Jack Kirby was an American comic book artist and writer who was born on August 28, 1917 in New York. Kirby is considered one of the most important and influential figures in comic book history, and his work helped define the superhero genre and shape the medium into what it is today.
Kirby began his career in the early 1940s working for several comic book publishers, including Timely Comics (which later became Marvel Comics) and DC Comics. He created many of the most iconic characters in superhero comics, including Captain America, the Fantastic Four, the X-Men, and the Avengers. Kirby was known for his dynamic and energetic art style characterized by bold lines, exaggerated anatomy and a sense of movement and action. Despite his enormous creative contributions to the industry, Kirby struggled financially for much of his career. Like many other cartoonists of his time, he was neither credited nor paid enough for his work, and often had to work long hours for little pay. In the 1960s, Kirby became increasingly disillusioned with the way the industry treated his creators and eventually left Marvel Comics to work for DC Comics.
Kirby continued to create innovative and influential works throughout the 1970s and 1980s, including his Fourth World saga for DC Comics and his work on the adaptation of Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey. In the 1990s, he worked for several independent publishers, including his own company, Topps Comics. Despite his financial struggles, Kirby’s work has had a lasting impact on the comics industry and popular culture as a whole. He is widely regarded as a pioneer in the industry, and his legacy continues to inspire new generations of comics creators and fans.
At the time of his death on February 6, 1994, Jack Kirby’s net worth was estimated to be approximately $10 million. Although he struggled financially for much of his career, Kirby’s later years were characterized by interest in his work and new recognition for his contributions to the field. In addition to his comic book work, Kirby’s characters have been adapted into many films and television shows, cementing his legacy and contributing to his financial success.
Here is a timeline of some of the key events in the life and career of Jack Kirby:
1917: Jack Kirby (born Jacob Kurtzberg) is born in New York City.
1936: Kirby begins working in the nascent comic book industry, creating illustrations for pulp magazines.
1940: Kirby and writer Joe Simon create the character of Captain America, one of the most iconic superheroes in history.
1942-1945: Kirby serves in World War II, fighting in the European theater.
1958: Kirby returns to comic book work and begins a long-standing creative partnership with writer Stan Lee at Marvel Comics.
1961: Kirby and Lee co-create the Fantastic Four, launching the “Marvel Age” of comic books.
1963: Kirby and Lee co-create the X-Men, which goes on to become one of the most successful franchises in comics.
1970: Kirby leaves Marvel Comics and signs with rival publisher DC Comics.
1971: Kirby creates the Fourth World series at DC Comics, which introduces a number of new characters and concepts to the DC Universe.
1978: Kirby returns to Marvel Comics and creates the Eternals, a series about a group of god-like beings who live among humans.
1984: Kirby files a lawsuit against Marvel Comics, seeking to regain the copyright to his characters and receive compensation for their use in other media.
1994: Jack Kirby passes away at the age of 76, leaving behind a legacy as one of the most influential and beloved creators in the history of comic books.
5 Interesting Facts About Jack Kirby:
- Kirby was originally named Jacob Kurtzberg and grew up in poverty in New York City’s Lower East Side.
- He served in World War II and fought in some of the bloodiest battles of the European theater.
- Kirby was known for his speed and ability to create multiple pages of art per day.
- He had a long-standing creative partnership with writer Stan Lee, although the two had a contentious relationship and often clashed over credit and compensation.
- Kirby was inducted into the Will Eisner Comic Book Hall of Fame in 1987, and his name appears on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
5 Quotes from Jack Kirby:
- “I think of myself as a writer who draws.”
- “The only thing that matters is the work itself. You have to leave the egos at the door.”
- “Comics are a microcosm of American culture.”
- “I’m an artist, and I want to see my creations in living color.”
- “I did the best I could with what I had and tried to make it exciting.”