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Kirby, Jack > American Comic Artists > Kirby, Jack
How to introduce a man who arguably has had a greater influence on the evolution of the American superhero genre than anyone else? The artist Jack Kirby (born 1917 in New York) is considered to be the great guru and originator of the Marvel Universe. An artist who with his characteristic, highly graphic style has designed most of the famous superheroes.

Jack Kirby was already working as a professional comic artist at the age of 18, when he landed a job at a small syndicate. Later he got a job as an "in-betweener" at the Max Fleischer Studio, where he contributed to a number of cartoons. In 1936 he created his first newspaper strip, "Black Buccaneer", followed by "Socko the Seadog", "Cyclone Burke", and "Abdul Burke" - and later the western strip "Lone Rider". Kirby continued drawing for a number of comic books - and Illustrated Classics adaptations of novels like "The Count of Monte Christo", etc.

But the real magic only happened when Kirby turned to superhero comics.. In 1940 he drew "Blue Beetle", and in 1941 he designed the first issue of "Captain Marvel", based on CC Beck's famous superhero, in collaboration with Joe Simon. Through the 1940's Jack Kirby worked for Timely - later to be called Marvel - and for the competition DC! Kirby soon began experimenting with the forms of the medium, and allowed his heroes to push the boundaries in a way you normally only would see in the work of his contemporary, Will Eisner. The work was only interrupted when Kirby was drafted.

After World War II Kirby continued where he'd left off. Kirby worked on numerous publications and series, and slowly but surely he developed a completely personal style, characterized by great dynamics, bold brush strokes, expressive faces, a keen eye for action - and a deep understanding of the language of the medium. All this culminated with Kirby's employment at Marvel in 1959, first on "Rawhide Kid" and "Two-Gun Kid".

But if one were to single out the most decisive moment in the whole career - it would have to be 1961, when Marvel paired Kirby with the writer Stan Lee. Together they created the historic first issue of "Fantastic Four" - and the rest is history. Kirby and Lee developed and innovated the modern Marvel Universe.

Kirby continued on Fantastic Four until 1971, while also drawing classic stories for the series Spider-Man, Avengers, Daredevil, Hulk, Ant-Man, Sgt. Fury, Ka-Zar, Captain America, Silver Surfer, Thor, X-Men, Iron man, and many more. The collaboration ended abruptly in 1971, when Kirby moved to DC.

At DC Jack Kirby created comics like Kamandi, The Demon - and later the magnum opus known as his "Fourth World" cycle, consisting of the comics The New Gods, The Forever People, and Mr. Miracle. Here Kirby created a whole new universe of gods and demigods, who battle it out for nothing less than supremacy in the entire universe. Kirby stayed at DC for four years before he returned to the fold at Marvel - where he worked on Captain America, Black Panther, and Silver Surfer.

The summation of this later period of Kirby's career happened in the 1980's, when he briefly returned to DC and revisited his New Gods concept. Among other things he created the magnificent graphic novel "Hunger Dogs". Jack Kirby later got caught up in legal wranglings with Marvel over the rights to his original artwork. He died on February 7, 1994. will keep an eye out for goodies by Jack Kirby. There is lots of original material by this prolific artist on the market, but the really choice pieces cost an arm and a leg. So the the new pieces featured in this gallery will be few and far between.

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1.  Jack Kirby - "Black Panther", issue 9, page 26.
Original helside af Jack Kirby fra "Black Panther" nr.9, Marvel 1978. Side 26.
2.  Jack Kirby - "Thor", issue 177 (1970)
Original helside af Jack Kirby fra "Thor" nr. 177, Marvel 1970. Side 5.
3.  Jack Kirby - Hunger Dogs, last page splash!
Final page ofthe saga! Large art, original splash page by Jack Kirby. End page from "Hungers Dogs", DC 1983.
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