Doug: Thomas F. drives this train today, and he's got the King on his mind.
Thomas F.: Jack “King” Kirby is best-known for his Silver Age contributions to the comic world. He was the co-creator and illustrator of the Fantastic Four, Thor, Incredible Hulk, Avengers, X-Men, and of course, Captain America. Not Spider-Man, though. For a look at Jack Kirby’s rendition of Spider-Man from as far back as January 1964, check out The Amazing Spider-Man #8 (or a reprint such as Marvel Tales #145), where Kirby penciled the backup story, inked by Steve Ditko, “Spider-Man Tackles the Torch!”
It is no exaggeration to claim that Jack Kirby was one of the most influential contributors to the comics genre to ever live. Few can deny that Kirby was an unparalleled expert at drawing eye-popping monsters, aliens, sci-fi weaponry, and futuristic technology. And most of it looked fully functional.
My own favorite Kirby creation is Darkseid (with the possible exception of the Silver Surfer). Gotta love those cosmic tales, rivaled only by Jim Starlin’s Warlock.
And what do you all think of Kirby’s version of Superman? It sure was different. Many people hated it—no one more so, apparently, then the DC bigwigs, who ordered that Al Plastino’s version of Superman’s face be plastered over most of those drawn by Kirby—behind his back.
It was Kirby’s Seventies stint, however—a period when he insisted on total creative control, and when he was able to produce Kirbyesque works as he saw fit—that he really shone. Granted, Kirby enthusiasts have long held widely-differing views on his Seventies creations. As for myself, I personally regard Kirby’s Seventies output to be the peak of his inventive skill and a time where he was able to showcase the full range of his genius—especially at DC.
Kirby fans are all aware that he left Marvel in the autumn of 1970 to work for the “Distinguished Competition,” which is how Marvel dryly referred to the opposition. This abrupt departure sent shockwaves throughout the comic book industry—just imagine it! Kirby jumping ship! And it wasn’t long before DC began a marketing campaign advertising Kirby’s upcoming works—major titles that the “King” himself would write, draw, and more often than not, edit.
*For this post, I’ve specifically chosen works that Jack Kirby both scripted and penciled (not just one or the other). Note: Kirby’s run on Superman’s Pal, Jimmy Olsen lasted from #133-139, 141-148; his run on Our Fighting Forces lasted from #151-162; his run on Amazing Adventures lasted from #1-4; and his run on Captain America lasted from #193-214 plus Annuals #3 and #4.
DC COVER SELECTIONS: 1st Issue Special #1 feat. Atlas; 1st Issue Special #5 feat. Manhunter; 1st Issue Special #6 feat. Dingbats of Danger Street; Demon #1; Forever People #1; Kamandi #1; Mister Miracle #1; New Gods #1; OMAC #1; Our Fighting Forces #152 feat. Losers; Superman’s Pal, Jimmy Olsen #133.
MARVEL COVER SELECTIONS: 2001: A Space Odyssey #1; Amazing Adventures #1 feat. Inhumans and Black Widow; Black Panther #1; Captain America #200; Devil Dinosaur #1; Eternals #1; Machine Man #1.