FW Presents: Jack Kirby 100th Birthday Celebration

Hail to the King! Join Fire and Water All-Stars Rob Kelly, Siskoid, Bass, Xum Yukinori and moderator Chris Franklin as they discuss their favorite creations, stories, art and concepts that crackled forth from the mind and pencil of comic’s greatest creator, Jack “King” Kirby!!!

This podcast is a proud member of the FIRE AND WATER PODCAST NETWORK

Clip credits:

Entertainment Tonight interview with Jack Kirby, Oct.28, 1982

Selected tracks from the Captain America: The First Avenger and Marvel’s The Avengers soundtracks by Alan Silvestri

Kirby interview and reading from Comic Book Confidential

Len Wein and Marv Wolfman interview segment from Jack Kirby: Storyteller

38 responses to “FW Presents: Jack Kirby 100th Birthday Celebration

  1. Great discussion guys!

    I was one of those people back when buying Who’s Who off the shelf who kept wondering why Kirby was getting all this page space. Remember, my first Mr. Miracle exposure was Marshall Rodgers! I get it now.

    In fact, back then I don’t think I appreciated the dynamic feel of Kirby’s older art. Like Ditko and Kane, I needed the wisdom of years to realize his artistic brilliance. And, in those later days, I simply let all the crazy ideas kind of wash over me. Within the last couple of years, I have put together a collection of his Captain Victory book which is just drowning in concepts.

    While the Fighting Fetus is crazy in that book, I’ll throw the Goozlebobber into the ring as wildest idea. What the heck is behind that??

    1. Don’t think me Rob. We’re all part of the same team…oh wait, wrong show!

      But seriously, thanks to all you guys for coming on and having a great discussion. It required almost no editing because everyone was just so engaged and full of great responses.


  2. Great tribute, and great episode!

    My first exposure to Kirby was in 1976 when I was seven and received a bunch of hand-me-down comics, including Superman’s Pal, Jimmy Olsen #133, #138, & #141 as well as Mister Miracle #17. I was a precocious kid, but not THAT precocious. His work creeped me out.

    Later of course, I learned to appreciate both the Kirby art as well as the Kirby legacy. He was the first artist whose style and name I instantly recognized.

    My favorite Kirby work has to be his run on Jimmy Olsen, which is where it all began for me.

    And aside from the Fighting Fetus, the oddest Kirby Kreation to me was the Dislocated Spine – which looks exactly as it was named – from Destroyer Duck #2.

    Again, great episode! Take the rest of the week off! If Shag says anything, tell him I approved it.

  3. A very nicely done ep guys. I very fitting tribute to celebrate such an amazing visionary.

    For me it will always come back to the Silver Surfer. Not his most popular creation but definitely my favourite. X-men also are high on the list as with most people my age X-men is where it all began for so many of us.

    1. I think the Surfer ranks high on Kirby creations for most…just apparently not our group! And he was a pure Kirby creation in many ways, since Stan had no idea Kirby was including him in the Galactus saga!

  4. A wonderful celebration of Kirby’s life and his impact on the comic book industry, as well on the lives of comic fans. My first real encounter with Kirby was through the Silver Surfer, which was one of the first series I ever collected regularly back in the 90s, when I picked up a collected reprint of Fantastic Four #48-50. Like many, it took a while for his art style to grow on me, but I loved the crazy concepts behind it all from the beginning.

    Your discussion also reignited my interest in Kirby’s Fourth World series, of which I’ve heard, but never read. Back in elementary school, I used to devour books on mythology: Greek, Norse, Celtic and, ultimately, Tolkien’s mythology of Middle-earth. So, I’m guessing I’d enjoy Kirby’s comic book mythos.

    1. My Fourth World reading has been spotty and spread out over decades, so I’m really wanting to jump back in and read everything from start to finish. Glad we helped to stoke similar fires in you Brian!


  5. I posted this on Facebook the other day but I’ll repeat it here.

    Back in 1998/99 I was watching this documentary on comics and at one point Jimmy Palmiotti was explaining Jack Kirby and to demonstrate his point he stuck his hand towards the camera. It illustrated the perspective Kirby would use and how it separated him from the other artists of the time.

    In that moment I “got” Kirby.

    A few years ago I finally got off my duff and started looking into the original Fourth World stuff. I felt I had to because so much of my favorite era of Superman had elements taken from those concepts. I call it cultural anthropology and even though it stalled out about 1/4 of the way in (I NEED TO GET BACK TO THAT) I fell in love with Kirby’s style and even his writing. Mister Miracle is the greatest one season television show from the seventies that never got produced and while I always like Barda her first appearance damn near made a man out of me again in my late ’30s. The New Gods itself is just so much fun and even the Forever People were enjoyable.

    Yeah…it’s time to get back to that material.

    As for creators that emulate Kirby while he doesn’t do as much art as he used to I would say Karl Kesel is a definite member of the club of creators you all mentioned. He wrote this really fun Guardians of Metropolis mini-series in 1994 that mixed the Newsboys and Cadmus and Apokolips and his second run on the Conner Kent Superboy was FULL of Kirby concepts. There was a Kamandi style story starting in SUPERBOY #50 and Kesel, along with Tom Grummett, took a deep dive into Cadmus after that. Plus Mark Waid said that Kesel was the conscience on the run of FF he did with Mike Weiringo, which Kesel inked.

