Wednesday, December 25, 2013

500th Post

This is my 500th post
Thank you all who read my post and followed my blog. For this massive occasion, I will talk about one of the first comic book creators that got me into comics: Jack Kirby.
Early Life
Jacob and his parents
Born August 28, 1917, he was given the name Jacob Kurtzberg. At first, his life seemed no different than other teens during that era: fighting in the street, wasting time at the movies and so on. However, he began to draw on every piece of paper he could find and watch movies (which fueled his interest in storytelling). His schooling was not very good. Because he lacked a teacher, he learned about comic book storytelling techniques from Alex Raymond's comic strip Flash Gordon. Jacob's evolved an exaggerated style designed to look interesting on a comic page, rather than a realistic one. He enrolled at the Pratt Institute, but dropped out due to his family's financial problems.

Finding Work
Created by "Teddy"
Kurtzberg attempted to find jobs related to his set of skills. After seemingly endless failure, he got a job as an "in-betweener" for Max Fleischer. For the unaware, an in-betweener is an artist that creates the frames of animation in between the extremes (the frames with the most extreme actions). However, he jumped ship to avoid a possible labor strike. He worked for Lincoln Newspaper Syndicate doing various strips and gags.

Fox Feature Syndicate 
An example of his work
Jacob finally managed to work on superheroes. Unfortunately, he worked for Fox Feature Syndicate, which was owned by Victor Fox, who was notorious for under paying his employees. He worked on such projects as Blue Bolt and Lone Rider. At Fox he met Joe Simon, who convinced Jack to do additional freelance work with other comics . Eventually, Jack Kirby quit Fox.

Timely Comics
The Cap's first appearance
Joe Simon and Jacob Kurtzberg were hired to work for Timely Comics Company. At the time they joined Timely, the only star characters they had were the Sub-Mariner and the Human Torch. The duo attempted to create a new star, which began a series of failures; Comet Pierce, Red Raven, Hurricane, Tuk the Cave-Boy and Mercury. Then in the late 30's they created the still-famous Captain America. During this time, he took the pseudonym Jack Kirby. Due to practices of the day, they saw very little profit and left.

DC Comics
This seems ill-advised.
DC Comics kept Kirby and Simon busy. Their works were characterized by their humor and plot twists. The audience loved Jack's characterizations and backgrounds. They worked on such things as Sandman, Manhunter (both altered copies of previous strips), The Newsboy Legion and Boy Commandos.

The War and Pre-Atlas
One of his monster comics
Kirby and Simon were drafted for service in World War II. Jack Kirby was in the Fifth Division, Third Army. His superior was General Patton. Jack was an infantryman. However, he was forced to leave due to frostbite.
In 1945, he and Joe worked for Harvey Comics Company on Boy Explorers and Stuntman. They later worked for Hillman Publications, then Crestwood Publications and later Foxhole. He did such works such as Young Romance, Boy Explorers and Police Trap. Due to upheavals in the comic book industry, Kirby had trouble finding work. He did several newspaper strips. After working for DC (and creating the Challengers of the Unknown), he went back Atlas Comics (formerly called "Timely Comics").

Marvel Renaissance 
Kirby, his creations and Spider-Man during this era
At Atlas Comics (which would be renamed "Marvel Comics" later on), he did monster, love and western comics. By 1961, superheroes were regaining popularity. Stan Lee was told by Martin Goodman to make a superhero comic, and had Jack Kirby help with the title: the Fantastic Four. This ushered in a "Marvel Renaissance". Stan Lee developed the Marvel-style of writing (which has both artist and writer work on the story). With Stan Lee, Jack created Doctor Doom, the Incredible Hulk, Ant Man, Thor, Iron Man, Nick Fury, the Avengers, the X-Men and Silver Surfer. When his workload cut down, the quality of the work improved. Unhappy with Marvel for various reasons, including the emphasis of Stan Lee as creator, Jack left Marvel Comics in 1970.

DC Comics... Again
One of the Fourth World Saga's main titles
Jack Kirby jumped ship to DC Comics. He took over Jimmy Olsen. He revamped the Newsboy Legion. He created the Fourth World Saga (which would be influential to the DC Universe), O.M.A.C., Kamandi, a new Sandman, the Demon and other works. In 1975, he returned to Marvel.

Final Years
One of his final works
Back at Marvel, he worked on Captain America, a Silver Surfer graphic novel and Black Panther. He created new characters such Devil Dinosaur, the Eternals and Machine Man. However in 1978, he left. He worked on various animated shows (such as doing character design for several episodes for Thundarr the Barbarian) and various independent comics (such as Silver Star, Captain Victory and Destroyer Duck). He managed to come up with a conclusion to the Fourth Wall Saga. In 1987, he retired. He died in Feb. 6, 1994 leaving behind numerous fans.
Kirby: King of Comics by Mark Evanier

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