Jacob Kurtzberg, known to the world as Jack “The King” Kirby, was the unappreciated artistic genius and innovator. I hold him in the same regard as the equally legendary Osamu Tezuka, kamisama no manga (god of comics)/godfather of anime/Japanese Walt Disney. Both men revolutionized their respective fields, inspired and continue to inspire many generations.
Joe Simon and Jack created Captain America (the first Avenger) and the Cap Parody, Fighting American. Kirby created Nick Fury, the Mighty Thor, Iron Man, Black Panther, the X-Men, the Incredible Hulk, the Fantastic Four, and the Avengers with Stanley Lieber, known to the world as Smiling Stan Lee. OMAC, Silver Surf, Kamandi, The Last Boy On Earth, X-51, the Eternals, Devil Dinosaur, Etrigan the Demon, Challengers Of The Unknown, Kobra, and the entire Fourth World mythology were his solo creations. The King was responsible for the character design of Thundarr the Barbarian and Goldie Gold & Action Jack.
As a wee lad, I was captivated by his level of detail and imagination. Now that I am in my 30’s, I continue to appreciate his work and be perpetually in awe of how his work showed that he wasn’t afraid to dream big. I am delighted to see the Kurtzberg Legacy live on through books Godland by Joe Casey, Tom Scioli and the epic yet short-lived Jersey Gods by Glen Brunswick and Dan McDaid, and Kirby Genesis by Kurt Busiek, Alex Ross And Jackson Herbert.
Below is Mark Waid and the late Mike Wieringo’s tribute to Jack during their Fantastic Four.
Here are some examples of the King’s work.
Here are some examples of the work inspired by him.
Jack’s cameo on the Incredible Hulk
Here is one Kirby Documentary