Jack The King Kirby: Comic Creator By Matthew Rizzuto

Jack The King Kirby and Joe Simon, creators of Captain America.
The legendary and influential comic book artist who co-created the iconic characters and classic superheroes for Marvel Comics, like Captain America, The Fantastic Four, The Incredible Hulk, The Mighty Thor, The Uncanny X-Men, Black Panther, Silver Surfer and truckloads of so many, many more, gave the world so much to be amazed by. His Kirby crackle resounds throughout the comic book story!!! In remembrance of possibly the most inspiring artist ever, I give you Jack Kirby, the man, the myth, the mensch!!!!
That’s Jack The King Kirby: Creator of Greatness!!!!
When I was growing up, I didn’t just read Superman comics and those alone. Nope. I read many, many other great comics from many other great comics companies, with many outstanding characters with great superheroes and fantastic supervillains, destined to take each other on and win.
That’s the kind of style of stunning storytelling that makes Jack Kirby, “THE KING”.
Sure, it’s a title to have, but here’s much to be attributed with that.
The gallant superheroes may be what they desire to be, with outrageous costumes, a stupendous sense of decency, great attitudes and have a streak of good within them that can NEVER be shattered or tarnished.
The nefarious supervillains may be what they claim to be, with fantastic costumes, strange vehicles, bizarre views and firmly believe that evil is hip and cool.
I hate to say it, but it happens.
In the end, it really doesn’t matter because brilliant, epic storytelling will be shared from the masters of the those who know the intricate workings, the rudiments, the craft and the understanding of how to make dreams go further.
That’s the magic that Jack Kirby chose to share with the entire world.
Roz and Jack The King Kirby. Brooklyn, New York. 1945.
The work of Jack The King Kirby helped define the superhero and brought thrilling tales of wonder and adventure to millions throughout the world.
In my humble opinion, if he was still with us, I believe that Jack Kirby would be enormously touched, by the fact that his children have worked so unbelievably hard creating a Smithsonian-sized museum in his honor, to know what his opinion is all of the highly successful Marvel movies and “Captain America” films, to consider what his opinion would be of the Captain America statue that bears he and Joe Simon’s names on the side of it, just to listen to what he’s gotta say about the fact that a beer that now exists named after him, his thoughts on the asinine, horrific comments and claims that silly Stan Lee has made about being the creator of The Marvel Universe and NOT Jack, his opinions and views of the incredibly wonderful cast of characters that he’s chose to create and give the world, where they’ve gone and what characters he might’ve created, if he was given the opportunity and chance to live to be 100 years old.
The mesmerizing comic book artist Jacob Kurtzberg would have been over 100 years old if he would’ve lived today. Known worldwide as Jack The King Kirby, his dynamic visuals and incredible imagination practically invented the look of comics, as we know them today.
At Marvel Comics, he was revolutionizing the image of the superhero and giving birth to legendary characters, Captain America, The Fantastic Four, The Incredible Hulk, Iron Man and more.
Seriously, the list is endless!!!!
At DC Comics, he invented Kamandi, Etrigan The Demon, Darkseid and The Fourth World Saga!!! Kirby’s kid gangs Boy Commandos and The Newsboy Legion and more.
Seriously, the list is endless!!!!
I swear, the vividness of the man overshadows the beauty of his work. I really wish I could have met the guy.
I mean, this as the highest compliment: Kirby was real, just as Jack Kirby himself was with his work and the great stories he shared and the wonderful superheroes he created. It’s good to know people, just like Jack Kirby, could exist on our world like that.
You see, Jack Kirby was an inarguable titan of the comic book industry and quickly became one of the most influential voices in the history of the medium. It didn’t matter if it was westerns, romance, war, horror, sci-fi, humor, superheroes or anything else.
Shockingly enough, Jack The King Kirby could do it all through genre-defining stories and charted a decade-spanning course for graphic fiction as a whole because Kirby was a man who left an indelible mark upon the medium, using his peerless imagination to create some of the greatest stories and characters ever told.
