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Kirby: King of Comics

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Jack Kirby created or co-created some of comic books’ most popular characters including Captain America, The X-Men, The Hulk, The Fantastic Four, The Mighty Thor, Darkseid, and The New Gods. More significantly, he created much of the visual language for fantasy and adventure comics. There were comics before Kirby, but for the most part their page layout, graphics, and visu Jack Kirby created or co-created some of comic books’ most popular characters including Captain America, The X-Men, The Hulk, The Fantastic Four, The Mighty Thor, Darkseid, and The New Gods. More significantly, he created much of the visual language for fantasy and adventure comics. There were comics before Kirby, but for the most part their page layout, graphics, and visual dynamic aped what was being done in syndicated newspaper strips. Almost everything that was different about comic books began in the forties on the drawing table of Jack Kirby. This is his story by one who knew him well—the authorized celebration of the one and only “King of Comics” and his groundbreaking work. “I don’t think it’s any accident that . . . the entire Marvel universe and the entire DC universe are all pinned or rooted on Kirby’s concepts.” —Michael Chabon


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Jack Kirby created or co-created some of comic books’ most popular characters including Captain America, The X-Men, The Hulk, The Fantastic Four, The Mighty Thor, Darkseid, and The New Gods. More significantly, he created much of the visual language for fantasy and adventure comics. There were comics before Kirby, but for the most part their page layout, graphics, and visu Jack Kirby created or co-created some of comic books’ most popular characters including Captain America, The X-Men, The Hulk, The Fantastic Four, The Mighty Thor, Darkseid, and The New Gods. More significantly, he created much of the visual language for fantasy and adventure comics. There were comics before Kirby, but for the most part their page layout, graphics, and visual dynamic aped what was being done in syndicated newspaper strips. Almost everything that was different about comic books began in the forties on the drawing table of Jack Kirby. This is his story by one who knew him well—the authorized celebration of the one and only “King of Comics” and his groundbreaking work. “I don’t think it’s any accident that . . . the entire Marvel universe and the entire DC universe are all pinned or rooted on Kirby’s concepts.” —Michael Chabon

30 review for Kirby: King of Comics

  1. 4 out of 5

    Bryan

    As today would have been the 100th birthday of Jack Kirby, I decided to pull this down and finally read it after listening to some other remembrances across the web. I don't know if Jack Kirby made a decisive impact on my life, or if he simply contributed to a direction I was already taking, but there is no doubt that his creations fired my imagination at an early age, sometimes to the point of obsession. This biography by Mark Evanier is not hagiographic, but sometimes it gets close. There was As today would have been the 100th birthday of Jack Kirby, I decided to pull this down and finally read it after listening to some other remembrances across the web. I don't know if Jack Kirby made a decisive impact on my life, or if he simply contributed to a direction I was already taking, but there is no doubt that his creations fired my imagination at an early age, sometimes to the point of obsession. This biography by Mark Evanier is not hagiographic, but sometimes it gets close. There was a lot of information about Kirby's early career that I was unfamiliar with, and I think it rounded out the broad strokes of his life pretty well. The text is pretty short--I read it over the space of an hour or two--the rest of the book is taken up with examples from Kirby's art, often full page reproductions of covers, sometimes even two pages or more pages of interior art. That's definitely the high point of the book. The biographical detail dwells on the poor deal Kirby got with most of his creations--it's obvious that Evanier wanted to drive home this point, though he does admit that sometimes it was Kirby's own choices that led up to it. There's no doubt that that is a large part of Kirby's story, though I would have liked to have read more about his creative process, if that information is to be had. It's hard for me to believe that a book like this could really convert anyone new to Kirby into a fan--Kirby never was like a Wally Wood or an Alex Raymond, where the beauty of the artwork is so instinctively pleasing. With Kirby, I think one needs to be immersed in a story to get the full effect, to be fully swept away by his wacky energy and incongrous mixture of sobriety and fantasy. But the book was a perfect reminder of just how impressive his work was for me, and a fun trip through my memories.

  2. 4 out of 5

    kkurtz

    to say that I am 'currently reading' this book is a bit of a misnomer. 'continually reading' is a more appropriate term. my history with Jack Kirby goes back to my earliest childhood memories in the early '70s. Back then every comic on the stand seemed to be drawn & co-created by Jack Kirby. (Kamandi alone was enough of a spark to fuel in me a lifelong obsession with dystopian fiction & films) The fantastical stories & artwork in all of his creations were (& are) something to beh to say that I am 'currently reading' this book is a bit of a misnomer. 'continually reading' is a more appropriate term. my history with Jack Kirby goes back to my earliest childhood memories in the early '70s. Back then every comic on the stand seemed to be drawn & co-created by Jack Kirby. (Kamandi alone was enough of a spark to fuel in me a lifelong obsession with dystopian fiction & films) The fantastical stories & artwork in all of his creations were (& are) something to behold. He was a major influence on the business then & remains one today. this book collects all the major & minor works & reproduces them brilliantly. I find myself returning to these pages often & reliving the joyful enthusiasm in the stories & artwork that I had as a wee tyke when I first discovered them.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Diz

