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Kirby: King of Comics Hardcover – February 22, 2008
The Amazon Book Review
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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.)
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Highlights here for me...
*Vintage photos & scans- check out the early, black & white images on pages 34, 67, and 211. Photos like these go a long way to making history spring to life.
*Original artwork- I love Kirby's graphite & cream-colored army drawings on pages 66 & 67. I also like the Sandman sketch on page 10, the Popeye sketch on page 35, Kirby's Marines Toys for Tots poster on page 157, and the many scans of inked original comic pages. The Jimmy Olsen scans on pages 166 & 167 are particularly eye-grabbing & highly stylized. Many images in these pages are rare & highly collectible.
It's virtually a Kirby museum in print, at about 9-1/2"W x 12-1/2"L, and 220+ pages. Famous comics covers are also reproduced, like Action Comics #1, Marvel Comics #1, Captain America Comics #1, Brave & the Bold #28, Fantastic Four #1, New Gods #1, etc. These images are landmarks in comicbook history, and Kirby's impact in comics' Golden & Silver Ages is amazing to say the least. Objectively speaking, as far as I can understand, there can be only one, *real* King of Comics. Jack Kirby certainly gets my vote!
P.S. Also recommended is Excelsior! : The Amazing Life of Stan Lee by Stan Lee & George Mair. It's still available today.
Mark Evanier's book on the career of Jack Kirby arrived from Amazon.com yesterday, and I opened it when I got home after midnight!
The book is a beautiful coffee table book, with lots of great examples of printed, raw and published art in order from all periods of Jack's decades spanning career.
I can't tell you how impressed I am with this work.
The text is fair, balanced and easy to read.
The only error I spotted was a reference to the plot of FF #1, claiming that the quartett crash landed on the moon.... when they were aiming for the moon, but crashed back on Earth. That being said, I didn't spot any other errors.
I urge people to go out and buy a copy, or at least pressure your library to order a copy. This is an excellent book, lushly illustrated with photos, art, examples, and quotes. This will become the definitive biography of Jack Kirby!
You won't be disappointed!
Secondly, I never realized how heroically (and against what seemingly insurmountable odds) Kirby fought to bring his visions to life. I complain about my own trials and tribulations, but Kirby truly never gave up. A photo of the scratched up little desk and chair upon which he gave birth to his greatest creations was really touching. Too bad he wasn't as outgoing and glib as Stan Lee, who lived to become a wealthy man off of their collaborations. Frankly, I like Kirby's work better today than I did when I was a kid, and the author of this book does a good job of putting the important events of Kirby's life in perspective so that we see it for what it was-- a great saga, like climbing to Asgard while battling monsters.