When it comes to Jack The King Kirby, there is no greater contributor to the marvelous medium of comics, other than Will Eisner, Bill Finger, Jim Steranko or Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster. Maybe, I’m wrong, but it’s just my opinion.
Kirby created and co-created many iconic characters and classic superheroes that have become household names: Captain America, Thor, Iron Man, The Incredible Hulk, The Fantastic Four, The X-Men, Silver Surfer, Black Panther, The New Gods, Darkseid and among many, many others.
Kirby’s influence so deeply embedded in the medium. This is the guy who co-created the original Nazi-puncher Captain America in 1941.
In the 1950’s, Kirby and his partner, the stupendous Joe Simon, pioneered the romance comics genre.
Jack Kirby, coming back to Marvel Comics in the late 1950’s is the equivalent of Steve Jobs returning to Apple. Kirby is the greatest artist in the history of comics. He already co-created Captain America, the Boy Commandos, the Challengers of The Unknown and the whole genre of romance comics, just to name a few.
With his return to Marvel, he would go on to co-create the Fantastic Four, Hulk, Silver Surfer, the Black Panther, Thor, the Avengers and The X-Men, to name but a few.
Marvel is the house that Jack built.
Don’t forget that in the 1960’s, along with Stan Lee, Kirby co-created more than half of the characters in The Marvel Universe.
In 1961, Kirby and Stan Lee gave the medium a much-needed shot in the arm with Marvel’s Fantastic Four #1. It was a humongous hit and revolutionized the medium, ushering in a golden age, within The Silver Age, for superhero comics. Soon thereafter, they introduced The Incredible Hulk, The Mighty Thor and reintroduced Captain America.
Stylistically, Kirby practically wrote the book on how to create dynamic comic pages with powerful fight scenes, dramatic character development and outrageous costume design.
If not for Jack The King Kirby, comic books might not have seen the explosive growth in three contiguous decades and over several different genres. Storytelling techniques might have more slowly developed instead of being steroid-infused with the energy that flowed from Kirby’s pen. He propelled this art form forward so quickly, that without Jack The King Kirby, creators might still be looking for the inspiration to create stories with the intensity that he created decades ago.
Kirby’s writing was really indivisible from his art, which as comic fans we say we recognize, but instead we damn with faint praise. There is something so primal with what Jack did that we underestimate it. I was thrilled to share a dais with him.
For a long time, Jack The King Kirby didn’t get his due as co-creator of many Marvel characters that have now found new life on the big screen. Today, I’m proud to say, that has changed.
Jack The King Kirby, enjoying one of his favorite pastimes, a lovely cigar.
To tell the story accurately, on August 28th, 1917, in New York City’s rough-and-tumble Lower East Side, the most visionary and significant artistic innovator of the 20th and so far, the 21st Century was born. Jack Kirby was born Jacob Kurtzberg to Austrian immigrants in Manhattan.
I say that without a hint of hyperbole, exaggeration or even more appallingly, irony, because the boy that Rose and Ben Kurtzberg named Jacob went on to shape modern popular culture and by extension, culture as a whole — more than anyone else you can name.
Speaking of names — he had many. Several, in fact. In addition to the one written on his birth certificate. Some called him Jolly. Some called him The King of Comics. Some shortened that to simply “King”.
Early in his career he experimented with nom de plumes such as Fred Sande, Curt Davis, Jack Curtiss and Ted Grey, among others, but the “handle” by which he is best known is the professional moniker that he stuck with, the one that would adorn all of his monumental works in the decades to come, the one that would eventually be engraved on his tombstone: Jack Kirby.
If you love comics, just like myself, odds are better than good Jack created it: Captain America. The Fantastic Four. The Incredible Hulk. The Mighty Thor. Iron Man. Black Panther. The Avengers. The Uncanny X-Men. The Silver Surfer. The Inhumans. Doctor Doom. Magneto. Nick Fury and S.H.I.E.L.D. Galactus. Darkseid and The New Gods. Kamandi. Etrigan The Demon. The Newsboy Legion. The entire romance comics genre and all this?!