    This is an amazing book that delves into the life of the King of Comics, Jack Kirby. The strength of this book is that you really come to know Jack Kirby to the point where he's as big as the characters he created. Kirby's personality comes alive in the stories that are told here. When the book gets to Kirby's death, it was an emotional experience for me, which is a sign that the author was successful in transmitting his love for Kirby to the readers. As an added bonus, there are many This is an amazing book that delves into the life of the King of Comics, Jack Kirby. The strength of this book is that you really come to know Jack Kirby to the point where he's as big as the characters he created. Kirby's personality comes alive in the stories that are told here. When the book gets to Kirby's death, it was an emotional experience for me, which is a sign that the author was successful in transmitting his love for Kirby to the readers. As an added bonus, there are many examples of Kirby's production art on display here. Many of the pieces receive a full color page, so you can see the art in all its glory. If you are a comics fan, then this book is a must-read.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Josephus FromPlacitas

    I find this biography intensely depressing. Kirby created a million different characters, stories, and titles for a jillion different comics companies, yet he never enjoyed anything resembling basic financial security for himself and his family. Not until near the end of his life did he even get health insurance and that was only once he had quit comics and was working as a TV producer for a branch of animation giant Hannah-Barbera. It's yet one more argument against ever having kids if y I find this biography intensely depressing. Kirby created a million different characters, stories, and titles for a jillion different comics companies, yet he never enjoyed anything resembling basic financial security for himself and his family. Not until near the end of his life did he even get health insurance and that was only once he had quit comics and was working as a TV producer for a branch of animation giant Hannah-Barbera. It's yet one more argument against ever having kids if you want to have some level of career freedom. The image of Kirby, the former tenement slum youth, slaving for ripoff bosses and editors without serious complaint, reminds me a lot of the bit on the KRS-One album I Got Next where he goes off on "thinking poor" and "thinking rich." Stan Lee certainly doesn't come away smelling very rosy in this version of events: repeatedly taking credit where Kirby may likely have been the progenitor, fussing unnecessarily with decent scripts, driving Kirby to distraction, etc. Evanier goes pretty soft on him, taking a "who can know what really happened?" attitude towards the conflicts over the years. Sometimes I almost wanted a more critical eye on Evanier's part, but he's purely a hagiographer. Text-wise, this was a pretty short book; I think I've read longer New Yorker articles. --these kinds of books (incomplete big teases of comics) --politics? K's view of children/chidhood? And Jack Kirby's real name? Jacob Kurtzberg. I guess my Jewdar is completely broken, because it never registered a reading whenever I looked at Kirby comics. Fave quote, from page 215: At a comic art festival sponsored by Los Angeles public library, "The head librarian turned to the man next to her, who happened to be Kirby, and asked him if he thought comics mirrored reality. Jack said, 'No, comics transcend reality.' "The answer startled the librarian, and she said, 'If you were to mirror reality, then perhaps others could begin to understand it.' "Jack popped a piece of cheddar into his mouth and fixed her with a stare he'd learned either on the streets of New York or on Omaha Beach during World War II. 'Madam,' he said, 'when you mirror reality, you see it all backward. When you start transcending it, that's when you have a real good shot a figuring out what's going on.'" I'm finding more and more that my heroes -- Emma Goldman, the Amazin' Amy Goodman (I think she took her first week-long vacation in a decade last week), W.E.B. DuBois (10,000 articles published in the course of a lifetime), Kirby who in the early 1960s drew over a 1,000 detailed pages and almost 100 comic covers a year -- were insanely talented people with tons of ideas who worked extremely hard and tirelessly produced a huge amount of great work. Which is a problem, because I'm a lazy sack of shit who writes reviews on GoodReads while at work whenever I'm not watching YouTube videos. The people I idolize were or are brilliant, irrepressible workaholics, loaded with thoughts that they had to get out of their heads. The inside of my head is like a desert wasteland swirling with siroccos of dust and nothingness, while my creative output is somewhere between zero and less than zero. And my work ethic is scandalous.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Rick

