Jack Kirby
By: David Smay | Categories: HiLo Heroes

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The dense, blocky dynamism of his Fourth World art, as inked by Mike Royer. The narrative build leading to the heartbreak on Ben Grimm’s face as Reed Richards forced him to transform back into The Thing in Fantastic Four #40. Kamandi’s Jackie Kennedy-esque bouffant flip. The photo montages he used when depicting the Negative Zone. Stealing The Demon’s face from a panel in Hal Foster’s Prince Valiant. The epic backgrounds in Tales of Asgard. The “Mother Delilah” story in Boy’s Ranch #3. Fin Fang Foom! These are some things I particularly love about the work of JACK KIRBY (1917-94). All of which barely hints at his genius. His achievement is so vast that inventing the genre of romance comics is just a footnote in his career. I don’t rate the King with his handful of comics peers (Tezuka, Hergé, Barks, Eisner, Crumb). Why? Because he was the James Brown of comics: insanely prolific, unbelievably vital, formally inventive, forever influential. Kirby was superbad.

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On his or her birthday, HiLobrow irregularly pays tribute to one of our high-, low-, no-, or hilobrow heroes. Also born this date: | Edward Burne-Jones | Donald Evans | Morris Graves |

READ MORE about members of the New Gods Generation (1914-23).

KIRB YOUR ENTHUSIASM: Douglas Rushkoff on THE ETERNALS | John Hilgart on BLACK MAGIC | Gary Panter on DEMON | Dan Nadel on OMAC | Deb Chachra on CAPTAIN AMERICA | Mark Frauenfelder on KAMANDI | Jason Grote on MACHINE MAN | Ben Greenman on SANDMAN | Annie Nocenti on THE X-MEN | Greg Rowland on THE FANTASTIC FOUR | Joshua Glenn on TALES TO ASTONISH | Lynn Peril on YOUNG LOVE | Jim Shepard on STRANGE TALES | David Smay on MISTER MIRACLE | Joe Alterio on BLACK PANTHER | Sean Howe on THOR | Mark Newgarden on JIMMY OLSEN | Dean Haspiel on DEVIL DINOSAUR | Matthew Specktor on THE AVENGERS | Terese Svoboda on TALES OF SUSPENSE | Matthew Wells on THE NEW GODS | Toni Schlesinger on REAL CLUE | Josh Kramer on THE FOREVER PEOPLE | Glen David Gold on JOURNEY INTO MYSTERY | Douglas Wolk on 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY | MORE EXEGETICAL COMMENTARIES: Joshua Glenn on Kirby’s Radium Age Sci-Fi Influences | Chris Lanier on Kirby vs. Kubrick | Scott Edelman recalls when the FF walked among us | Adam McGovern is haunted by a panel from THE NEW GODS | Matt Seneca studies the sensuality of Kirby’s women | Danny Fingeroth figgers out The Thing | BTOOM! Kirby vs. Lee, by Rob Steibel

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David Smay is the co-editor of two books about pop music, Bubblegum Music is the Naked Truth, and Lost in the Grooves. He's also the author of Swordfishtrombones, the 33 1/3 series entry on Tom Waits. He lives in San Francisco with his wife and two children.