Jack Kirby was crowned King by Stan Lee when Stan gave Jack the Marvel nickname “King.” Did Jack deserve the coronation? Certainly. His creative record is not only unmatched in the comics field, but possibly, idea for idea, unmatched by anyone in any field. Ever. At his peak, in the early to mid 1960’s, Jack was the absolute master of comics storytelling, and had evolved a powerful, wonderful, exciting, magical style that blended just enough solid drawing with just enough abstraction and just enough exaggeration. He changed everything. He influenced countless creators. He awed and entertained millions of readers. His work moved people. King, indeed.
Memorial Day put me in a “Tributes” mood. Here’s another one I came across today, written in 2007, my thoughts on why Jack Kirby was “King.”
I have to tell you a story Vince Colletta told me about Stan Lee meeting Frank Costello. It's in the queue.
It was publisher Victor Fox who used to call himself "King of the Comics."
Fox was only fly by night in the same sense as just about every other comic book publisher. Even a big shot like Harry Donenfeld was something of a shady character. Irwin Donenfeld once mentioned that "Godfather" mobster Frank Costello was his real life Godfather.
In Mark Evanier's book (Kirby: King of Comics), he relates a story told by Jack Kirby concerning a humorous incident in the early days, when some fly-by-night publisher started going around saying, "I'm the king of the comics!", and that for years afterward whenever Kirby and Bill Everett saw each other they would start out, "Hey! It's the king of the comics!" "No, *you're* the king of the comics!"
so i like to think kirby is king not because stan proclaimed him so, but that stan proclaimed kirby king because that is what he was
make mine marvel
"His creative record is not only unmatched in the comics field, but possibly, idea for idea, unmatched by anyone in any field. Ever."
Well — except Shakespeare! 🙂
I consider Jack Kirby to be the American comic book creator. I had little interest in Marvel until I read reprints of his Fantastic Four. Over thirty years later, I have reprints or originals of almost all his Marvel stories from the late 50s onward and nearly all of his work for DC and other companies from the 70s onward. Have you seen Alan Moore's tribute to him in Supreme?
"It ain't the physical stuff that's important. It don't last, you know what I'm saying? What's important is the idea of a thing. See, all we are is ideas … The ideas we have, the ideas other people have about us, the ideas we have about ourselves … what else is a personality? And the thing about ideas over bodies is ideas don't die, and all we are is ideas! … Having a body, that's what limits a creator! See, it's like brushes, pens, human hands … it all slows you down!"
Kirby's ideas will last, no matter what the $uper Villains do.
Some say Stan Lee denied Kirby credit. I say Lee doesn't get enough credit for crediting others. While Kirby was rightfully crowned as "King," you, Cary Bates, Curt Swan, Al Plastino, and so many other DC creators were uncredited except for occasional references in small print in letter columns. Credits were part of the Marvel revolution. Lee made creators into characters. Literally in Fantastic Four #10 guest-starring Lee and Kirby, one of the first FF issues I ever read. Kirby returned the favor 15 years later in What If? #11, published during your first year as EIC.
It would take a team like Lee, Kirby, and Ditko to salvage DC. I wonder what Lee and Ditko think of DC's announcement.