    From the age of 17 to his death in 1994, at the age of 76, artist Jack Kirby devoted his life to creating an influential pop-culture iconography for the 20th century. His many accomplishments included creating or co-creating Captain America, the Fantastic Four, the X-Men, the Hulk, and the romance comic. His concepts fuel the backgrounds for both the Marvel and DC comic-book universes. Kirby's works permeate nearly every fantastical creation of the last 40 years, from prose novels to the biggest Holl From the age of 17 to his death in 1994, at the age of 76, artist Jack Kirby devoted his life to creating an influential pop-culture iconography for the 20th century. His many accomplishments included creating or co-creating Captain America, the Fantastic Four, the X-Men, the Hulk, and the romance comic. His concepts fuel the backgrounds for both the Marvel and DC comic-book universes. Kirby's works permeate nearly every fantastical creation of the last 40 years, from prose novels to the biggest Hollywood blockbuster. Unlike other contemporary visionaries such as Will Eisner, who in Evanier's heartfelt biography-homage credits Kirby with saving the comics industry many times over – "He was like the cavalry with a pencil" – Kirby failed to comprehend the legal and promotional facets of the business. He rarely owned his own work and spent a good portion of his career in what was often self-perceived as financially desperate straits. Publishers took advantage of his naivete time and time again. This situation propelled Kirby to prodigious artistic feats. Famous for taking on seemingly impossible assignments, Kirby routinely produced amazing 12-page stories in one day. (Most artists draw just one page a day.) Regardless of the time limitations, he always produced powerful, emotionally evocative work, often the finest comic-book accomplishments of his era. As aptly demonstrated in this visually intense book, Kirby's fame was based on far more than speed or output. He introduced dynamism into visual storytelling, literally creating a new storytelling language using larger than life, yet anatomically realistic, characters, who leapt off the pages at the reader. Whether you love or hate the visuals, Kirby's work was never boring. By telling a linear story lavishly infused with Kirby's art, Evanier successfully evokes the proper mystique and respect for this creative giant while revealing his human side. Since his death, a handful of books has attempted to showcase or grant insight into Jack Kirby, but none has succeeded quite like Kirby: King of Comics, the perfect tribute to both the artist and the man. This review originally appeared in The Austin Chronicle, April 4, 2008.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Parka

    (More pictures at parkablogs.com) Jack Kirby, King of Comics. It's a prestigious title certainly befitting for someone who created or co-created some of the most popular comic characters like Captain America, The X-Men, Fantastic Four and many others whose stories are still running in the comics today. This book is the biography of Jack Kirby's career in comics, written by Mark Evanier who had worked as his assistant in 1969. Kirby learned his draw (More pictures at parkablogs.com) Jack Kirby, King of Comics. It's a prestigious title certainly befitting for someone who created or co-created some of the most popular comic characters like Captain America, The X-Men, Fantastic Four and many others whose stories are still running in the comics today. This book is the biography of Jack Kirby's career in comics, written by Mark Evanier who had worked as his assistant in 1969. Kirby learned his drawings from newspaper comic strips and movies, doodling incessantly whenever possible. Kirby started poor and was constantly worried about his family's finance. Dropped out of school at 12th grade, he tried to get a job selling his art. Times were really tough, which makes us appreciate his work even more after reading. The book details his career, from drawing newspaper comic strips, moving on to work with Will Eisner, then Joe Simon, Marvel, DC and other people. Along the way, he created lots of great characters but unfortunately didn't translate to good money for him. Sometimes he would have nightmares of running out of money to support his family. The story of his struggle is very humbling. Included are many illustrations collected by the author from the many fans. This includes personal sketches, photos and comics, some drawn under different names. All these from a talented hardworking man who puts in 60-hour weeks. Kirby's story is one of dedication and passion. This book is highly recommended to all fans of his work.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Tom

    A loving tribute to Jack Kirby, the most talented and prolific artist in comic history (my opinion, but shared by others). The book gives Kirby's story from childhood, in rough and tumble neighborhoods of New York, through the war years and lean years, right up to his death in the 90s, when he finally was getting the accolades he deserved. The book focuses on the lack of compensation and (more importantly) lack of recognition that Kirby suffered, particularly in the creation of the Marvel empire A loving tribute to Jack Kirby, the most talented and prolific artist in comic history (my opinion, but shared by others). The book gives Kirby's story from childhood, in rough and tumble neighborhoods of New York, through the war years and lean years, right up to his death in the 90s, when he finally was getting the accolades he deserved. The book focuses on the lack of compensation and (more importantly) lack of recognition that Kirby suffered, particularly in the creation of the Marvel empire. But that was only part of the Kirby story. So much emphasis on it, unfortunately, paints Kirby as a bit of a sad, martyred figure. Only Stan Lee and Jack Kirby probably know the truth of what went on during the early Marvel years. Lots of stories have been told about who invented what and whether Stan improperly took credit for Jack's work. I expect though that it basically came down to a personalities. In one corner, you've got Stan Lee - bombastic, charismatic, loud, assertive, everyone's pal, focused on the story through WORDS. In the other corner, Jack Kirby - gruff, irritable, constantly worried about bringing home a paycheck, glued to his art board day and night, focused on the story through ART. To simplify even further, who is a reporter sent to Marvel going to get the story from? An extrovert story-teller (Lee) or an introvert artist (Kirby)? The art in this book is fantastic. I would've liked another couple hundred pages of full page Kirby reproductions.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Tobin Elliott

