Thursday, April 3, 2008

Kirby King of Comics-- Mark Evanier-- Review

Kirby King of Comics by Mark Evanier is a biography of Jack Kirby one of the founding fathers of modern superhero comics. Kirby is known for his dynamic action sequences and strong lines in his drawings. Jack Kirby grew up in a tenement house in Manhattan. In a way, his childhood is similar to another comic great, Will Eisner.

The impression you get of Jack Kirby is a hard working creative artist willing to go the extra mile for his employer. Apparently, he was deeply affected by the depression and always wanted enough to take care of his family. He also at the same time seemed to have very little business sense. To give an example of how hard Kirby worked, he produced between 1962-1964 for Marvel Comics, 3,130 interior pages and 285 covers for comic books. He was known to his editors for saying, "I can do that."

Jack Kirby is credited with creating Captain America with Joe Simon on December 20, 1940. Kirby mainly did the panels and words, but not the coloring of his comics. He is also credited with creating at Marvel, the X-Men, the Fantastic Four, Thor, the Avengers, and the Hulk. While at DC he created the New Gods.

Like many people in the comics business, he got little return for his money until they started returning the original artwork he drew for Marvel and DC which he sold to support his family. He did not get any health benefits until he moved to California and started working in animation.

Kirby was not a particularly independent person. He always worked for someone else. Still, he produced a lot of dynamic art work. This book, Kirby King of Comics is filled with cover art and internal pages. It is quite interesting.

There are pictures of Sergeant Fury and His Howling Commandos which he drew from his war memories as a private in World War II, and numerous other pieces of art. The variety of material in this book is really interesting: Blue Bolt, Young Romance, The New Gods, Rawhide Kid, and an incredible variety of comics are shown here. There is a semi-autobiographical comic book piece on pages 24-33 called Street Cred about getting in fights in the tenements, as well as an interesting collage on P.174 of one of the "New Gods".

This is a wonderful book if you like superheros. It is an oversize coffee table book. The illustrations are the best part about the book. You won't be disappointed.

This is a short interview with Jack Kirby.

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