The Never-Ending Influence of King Kirby
Celebrate the week of Jack Kirby's 101st birthday with a look at how Marvel creators see his influences today.
This week, we're celebrating Jack Kirby's birthday by honoring the memory and legacy of one of the most influential creators in all of comic books and Marvel Comics. To celebrate, we're looking back at King Kirby's countless contributions to Marvel history all week here on Marvel.com.
Jack Kirby's influence will reverberate across the Marvel Universe forever.
A defining pillar of the formative years of Marvel Comics, Kirby's work will serve as a touchstone of creativity, vision, and imagination for as long as the magnificent Marvel Multiverse exists.
Here are a few Marvel creators with their thoughts on the King's everlasting impact.
"There is just something so alien and yet so accessible about his work. It draws you in because you’ve never seen anything like it before, and yet it feels like it’s something you’ve always wanted. The human aspect: the family, the outsiders, the angry rebel, the lost soul—all of these archetypal characters felt familiar. You saw a piece of yourself in Johnny Storm, Jean Grey, T’Challa or even Norrin Radd, Victor Von Doom, or Harvey Elder. But then that piece of you was whisked away to worlds beyond your wildest imagination. It’s mind blowing for me now to look at Kirby’s work and try to process it. I can’t even imagine what it was like at the time.
"I think every comic creator working today is still trying to catch up to Jack Kirby's imagination."
"Jack Kirby's art is timeless not only because of his unparalleled skill, but because of the empathy he expressed for the characters and worlds he created. You didn't just see the characters he brought to life, you felt them. They resonate. And he pushed and stretched the medium in ways only he could, building an epic foundation for Marvel comics that endures to this day. Whenever I need inspiration, I look through the metric tonnage of work he gifted us and I'm always left blown away and invigorated. He will forever be the King."
"I’ve always been conscious of the importance of developing my own unique style, but it’s almost impossible to keep out the Jack Kirby DNA which runs through there. I’d have to say the “Kirby Krackle” defining energy is something I always love tapping into. Beyond that, there’s endless inspiration from studying his layouts, expressiveness and overall power of his work.
"Ultimately what really made Jack Kirby tick and the miracle of his achievements will always be one of the great mysteries. So grateful to have his influence in the overall foundation of the comic book biz, and a never-ending source of inspiration."
"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."
"Jack Kirby opened the Marvel Comics Universe doorway [for me] back in the early 70s; Marvel comics were published 10 years later in Spain so in some ways I belong culturally to the first fan generation. I was there from the beginning. Not exactly the very first day but very close.
"I was hooked on Kirby and Marvel at first sight; I never saw anything like that, never saw such a display of power and strength, and the way he depicted a world bigger than life, never. I was a comic fan before this; Jean Giraud, Uderzo, or Carlos Giménez were my idols when I was a kid and Kirby gained a top position in my personal mythology from the very first minute."
"Kirby comics always felt to me like they were barely held in check by the edge of the page: dynamic, chunky graphic shapes that wanted to break free of their panels and smash you in the face. Big, bold, and never standing still.
"I remember reading the original run of ETERNALS and being amazed at the power and scope of it. Jack wasn’t holding back and, even as a kid, I could tell that this was world-shaking stuff, an operatic cosmic whirlwind."
"The lesson I think I learned from Kirby could be boiled down to “go big or go home.” His stories are dynamic and bold and exciting. More than anything, Kirby was an 'imaginer' and I don’t ever want to forget how important that is to comics. He brought his all to every page he worked on.
"I’m always trying to recapture that wonderful feeling of reading those Kirby classics."
"I discovered Kirby’s work before knowing it was actually Kirby’s... I must have been 10 years old. I was already an avid comic book reader without giving much mind to where or from whom they came from. An issue of the FANTASTIC FOUR fell into my hands. It was the one in which The Thing ends up as the pirate Blackbeard, which I later learned was [Stan] Lee and Kirby’s FANTASTIC FOUR #5. I knew nothing; who those guys were, where they came from, what the hell was going on. I only knew it looked different; brash and energetic and fun and dramatic.
"I never went back to my old comic books. I kept looking for that energy when I scanned through a new one, before buying. Kirby became the measure bar for every comic book I bought, without me really knowing his name."
"I thought I’d enjoy comics less once I became a full time artist but if anything it makes you enjoy and appreciate them even more and looking back at Kirby you realize just how amazing he is."
Read more of the King's most memorable Marvel works on Marvel Unlimited, and stay tuned through the rest of the week as we celebrate his incredible legacy. You can also learn more about Jack Kirby through the Jack Kirby 100 celebration.
Keep the spirit of Jack Kirby alive by visiting the nonprofit foundation named in his honor: Kirby4Heroes! Visit the Kirby4Heroes website here for more info.
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