    When I first started reading comics, somewhere around 1972, Kirby was the first artist that stood out for me. I could pick his art out from the crowd. His characters, while not anywhere near anatomically correct or particularly nuanced, pretty much exploded off the page. That impressed the 10-year-old me. As I got older, I found other artists to love: John Buscema, Neal Adams, Dave Cockrum, John Byrne. But you can only have one first love, and for me, that was Jack Kirby. T When I first started reading comics, somewhere around 1972, Kirby was the first artist that stood out for me. I could pick his art out from the crowd. His characters, while not anywhere near anatomically correct or particularly nuanced, pretty much exploded off the page. That impressed the 10-year-old me. As I got older, I found other artists to love: John Buscema, Neal Adams, Dave Cockrum, John Byrne. But you can only have one first love, and for me, that was Jack Kirby. This book serves as a great introduction to Kirby. I would have liked to see a bit more analysis of his work, what made his panels explode, how he influenced others, but as a primer, it doesn't get much better than this. I didn't find this book as biased as a few other reviewers have stated. Of course the entire "who created / who wrote most of those early Marvel superhero stories?" question comes up a couple of times, but the author is pretty good at staying fairly neutral while presenting the opposing views. And with the (finally) recent settlement between Marvel and the Kirby Estate, it's nice to see him getting his due from the company that he set on the path to greatness. So go back and read how he helped do it.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Nick

    Jack Kirby is truly the king of comics. His work defines the genre: his stories, layouts, and visual style are the benchmarks for the entire industry. Along with Stan Lee, Kirby was responsible for building the Marvel juggernaut during the 60's, co-creating such stars as Spiderman, Iron Man, the Incredible Hulk, the Fantastic Four, Thor, the Silver Surfer, and many others. Kirby came to Marvel already one of the most successful artists of his generation, co-created Captain America and many other Jack Kirby is truly the king of comics. His work defines the genre: his stories, layouts, and visual style are the benchmarks for the entire industry. Along with Stan Lee, Kirby was responsible for building the Marvel juggernaut during the 60's, co-creating such stars as Spiderman, Iron Man, the Incredible Hulk, the Fantastic Four, Thor, the Silver Surfer, and many others. Kirby came to Marvel already one of the most successful artists of his generation, co-created Captain America and many other successful characters in the 1950's. A couple of thoughts about this book, which is essentially a coffee table book: 1.) Kirby's art is not nearly as polished as some of the artists that were popular in my day (McFarlane, Quesada, Silvestri, Lee) but has a level of detail and physical tension that surpass any of those guys. Kirby's character's are tensed for action, and seem to jump off the page. What really separates him from the rest tho is the volume of the work he produced. Kirby didnt just draw the comics he is famous for, he also started hundreds of other stories that we're not as successful. 2.) Seeing all of the drawings in this book gave me a real respect for the inking process in comics, which is when the lines and shadow are drawn in after the pencil drawings but before the color is laid down. Kirby's drawings are fantastic, but they really become dynamic once the ink is added. Some of the most amazing pages in the book come when Kirby is paired with a truly talented inker who understands his work. 3.) Kirby is one of those "never got his respect" guys who rarely benefited financially from the popularity of "his" characters. In the Marvel story there are conflicting reports about who was responsible for characters, Kirby or Stan Lee. Silver Surfer, Spiderman, and the X-Men all fall into this category. In these arguments Lee comes off as obnoxious and overly self promoting. It seems as though no matter who created the characters Lee never compensated Kirby appropriately for bringing them to life on the page. Kirby doesnt fare much better however. He's a gruff, enigmatic workaholic who didnt seem capable of producing a hit without someone like Lee around to harness his genius. In the end its safe to say that the two complemented each other perfectly, and couldnt have reached their individual levels of success without each other. All in all, a fantastic read for comic book fans.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Michael

    A lovingly written book, you can feel Evanier's admiration for Jack on every single page. Which is good on one level, you get a strong sense of Jack as a man and family member. However, it sometimes feels a little fawning (not that I'm personally complaining; I'm a huge Kirby fan). Evanier does a fine job explaining how Kirby was taken advantage of without making it personal or singling out anybody. You can read Stan Lee in a few different ways, and it's probably a very complex truth - he could' A lovingly written book, you can feel Evanier's admiration for Jack on every single page. Which is good on one level, you get a strong sense of Jack as a man and family member. However, it sometimes feels a little fawning (not that I'm personally complaining; I'm a huge Kirby fan). Evanier does a fine job explaining how Kirby was taken advantage of without making it personal or singling out anybody. You can read Stan Lee in a few different ways, and it's probably a very complex truth - he could've done more to help Jack and he enjoyed the spotlight himself, but he didn't have the ultimate say and the money-people weren't going to give their profits to Jack if they didn't have to. The book has TONS of artwork, and the oversize pages show it off nicely. Many pages have been seen before many times, but they're still great pages. Mostly, though, Evanier does a very good job giving the reader a feeling for Jack Kirby, the man, and his determined ethic to provide for his family no matter what. It's very moving, and well worth the time.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Jason

