By Ben Morse
"Hail to the King!"
That's the most common response we got this week when asking Marvel creators and editors for their thoughts on legendary artist and creator Jack "King" Kirby.
One of the most visionary minds in comics' history, Kirby created or contributed to literally hundreds of enduring Marvel creations. His impact continues to be felt every day, in everything from the hit "Incredible Hulk" movie to the newest volume of ETERNALS and thousands of points in between.
But enough of our rambling, let's hear what our esteemed correspondents have to say about "the King."
It's Friday, so kick back, relax and enjoy.
RALPH MACCHIO (Marvel Executive Editor):
My favorite Kirby run on any title was his work on THOR from the issues when the Destroyer was first created right through the incredible Hercules/Pluto tale and then onto the introduction of Ulik the Troll, the Colonizers and the High Evolutionary. Wow! What a string of absolute, rock solid masterpieces! Much as I was blown away by the concepts on FANTASTIC FOUR, nothing tops what [Stan] Lee [and] Kirby did on THOR. They took you into worlds of imagination that combined fantasy, mythology, science fiction and soap opera from which you never quite returned.
Kirby's pencils and creativity were at an all-time high in my opinion. We can't celebrate his genius enough.
CHRIS WESTON (artist of THE TWELVE):
I'm a big fan of Lockjaw, the giant bulldog in service to the Inhumans. No artist other than Jack Kirby has managed to capture the majesty and sensitivity of this huge, dimension-hopping dog. And think about it: who else but Kirby could have come up with such a crazy and lovable character?
I want to know who gets the job of clearing up after Lockjaw? Do they make "pooper-scoopers" large enough to cope with the task? Maybe he just teleports his "doo" into the heart of the Sun?
Give him his own series...these questions need to be answered!
ADAM POLLINA (artist of ANGELS: REVELATIONS):
I wish I had something truly unique to say but, I only know that my own personal achievements in life have been made mostly by standing on the shoulders of Giants who walked before me. Giants like Kirby.
BOB GALE (writer of AMAZING SPIDER-MAN):
I'll put in my two cents for the first "Black Galaxy" arc in THOR v1 #131-133. This is a wonderfully outrageous blend of mythology and sci-fi, in which we are introduced to the truly inspired concepts of the Recorder and Ego, The Living Planet. Thor has an adventure in outer space and it
works! And it was immediately followed by another excellent outer space yarn with the High Evolutionary! To take Thor into the realm of space opera and pull it off so brilliantly is, to me, an example of Jack at his absolute best.
BILL ROSEMANN (Marvel editor):
When I was a kid, art by Jack Kirby actually frightened me. I was a big fan of the smooth stylings of Gil Kane/Ross Andru/John Romita/John Byrne/George Perez, so when I somehow got my hands on a Kirby reprint, the bold lines and larger-than-life figures were like some huge, monstrous colossuses, reaching through the mists of time and right off the page to grab my throat. And therein, I eventually realized, lies the power and trailblazing genius that Kirby unleashed upon generation after generation of readers and creators. All of my favorites had the way paved by Kirby, with his strength and style echoing in each panel. Without Kirby, there would be no us…all hail the King!
STEVE EPTING (artist of CAPTAIN AMERICA):
I've got a soft spot for Kirby's 70's Marvel work, particularly the Eternals and Machine Man. I was too young to experience Marvel in 60's as it was happening, so reading these books was my opportunity to watch Kirby's unequaled
energy and creativity unfold before my eyes. It had a different feel, of course, than his work with Stan a decade earlier, but his style was as uniquely original as always and his imagination knew no bounds. Long live the King!
CHRISTOS GAGE (co-writer of AVENGERS: THE INITIATIVE):
Having previously expressed my dino-crush on Devil Dinosaur, I'll instead talk about a story that had a huge impact on me—the Hulk/Thing/FF/Avengers battle from FANTASTIC FOUR v1 #25-26. I discovered it reprinted in a book called "Marvel's Greatest Superhero Battles" when I was a kid, and it just blew me away. It was so cool, so awesome, so epic—to this day, I always say that the biggest movie special effects budget of all time still couldn't equal the magic of Jack Kirby and a pencil. Reading that incredible Lee/Kirby saga made me realize there was a wealth of great stories out there that I'd missed, so I set about seeking them out. A quarter-century later, here I am. I think everyone who works in comics today owes it at least in part to Jack Kirby...I know I do.
AXEL ALONSO (Marvel Executive Editor):
When I was a little kid, my mom bought me a Kirby-illustrated Hulk T-shirt. On the front was a shot of the Hulk coming right at you, foreshortened perspective so one foot was really huge: "Here comes…the Incredible Hulk." On the back was a shot of him walking away—"There goes…the Incredible Hulk". I, of course, took this to mean that the Hulk was a green monster with one incredibly huge foot. Cool.
TOMMY LEE EDWARDS (Artist of 1985):
Jack Kirby's work was something that I took for granted most of my life. It was always there. The artwork was so consistent and mind-blowing and accessible. I read SILVER SURFER and THOR and CAPTAIN AMERICA reprints when I was little and I loved it. But it wasn't until I started getting paid to draw comics when I fully started to appreciate Kirby's drawing and imagination. The level of creativity is unparalleled. Every day I gain more and more appreciation for his character designs and ideas. I will always be in awe of him.
MIKE PERKINS (upcoming artist of THE STAND):
Kirby was the master of the freaky-deaky design. His machinery was monumental; unworkable, but monumental. If you want evidence of the freaky-deaky, look no further than Arnim Zola! An ex-Nazi with a camera for a head and a transmitted face for a stomach! My favorite Kirby characters, though, are the Inhumans. Just the diversity and variety of heroes and villains are justification alone for an ongoing series. A freaky-deaky ongoing series!
TONY ISABELLA (former writer of CAPTAIN AMERICA):
You could celebrate Jack Kirby every day of the year and not make more than a dent in the great comics stories he worked on. I'll mention a couple of favorites from the fringes.
RAWHIDE KID #18, "A Legend is Born!" The Stan Lee and Jack Kirby reboot of the Kid as a diminutive fugitive from the law is among my favorite westerns, and this five page treat is easily my favorite of the stories they did. The Kid's trying to enjoy a meal at a typical Old West saloon when -
he's hassled by a pack of bullies. In mere pages, he teaches them the error of their ways, escaping minutes before the sheriff's arrival.
When the lawman asks for a description, the bullies widely exaggerate the kid's height, weight, the size of his guns, everything. Only a giant of a man could have beaten them all.
NOT BRAND ECHH #1, "The Silver Burper!" Jack unleashes his zany side in a hilarious parody of the Fantastic Four, Doctor Doom, and, of course, the Silver Surfer. Stan matches the visuals beat for beat. I laughed out loud when I first read it...and every time I've reread it.
GERRY CONWAY (former writer of AMAZING SPIDER-MAN):
One thing I enjoyed about Jack was his ability to suck you in to a conversation he'd apparently been having with himself before he ran into you. One time at Ruby-Spears, when we were both working there, I found myself in an elevator with Jack. I said hi, he said hi, and then he went on, as if we'd been talking about it for hours, "The trouble with Patton was, the guy was a great general, but he didn't understand his troops. He just didn't care about the common guy. That's why he got sacked. You gotta care about the common joe." And then we reached our floor, and he walked out, and he went his way and I went mine.