Tuesday, August 28, 2012

It's Jack Kirby Day!

I met Jack Kirby for the first time in 1991. I was buying and selling original comic art in partnership with Gaston Dominguez (now of Meltdown Comics & Collectibles fame). We had brokered several deals between rock star Glenn Danzig, who was a huge Kirby fan and collector, and The Holland Brothers, who had written almost every major Motown hit.

Eddie & Ernie Holland had been sport card customers of mine who followed many other speculators into the comics trade following the Death of Superman.

The centerfold of the BICENTENNIAL MARVEL TREASURY EDITION, which was a gorgeous, over-sized Captain America double page spread was the piece that gave me cause to contact Jack, who was listed in the phone book and lived with his wife Roz in Thousand Oaks. I took the bus out there on several occasions, first to get him to sign and date the Cap piece, then just to hang out and talk comics with him. He was always busy but quite accommodating.

Today would have been Jack Kirby's 95th birthday.

Here in Hollywood at Grauman's Chinese Theater, dozens of filmmakers, TV producers and actors are assembling to honor comic book trailblazer Jack "King" Kirby, with some dressing as characters Kirby created, like Captain America, Thor, Fantastic Four, The Hulk, and Avengers, while organizing a Tribute Award to honor Mr. Kirby’s influence to the comic book culture. The tribute will also demand that the US Congress name August 28th, Jack Kirby’s birthday, as National Jack Kirby Day.

Web TV creators Steven Wasserman and Victor Solis have created this tribute video to honor Jack Kirby’s life achievements:

Many fans of the multi-billion-dollar-grossing films based on characters created by Jack Kirby would be shocked to learn that the Kirby estate has not received a single cent from the successes of the epic films.

The good people at The Hero Initiative, the charitable organization dedicated to helping veteran comic creators in medical or financial need, is celebrating with a little help from The King’s family.
They've recruited 100 artists to simply “Wake Up and Draw.” This new event is a way for artists to limber up, get the creative juices flowing, and celebrate the day by drawing and sending a “birthday card to Jack.” All 100 drawings will be featured in a special gallery at ComicArtFans.com, and fans can follow the action through the day on Twitter searching hashtag: #WakeUpAndDraw. All drawings will be auctioned to benefit Hero Initiative at a later date!

Neal Kirby, son of Jack, and artist Tim Seeley are featured in a special YouTube video on the event (below). “By supporting the Hero Initiative through the ‘Kirby4Heroes’ campaign and ‘Wake Up and Draw,’ comic book fans can honor my father on his 95th birthday in the same manner that he would have.”

Jillian Kirby, Jack’s granddaughter, has spearheaded the “Kirby4Heroes” campaign. Jillian has recruited a number of comic stores to donate a percentage of their sales to The Hero Initiative on August 28, and encourage their customers to make donations as well. Fans can donate via the PayPal link at www.HeroInitiative.org, and type in “Kirby4Heroes” in the special instructions box.

“Though my grandfather Jack unfortunately died the year before I was born, I am surrounded by books, artwork, and of course family stories and anecdotes so much that I feel like I’ve known him my whole life,” said Jillian Kirby. “Even though I never had the opportunity to know him personally, I have learned my grandfather was a very giving and charitable man. I know my grandfather would have been the first to lend the Hero Initiative his support.” Jillian has teamed up with Seth Laderman, head of production from the Nerdist Channel, to produce a video spotlighting the campaign:

Back in the 1980s it took a major grass-roots campaign to shame Marvel into returning the fraction of Jack Kirby's original art work that hadn't been lost or stolen from their archives over the years. You can damn well bet it will take a whole lot more to get them to cut the Kirby estate in on the money they've been making on Jack's characters lately. If you support creator's rights get involved by contact your congressman, or contributing financially to the cause at Hero Initiative.org.

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