It’s only the tip of the iceberg, folks.
Jack Kirby created classic superheroes and iconic characters as effortlessly as most people concoct excuses. He was literally a non-stop idea generator and his ideas stuck.
The overwhelming majority of them have not only stood the test of time, they’ve gone on to earn billions. What is cynically called “intellectual property” these days?
Most of it came from one man’s intellect.
The damndest part of all, though — he never slowed down. Never stopped. Nope. Not even once. Innovation was in his blood.
He may not have created the comic book, nor the superhero, but he recreated both so many times that they would be unrecognizable today, if not extinct altogether, were it not for him and with each successive project he undertook, he went bigger. Bolder. Choosing to challenging himself to push beyond what he’d done before, and to re-shape not only his readers expectations, but their perceptions.
No less an authority than Grant Morrison has called Jack The King Kirby “The William Blake of The 20th Century”. The comparison is apt. Like Blake, Kirby seemed attuned to something beyond that he was able to translate into the immediately recognizable.
He filtered complex thought-forms into visionary illustrations and stories that were both mythic in scope and human in scale. The universe of the imagination was his playground and he not only went to worlds far beyond our own, he invented them. Time and time again.
You see, Jack The King Kirby re-wrote the rules with explosive force. While his predecessors concentrated on making four-color action smooth-flowing and balletic, he set out to sock you in the jaw.
While they went for something akin to formal grace and even elegance, he went for impact. Art that you’ll always remember is nice, but art that makes you remember how it felt to see it for the first time with each subsequent viewing? That’s something else altogether. That’s, as the kids say today, “next-level shit”.
Look beyond comics for a minute and consider films. Consider that Jack Kirby gave us “The Source” and Orion being Darkseid’s son before George Lucas gave us “The Force” and Luke Skywalker being the progeny of Darth Vader.
Ask yourself if the concept of the “blockbuster” film as we’ve come to know it would exist, if not for Jack The King Kirby.
Jack The King Kirby and Jerry Siegel, the co-creator of Superman, at the San Diego Comic-Con in 1975.
The massive scale, the magnitude, the grandeur of the multi-million-dollar Hollywood production — Kirby did it all on the printed page first.
How about video games? OK. Today’s “POV” and “multi-player/interactive” games all put the action right up “in your face”. Who was the first person to introduce that perspective? To put the consumer right in the middle of the action and “see” things from their vantage point before he put pencil to paper?! You got it!!!
To drag things back to the medium that Kirby not only operated in and excelled at but flat-out owned, there are entire artistic tropes that he devised from whole-cloth and that remain entirely his as surely as the label “King Of Comics” does and always will: “Kirby Krackle”. “Kirby Tech”. “Kirby Collage”. All these are spoken of not only with awe, but with reverence. There’s nothing else like ’em. There never will be.
Lemme add one more innovation to the list that The King never gets enough credit for — “Kirby Dialogue”.
Now, it was singular. It was, appropriately, mythic. It was as unconventional as his art and every bit as effective.
It contained, and communicated, entire universes of meaning. It was magnificent, beyond the word itself, in the strictest dictionary definition of that word.
What could motivate one man to do all this?! To reach for the stars and bring them down to the rest of us day in and day out?! How about love?! Jack The King Kirby was never too proud to admit that he was, at the end of the day, a worker and he took pride in how hard he worked for the best and most noble reason of all:
He was doing it to put food on the table. To provide a better future for his wife, the precious Roz Goldstein Kirby and their four kids. Sure, he wanted to keep us glued to the page, but he did so in order to provide for them. Intentions don’t come any more pure than that.
A self-taught artist, he and the fascinating Joe Simon introduced Captain America. The first issue of 1941’s Captain America – which had the hero famously belting Adolf Hitler in the jaw on the cover – sold out in a matter of days and that was before America’s involvement in World War II.
