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Jack Kirby August 28, 1917 – February 6, 1994), born Jacob Kurtzberg, was an American comic book artist, writer, and editor widely regarded as one of the medium's major innovators and one of its most prolific and influential creators.
- I never do fairy tale people, I do people just as they are.
- Superheroes may be superhuman in stature but inside they’re human beings and they act and react as human beings. It doesn’t matter whether you’re doing legendary characters like Hercules or modern characters, you’ll find that humans are humans and they’ll react the same way in certain situations.
- “1993: Jack Kirby: The Hardest Working Man in Comics by Steve Pastis”, Happening Magazine, (1993) by Steve Pastin; as quoted by Rand Hoppe, The Kirby Effect The Journal of the Jack Kirby Museum & Research Center, (28 April 2018).
- The romance genre was all around us. There was love story pulps, and there was love story sections in the newspapers. There was love stories in the movies. Wherever you went there was love stories! That’s how we got our new material, and it suddenly struck me that that’s what we haven’t done. We haven’t done any romance stories!
- No, we didn’t do horror in the sense of haunted houses or people with masks the way you might see them today; something lurking in an anteroom. Our stories were more like peasants sitting around a fire. We had the “Strange World of Your Dreams”. Ours didn’t run to bloody horror. Ours ran to weirdness. We began to interpret dreams. Remember, Joe and I were wholesome characters. We weren’t guys that were bent on the weird and the bizarre. We were the kind of guys who wouldn’t offend our mother, who wouldn’t offend anyone in your family, and certainly not the reader. So we knew that we had to depart from adventure and that there were other ways to go and we came up with the “Strange World of Your Dreams”.
- "Jack Kirby Interview by Gary Groth", (May 23, 2011).
- I was a young man. I was still growing out of the East Side. The only real politics I knew was that if a guy liked Hitler, I’d beat the stuffing out of him and that would be it.
- I knew this much — that everybody voted Democrat down my way. If you were poor, you voted Democrat and if you were rich you voted Republican.
- Oh, communism! That was a burning issue. It was an outrageous issue. To be termed a communist would damage your whole family, damage your whole world — your friends wouldn’t talk to you. I’m talking about other people — because I wouldn’t go near the stuff. Sure, I was against the reds. I became a witch hunter. My enemies were the commies — I called them commies. In fact, Granny Goodness was a commie, Doubleheader was a commie.
- Anything radical was dangerous to me, as it was to the average American. Nobody knew where a thing like that would lead and we were always afraid of chaos. So communism became the doorway to chaos, and the doorway to chaos was the doorway to evil. Your family might be hurt. Your friends might be hurt. You didn’t want to see a thing like that.
- I enjoyed working on any story. I’m essentially a storyteller. You name the subject, and I’ll give a good story on it.
- TCJ Archive, "Jack Kirby Interview", The Comics Journal, (May 23, 2011).
- I always enjoyed doing monster books. Monster books gave me the opportunity to draw things out of the ordinary. Monster books were a challenge — what kind of monster would fascinate people? I couldn’t draw anything that was too outlandish or too horrible. I never did that. What I did draw was something intriguing. There was something about this monster that you could live with. If you saw him you wouldn’t faint dead away. There was nothing disgusting in his demeanor. There was nothing about him that repelled you. My monsters were lovable monsters. [Laughter.] I gave them names — some were evil and some were good. They made sales, and that’s always been my prime object in comics. I had to make sales in order to keep myself working. And so I put all the ingredients in that would pull in sales. It’s always been that way.
- To make the [reader] happy was not my objective, but to make the [reader] say, “Yeah, that’s what would happen” — that was my objective. I knew the [reader] was never happy all the time. You take the Thing, he’d knock out 50 guys at a time and win — then maybe he’d sit down and kind of reflect on it: “Maybe I hurt somebody or maybe we could have done it some other way” like a human being would think, not like a monster. In other books the guy would knock out the gangs and that would be the end of it. You would see the guys in jail, and that’s it. Or it would say, “Wait until next week.”
- The artist is the lowest form of life on the rung of the ladder. The publishers are usually businessmen who deal with businessmen. They deal with promotional people. They deal with financial people. They deal with accountants. They deal with people who work on higher levels. They deal with tax people, but have absolutely no interest in artists, in individual artists, especially very young artists.
- "Jack Kirby Interview", Gary Groth, The Comics Journal, #134, February 1990, posted May 23, 2011.
