As someone who has become bit of a Jack Kirby affectionado, I needed to write a review of a new book about him.
Jack Kirby: The Epic Life of the King of Comics is a biography, or perhaps a 200-page graphic novel, by the guy who co-created Captain America, the X-Men, the Fantastic Four, and many more superhero favorites.
It was scripted from various Kirby interviews. Tom Sciofi, an Eisner-nominated comics creator, with whom I wasn’t familiar, wrote and drew the story. It is VERY thoroughly researched, including a bibliography. Scioli’s one affection is to draw Jack in a more cartoony style, and shorter than almost everyone else.
Jacob Kurtzberg was born on August 28, 1917, in the Lower East Side of New York City. His tough upbringing during the Great Depression and his love of science fiction would inform much of his work. He tried a number of pseudonyms, some simultaneously, before settling on Jack Kirby.
His service in the European Theater in World War II was some of the more harrowing segments in the narrative, something I had only been vaguely aware of.
Neither cash or credit
Jack was not only very talented but prolific. But he wasn’t, by most accounts, very good on the business side of things. Generally, the comic book industry and the companies Kirby helped to thrive did not treat him well.
One four-star review in Amazon complained that the Sciofi narrative was not always “fair” to the other side. To that I say, I don’t care. Put a different way, “Just as every great superhero needs a villain to overcome, Kirby’s story also includes his struggles to receive the recognition and compensation that he believed his work deserved.”
I was quite fond of the handful of segments in the book when Jack’s wife, Roz, drove the narrative.
Here is an eleven-page excerpt. Also, an interview announcing Tom Scioli’s then-forthcoming graphic novel.
If you don’t know Kirby’s story, you really ought to pick up this book. If you’re a Jack expert, I think you’ll likely enjoy the telling of the tale.