People have to remember that Jack The King Kirby also served his country in the European Theater in World War II. Those experiences, as well as his hard-scrabble upbringing, frequently made their way on to the pages he wrote and drew and that leads to yet another point I want to make:
For much-larger-than-life modern mythology, the entire Kirby canon is, in all ways and at all times, a highly personal one.
There’s more than virtuoso artistry and dynamic scripting in every Jack The King Kirby comic, there’s a hell of a lot of heart and soul. His breathless work speaks to us all on a core level in a way no other comic book creator has ever been able to duplicate and trust me when I say, they’ve all tried.
In the coming years, we’ll be hearing more about Jack Kirby than ever. The power of his imagination, having been tapped by the Marvel/Disney bean-counters and suits for well over a decade at the box office, is about to bear lucrative financial fruit for DC/Warner, as well — Darkseid and the rest of The Fourth World characters, especially within their animation, television programs and films.
Residuals, which hopefully his heirs won’t have to fight tooth-and-nail for as they spent decades doing with the so-called “House of Ideas” should be enough to help guarantee them all a lovely and comfortable retirement.
Yup, even several years after his passing at the age of 76, The King is still providing for his family and something tells me that if he’s looking down on this world, that fact makes him proudest of all.
As for everything else going on down here on the mortal plane? Kirby saw it coming. Streaming entertainment, consumerist gluttony, pointless war, clashes of ideals, global communication, even political power — all predicted, often with uncanny accuracy, in the pages of his books.
Hey, The King was a product of his times, without question, but he was also and always, a few steps ahead of them.
That depressingly-overused “genius” label that now gets applied to anyone who writes a half-decent novel or makes a watchable film? It’s actually too small in this instance.
At the end of the day, the legacy of this great man is destined to continue on, for as long as there are ideals to aspire to and children and grown-ups to dream.
For all the turmoil Kirby foresaw in the times ahead, his work always retained an essential and irreducible optimism — a belief that the human spirit would not only endure, but triumph.
If you were to ask me to name a more aspirational and inspirational, artist, I couldn’t do it, but Jack did a lot more than hope for the best from us — he was the best of us.
Kirby inspired millions of people to dream and his work continues to keep those dreams alive.
My existence wouldn’t be anywhere near as rich, as rewarding, as joyous without comics and they each, in their own way, show me the way forward every day. I’m extremely proud to admit that the genius of Jack The King Kirby chose to contribute to that.
One could argue that only these remarkable, extraordinary individuals, for sure.
Any normal human can pick up any random issue of New Gods. Or Captain America. Or Kamandi. Or Machine Man. Or Black Panther. Or Silver Star. Or Challengers of The Unknown. Or Mister Miracle. Or OMAC. Or The Sandman. Or The Forever People. Captain Victory and The Galactic Rangers and I realize and I know that, cliched as it may be to say, “He will always be The King”.
The origin of Kirby’s battles with Marvel Comics go all the way back to his collaborations with Stan Lee, who, as part of the “Marvel Method” assigned plot summaries to artists, left while they plotted and penciled the comic, and then wrote dialogue over their work.
This was a method born partially of necessity: The overworked Lee wasn’t just Marvel’s primary writer, he was also the main editor with a stable of books to get out.
As a result, though, Kirby was often the driving influence behind many of the stories they worked on. In one oft cited example, Lee told Kirby simply: “Have The Fantastic Four fight God”. Kirby came back with a fully plotted saga of Galactus The World Eater and The Silver Surfer, characters who went on to become major figures in the Marvel Universe.
As their comics grew incredibly popular, Kirby began to push for recognition for his role in plotting stories and creating characters. He made little headway. Stan Lee aimed for the sky.
Lee’s legacy at Marvel is immortal, but so too is the debate and controversy over what that legacy specifically is. In some quarters in comics and especially to devotees of Kirby, Stan Lee is a supervillain–a man who stole credit and corresponding fortunes, from the people who truly shaped Marvel creatively in the 1960’s, relegating them to also-ran obscurity.
Jack The King Kirby, sitting, enjoying himself and creating greatness, as usual!!!
