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Kirby: King of Comics Hardcover – February 22, 2008

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

As a teenager, future television and comics writer Evanier became an assistant to Jack Kirby, one of the foremost artists in the history of American comics. Kirby played a major role in shaping the superhero genre, not only through his innovative, dynamic artwork but through collaborating with Stan Lee to create classic Marvel characters like the Fantastic Four, the Hulk and the X-Men. Evanier has now written this magnificently illustrated biography of his mentor. Rather than employing the academic prose that one might expect from an art book, Evanier, a talented raconteur, tells Kirby's life story in an informal, entertaining manner. Although Evanier does not delve into psychological analysis, he brings Kirby's personality vividly alive: a child of the Great Depression, a creative visionary who struggled most of his life to support his family. The book recounts how Kirby was insufficiently appreciated by clueless corporate executives and close-minded comics professionals. But the stunning artwork in this book, taken from private collections, makes the case for Kirby's genius. A landmark work, this is essential reading for comics fans and those who want to better understand the history of the comics medium—or those who just want to enjoy Kirby's incredible artwork. (Mar.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

About the Author

Mark Evanier met Jack Kirby in 1969, worked as his assistant, and later became his official biographer. A writer and historian, Evanier has written more than 500 comics for Gold Key, DC Comics, and Marvel Comics, several hundred hours of television (including Garfield) and is the author of several books including Mad Art (2002). He has three Emmy Award nominations, and received the Lifetime Achievement Award for animation from the Writers Guild of America.


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Abrams; 1 edition (February 22, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 081099447X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0810994478
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 1 x 12.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (66 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #220,080 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

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32 of 32 people found the following review helpful By B. Younger on May 28, 2008
Format: Hardcover
After reading some of the negative comments in a few of the reviews, even in the so-called "positive" reviews - I just had to add my 2-cents: THEY'RE WRONG! This is nothing short of GREAT.

I'm not just speaking as a Kirby Devotee (which I am), or even a comic collector (also true). My exposure to Jack Kirby's groundbreaking 60s work at Marvel inspired me to become an artist and graphic designer. He was kind enough to respond personally to me when I was 14 and sent him a sample of my own comic work. I was lucky enough to meet Jack and Roz personally many years later in the mid-70s and spend part of an afternoon with him one-on-one. So I'm speaking from a deep familiarity with his work and some personal experience, as well as my professional background.

First, let's dispel the notion that KIRBY: KING OF COMICS is a biography. It isn't. There is no place in the book that calls it a "biography". It also isn't an art book with too much copy. This is a compendium, a celebration of Kirby's life and accomplishments, an overview with additional depth, an inside look from the people who knew him, worked with him, lived with him and loved him, with an attempt at balance and historical perspective that is often lacking in other biographical works about Kirby.

It's true that much of this material has been covered before, both in the shorter biographical works that have appeared and in the very excellent "Jack Kirby Collector". However, Mr. Evanier has done an excellent job of both organizing the information in an exciting and dynamic way, and adding details and perspective not available to other writers. Just the fact that he has had access to Roz Kirby and the Kirby offspring adds insight not previously seen. Not only that, but the "voice" Mr.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Like his creation, the Silver Surfer, Jack Kirby was riding the crest of a pop culture wave decades before many realized it was going to break. This book is an excellent way to appreciate the magnitude of his contributions (and in the way he was underpaid and undervalued by the industry until the last ten years of his life, many were like literal "contributions").

Large format, or coffee table, books are sometimes more about the visuals than the text, but Kirby, King of Comics is one of the exceptions. Written with depth and detail by animation/comic/TV writer/uberblogger Mark Evanier, this lavish, 9x12 tome has as much substance as style.

It tells a life and career story that many of us can identify with, whether we read superhero comics or not. But the story of such an astonishing art and story talent could not be told without substantial illustrations that are its heart and soul, and this book never disappoints on either front.

Whether you're into comics or not, your breath will be taken away by the dynamism of every frame -- not to mention spectacular spreads like the one from "Street Code," in which a dozen or more stories are woven into an eye-popping two page scene.

Perhaps most touching and compelling is the constant struggle Kirby fought for recognition for his substantial role in creating iconic characters that made millionaires of others, balanced with his concern for his family's financial security and his devotion for his unfailingly supportive wife, Roz.

Fortunately the story, as Evanier weaves it, has a happy, somewhat bittersweet ending with a wonderful Fantastic Four excerpt in which The Thing (Kirby's alter ego) sums up a truly universal legacy.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Conner Kent on March 6, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book is full of artwork and stories about one of the most influential artists in comic book history. Mark Evanier - who has had a valuable association with Kirby spanning decades - included tales and information that I had never even seen or heard before. There's a lot of original art within, also containing some things I've never seen - and this is after being a subscriber to the Jack Kirby Collector in the past. Beyond that, this book in general just looks great. Highly recommended.
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58 of 77 people found the following review helpful By Norbert J. Rozek on March 5, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Were a slightly more precise rating system available to me, I'd give this coffee-table Jack Kirby biography 3.5 stars instead of four, but I tend to err on the side of mercy when my favorite artist is involved, thus SO BE IT. And, while, no, I don't regret my purchase, I can't say that I wasn't mildly disappointed at what I perceive to be a lack of separation between this book and others of its ilk -- specifically Ronin Ro's much smaller ((and cheaper)) paperback biography, "Tales To Astonish." As this book was written by one-time Kirby assistant Mark Evanier, I really expected it to be THE Kirby biography -- the definitive, most detailed, most fanboy-obsessed account of the "King" and his Kreations there ever was or could be. As it stands, the text reads almost identically -- in depth, tone, breadth, detail, progression, etc. -- as "Tales To Astonish," except "Kirby: King Of Comics" mentions that Jack was losing sight in one eye during his career and once threatened to punch out the head of Marvelmania, and "Tales To Astonish" mentions that Jack got his friend's brains splattered on a drawing he was making in a foxhole and once threatened to punch out the guy from the towel service. I guess I just expected this book to take it one more level deeper than that -- one level of nerdiness beyond mere boilerplate. I mean, this is JACK KIRBY we're talking about here! Let's see some obsession! Let's have some nerdiness! Let's have some damn KRACKLE already! Furthermore, every book about comics I seem to have read in my life ((that wasn't written by Jules Feiffer, Scott McCloud, or Stan Lee)) seems to be written in the same generic non-voice that Jim Steranko used in his History Of Comics publications.Read more ›
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