Paul Gravett writes about the Jack Kirby exhibit currently underway in Lucerne, Switzerland.
You might wonder why the first city to stage a major fine art retrospective on the whole career of Jack Kirby is Lucerne in Switzerland. Since Kirby died in 1994, there have been several modest exhibits, including a small display I curated in 1994 at the Cartoon Art Trust in London, as well as the Masters of Comic Art show which began in Los Angeles and included Kirby as one of the fifteen creators spotlighted. But it has taken Lucerne to give over an entire three-storey building to the King of Comics.
Of course the idea of an exhibit of Jack Kirby art is enticing enough; but it includes such personal effects as copies of his letters home to wife Roz from the front in WWII:
Dear Hunya, I’m off again. Somehow, I get a great comfort in writing to you. There are times when the distance between us make itself felt – so I just dash me off another letter to you to dispel said feeling. Thought I’d add a cartoon this time to give it a twist. Got me another box of cigars to last me when we get to “X”. – ditto a box of Hersheys. Was father confessor to a harried medic who had to get some bitching off his chest. Left him enlightened, somewhat calmer but his problem like some problems was laid in the lap of time which is the only other substitute for John J. Anthony. However, my problem is returning to you – which, with a little effort and luck, I can accomplish. Love you, Jackson.
Hopefully some American institution will see fit to honor a native son with an exhibit as fitting.
Heidi MacDonald is the founder and editor in chief of The Beat. In the past, she worked for Disney, DC Comics, Fox and Publishers Weekly. She can be heard regularly on the More To Come Podcast. She likes coffee, cats and noble struggle.