Well that’s the short hand version. Basically, back in the 90s, Jim Lee bought two piece of Jack Kirby art. At the time everyone was unaware of the backstory as to how they were created: as told in fictionalized form in the Best-Picture winning film Argo, Kirby had created the concept art for a film version of Roger Zelazny’s Lord of Light which was later used as part of the cover story to smuggle Americans out of Iran during the 1980 hostage crisis.

Got all that?

Lee purchased the art via Barry Gellar, the producer of the Lord of Light film (sorta played by Alan Arkin in the movie) who was selling it to help pay for his kid’s college tuition:

The gambit worked and the six were brought back to the U.S., though the CIA operation that rescued them remained classified for another 17 years. In the meantime, Lee bought his Kirby works at the Sotheby’s auction with no idea of their historical significance. Similarly, Geller didn’t know the true cultural and monetary value of the illustrations when he sold them to help pay for his son’s college tuition (with Kirby’s permission). He wouldn’t find out that they had a relationship to a CIA operation for another seven years, when he saw Mendez on an episode of Errol Morris’ First Person describing the CIA plot and how they ”stole the script from the Lord of Light.”

Lee was also unaware of the art’s significance until he read about it along with everyone else.

Now, however, Lee told THR, “I have four kids going to college,” he said. “It’s time to balance needs and my love for the art.” Lee and his wife Carla Michelle have eight children with one more due this fall, so even when you’re co-publisher of DC Entertainment, that’s a lot of kids to send to school.

So there you go. Jack Kirby Concept Art: sending kids to college for 20 years.

The art is being auctioned off by Heritage today here and here. At this point it’s still pretty affordable given the art’s history. too bad there isn’t a comics museum with a good endowment because these should be in there.

As a footnote to this story, we’ll say again, for the 100th time, imagine if Jack Kirby had had the long fulfilling career as a concept artist that he should have had?




  1. “As a footnote to this story, we’ll say again, for the 100th time, imagine if Jack Kirby had had the long fulfilling career as a concept artist that he should have had?”

    Would that mean that we’d have thirty years of SF movies that look like the stylistic descendents of “Fourth World” instead “The Long Tomorrow”?

  2. Here’s another footnote:

    Science Fiction Land
    “Before STAR WARS, Geller bought the rights to Roger Zelazny’s international best-seller and Hugo Award-winning novel, Lord of Light, and set out to produce the biggest budget sci-fi blockbuster of all time, along with the world’s first science fiction-themed amusement park, Science Fiction Land. ”

    What if Jack Kirby designed Disneyland?

    There’s a Kickstarter-funded documentary.

  3. Jack Kirby Lord of Light/Argo “Planetary Control Room (Interior)” Illustration Original Art (1978).
    Sold for: $23,900.00

    Jack Kirby Lord of Light/Argo “Pavilions of Joy” Illustration Original Art (1978).
    Sold for: $16,730.00

    Both were auctioned today. The auction concludes tomorrow.
    Big auction. DKR (#2 cover, current bid, $400K), Watchmen covers ($38K, a steal!), Alex Ross Wizard cover, Caniff! Capp! Herriman!

  4. I hope Jim Lee’s kids are going to public schools. That will probably only cover a year for one kid (if your lucky) at most private schools.

  5. Are we really to be expected to believe he hasn’t made enough money from the last 25 years in comics to send his kids to college? I call bullshit. Maybe he can start a kickstarter with Spike lee and Zack Braff. How obnoxious to say that abou t the sale.

  6. Jim Lee wants MY help to put HIS kids through college? Wow, I hated his work and now I dislike the person too. And he has four kids who are going to or getting ready to go to college but he has NINE kids total. Maybe someone should tell him what causes that.

  7. Is Angie still alive? They were childhood sweethearts. Only way I can see him remarry is if she died or something. The two were inseparable everytime I saw them. :D As for the 9 kids…..when did these ones show up? I recall the 3….the other 6 are a surprise.

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