Thursday, February 06, 2014

Jack Kirby

The “KING” of Comics

Hi Folks,

It’s twenty years today that I received the phone call at the Defiant Offices asking if I could let Jim and the gang know that he had just received news that Jack Kirby had just passed away.

That phrase had such a deep impact on me at that moment in time that it felt as though I had lost someone I knew really well. I had never met the man himself and had hoped that during my time working in the USA I would get the chance to meet him.

He had been due to come to one of the UKCAC comic conventions in the early nineties, but due to ill health had to give back word. So I figured my time in New York may enable me to say thanks finally in person for his influencing my career choice with his wonderful work.

It wasn’t to be and telling Janet and Joe and the other folks in the offices on that fateful Sunday afternoon was not nice to do at all.

The office went into shutdown mode – our muse had gone.

Having bought “The Art of Jack Kirby” book by Bill Wyman, during my first big stint in New York and seeing some of his artwork for sale in the comic shops for around $45 to $95 per page I had figured on buying at least one page to take back home with to hang framed in my studio upon my eventual return home to England.

The day following his passing the same pages where on sale for a minimum $2,500 – so now even his original artwork was out of reach.

There isn’t a single day when some aspect of his writing and art doesn’t touch someone on this planet – his work is certainly still studied on an almost daily basis here in my studio.

I find it really sad that Marvel Comics have never sought to set things right with their multi-billion dollar empire with Jack, in the first instance when he was alive and since then with his family following his death. But the myth of Jack being just another artist hired purely to draw the ideas of Stan Lee continue to perpetuate throughout the world’s perception of this misinformed myth. Even Stan Lee in his interviews still adheres to this made up myth. It would seem that contracts signed offering millions of dollars to continue the lies can overcome someone’s need to admit that Jack played a far bigger part in the turnaround of Marvel Comics.

Stan was and continues to be a great front man and his flowery, melodramatic, over-the-top dialogue helped to entrench Marvel’s position in the grand scheme of things, but he didn’t invent it all.

Thankfully the boycott of Marvel’s products, including their films and the boycotting of work from them is a true endorsement of this awful miscarriage of justice – albeit in a small way.

I had hoped that somewhere in the midst of the ensuing 20 years since his death, Marvel would have done something unprecedented in their history as a publisher, especially as they are now owned by that “wonderful, family oriented” company Disney. 

Yet, here we are celebrating the single most important visionary of the 20th Century to work in comic books and his sad passing back in 1994 without the “right” thing having been done.

It would be great to think that finally sometime during the next 20 years someone, with a conscience would initiate doing something to make all creators of comics on this planet proud of, but somehow I doubt that corporate suits within the Disney/Marvel empire are even capable of recognising that what they continue to perpetrate is wrong.

So, with that in mind, I would ask everyone reading today’s Blog to raise a glass high to the sky, To Jack!

Thanks for showing us the endless possibilities of your imagination!!!

I'll leave you this time, folks with a photo of Jack and some of his wonderfully inspiring artwork...

Until next time, have fun!

Tim Perkins…
February 6th 2014


Kid said...

Interesting piece, Tim. At his best, Kirby was indeed a creative titan, but - 'though it would've been nice if he had benefited more than he did, the conditions under which he worked at Marvel were 'work for hire' (whether the actual term existed or not) so I really don't think Jack's heirs are entitled to anything. If dad sells the family jewels for less than they're worth, then it's his fault that his kids go hungry, so to speak. I don't expect you to agree (nor am I trying to hammer you into submission as some people might suggest), but see my post here for further details: (yup, I missed out the 'n' in 'controversy', so it doesn't work with it in).

Tim Perkins said...

I'd never expect everyone to share all my views, mate.
Better we can air and share them with folks, like this though.
At least we both agree he was a "Creative Titan!"
Hope all is well.