    Easily the prettiest biography I've ever read--Evanier's work includes numerous original drawings and collages by Kirby. The book also feels intimate, and it should considering that Evanier was Kirby's production assistant. Neither bogged down in details nor light in content, the biography does a good job of laying out Kirby's professional life, from his days at Max Fleischer's animation studio in the 30s through his rich contributions to the Golden, Silver, and Bronze Ages of comics and Kirby's Easily the prettiest biography I've ever read--Evanier's work includes numerous original drawings and collages by Kirby. The book also feels intimate, and it should considering that Evanier was Kirby's production assistant. Neither bogged down in details nor light in content, the biography does a good job of laying out Kirby's professional life, from his days at Max Fleischer's animation studio in the 30s through his rich contributions to the Golden, Silver, and Bronze Ages of comics and Kirby's time at Hanna-Barbera. The book does touch on most of Kirby's notorious feuds with major comics publishers, as well as his bitterness over Stan Lee's promotion and celebration at Marvel, but it does not dwell on any of them. Evanier is also fair in acknowledging that Kirby's version of events might not have always been 100% accurate. (However, we all know that the poor man was shafted financially by both Marvel and DC, right?) All in all, a very satisfying book.

  12. 4 out of 5

    M.L.D.

    Poor Jack Kirby--so talented, but so terrible at promoting and negotiating.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Trevor

    Terrific intoduction by Neil Gaiman and some really neat Kirby history. Plus soooo many great panels of art--Kirby was such a master of shading and composition!

  14. 4 out of 5

    Johnny

    Mark Evanier chose the perfect format for writing a biography of Jack Kirby. With the form factor of a coffee-table book or tabloid-sized comic, Kirby: King of Comics is a delightful blend of original sketches, reproduced covers, and reproduced pages. Although I’ve read a lot about the history of comics, there were new anecdotes and insights that I appreciated about both the early days and the latter years of Kirby’s career. There are lots of histories of comics available today, but Evanier Mark Evanier chose the perfect format for writing a biography of Jack Kirby. With the form factor of a coffee-table book or tabloid-sized comic, Kirby: King of Comics is a delightful blend of original sketches, reproduced covers, and reproduced pages. Although I’ve read a lot about the history of comics, there were new anecdotes and insights that I appreciated about both the early days and the latter years of Kirby’s career. There are lots of histories of comics available today, but Evanier’s work solved something of a mystery to me. One reads about the rift between Stan Lee and Jack Kirby and takes in the idea that Jack was resentful of how much credit Stan received compared to Jack. This never fully soaked in to me. As a pre-teen and then, teenager in the days when the Fantastic Four, The Incredible Hulk, The Amazing Spiderman, The Mighty Thor, and Doctor Strange appeared on the stands, I very much remember the names of Lee and Kirby side-by-side. What I didn’t understand was that Martin Goodman and the later corporate overlords of Marvel always believed that Lee alone was the brain trust and that “anyone” could draw stories based on his genius. Since Jack often fleshed out the story seeds he agreed upon with Lee, not only drawing, but also writing dialogue for much of a story, it was understandable why he would have been offended by the lack of credit/respect, as well as disparity in pay between writers and artists. I was amazed to find out how much work Kirby had undertaken based merely on a verbal contract. It suddenly made sense as to why his partnerships with Joe Simon worked out (generally) better than his other deals. Joe understood his value and recognized how he benefited from Jack’s phenomenal work ethic. Also, having been in the magazine business, I could really resonate with the problems with distributors. And, having worked with a large publishing corporation, I felt for Kirby with regard to editorial interference on covers and his brief tenures at DC/National/Warner when corporate wonks tried to force the Kirby style into the house style (I always wondered why I never liked Kirby’s DC books as well as those in the Marvel years.). I also choked up when I read about the way he received no participation in the ancillary products based on characters he created. Kirby: King of Comics doesn’t read like a coffee-table book. The narrative is clear, straightforward, and heart-felt. The text is solid. But let’s be honest, readers wouldn’t be as overwhelmed without the behind the scenes comments on original art, the non-inked comic based on Jack’s newsboy days (entitled Street Code), and contrasting spreads with a penciled or inked version of a comic page on the left and the fully inked and colored version on the right. These are gems and well-chosen by Evanier to visually transmit the period under discussion in the text. Kirby: King of Comics is the kind of book one not only reads from cover-to-cover, but it the kind of book one picks up and flips through every so often—just to remember. Of course, it helps that I have some of the actual comics discussed in the book and flipping through the pages sends me back to them.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Frank

