There is a most impressive book out now entitled "History of Comics." The first two of the projected six volumes are already collector's items. The book covers the entire spectrum of its subject from the inception of comics to the present day.
Its very first page reads:
This phenomenally talented artist, writer-editor is in charge of special design concepts for the whole of "Lord of Light" project alongside of being in charge of Exterior design for the film itself. His work is world-renowned, world-appreciated and world-acclaimed.
Born on the lower east side of Manhattan, Kirby maintains that at first he wanted to be an actor, as so many Hollywood people came from his area. His interest in the movies started at a very early age and he says: "I think my entire generation was brought up by Warner Bros!" But Kirby's talent for both writing and drawing, which he started at age eleven, combined with his intense interest in show business, made him gravitate towards comics...which he describes as "frozen movies".
"You can't draw comics without acting, directing and acting. My value to comics was that I could create atmosphere, a cinematic style of drawing."
"My figures are alive, they had to be because being self-taught is an agonizing process. I didn't know the fundamentals of anatomy. I had to grasp it myself...I used to get very frustrated. Then I would watch the movies, learn from the flexibility of real people and eventually I learned how to create my three-dimensional characters."
Although Kirby wanted to attend Pratt Art School, because of financial pressures he was there for only one day. Eventually he had to opt for an industrial school, so that he could be an auto mechanic in the mornings.
He then decided he wanted to try his hand at being a syndicated cartoonist, but first was able to get a job at the Max Fleisher Animated Studios where he produced material for cartoons like Betty Boop and Popeye, but when the studio moved to Florida, his family ties kept him in New York.
His ability finally led him to the Lincoln Newspaper Syndicate in 1936 where he produced a horde of strips including Black Buccaneer, Socko the Sea Dog, and Abdul Jones. By 1939 he produced work for Novelty's Blue Bolt and Fox's Blue Beetle. Then in 1941 he drew the first issue of Captain Marvel Adventures.
Kirby then began his famed partnership with Joe Simon and it was then that he created "Captain America" who instantly became an American idol, and whose popularity spawned the beginning of a national comic book industry. The Captain remains Kirby's most brilliant character, drawing him like a superhuman complete with a fluid and exaggerated anatomy. The Captain soon became the country's moral-boosting anti-Nazi.
"He was a product of the times," said Kirby, "Hitler had already invaded Poland and that became a pervading situation; Hitler was a pervasion of the times. And then there was science fiction...that fitted in perfectly for my creation as it provided the rockets and bombs that were used in the stories."
Kirby has had a love affair with science fiction since as a small child he rescued a Hugo Gernsback book floating down the gutter on its way to a sewer. It had a huge rocket on its cover...he'd never seen anything like it and consequently read that and more like it whenever he could.
"At the time reading sci fi made you look like the village idiot," says Kirby, "but I couldn't give it up so I'd steal upstairs to my room to read until my mother found out and made me read downstairs again."
Kirby's mother didn't mind. In fact she encouraged him to do anything he wanted as a creator. He also says that she was an immense influence on him. Being from an eastern European country, she was deeply superstitious, and her impressions were to live with him forever.
"She was full of legends, she used to write herself, she used to dramatize everything, she had a wonderful imagination and we talked and talked and she made up stories for me. I think my style in comics directly relates from her form of delivery."
Following Captain America, Kirby went on to National where he created Boy Commandos and Newsboy Legion which were to become the prototypes for the "kid" comics to follow. Then came a stint in the army. He went to France and ended up in the hospital with frostbite and finally returned to comic strips in 1945 where he started another aspect of the business, that of romance comics.
In his forty year career, Jack Kirby has produced every conceivable type of comic book work. Many of the field's most successful concepts are his creations and he has been responsible for more comic book sales in the world than any other writer, editor or artist.
Among his most successful creations are "The Fantastic Four", "The X-Men", "Thor", "The Incredible Hulk", and the original design for Spiderman.
Three of the above have already become television series and specials in the United States.
The awards Kirby has line a whole room at his hillside home in California: there are Shazam awards, there are Academy of Comic Art awards, there are Hall of Fame awards, and many, many more.
Though Kirby has never been involved in a movie before, hit is because he never found one that he thought to be worthy of his time before. But he has always believed that his work is directly oriented toward film and says that is because:
"I feel that visual writing, which is after all what comics are all about, is in reality, film. Film tells a complete story that you can look at in such a way that an ordinary novelist cannot convey."
Why then did Kirby decide to do this film?
"Firstly, had I not been invited to be involved with "Lord of Light", I would have gone out of my way to make sure that I could be."
"I wanted to get involved because I am a concept man. I can get to the nut of a story. My way of looking at things and the way that I develop is exactly what this film needs. That's my background. This is a very special project. It's very challenging...it's also very powerful."
Kirby maintains that as the story was so unique, the approach has to be also. It has to have a new way of looking at the subject..."it is also going to be very valuable to humanity."
"This film is going to have a tremendous impact in the world, it will show enormous strength. It will allow the Eastern man and the Western Man to relate to each other. And once mankind relates, they will never again have to fight. They will understand each other's needs and idiosyncrasies."
"I believe that this film and the way we are conceiving it could contribute to saving the world."
"I had to be involved...and I most definitely am."
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