Aspects of that critique, uncomfortably, have merit. Lee had a maestro’s instincts for what we now call branding, and it cast a shadow long enough to keep his Marvel collaborators in darkness.
In press interviews, his endless public appearances, and his own writing, Lee portrayed himself as the driver of the Marvel Universe, rendering artists like Kirby and Spider-Man co-creator Steve Ditko as afterthoughts.
For all his self-deprecation, when press accounts focused on Lee exclusively, he rarely saw fit to correct the record. Accordingly, the movies always credit “Stan Lee And _.” It was never “_ And Stan Lee,” nor “_ With Stan Lee.”
Stan Lee did not build his career simply by stealing the work of others. He was a tremendous creative force in his own right. He pioneered the concept that all these various iconic superheroes and classic characters coexisted in the same shared ersatz-United States, the Marvel Universe and could interact when circumstances and sales called for it.
Initially, they populated a simulacrum of New York City, not Metropolis, Central City or Gotham City. That grounding provided both a verisimilitude previously unknown in the superhero medium and a wondrous sense that as Spider-Man swung through the canyons of Manhattan skyscrapers, he risked a mid-air collision with The Human Torch or The Mighty Thor, off on their own adventures.
Few would care about that, however, were it not for another crucial creative innovation attributable to Lee. Through his dialogue and characterization, Lee made Marvel’s characters emotionally accessible.
Marvel’s hero teams were squabbling families made up of difficult people, at once needy and aloof and all the while relatable. Its supervillain teams were even more fractious, but also at times more sophisticated–in Lee’s hands, revolutionary mutants like Magneto kept their teams aligned through both force of personality and a shared belief that their foes were epically, ideologically wrong about how to liberate their people.
Trust me, reader, those first ten issues of X-Men from 1963 are way more complex than the Claremont purists portray. No shit!!!
Solo superheroes were teenagers emotionally unequipped to bear the burden of heroism and equally unprepared to forgive themselves for their failures. Shapeshifters, a classic comics narrative engine, were, like Fantastic Four antagonist the Impossible Man, ironically more confident in their identities than the dual-life heroes they faced. Thanks, in large part to Stan Lee, a medium that began as wish fulfillment evolved into metaphor.
While nothing in pop culture looked like the Marvel Universe, nothing sounded like it, either. The pathos, the melodrama, the struggle–even if Lee, as his detractors would have it, was more editor than active creative partner, someone had to actually script those comics and that someone was Lee. He gave comics irony, corniness and profundity.
“With great power comes great responsibility” is an indelible line, immediately familiar–and familiar in its truth–to people who have never read an issue of Spider-Man.
If that was all there was to Stan Lee’s complex legacy, it would have been enough, but Lee was also comics foremost evangelist.
Determined to break the boom/bust cycle that imperiled the small-margin comics industry, he gave comics a face and a voice–corny, embraceable, endearing. He wasn’t Stanley Lieber. He wasn’t even Stan Lee.
To generations of readers, he was Stan The Man or Smilin’ Stan, an ambassador for comics and a Marvel character in his own right. Yes, that was the ego of Stan Lee in progress.
Just for the record, I am not a Stan Lee hater, but I have closer ties and appreciation for Kirby and Ditko. Thus, I am open to attacks on all sides. I don’t think the comics community benefits from any kind of polarization any more than the two-party system has benefited from current politics. Just my opinion.
Frustrated with his lack of both credit and creative control and angry at Marvel’s continual refusal to offer him a share of the money his creations were raking in, Jack The King Kirby eventually left for DC Comics.
In 1970, Jack The King Kirby left Marvel Comics for DC Comics, creating his Fourth World Saga, introducing intergalactic despot Darkseid as one of DC’s primary villains. He returned to Marvel in the mid-1970’s and by the late 1970’s, he entered the animation field, working on, “Thundarr The Barbarian”.
