The Comics Journal Library: Jack Kirby
by Jack Kirby, various writers
(Fantagraphics, 2002)

Jack Kirby was the essence of jump-in-your-face comic books, the most widely imitated and influential superhero artist, and the most prolifically creative man in the history of the art form. A short list of his accomplishments must include the launching of romance comics, his dynamic storytelling style and the creation or co-creation of most of the characters published by Marvel Comics, including Captain America.

The Comics Journal Library: Jack Kirby presents a balanced overview of Kirby with several interviews and essays on his life and career, as well as a wealth of art, mostly from his Marvel days as a freelancer. These prose portraits do much to dispel the myth by Kirby fans that he created the universe (it can get that bad), and from his distracters that he was a hack (it can get that bad).

Most comics fans either hate or love the man.

This volume also recounts the ugly tale of Kirby's dispute with the company he helped to establish as the premier comics publisher in the world. In his 60s, the cartoonist asked for the return of his original artwork that numbered around 10,000 pages. Marvel refused to do so without Kirby signing a harsh legal document to protect the company from having to share any character ownership with the creator. This was not a new policy, but the continuation of an old arrangement that was common with all publishers.

In most cases, that policy continues to be the shame of the industry today.

Did Kirby win? You'll have to read the book. And anyone interested in Jack Kirby, the early days of comics or the business end of the shtick must own this marvelous work.

The Comics Journal Library: Jack Kirby is highly recommended.

- Rambles
written by Michael Vance
published 12 July 2003

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