Sunday, August 28, 2016

Kirby changed everything


Today is the late great Jack Kirby's birthday. I didn't get his artwork as a kid; it was too old school, I thought. Then I grew up and gained some perspective: it's some of the most dynamic, propulsive art I've ever encountered. There was modern art before Kirby and then after Kirby, with his influence felt everywhere. He was Pop Art before the movement had a name--Roy Lichtenstein's work was clearly an homage. Our modern pop culture is built on a foundation he laid with Stan Lee: the characters and worlds on display at your local theater in recent years originated with his pencil. Star Wars features a plot that's curiously reminiscent of Kirby's magnum opus, the Fourth World saga. His unused concept art for an aborted sci-fi film was used in Operation Argo, the CIA rescue mission to save American hostages in Iran. He brought the fight for commercial artists' rights to the forefront.

I jokingly refer to my nuclear family as the Fantastic Four. I couldn't do that without Jack Kirby and our popular culture landscape would look entirely different had he not forever altered its scope and trajectory. He helped artists everywhere realize the limitless possibilities of putting pen to paper. Also, he looked and seemed a bit like my dad--hard working, honest, with a strong sense of fairness--which was always a nice added bonus for me.

Happy birthday to the King.

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