For a long I have been happy to let folks know that I was born the very same day that Martin Luther King gave his “I have a dream” speech: August 28th 1963.
Jack Kirby was born Jacob Kurtzberg on August 28, 1917 and passed away February 6, 1994.
Kirby drew comic books from the 1930s to the 1990s. He really defined the look of 1960s Marvel comics, creating the visuals of the Fantastic Four, the Hulk, Captain America, Silver Surfer, Thor, the Avengers, and many many more. He went on to create all kinds of wilder and more stylized stuff – from New Gods, Kamandi, Machine Man and plenty more.
His style became the house style for Marvel – and continues to influence lots of comic artists today, including Mike Mignola (I briefly alluded to Mignola working in a Kirby-inspired tradition here) and many many others. Some of his later stuff can get a bit wacky. He doesn’t draw the most realistic anatomy (which Art Spiegleman might say wouldn’t be needed for comics – better simpler more refined images in service of the overall narrative.) His fingers are often downright blocky… but his sense for composition, for flow, for energy, and for near-manic action is, well, unparalleled. Nearly any comic artist working in America today owes a debt to Kirby.
And, as a visual artist who’s influenced by comics, I am in his debt, too.