August 28th this year would have been the 100th birthday of Jacob Kurtzberg, better known to the masses as Jack “King” Kirby.
The tragedy is that he was not better known to the aformentioned masses in his actual lifetime. Thankfully, while the King of Comics may be gone, we still have Mark Evanier. Having assisted Kirby from 1969 on, Evanier offers a unique perspective on the comic book legend. We get to see that perspective in Kirby: King of Comics.
Originally released in 2004, the publisher is releasing a new anniversary edition, and it’s worth every penny. The 2017 softcover edition has an addendum about the court case regarding Kirby’s rights to the classic characters he created/co-created at Marvel. I won’t spoil it, but it’s a fitting end.
The book itself is well-written. It’s not an examination of the tortured psyche of a comic creator. Nope. Instead it’s a charting of the life and career of one of the modern superhero comic book’s founding fathers. A man whose characters and tropes are still used to this day. Evanier’s long personal relationship with Kirby give the book of a hint of emotional warmth that it needs. In fact, I challenge the hardest of hearts to read the tale of how Kirby died and not get choked up. From the historical angle, there was very little I did not already know on some level. However, the presentation was enjoyable and the companion art (including an autobiographical Kirby project I had not ever seen) are awesome.
If you want your children to appreciate the geek landscape, make sure they read Kirby:King of Comics. It wouldn’t kill you to crack it open too.
Note: I was provided with a free review copy of Kirby: King of Comics for review purposes.