Over on social media, I had referred to “That time that Batman ‘creator’ Bob Kane had been rude to Cliff Biggers and me, and Jack Kirby had set him straight.”
Several folks had wanted to hear the story and my buddy Cliff wrote an excellent account of the incident, showing the vast difference in attitude and behavior between Kirby and Kane. I will refer you to that post at the end of this one. One thing that Cliff left out, probably because it makes me look like the fanboy goofball that I am, was that Jack’s amazing wife, Roz Kirby saved the day for me.
See, back in 1989 I was attending my very first San Diego Comic Con, and I was there specifically to meet Jack Kirby, my all-time idol, as Ben Grimm would say, and probably the single most important creator in the history of comic books. During my first day at the con, I had seen Kirby walking around but I’d never worked up the nerve to approach him.
On Saturday night the convention held a dance in the main ballroom and Cliff and I had wandered in to see what was happening. The place was full of comics professionals and fans and it was really really loud. After we’d been there for a bit and talked to some folks we knew, Cliff nudged me and said, “Hey, there’s Jack Kirby. Come on and I’ll introduce you.”
Cliff led me over to where Jack and Roz were standing and introduced himself (Cliff had recently interviewed Jack for Comic Shop News) and then me. Kirby shook my hand and told me he was glad to meet me, and I…
For one of the few times in my life I was struck silent. This was Jack Kirby, the man who had created or co-created Captain America, The Fantastic Four, The Hulk, The X-Men, the Silver Surfer, The New Gods, Mr. Miracle, and so many others. He was also my primary influence in those days when I wanted to be a comic book artist. He was, as I said, my hero.
I’d like to think I mumbled that I was glad to meet him too, but I don’t actually remember it. After a couple of minutes, Roz mentioned that she wanted to get out of the noise, and she and Jack took their leave.
Cliff and I left the ballroom soon after. I was feeling pretty dejected because I had my chance to meet JACK KIRBY and I blew it. We walked downstairs to the lobby, and Jack and Roz were sitting on a sofa in a corner near the stairs. I made eye contact with Roz and she waved us over. To this day, I will swear that Roz Kirby had seen how much I wanted to talk to Jack and how nervous I was, so she invited me and Cliff over.
There weren’t any other chairs available, so Cliff and I sat cross-legged on the floor, literally at the feet of the master, and for the better part of an hour we talked with Jack and Roz. Much of it was about comics, of course, but Jack also told us some of his favorite World War Two stories. Years later, I would see some of those stories had made it in to Jack’s short run on DC’s The Losers.
A funny bit was that I had recently written a short story about a guy traveling back in time to New York in the 1930s, where he had met Kirby, Eisner, and other Golden Age comic creators and with the research still fresh in my head, I asked several questions about when Jack and Roz were dating, and Roz was delighted to tell us all about those days.
Finally, Roz said they needed to head up to their room and rest for a bit. Cliff and I got up and as we were finishing our talk with the Kirbys, Bob Kane barged in.
But I’ll let Cliff tell you the rest.
I will always remember that talk with Jack Kirby, my hero, and the King of Comics. And I will never forget the kindness of his Queen, Roz Kirby.
Now go see what Cliff has to say.