Why 2017 is the year of Jack Kirby, comics’ most influential creator – Mark Peters SUNDAY, MAY 28, 2017 02:30 PM PDT


This August will mark the 100th anniversary of the birth of comic book artist, writer and editor Jack “King” Kirby

Why 2017 is the year of Jack Kirby, comics' most influential creator

This August marks the 100th anniversary of the birth of comic book artist, writer and editor Jack “King” Kirby. But 2017 would be his year anyway.

Kirby’s Marvel Comics heroes, such as Captain America, the Avengers, the X-Men, the Hulk and Thor, are all over screens large and small. Even his more obscure creations, such as Ego the Living Planet (featured in “Guardians of the Galaxy 2”) and the Inhumans, are starting to surface in mainstream pop culture. Some of Kirby’s New Gods — who many consider a direct influence on “Star Wars” — are expected to appear in DC’s forthcoming “Justice League” movie.

Kirby’s influence on comics is as fundamental as Shakespeare’s on literature. His list of  innovations in the medium stretches from the 1930s to 1980s. His influence is obvious in artists such as Cliff Chiang, Shaky Kane, Steve Rude, Tom Scioli and Walter Simonson, but all comics are at least a little Kirby-esque.

Michael Allred — who’s currently illustrating two series about Kirby characters, “Bug! The Adventures of Forager” and “Silver Surfer” — recently told Comics Beatthat Kirby’s influence is “in virtually everything, whether fully realized or not. Much like The Beatles have consciously or unconsciously influenced all pop music since the ’60s.”

Among his career highlights, Kirby co-created the genre of romance comics with Joe Simon. Simon and Kirby also created Captain America, who punched Hitler on the cover of Captain America No. 1, mere months before we entered World War II. Though known best for a bombastic action style and mythological subject matter often involving cosmic beings, Kirby was not bound to any genre. We wrote and drew westerns, crime, war, humor, romance and more.

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