This year, on August the twenty-eighth, comic legend Jack Kirby would have celebrated his one-hundredth birthday. For family and friends, not a day passes that they don’t think of the icon, to whom he was not Jack Kirby or Mr. Kirby, but simply Jack. To Mark Evanier, long-time friend and Jack Kirby historian, these conventions are very important to him, as he himself admits. “I can see Jack Kirby everywhere.”
Other than it being Jack Kirby’s centennial birthday celebration, there are other important going-ons that warranted a nearly full stage of people at this year’s Jack Kirby Tribute panel at San Diego Comic-Con. What began as only Mark Evanier, Mike Royer, Paul Levitz, Jim Chadwick, and Paul S. Levine, slowly grew over the span of the hour as others like Arlen Schumer, Jack Kraft, and even Jack Kirby’s grand-daughter Jillian Kirby were called forward by Mark.
At this year’s D23, the Disney equivalent of Comic-Con, the Disney corporation had chosen to help change comic history. “Disney made Jack Kirby a Disney legend,” said Evanier. Jack’s son was there to accept the honor on behalf of his late-father. This was an important distinction for the Kirby estate, as this acknowledged his co-creatorship of many Marvel characters. For Jack’s family and friends, it was the culmination of years of stress due to a lengthy lawsuit. “I wish I could say that Marvel would have put his name on all those characters out of morality and decency,” said Evanier. The lawsuit was argued for roughly thirty-years on Kirby’s behalf. It had gotten so heated that a representative of Marvel would come to Jack Kirby’s like this one and record everything that Mark Evanier would say. “But now, all those feelings are in the past,” added Evanier.
Controversies and lawsuits laid to rest, this leaves more room for energies to be directed into Kirby related endeavors. Barry Geller, who wrote the screen play that was then called “Lord of Light” and that Jack Kriby had done the art for, was there to announce that his script and Kirby’s art had just been inducted into the “International Spy Museum” in Washington DC. The script was the one purchased by the government in 1979 to aid in the Iranian “ARGO” mission. You might have seen the 2012 movie by Ben Affleck. Jack Kirby’s art was also the very same that was used to convince Iranian officials of the film crew’s authenticity.
As for Kiry projects, Tom Kraft of the “Jack Kirby Museum” said some special Jack Kirby prints were in the works. Jillian Kirby talked about her “Kirby 4 Heroes” campaign which raises money for comic book creators in need. Arlen Schumer announced he was giving Jack Kirby lectures in New Work. These are only the tip of the iceberg in terms of upcoming Jack Kirby related news.
Certainly, this centennial celebration will help to spread the memory of Jack Kirby to a new generation of comic fans. A year filled with recognition and progress, it is befitting of the man that helped to forever influence the comic book industry.
Nicholas Eskey is an avid reader and writer. When not contributing to The Beat, he works on his personal projects, the latest being a fantasy novel called “My Personable Demon.” He lives in San Diego, California, and is frequently bossed around by his cat.