Jack Kirby Centenary

On 6th February 1994, the world lost a titan of the illustrative arts. Had he lived, Jack ‘King’ Kirby would have been 100 today.

Jack Kirby's Fantastic Four
Our Art Director celebrates Kirby day with a tribute picture of the Fantastic Four.

Early training in the Pratt Institute (1 week) was followed by work under Max Fleischer, Will Eisner and Jerry Iger, and drawing Blue Beetle for Victor Fox. Always honing his artistic skills, Jack also wrote comic strips and was responsible for creating many of the great comic characters that still entertain readers today.

Teaming up with Joe Simon, he created Captain America for Timely Comics, home of the Human Torch and the Sub-Mariner. Moving to DC, they created the Newsboy Legion and the Boy Commandos.

After time away from writing and drawing as they served in World War 2, Simon and Kirby returned to the comics world and invented popular romance comics in the form of Young Romance and Young Love. However, the anticomic movement of the 1950s made the field increasingly difficult to work in and Simon and Kirby went their separate ways.

For a time Jack made his living drawing newspaper strips with a brief stint at DC drawing Challengers of the Unknown, which he had created earlier with Joe Simon. However, the fifties ended with Jack Kirby back at Timely drawing romance, western and monster comics.

Timely was renamed Marvel and, teaming up with Stan Lee, Jack entered into the sixties superhero revival. They created the Fantastic Four in 1961 and went from strength to strength. Pulling in other legends such as Steve Ditko, Larry Leiber, Bill Everett, Gene Colan, Roy Thomas and John Buscema, they created or developed all of the characters that we are now familiar with in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

In tribute to Jack Kirby, the godfather of all of us comic artists and illustrators everywhere, our art director is posting his version of the Fantastic Four.

You can learn a lot more about Jack Kirby at the Kirby Museum or in today’s National.

Happy Kirby Day. Happy Kirby Centenary.