    The best thing about this book is that it gave me a few more details on the Kirby/Lee war that I've only gotten pieces of before. As this is a bio on Kirby, it certainly focused on his side more, though impressively, it wasn't an attack on Stan Lee. Maybe it should have been though. For the most part it was a bland read, that used phrases like "Once again" or "As always" and repeated a general story of Kirby working hard for little reward. There is a story here, but Evanier The best thing about this book is that it gave me a few more details on the Kirby/Lee war that I've only gotten pieces of before. As this is a bio on Kirby, it certainly focused on his side more, though impressively, it wasn't an attack on Stan Lee. Maybe it should have been though. For the most part it was a bland read, that used phrases like "Once again" or "As always" and repeated a general story of Kirby working hard for little reward. There is a story here, but Evanier missed it. Perhaps, because Evanier was too close to Kirby, he--who is usually quite funny--adopted much to somber and reverential a tone. Perhaps even a few specifics would have helped. He paints Kirby as a struggling artist at times, but I generally get a feel for him as a middle-class worker. Not that there isn't room for pathos there, but Evanier was perhaps too gentle with Kirby; even if he did acknowledge his foibles, one needs to see them a little more clearly to really feel you know a man. And that's what this type of book should do, I think, make me feel like I know Kirby, not just have a more detailed timeline of his life. The inclusion of the art from different periods and often times uninked (Kirby rarely inked his own stuff) makes it a great book for artists (I think Harry would like it), but I can't help compare it to the story Spiegleman did on the guy who created Plastic Man. THAT was a great read. This was somewhat informative. And it didn't have to be. Evanier knew Kirby well, and almost appologetically adds the one really "living portrait" of the man right at the end. More of that from friends and family and less general accolades would have been appreciated.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Jared Pechacek

    If you're looking for a really in-depth treatment of Jack Kirby's life and work, this isn't it. Most of the text (and there really isn't much) is focused on Kirby's struggles for recognition and financial security while Marvel and DC insisted on devaluing his achievements. You get some sense of Kirby The Man but very little of anyone else involved, including his wife Roz, whose personality is less developed than Stan Lee's. Since the book is primarily about his relationship to the world of If you're looking for a really in-depth treatment of Jack Kirby's life and work, this isn't it. Most of the text (and there really isn't much) is focused on Kirby's struggles for recognition and financial security while Marvel and DC insisted on devaluing his achievements. You get some sense of Kirby The Man but very little of anyone else involved, including his wife Roz, whose personality is less developed than Stan Lee's. Since the book is primarily about his relationship to the world of comics, I guess that's understandable, I guess, but it's not exactly well-rounded biography. And it does get a little wearying; there's hardly a single break from "and then this person short-changed him", and when there is, it's almost hagiography. To be clear, there probably isn't anyone in the history of comics as deserving of such fawning treatment, but the book becomes one-note after a while. Fortunately, while the text isn't all one could wish, the book also includes page after page of Kirby art. There's a stunning pencil comic about his childhood street gang. There are pages from New Gods and Fantastic Four and Captain America. Covers. Posters. Sketches from his time in World War II. It's a beautifully produced book and I almost wish it was just a coffee table affair, meant for slow admiration, with far fewer words.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Mark Stratton

    As biography, it works better as a sequence of events. Loaded with Kirby art, it’s a coffee table bio, nothing more. There is little sense of who Kirby was, to my eyes after reading this. Helluva artist, but a bit of a cypher as a person. Maybe I expected too much. Extra star for being incredibly well designed and all that gorgeous artwork.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Cormacjosh

    What a trip down memory lane! As a kid I got to see roughly the last 10 years of Jack Kirby’s career as it happened. This book was a delight in the fact that I got to get to know in some small way the man behind the drawings, but it made me miss him something awful. It also made me angry at Marvel for what they did; how they treated him; so it hasn’t renewed an interest in reading comic books, unless I could go to the San Diego comic con or a flea market and dig up old Kirby books from my childh What a trip down memory lane! As a kid I got to see roughly the last 10 years of Jack Kirby’s career as it happened. This book was a delight in the fact that I got to get to know in some small way the man behind the drawings, but it made me miss him something awful. It also made me angry at Marvel for what they did; how they treated him; so it hasn’t renewed an interest in reading comic books, unless I could go to the San Diego comic con or a flea market and dig up old Kirby books from my childhood and before. But, alas, they’re probably very expensive. I’ll bet even Devil Dinosaur carries a hefty price these days!

  19. 5 out of 5

    Sirbriang2

    This coffee table book is a loving tribute to arguably the most important of all comic creators: Jack Kirby. The book is filled with rare art and period photos, and they provide some insight into Jack’s creative process. The book’s biggest strength, though, comes from Mark Evanier’s sympathetic prose. This may not be a definitive history of Jack Kirby (and it is definitely not), but I can’t imagine his story told with more empathy.

  20. 4 out of 5

    James G.

    Coming to a close as bed time reading with my son. And I love that this is our first joint absorption of an art history text. I got it a couple of years ago, hoping for just that. It has been mutually edifying.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Bobby Nash

    A great look back at the life and career of Jack "King" Kirby. A must read for comic book fans.

