The Kirby Birthday Post

By | Tuesday, August 28, 2007 Leave a Comment
Today is Jack Kirby's 90th birthday! (As I'm sure you've seen elsewhere on the web before you came stumbling across this page.)

To celebrate, we're going to take a look at...
I know, you're thinking that I'm being absurdly morbid for a day that's supposed to celebrate Jack's life, but I have a reason for looking at his grave. Bear with me.

Jack was an incredibly powerful person for the comic book medium. He was easily decades ahead of his time for most of his life. His creative resources were seemingly limitless, and he could take almost anything and make it a powerful, dramatic story without any effort. Guys from Will Eisner to Frank Miller are no slouches either, to be sure, but I think they had to think about what they were doing. At least to some degree. For Jack, it just flowed out of him. All the time. This boundless energy that is Life unfettered by the tedium of reality that gets in the way for the rest of us. I think I heard Whoopi Goldberg once note that drama is just life without the boring bits, and that's exactly how Jack thought all the time.

Drawing and telling stories were as natural to Jack as breathing is to you or I. It's sounds trite, and to a degree the metaphor itself is, but I don't think I've ever heard anyone over-state Jack's abilities. Some people might dismiss his illustration style, or quirky, faux-hip dialogue, but his work still radiates power like no other artist I've seen. And that he did it without any evident struggle -- that he could create whole pages of storylines and throw them aside without a second thought because he didn't like the direction the story was headed... Well, the man had talent to say the least.

And Jack worked incessantly. He was drawing comics in the late 1930s, he invented an entirely new comic book genre in the 1940s, he reinvented comic storytelling on the whole in the 1960s, he was at the center of comic creators' rights issues in the 1980s... Oh, yeah, and he created hundreds, if not thousands, of enduring characters and memorable stories. A lot of his legacy stems from the fact that he was just incredibly prolific.

Here's the thing, though.

There's none of that on his gravestone:
Jack Kirby
Beloved Husband, Father, and Grandfather
An Inspiration To All

He was a family man first. Jack's identity -- how he thought of himself -- was as the head of the Kirby clan. That he drew comic books nearly every day was simply a way to provide for his family. Jack Kirby was a husband, father and grandfather and I can guarantee you that Roz, Susan, Neal, Barbara and Lisa all thought of him not as a comic book genius, but as a loving member of their family.

That line about being an inspiration? That has nothing to do with the X-Men or the New Gods or Sky Masters or Kamandi or the Newsboy Legion or anything like that. It's about being a stand-up guy for your family and working to be the best husband/father/grandfather you can be.

And it's excellent advice worth heading. Me? I think I've spent too much time focusing on the four-color stories Jack helped make interesting and/or the people who put those stories together. I need to take this message to heart and really try to be the best husband I can be.

Thanks, Jack.
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