Monday, August 2, 2010

The King

Jack "The King" Kirby has been a long time hero of mine, from the time I first came across a pile of Marvel Comics with their covers torn off in the cafeteria at elementary school to the present. There's a thinly veiled tribute to Kirby in Manny Tippitoes in the character of Lou "The Lord" Kaplan, who is referred to several times as a comic strip artist in the 1930s and comic book creator in the 40s and 60s. A few years ago I picked up a copy of The Collected Jack Kirby Collector, No. 1, a compendium of articles from a fanzine. The book has a series of interviews and panel discussions with Kirby. I came across one quotation from an interview printed in the program of the 1975 Comic Art Convention. Kirby was discussing how his creative partner Joe Simon, along with other artists like C.C. Beck and Will Eisner, had left the medium for commercial art in the 1950s.
"I suppose I'm considered some sort of dinosaur in the field, but I'm sticking with comics. I feel it's an important and powerful medium. I feel its been belaboured by people who have an axe to grind - it's been down and it should be lifted to a point where it really proves its national importance. This is a visual age and comic books are a visual medium. Not only can the intellectuals grasp it but also the common man. And, despite what a lot of people may say, it's the common men who make history."

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