    Maybe not an obvious choice to some but I think Karl Kesel should definitely have a seat at the table.

    1. Agreed Michael. Kesel gets Kirby, and he flew that flag higher than most over the years, at both DC and Marvel. I always loved how he pushed for the Guardain/Newsboy stuff, for instance.


  6. Super fun episode podcasters! I have Kirby fever myself by getting all the True Believers #1 Reprints for $1 that have been coming out. A lot longer of an entertainment value than some current titles.

    My favorite Kirby art are all of the Thor covers as well as the famous Captain America one

    1. Which Cap cover were you talking about Lucien? Was it the “Madbomb” cover when Kirby came back to Marvel? I ALMOST picked that one, especially since it was on the T-shirt I was wearing that day!


  7. Thoroughly enjoyed your tribute to Jack Kirby’s 100th birthday and especially liked hearing everyone’s Kirby origin stories. Great episode. Darrin

  8. What a great discussion! Well moderated, Chris. For a really good primer on Kirby, I strongly recommend Amazing Heroes 100th issue, which was a tribute to the King! Not only are there many testimonials and drawings from other pros, but there are some excellent analyses of how and why Kirby’s comics pages work. For instance, a page from mid-sixties Fantastic Four is analyzed to show you how Kirby deliberately moves the reader’s eye from panel to panel, and from the top to the bottom of the page. There is no action, per se, but Jack is as aware as any film director of what needs to be seen, and when. I remember another dissection of a Kirby pin-up of Hogun the Grim as inked by Don Heck. The writer expertly demonstrates how Heck varies the thickness of his lines, as well as the “black-spotting” to enhance the picture.
    This one issue of Amazing Heroes is almost as good as a semester-long course in illustration!

    1. That Amazing Heroes sounds…amazing! I always loved that book. I only have a handful due to my spotty trips to the comic shop back then, but I enjoyed the heck out of each one. I’ll have to keep an eye out for that one!


  9. Enjoyed Chris Franklin’s biographical preamble.

    That Entertainment Tonight segment must have been a weekender or before my time. I don’t recognize any of the on-air talent. One of these days I need to dig up the Hard Copy segment on porno comics featuring Jack I recorded on VHS and throw it up on YouTube.

    Appreciate the Ani DiFranco reference.

    Gah, what was my first Kirby? Hand-me-down copy of 2001? House ad? An issue of The Swine arc in Captain America that Siskoid referenced (and my first awareness of The Holocaust?) Thundarr the Barbarian? I dunno. I was definitely one of those bronze age babies who thumbed their nose at The King and only began to respect him after his death. I must confess though, “fan” would probably still be too strong of a word.

    When did I appreciate Kirby? Sporadically. His segments of the Sentinel of Liberty Fireside Edition were awesome, I always loved his photo collage juxtapositions, but ultimately I’ll say the B&W reprint of New Gods from the late ’90s/early ’00s. Also loads of second-hand love from folks like Jim Starlin.

    1. I don’t recall any of those folks on Entertainment Tonight either Frank, except I think Mary Hart shows up at that clips end on YouTube. ET was perhaps the beginning of my interest in the behind-the-scenes goings-on in Hollywood, and I watched it every night!


  10. This episode felt like an F&W present! So much great discussion and analysis and memories. Thank you for leading it, Chris. Well done.

    My first Kirby was well before I started paying attention to the names or writers and artists. But I clearly remember the LIFE magazine sized Marvel Treasury Editions that my folks got us for long car trips. Fantastic Four with #6, #11, and #48-50. Captain America anniversary story, traveling through his own history. Thor in the Mangog epic. The oversized pages made the artwork even more striking. Those books are long gone, but not forgotten.

    He must not be a group favorite, but I think Paris Cullins is a great disciple of Kirby. I loved his late 80s Forever People (with JM DeMatteis) and New Gods (with Mark Evanier). And his work on Blue Devil and Blue Beetle has lots of Captain America-style acrobatics and energy.

    Happy birthday to the King!

  11. I loved your Kirby tribute, guys. And I’m impressed at how you handled such a broad and deep topic with such organization and thought. Which is why I keep coming back to your shows. I enjoyed the format and found myself ‘playing along’ as you answered questions.

    Kirby comics are one of my earliest memories. Thanks to a Fantastic Four treasury! An odd issue of Kamandi. Some issues of Marvel’s Greatest comics reprinting 1960’s FF issues. And a much beloved Captain America special reprinting 60’s Cap stuff, including his origin. I knew at an early age that Kirby was different and that he was the King.

    Even though, I too became disrespectful of his work as a teenager in the 1980’s. Damn teenagers.

    Thanks again.

    D.C. Dill
    Martinsburg WV.

  12. Half of these guys are completely lying about stumbling on Kirby early on with such vivid memories. It’s ok to gush, but don’t LIE to try to pretend you understood his importance at age five in a pathetic attempt to one-up the other guests.

    1. Considering Xum has eidetic memory and I was at least 12 when I read my first Kirby comic – oh, and the fact none of us are liars – I think you’re painting people with a wide brush and the wrong-colored paint. In other words, who you calling a liar? Come on now.

      1. The only one on this network who lies (to himself and others) to impress people is ME, and I sadly couldn’t make this recording because I was overwhelmed with a newborn child at the time. Or was I…?

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