In 1979, Kirby drew concept art for a proposed movie adaptation of Roger Zelazny’s “Lord of Light”. While nothing happened with the film, this artwork was used in the 1979-81 Iran Hostage Crisis, where CIA operative Tony Mendez rescued six U.S. diplomats from Iran, pretending they were a film crew scouting locations for a science fiction movie. This inspired 2012’s Academy Award-winning movie, “Argo”, starring Ben Affleck. In the film, Jack Kirby was played by noted actor character actor, Michael Parks.
As recorded in Sean Howe’s breathtakingly marvelous book, “Marvel Comics: The Untold Story”, Kirby gave an interview shortly after his departure: “I was never given credit for the writing I did”, he said. “It was my idea to do The Fantastic Four the way it was…I had to come up with new ideas to help the strip sell. I was faced with the frustration of having to come up with new ideas and then having them taken from me.”
In the mid-1970’s, the United States Congress revised the laws around copyrights, offering longer periods of ownership for copyright holders, that is, if the proper paperwork could be provided.
Marvel Comics realized, especially after Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster’s public fight to receive compensation and recognition for their invention of Superman in 1975, that many of its previous contracts were legally questionable, remnants of the comics industry’s fly-by-night origins with regards to creative work.
In 1978, the company began handing out freelancer contracts that guaranteed the company “forever all rights of any kind and nature in and to the work”.
As Michael Dean wrote in a 2002 issue of The Comics Journal, these “work for hire” contracts were partly a result of the superhero boom Kirby himself had a hand in creating.
“It wasn’t just monthly comic books that were at stake any more”, Dean wrote. “It was the vast ancillary potential of licensing and merchandising the content of those comics.” The contracts legally formalized what had previously been loosely assumed to be corporate policy, but having it in writing gave many comics freelancers pause for thought. When Kirby got the contract, he refused to sign it and left Marvel for good.
Guess what?! Marvel wasn’t done with him. When the company began offering to return original artwork it had long held in storage, it did so by referring to the art as a “gift”.
In exchange, the creators had to sign a one-page release agreeing that the art had been produced as work for hire. Most did, though with reservations. Kirby himself, sick of fighting over ownership, indicated his own willingness to sign, but instead of the standard release, Marvel sent him and him alone, a four-page document in 1984.
The contract offered a parade of indignities, Dean wrote: Kirby would have no ownership of the physical artwork, would be unable to copy, reproduce or sell any portion of it, and in effect had only the right to store the work for Marvel. Marvel could call the work back at any time to be “revised” or “modified”.
More galling, signing the contract would not only turn over Kirby’s legal rights to his characters, it would force Kirby to surrender any rights Marvel wasn’t already entitled to, forbidding him from assisting others in disputing copyrights or complaining—even in private—of the document’s unfairness.
The worst of all, the contract only offered 88 pages out of the thousands of pages of work Kirby had produced for them. By signing, Kirby would acknowledge that he was entitled to nothing more.
Kirby hit the roof. For three years, he and Marvel fought over the return of his art. Enraging him further, some of his original pages began appearing for sale by private dealers, likely the result of thefts from the famously disorganized Marvel storage.
Part of Marvel’s intransigence, Dean wrote, came from their concern that any ground they gave Kirby could be interpreted as legal proof of ownership.
Eventually, though, the sheer hurricane of bad publicity and pressure from the rest of the comics industry forced them to cave. In return for signing the original release guaranteeing Marvel’s ownership, Kirby got 1,900 pages of artwork back and creator credits on many of his characters. He would not, however, see financial compensation or residuals for his work.
All of this might seem like ancient history, but as the comics writer Kurt Busiek noted, the 1970’s change in copyright law didn’t just extend periods of ownership. It also provided a window whereby copyright sellers could renegotiate sales. Kirby didn’t live to see that window open: He died on February 6, 1994 from heart failure at 76.
In 2009, Kirby’s heirs filed notices of termination with Marvel, which the law allowed them to do.
For Marvel, which had been profiting mightily off of the boom in superhero films, this sparked a panic.