  22. 5 out of 5

    BigJohn

    Mark Evanier, having worked as one of Jack Kirby's assistants in his youth, has written a wonderful, if not slightly biased, professional biography of Jack Kirby, the King of Comics. It's not as deep as some biographies, and in fact seems to be written for those fans of Kirby who are used to an illustrated telling of a shorter length. There are many, many samples of Kirby's artwork throughout the narrative that give wonderful examples of Kirby's style and achievements. There are even a few gems Mark Evanier, having worked as one of Jack Kirby's assistants in his youth, has written a wonderful, if not slightly biased, professional biography of Jack Kirby, the King of Comics. It's not as deep as some biographies, and in fact seems to be written for those fans of Kirby who are used to an illustrated telling of a shorter length. There are many, many samples of Kirby's artwork throughout the narrative that give wonderful examples of Kirby's style and achievements. There are even a few gems like unpublished covers and extremely rare artwork. The book does seem biased towards Kirby and his estate, and in the middle of me reading this book, news broke about the Kirby estate finally getting a settlement with Marvel comics. The book talks of a long-unresolved dispute between the two, and it's good to discover some kind of closure to what was a particularly painful subject. I remember when Kirby passed in 1994, and I never had the opportunity to meet him, but this book really makes me feel like he would have appreciated meeting a fan. The length of his career and his contributions are offset by his lack of recognition and compensation, and much like Jerry Siegel and Joe Schuster, his biggest successes were soured by the greed of the publisher. This book does a wonderful, fantastic job of showing just what kind of solid, stand-up man Jack Kirby was. I was a fan of the man before, and have even more respect for him after reading more about his life and career. The King is dead. Long live the King.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Paul Dinger

    There are no comics artists like Jack Kirby. There is nothing like a Jack Kirby page. As a youngster, I gasped at his illustrations for the Fantastic Four, Captain America, and Thor, New Gods, Mister Miracle and The Forever People. Though his heroes had square jaws and blocky lines, no one could draw space and all it entailed like him. It is no surprise that the Fantastic Four never sold as well after he left, except when an artist like him named John Bryne took over. Nor was Thor as good. Yet, There are no comics artists like Jack Kirby. There is nothing like a Jack Kirby page. As a youngster, I gasped at his illustrations for the Fantastic Four, Captain America, and Thor, New Gods, Mister Miracle and The Forever People. Though his heroes had square jaws and blocky lines, no one could draw space and all it entailed like him. It is no surprise that the Fantastic Four never sold as well after he left, except when an artist like him named John Bryne took over. Nor was Thor as good. Yet, he always went around and said he created these things, sadly it wasn't true. Stan did have a hand, although not the hand that was always ascribed to him. This is a great book by someone who worked with him, a fan's vision, though not one not to see him as he truly was. This is great testament to a true genius. There is nothing like a Jack Kirby page and sadly there will never be any new ones.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Richard Bennett

    Author Mark Evanier presents the life and works of Jack Kirby, King of the Comics, the man who single-handedly drew and introduced more than 400 characters to pulp magazines over a 50 year period. Mark worked as an assistant to Mr. Kirby, and described his job as being the person who said, "That's a good idea, Mr. Kirby!" Working as closely as he did to the KING, he was able to give a few insights into his workings and personal feelings, such as ... Mr. Kirby would NOT enter the store Author Mark Evanier presents the life and works of Jack Kirby, King of the Comics, the man who single-handedly drew and introduced more than 400 characters to pulp magazines over a 50 year period. Mark worked as an assistant to Mr. Kirby, and described his job as being the person who said, "That's a good idea, Mr. Kirby!" Working as closely as he did to the KING, he was able to give a few insights into his workings and personal feelings, such as ... Mr. Kirby would NOT enter the store "Toys 'R' Us". Why? You'll have to read the book to find out, sorry no spoilers here. Another story involved how Mr. Kirby stood up for then-teenager Mark Evanier, and I could just picture THE KING as one of his drawn creations, like Ben Grimm. The ONLY REASON I rated it this a Fantastic FOUR was because comics is not everybody's cup of tea; but if you're a comic fan (as I was back in the 60's), then owning a history of THE KING is worth it. Make Mine Marvel !

  25. 4 out of 5

    Derek O'Gorman

    I enjoyed reading this book, and learned a few things about Kirby and his career in the process. The art was also inspiring. But that shouldn't be a surprise, when the book is about the art and life of Jack Kirby. I have rated it high because I did enjoy it, but I do think it could have been better. I recently read two volumes of a three volume series on Alex Toth. I can't help thinking that Kirby's career could be fleshed out a lot more than it is in this one book, and that there is so much mor I enjoyed reading this book, and learned a few things about Kirby and his career in the process. The art was also inspiring. But that shouldn't be a surprise, when the book is about the art and life of Jack Kirby. I have rated it high because I did enjoy it, but I do think it could have been better. I recently read two volumes of a three volume series on Alex Toth. I can't help thinking that Kirby's career could be fleshed out a lot more than it is in this one book, and that there is so much more art that could have been included. I also thought that the quality of some of the printing did not seem to be quite as good as some of the similar books I have read. Regardless, I really enjoyed what the book did have to offer, and it was fun to learn some new things about Jack Kirby, and see some of his magical art again. That's still worth the five stars.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Garrett

