This week saw the debut of Mark Evanier's Jack Kirby artbook / biography Kirby: King Of Comics and it's a must for everyone who loves dynamic art and for those who want to know more about Jack Kirby, his life and his role in basically creating the superhero comic in the U.S. Kirby: King Of Comics, is a beautiful 220 page hardcover book that serves as a great overview of Jack Kirby's comic art from the 1930's through th 1990's. While Kirby: King Of Comics is also a biography of Jack Kirby, written by the person who knew Jack better than anyone other than Jack's wife Rosalind (Roz), it's not the exhaustive biography that Evanier has said is still a few years away. In addition to having a plethora of color examples of Jack Kirby's art, Kirby: King Of Comics also reproduces many pages of black and white examples showcasing the raw power of Kirby's pencil work.
Again, while Kirby: King Of Comics is more of a wonderful showcase of Kirby's art spanning six decades (!!) than it is a comprehensive biography, there is still a great amount of information within and I'm sure that even those who have read other accounts of Kirby's life, they too will find some new historical tidbits pertaining to Jack Kirby's importance to this medium and his life. Mark Evainier doesn't just write of the successes Jack Kirby's art and creations provided many a comic company throughout the medium's history as he also chronicles how often publishers and editors would take advantage of his speed and creations without compensating Kirby in turn (sadly this happened often in this medium especially before the 1980's).
A lot of Kirby: King Of Comics is sad, in that this creator of enormous talent and heart, who really just was concerned with providing for his family and loved the medium of comics, was just largely not afforded the financial due (and sometimes respect of his craft that was ahead of its time) in proportion to his creations. The book does close with some accounts of how in the last couple of decades of Kirby's life he was finally seeing some financial security and greater recognitions of the importance of his creations was becoming more present. Mark Evainer, in his afterword for Kirby: King Of Comics, remembers thinking "Gosh, I can't wait to figure out what that means", when Jack Kirby told him something in the late 1980's - just another example of how far ahead of us mere mortals Jack Kirby was.
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