The company had recently been bought by Disney for $4 billion and had begun releasing its own superhero films—Iron Man, Thor, The Incredible Hulk—all of which were making a healthy profit and all of which were based directly on Kirby’s work.
Marvel sued Kirby’s heirs to stop the copyright termination, arguing once again that Kirby’s creations had been work for hire.
This proved an unexpectedly difficult point to nail down. “It’s not about whether Kirby knew Marvel got all rights,” Busiek explained. “It’s about whether Kirby owned the rights and sold them or whether he was just an employee, and Marvel owned all his ideas before they even came out of the pencil.”
Obviously, Marvel was gambling on the latter.
The resulting legal fight lasted five years, with claims, counterclaims and appeals.
In 2014, it came within a whisker of landing before the Supreme Court, with the Writer’s Guild, Directors Guild and Screen Actors Guild—among others—filing amicus briefs arguing against Marvel.
Within mere hours before the United States Supreme Court went into conference to decide whether or not to take the case, Marvel opted to settle.
When Disney lawyers magically back off, you know it’s significant.
As Dominic Patten noted in his coverage for Deadline, the resulting agreement likely came from panic. The company would have had to negotiate with the Kirby family for everything, including back-royalties on hits like Guardians of The Galaxy and rights for The Avengers characters, which was something the Kirby family could have fairly demanded multimillions for.
There were further implications Marvel wanted to avoid as well. “A wide variety of copyrights across the industry, including those at Warner Bros. and DC Comics, would suddenly be in play”, Patten wrote.
Freelancers or those with work-for-hire status—such as writers and composers—could gain rights to their work, as if they were traditional employees.
The long battle between Kirby and Marvel had—for now—been laid to rest.
While the details of the 2014 settlement between Marvel and the Kirby family are secret. It’s likely—given the amount Marvel stood to lose if the case went to trial—that the terms were generous.
While Kirby’s family may have finally received some measure of compensation, they are very much the exception.
The history of comics creators getting shafted as their work went on to make thousands is a long one. A quick sampling of names: Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, the genius creators of Superman, who lost ownership of their creation in 1947 and were cast aside, only receiving cover credits and meager financial compensation in the mid-1970’s. Think about it, for 27 years, the inventors of Superman didn’t see not dime for the multimillions, if not billions of dollars that Superman made for the company known today as DC Comics, leaving Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster practically destitute beyond words.
Speaking of DC Comics, there’s also the case involving writer Bill Finger, who did the majority of work creating Batman, only to see his co-creator Bob Kane walk away with a ironclad contract for sole credit and royalties, which he largely maintains, that is, until 2015.
Bill Mantlo, the creator of Rocket Raccoon, has substantial medical bills and his family often requests help from the public in meeting them.
Gary Friedrich, one of the creators of Ghost Rider, once attempted to sue Marvel for control of the character, only to be hit with a countersuit demanding $17,000 in damages for the author’s sale of unlicensed merchandise at conventions, a commonly accepted practice.
In a related story, who can forget Alan Moore, who produced the seminal graphic novel Watchmen under an agreement that the rights would revert to him when it went out of print, only to find that DC Comics had no intention of allowing that to happen.
It’s a well-known fact in the comics industry and fandom that while comic book superhero films make hundreds of millions at the box office, many creators of classic characters rarely see a penny for their work. They often have to rely on gorgeous charity organizations, like the Hero Initiative—founded to help comic artists in financial need—if they’re alive and they have little to leave to their families after they’re dead.
This is, of course, completely legal under current definitions of copyright law, regulations that have been repeatedly altered to help protect the corporations that hoard intellectual property, but it’s also the sort of thing the companies in question largely prefer not to talk about.
The way I look at it, we must always be grateful for what Kirby gave us.
In the end, I stand and declare: Long Live Jack The King Kirby: Creator of Greatness!!!!
The grave of Jack The King Kirby, located at the Beth Olam section near the cemetery’s entrance at Pierce Brothers Valley Oaks Memorial Park Westlake Village, Los Angeles County, California.
Thank You.

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