    Evanier's one of the great historians and archivists of comics, and since his personal association with Kirby precludes strict objectivity, he doesn't even try. And that's okay. It's kind of what you want from this glamour-sized celebration of Kirby's actual work; splash pages and covers and double-page spreads of straight Kirby pencils, no ink or color provided in some cases. Excerpts from things I'd never seen counterpointed by stories I have more or less been reading since the late 1980s. Sor Evanier's one of the great historians and archivists of comics, and since his personal association with Kirby precludes strict objectivity, he doesn't even try. And that's okay. It's kind of what you want from this glamour-sized celebration of Kirby's actual work; splash pages and covers and double-page spreads of straight Kirby pencils, no ink or color provided in some cases. Excerpts from things I'd never seen counterpointed by stories I have more or less been reading since the late 1980s. Sort of a biography, but one with a tinge of melancholy and honest acknowledgement of Kirby's shortcomings in terms of memory, eyesight and patience, and never shying away from make it clear that none of that really matters: this was a titan, a creator with a brain that helped give us a modern mythos, and his work ethic was something out of legend. We have all profited by it.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Wesley Craig Green

    I'm embarrassed to say I wasn't a Kirby fan as a kid in the 70s. I found his art to be borderline horrible. However, I loved his concepts with New Gods and OMAC being my favorites even though I didn't really "get" them. Now that I'm older and wiser, I have found a whole new appreciation of Jack Kirby both as a creator and for what he's done for this medium I love. For any Kirby fan, Kirby: King of Comics is simply a must! The over-sized pages gives us fans the opportunity t I'm embarrassed to say I wasn't a Kirby fan as a kid in the 70s. I found his art to be borderline horrible. However, I loved his concepts with New Gods and OMAC being my favorites even though I didn't really "get" them. Now that I'm older and wiser, I have found a whole new appreciation of Jack Kirby both as a creator and for what he's done for this medium I love. For any Kirby fan, Kirby: King of Comics is simply a must! The over-sized pages gives us fans the opportunity to take in all his cosmic awesomeness in various stages of illustration. You can't help but be inspired especially knowing he did the majority of his creating at a simple, uncomfortable-looking wooden desk and hardback chair.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Cat Springer

    For the true comics fan, this a is terse history of the man who almost single-handedly brought motion and dynamic graphic storytelling to the comics medium. Piled on with lavish illustrations -- as you might expect -- Kirby's singular and often-imitated style is shown as he goes from post-WWII grind-'em-out basics to becoming "King" Kirby, the premiere illustrator of his times. Although I would have preferred more finished art (mostly we're given his unfinished pencils), and the colors in my cop For the true comics fan, this a is terse history of the man who almost single-handedly brought motion and dynamic graphic storytelling to the comics medium. Piled on with lavish illustrations -- as you might expect -- Kirby's singular and often-imitated style is shown as he goes from post-WWII grind-'em-out basics to becoming "King" Kirby, the premiere illustrator of his times. Although I would have preferred more finished art (mostly we're given his unfinished pencils), and the colors in my copy were a bit muted, it's still a treasure of 60s-70s comic book wonder. As Neil Gaiman writes in the introduction: "He took vaudeville and made it opera."

  29. 4 out of 5

    Justin

    Full disclosure: I love Jack Kirby. He is one of the few, true comic book geniuses. He transcended his genre and medium (not that there is anything wrong with comics - I am an avowed comic book nerd) and created true art - and if you don't believe me then read this excellent biography. Well, I say biography but really it is a bit lighter than that I suppose. It is not some warts-and-all, expose on the man, but rather a biography of his working life. It is a quick read, the art/graphic Full disclosure: I love Jack Kirby. He is one of the few, true comic book geniuses. He transcended his genre and medium (not that there is anything wrong with comics - I am an avowed comic book nerd) and created true art - and if you don't believe me then read this excellent biography. Well, I say biography but really it is a bit lighter than that I suppose. It is not some warts-and-all, expose on the man, but rather a biography of his working life. It is a quick read, the art/graphics are stunning and if it doesn't convince you that Kirby was indeed the "King of Comics" (along with Will Eisner - but more about him later) than I don't know what will.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Joe

    Enhanced by rich full-page art reproductions, Kirby: King of Comics is the moving biography of comics' greatest illustrator. Biographer and protege Mark Evanier reconstructs Kirby's hard scrabble rise to fame and his innumerable failed attempts at fair compensation. Much like Superman's creators Siegel and Schuster, Kirby never received royalties on the many characters he drew and created (Captain America, Fantastic Four, Thor, Silver Surfer, Hulk, Nick Fury, Darkseid, Etrigan, etc.) but was jus Enhanced by rich full-page art reproductions, Kirby: King of Comics is the moving biography of comics' greatest illustrator. Biographer and protege Mark Evanier reconstructs Kirby's hard scrabble rise to fame and his innumerable failed attempts at fair compensation. Much like Superman's creators Siegel and Schuster, Kirby never received royalties on the many characters he drew and created (Captain America, Fantastic Four, Thor, Silver Surfer, Hulk, Nick Fury, Darkseid, Etrigan, etc.) but was just getting paid dollars on the page until the end of his career. In shedding light on the intricacies of Kirby's life, Evanier found much to surprise and move even this hardcore comic book geek.

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