Happy Birthday Jack “King” Kirby

 

Jack Kirby was the Einstein of comic books. The creator of almost all of Marvel’s iconic characters, from SPIDER-MAN to X-MEN, Kirby’s epic, dynamic, visual storytelling transformed comic history, with able writing assist from Stan Lee, making them an unbeatable team in the 1960’s.

To celebrate The King’s birthday, here’s my favorite comic book scene of all time for myriad reasons, from THOR #154, 1968, during the multi-issue “Ragnarok” saga, when a monstrous God (Mangog) is on a warpath to destroy both Deity and Man. This section occurs in a melancholy moment when Thor wanders the streets of New York, contemplating mankind’s unknowing fate. He comes across a group of hippies and you can view his Norse God-like response below…

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I interviewed Stan Lee once for “Written By” magazine and told him this was my favorite comic book scene ever and he excitedly said it was one of his favorites and nobody had ever mentioned it to him. He sounded truly pleased and Lee was my home-boy. We had a nice discussion about the cultural subtext, as Lee and Kirby were clearly empathetic to the counter-culture since they were the ones buying the comics. Kirby particularly had a legion of admirers from all cultural arenas, including one Paul McCartney, who dedicated his song “Magneto & Titanium Man” to a special guest in the audience at his 1976 Los Angeles concert. In the 21st century, Jack Kirby’s influence is felt more than ever as his art and ideas continue to inspire.

Linda, Paul and Jack

Linda, Paul and Jack

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19 Responses to “Happy Birthday Jack “King” Kirby”

  1. cool, man. that thor is one profound dude!

  2. cool i can post here again, it wouldn’t let me for ages

  3. christian Says:

    I was wondering if I doth offended thee…

  4. I wonder if there were ever any hippies back then who claimed to have seen Thor? Such a strange time.

    God Bless,

  5. thou doth not offend me, sir, thou’s site doth simply refuseth to accept my words with a message of ‘error ####’ whence i tried to speak!

    (never much of a reader of ‘thor’ as a kid, it’s now clearer why branagh has been given the assignment to direct, assuming the film will adhere to thor’s comic-book vocal stylings)

  6. christian Says:

    I had some weirdness with wordpress too recently…

    I love Thor and am surprised at the amount of derision the character received when they announced the movie version. It’s fuckin’ 300 with Gods and Monsters! Branagh was the perfect choice and I’m telling you, this Ragnorak series is THE Thor movie they need to make. Check it out.

  7. christian Says:

    David: I’m sure there are hippies who probably claimed to BE Thor…

  8. Not to lead this astray, but the absence of this type of moment (which is wonderful) is my biggest issue with The Dark Knight, which basically implicitly says “fuck it”. That might not be the surface message of the movie, but everything underneath says otherwise.

    And I owe you a drink or a cookie or something, because Halloween II blows. Zombie has made the movie his detractors have always accused him of making: boring, non-sensical, cruel-for-cruel’s sake. It’s clear his “vision” here is of the knowledge that his first Halloween made more than his other movies combined (which is unfortunate).

  9. christian Says:

    Yeah, TDK errs too much on the side of nihilism, but not totally. It’s just this weird desire to make The Joker the receptacle for society’s hypocrisy or somethin’…but then my favorite moment in any of the Batman films is from the 1988 version when Batman pops up at the end and socks Joker in the face.

    But this scene is for all those unawares of Thor’s mythic and melancholy story. Done the right way, it’s Shakespeare for comic geeks. And hopefully Branagh actually knows the character – somebody did when they thought of him.

    As fer H2 — caveat emptor. I like Rob too much to go see it. I want T.REX!

  10. Well, now internet gossip says he’s remaking THE BLOB next. Jeez!

  11. And my favorite Batman moment is in Returns: when Batman and the Catwoman are dancing at that ball and she pulls the gun and reveals her plan. That moment was the ideal blend of Burton/Batman torture.

  12. christian Says:

    I just didn’t cotton to BATMAN RETURNS. I was afeared the Penguin would be made some tragic villain and he sure was. But DeVito was unrecognizable. And I always thought Sean Young the perfect Catwoman.

    And now that Disney has bought Marvel…

  13. I just bought “Kirby: King of Comics” & so far it is appropriately amazing. I love Kirby & I’m so glad he is finally being revered the world over as the master visionary he truly was. That is a great Thor scene for several distinct Lee/Kirby reasons – topical, philosophical & funny as hell. God bless you Jack!
    On another ’60’s note, I saw Antonioni’s “Zabriskie Point” for the first time yesterday (mainly due to that awesome trailer you posted awhile back) & that is one groovy picture. That has to be mind blowing on a big, big, big screen. Would love to catch it over at the Dome. Wow. (Not to mention it features Winston Churchill himself, Rod Taylor!)

  14. I have to go grab that one now.

    Yes, ZABRISKIE POINT is a masterpiece. Stripped of its decade and expectations, it’s certainly Antonioni’s most accessible film. And look at that soundtrack!

  15. I’ve tried my damndest to eat my veggies like a good movie-boy, but Antonioni’s pictures drive me up the wall. Like latter Kubrick, after twenty minutes, much less several long movies, I want to scream to the rafters: I GET IT! Antonioni is nearly without peer in using locale to reflect the mindset of his characters, but how much use is that when there’s only one mindset? I do agree that Zabriskie Point is one of his most actually watchable movies, but even that walks a thin line between “art” and just being had.

    To be fair, I haven’t seen all of his pictures: I parcel them out, having to psych myself up with a mixture of meditation, red wine, depression and a bong.

  16. I don’t worship Antonioni, and I’ve yet to see L’AVENTURRA or RED DESERT but (channeling J.Wells) he’s definitely one of the Film Art Gods, and I’m glad his work is part of the Pantheon. I think of him as one of cinema’s great abstract painters, not a storyteller, which I think where people lose him or vice-versa. I also think he’s misunderstood, especially when you go back and read the scathing put-downs of ZABRISKIE POINT — you’d think the critics would be elated to have MGM fund one of the most experimental big budget (4-7 million dollars in 1970!) films ever made.

    And I LOVE ZP for all its excess, but especially for its stunning beauty. Kael wrote it off as “contempt” for America, but she was wrong. ZP shows the heartbreaking beauty of our pop consumer landscape at a time of maximum American confusion. We should be so lucky to have a film of that caliber coming out today. Critics didn’t know how good they had it in 1970….

  17. “We should be so lucky to have a film of that caliber coming out today. Critics didn’t know how good they had it in 1970….”

    True dat, and I, despite my reservations, agree with the film art god sentiment. And I’m actually more sympathetic to ZP and THE PASSENGER because they aren’t reveling in rich-guilt porn. As someone not entirely sure of their employment next week, I have a hard time working up too much sympathy for someone bored of fucking Monica Vitti.

  18. My theory on Kael with regards to Antonioni is that she retroactively felt she overrated L’AVENTURRA and proceeded to underrate everything else. I find L’AVENTURRA to be one of his most maddening.

  19. Harlan Ellison called it one of the most boring, overrated films of all time. I need to sit down with pasta wine and see if I can make it through.

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