Comics

Kirby 100: Gerry Duggan

A modern Marvel writer talks classic Hulk, Fantastic Four, and more!

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1917 to 2017: 100 years of Kirby.

Join us this month to celebrate Jack “King” Kirby’s 100th birthday by learning about the characters and stories he created that changed comics forever. To commemorate Jack’s centennial, we’ve sat down with the modern-day creators he influenced—and the decades of work he gifted us all.

The road to appreciating Jack Kirby seems to be different for everyone. If you happened to be reading comics in the 60s when he, Stan Lee, and others built the Marvel Universe, then you found him everywhere. If you came to comics years later, it may have taken a little more digging to discover his legendary talents.

For Gerry Duggan, it took some time to fully understand the full importance of Kirby’s art in establishing the length and breadth of the playground he currently gets to play in.

Though probably most known for his run on DEADPOOL over the years, Duggan also penned UNCANNY AVENGERS and HULK, and currently helms ALL-NEW GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY. While working on those titles he’s come to understand some of the King’s co-creations even better.

We talked with the writer about Kirby’s monsters, mayhem and what the King might have thought of the Merc with a Mouth!

Marvel.com: Do you remember the first time you came across Kirby’s work and what you thought of it?

Gerry Duggan: His [FANTASTIC FOUR] run. Discovering comics in the era before the Internet made comics reading a much different experience. As a kid, I was unaware that the Marvel Universe flowed out of his pencil. It was just a treat to discover that the artist I knew from FANTASTIC FOUR also had runs of UNCANNY X-MEN and AVENGERS to discover. It was only later after reading so much of his work that I realized—wait—it was all Jack and Stan—and friends. A truly astonishing body of work.

Marvel.com: Do you have a favorite era of Jack’s work at Marvel between the Golden Age, the dawn of the Silver Age, or his more unleashed 70s comics?

Gerry Duggan: Sincerely, I love it all, but I’m more partial to the late era Kirby with those crazy double page spreads.

Marvel.com: You mentioned being a fan of Kirby’s monsters. How did you come to those and do you have a particular story that sticks out in your memory as a classic?

Gerry Duggan: Well, I always loved those pre-Avengers stories from Kirby. So many strange and wonderful monsters that could only have sprung from his imagination. Groot of course is one of these creations. Some of my other favorites are Fin Fang Foom and Gorgilla. So much fun.

Marvel.com: You’ve written the X-Men and Hulk before, two properties that people don’t always remember Kirby had a hand in. Did you look back to his early issues when working on those books?

Gerry Duggan: I always revisit Jack’s work from time to time. The last thing I read was his Hulk. My Hulk was a sad tale about the monster getting what he always wanted, but eventually having to accept that it wouldn’t last. His intelligence and independence from Banner were both going to slip away from his hands. I hope [artist Mark Bagley] and I did Jack proud with our year on HULK. It remains one of my favorite collaborations. The cover to my first issue was by Alex Ross—the first time his art was the cover to one of my stories. I have a picture of it in my office. Alex’s Hulk is Jack’s Hulk. It’s such an amazing and powerful image. Very inspiring.

Marvel.com: You’ve done a lot of work with Deadpool. Obviously, he came along years after Kirby’s last Marvel work, but do you see any lineage between Jack and Wade?

Gerry Duggan: Even if we weren’t Jack’s thing, I’d like to think he would have admired the amount of fun and tragedy we crammed into our run. Jack’s work made you feel something. That’s all we’re going for.

Marvel.com: You’ve written Kirby co-creations like Steve Rogers, Human Torch and plenty of others in team books. How much of the original characterization do you reference in those cases?

Gerry Duggan: Particularly with Cap. However with Torch, I had fun with him trying to navigate his world and deal with the loss of not just Reed and Sue, but also the strained relationship with Ben. Families grow, change, and are pulled apart before sometimes snapping back together. I tried to find moments for Johnny where he asked Cable if Reed and Sue ever return in the future. That felt like something he would be preoccupied with. Jack’s Cap is my Cap. When you meet a Nazi, you beat the stuffing out of him and that would be that.

Stay tuned to Marvel.com for more throughout Kirby Month and beyond! And join the conversation on all of our social channels with the hashtag #Kirby100.