In his new biography, Kirby: King of Comics, TV and comics writer Mark Evanier details the life and career of noted comic artist Jack Kirby.
Kirby is the co-creator (with Stan Lee) of the Marvel Comics characters the Fantastic Four, the Incredible Hulk and X-Men. He’s also credited with changing the look of the comics in the 1940s, moving away from visuals that aped what was being done in syndicated newspaper strips.
Evanier got to know Kirby when, as a young man recently out of high school, he took a job working as Kirby’s assistant. Since that time Evanier has written for several cartoon series, including Scooby Doo, ABC Weekend Special, CBS Storybreak and Superman: The Animated Series.
Evanier’s memories of Jack Kirby are recounted in his book Kirby: King of Comics.
An excerpt below:
Jack Kirby didn’t invent the comic book. It just seems that way. It’s 1939 and he’s still a few years from establishing himself as one of the most important, brilliant innovators of an emerging form. He isn’t even Jack Kirby yet. He’s Jacob Kurtzberg, from the Kurtzberg family on Suffolk Street in not the best part of New York. At age twenty-one he’s trying to do the most important thing he believes a man can do: provide for his family, bring home a paycheck. Nothing else matters if you don’t manage that.
Much of the work in comics is done in “shops”—cramped quarters where artists toil at rows of drawing tables. The money isn’t good, but it’s good for a young man whose neighborhood has yet to see evidence that the Great Depression is ending. It at least beats selling newspapers or several other alternatives he’s tried.
To promote his book, Evanier talked to NPR in their Fresh Air program.