- If somebody wants to kill you, they make you a scout.
- Before setting off for duty, the auteur cranked out an increased flow of comics, stating that he wanted “to get enough work backlogged that I could go into the Army, kill Hitler, and get back before the readers missed us."
- There were mostly women and some men; they looked like they hadn’t eaten for I don’t know how long. They were scrawny. Their clothes were all tattered and dirty. The Germans didn’t give a shit for anything. They just left the place; just like leaving a dog behind to starve. I was standing there for a long time just watching thinking to myself, ‘What do I do?’ Just thinking about it makes my stomach turn. All I could say was, ‘Oh, God.’
- …I don’t think there was one state that wasn’t represented there. The experience helped me appreciate the variety of the country, in the people, the language, and culture. It is incredible to think that we are as diverse as we are and how we have held together as one culture. Really, it is the one clear fact of this country that makes it unique to the world.
- As qtd in Mark Peters, "8 Ways Comic Book Legend Jack Kirby Fought Fascism", Paste Magazine, (February 16, 2017).
About Jack Kirby
- Jack Kirby’s massive contributions to comics are common knowledge. His influential pulp-epic motifs. The revolutionary dynamism of his art. But here I’d like to talk about a more specific set of “King” Kirby’s innovations—his use of “minority” protagonists. Whether stressing the multi-ethnic makeup of America or revising racist preconceptions of Africa, Kirby’s work challenged comics’ unremarked upon WASPiness and white supremacy in quiet and not-so-quiet ways.
- Saladin Ahmed, "Saladin’s Sundrarium: Four of Jack Kirby’s Most Ethnically Adventurous Creations", Tor, (Oct 12, 2011).
- Jack didn’t have the resources or the stomach lining to fight Marvel over copyrights, character ownership or past contractual sleights that he believed he suffered.
- Mark Evanier, "Jack Kirby, the abandoned hero of Marvel's grand Hollywood adventure, and his family's quest", Los Angeles Times, (September 25, 2009).
- Unlike other comic book creators who were given either stateside or way-behind-lines assignments, and perhaps because Kirby understood Yiddish, the Jewish German dialect spoken by his family, he was sent as a scout behind enemy lines to draw maps. He endured and survived many harrowing violent experiences during his service, almost losing his feet to trench foot. He had no time for fascists or racists.
- Randolph Hoppe, as qtd in Arturo Garcia, "Would Captain America’s Co-Creator Punch Nazis?", Snopes, (24 January 2017).
- His real dream was to make movies.
- Roz Kirby, "Jack Kirby Interview", The Comics Journal, (May 23, 2011).
- My favorite thing about Kirby’s artwork was his storytelling. He was really a film director doing comics.
- Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, the abandoned hero of Marvel’s grand Hollywood adventure, and his family’s quest, Los Angeles Times, (September 25, 2009).
- I can’t get over this guy. He creates 100 villains at a sitting and then kills off half of them. Any one of these villains I can make a million off of.
- Stan Lee, “1993: Jack Kirby: The Hardest Working Man in Comics by Steve Pastis”, Happening Magazine, (1993) by Steve Pastin; as quoted by Rand Hoppe, The Kirby Effect The Journal of the Jack Kirby Museum & Research Center, (28 April 2018).
- Jack Kirby—co-creator of the Marvel Universe and big chunks of DC’s—remains one of the most influential writer/artists in the history of comics. Many of Kirby’s works involve the fight against fascism, embodied in characters such as Doctor Doom and the Red Skull. This wasn’t just an imaginary battle for Kirby, who killed Nazis in World War II and was ready to throw down with any fascists he encountered stateside.
Many people have fought for freedom in the military; many others have done it through art. Few have waged the war for freedom on two fronts quite like Kirby.
- …Jack took a call. A voice on the other end said, ‘There are three of us down here in the lobby. We want to see the guy who does this disgusting comic book and show him what real Nazis would do to his Captain America’. To the horror of others in the office, Kirby rolled up his sleeves and headed downstairs. The callers, however, were gone by the time he arrived.
- Mark Peters, "8 Ways Comic Book Legend Jack Kirby Fought Fascism", Paste Magazine, (February 16, 2017).
- There was power in the work of Jack Kirby that changed the way I looked at things. There was no one else like him and there never will be.
- Guillermo del Toro, Jack Kirby, the abandoned hero of Marvel’s grand Hollywood adventure, and his family’s quest, Los Angeles Times, (September 25, 2009).