What have YOU done to celebrate the King’s 100th Birthday?

by John Holbo on August 29, 2017

Jack Kirby was born on August 28, 1917.

I celebrated his birthday by rereading a bunch of old Jack Kirby comics.

Jack Kirby is so great and so ridiculous. It’s hard to say to what degree he’s great because he’s ridiculous. He isn’t great just because he’s ridiculous. But he’s definitely ridiculous. And great. It’s hard to sort out how he broke all the rules like that.

All Hail Kirby!




Bill Benzon 08.29.17 at 5:37 pm

And Charlie Parker was born to-freaki’-day, August 29, 1920. Another king.


xaaronx 08.29.17 at 6:50 pm

I’ll have to belatedly go through some of his stuff tonight. Hail King Kirby!


Belle Waring 08.29.17 at 11:36 pm

WHY WAS THE GOOGLE DOODLE NOT KIRBY KRACKLE ALL OVER THE PAGE??!? [channels inner Jonah Goldberg, noted complainer about the failure of google doodles to reflect his desires.]


Alan White 08.29.17 at 11:47 pm

To this day when I stretch my hand out to make a point, I put it into the fused-four-spread-thumb that I saw in countless Kirby drawings when I was a kid. Thanks for this. I’ll pull out a few of my old FFs this evening. . .


Doug O'Keefe 08.30.17 at 2:48 am

The new IDW “Artist’s Edition” reproduction of the original art for four issues of Jack’s classic Fantastic Four run (and a bunch of covers and isolated pages) is a wonder to behold. Pricey but awesome! Some guy shows it to you here:


John Holbo 08.30.17 at 5:09 am

Jeet Heer has a nice piece up at the New Republic.


Doug, that is one crazy huge book! It’s funny, I used to have some of the superheavy hardcover omnibuses of FF and X-Men, and my girls – when they were small – almost couldn’t lift them. I sold those. Didn’t have enough room on my shelves when we downsized apartments. Now we are upsizing (slightly) again but I’m not foolish enough to go for anything so huge! I’ll just buy a few free weights if that’s what I want. But it looks amazing. Kirby is better in black and white, so long as the print quality is good like that.

Alan, that’s great! There’s an old Kirby quote that at the moment I can only source to a gizmodo thread (but I’m sure I saw it originally somewhere else): Kirby was asked about stealing and borrowing and he said “If you like those hands, steal those hands,” i.e. if you want to draw like someone and they have some distinctive stylistic tic (like how they draw hands) then steal it. No shame! So he would not mind what you have done. You stole his hands!


John Holbo 08.30.17 at 5:23 am

One of the most amazing facts that Heer mentions – I knew this, but I hadn’t thought about it for a while – is that for a while in the 60’s Kirby was banging out 100 pages a month. That’s crazy. We who tend to write more than we draw may not think 100 pages a month sounds like SO much. But drawing-wise it means you are just going and going. So that ought to be figured in as a root of his style – of his genius as well as an explanation for why it’s so ridiculous. It’s like watching a brilliant improv performance. 100 pages a month is the drawing equivalent of improv. Whatever you do is it!


Alan White 08.30.17 at 2:31 pm

Like it or lump it–John inspired this (hope the line formatting survives):

Rereading Fantastic Four # 6 on Jack Kirby’s Centennial
(8/28/2017–for John Holbo)

Oh sure, I’d flipped through the issue
several times over the years, but more to check
for small folded ears that might affect its value
than anything else. I’d not actually read the thing
enclosed in its sealed bag since the 60s when I
laid down my 12 cents for it in the eager
fever of that month-long wait for the next issue,
after my two-mile walk down the highway
to the grocery that sold them.
But today I saw it would have been Kirby’s
100th, just a year younger than my mom would have been
had they lived and exchanged pleasantries
about the war, the vast chasm between Stan Lee’s
New York and her Tennessee job at the casket factory
when #6 was published, and such.
I reread every word now, over 50 years after
I read every word then, occasionally aware
of the soft must of the pages that must
have been just the smell of fresh ink then.
How corny was it for Dr. Doom, just one issue
from his origin, to declare to Prince Namor–
the Submariner (from WW2 Marvels–I didn’t know that then)
–that they needed to join forces to defeat the FF and
thus conquer the world, in words using
“fools” “puny” and so many other turns of phrase
that even I at 9 knew were melodramatic
even if I didn’t know what that meant.
But tonight I could almost anticipate each next
panel, visually sometimes, but mostly
in my most inner self, recalling by prompt that Susan
Storm had ferreted away a photo of the Prince
that her brother discovered and “flame-on!”
Human Torched before her, while the Prince himself
declared to Doom that he would help defeat
the FF but not hurt “the girl”.
So of course Doom played Namor and
tried to destroy him and the FF
together with a double-cross,
but Namor ended up saving the day
and Susan too, leaving her and Reed
to stretch things out eventually to marriage
over many issues after I stopped reading,
but only after this messy stuff of her secret lust
for Namor, and his for her, and it was that, that,
that tonight struck what had stuck
with me panel after panel in my own life.


John Holbo 08.30.17 at 2:43 pm

Excellent, Alan! Thank you kindly!


anon/portly 08.31.17 at 7:07 pm


kidneystones 09.01.17 at 2:03 am

On the subject of comics – the latest Charlie Hebdo cover is giving the right fits:


I’m not convinced the editors are taking aim at the right alone.

Some great OPs and comments this week. Many thanks to all.

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