Long Live "The King"!

By: Henry Hanks, Contributor     @hankstv / tvshenry@gmail.com

I write this early on what would have been the 100th birthday of Jack Kirby.

For the unitiated, Kirby is often referred to as the "King" of comics. It's hard to understate his impact on the industry. Along with Stan Lee, Steve Ditko and a few others in the silver age of Marvel Comics, he saved comic books.

Kirby had been toiling away in relative obscurity for about 20 years, having co-created a few notable characters, Captain America being the best known... but by 1961, attempts to revive Cap had failed.

Kirby was working on various "monster" comics when he was tasked by Stan Lee and publisher Martin Goodman to draw a new superhero team that year, the Fantastic Four. This would launch the Marvel age of comics, and Kirby would go on to render characters like Thor, Iron Man, the Incredible Hulk and the X-Men.

His art captured your attention like nobody else. His characters practically leapt off the page. The drama and excitement in each panel made you eager to see the next.

Kirby's style would become the style of Marvel for the next few decades, and in turn artists like Neal Adams at DC Comics would draw on him for inspiration. Before long, the Kirby style was the style for all comics, period.

Kirby would continuing work his magic, returning to DC in the 1970s (where he spent some time in the '40s) to create the Fourth World, including the ultimate Big Bad of the DC universe, Darkseid.

To put it simply, there might not be a comics industry today - certainly not the way we know it now - without Kirby.

By the 1980s, the many creators who admired him began working to make sure that he got the recognition he deserved, and this year's recognition of Kirby as a Disney Legend (alongside Lee) was a big honor. There's also the Jack Kirby Museum and Research Center, which doesn't have a permanent location yet, but it's a start.

Atlanta Classic Comics is doing our part by celebrating #Kirby100 all week. Here's to the King!