles, setting the pace that others tried to follow. Kirby was an unstoppable juggernaut. An elemental force in the comics world.
None of this was new to me, having read many bios and interviews about Kirby over the years. What was new was all the inside information about Kirby the man. Evanier, who first met Jack when Mark was just a teenager, became a lifelong friend of Kirby and his family. Evanier has more stories, quotes, and anecdotes from and about Kirby that anyone outside Kirby's immediate family. And he knows how to tell them. Evanier is a natural raconteur. Just go to his website, POV Online, if you don't believe me.
Through Evanier's fond reminiscences I felt I got a better picture of Kirby as a person than I've ever had. About his personal life, his family, his quirks, his likes and dislikes. That's what makes this book so special. Is it the definitive Kirby biography? Probably not. There are quite a few parts of Jack's life that the book merely touches upon that I'd like to know more about. But for an overall look back at the life and career of possibly the most important single individual in the history of comic books, Jack Kirby: King of Comics would be hard to beat.


Lanny said...

There's something about Jack Kirby's art that is so pure, so genuine, that nothing else even comes close. Comics today are like languages. Everyone speaks a language. Jack Kirby INVENTED language.

Charles R. Rutledge said...

I definitely agree, Lanny. And most of comics creators today are still trying to speak Kirby's language.