When it comes to true comic book royalty, Jack Kirby is one of those names right at the top of the tree when discussing genuine icons who helped change and shape the industry. Simply put, if it wasn’t for Kirby then comics as we know them may very well not exist. So, with Kirby: King of Comics, Mark Evanier looks to do justice to the life and career of the legendary Jack Kirby. Does Evanier prove successful, or is this just another paint-by-numbers book that merely goes over old ground? Time to find out.
Firstly, Kirby: King of Comics was actually first released back as a hardcover release back in 2008, complete with the Neil Gaiman introduction that’s present in this new paperback. Still, that doesn’t stop King of Comics from being a hands-down must-have for anybody with even a fleeting interest in the medium of comic books, particularly as there is some new material included here, too. While Stan Lee rightly gets so much of the praise and plaudits on a regular basis, Kirby is right up there with “The Man” for his influence on the industry. While Jack did indeed have a vital part to play in the creation of the likes of Captain America, The Hulk, Thor, The Fantastic Four, and The X-Men, equally as important is just how much his distinctive art style changed the game. It takes a truly special talent to become an artist whose work is instantly recognisable, but it’s just as much a compliment to say how easily noticeable the Kirby copycats have been over the years. And when you have people trying to copy your style, you know you’re on to a winner.
More than Jack Kirby the comic book icon, though, Kirby: King of Comics gives just as much of an insight in to Jack Kirby the man. From his extremely humble beginnings, to his tough teenage years, to his first foray into the comic book industry, to his rise to becoming one of the greatest and most important figures the medium has ever known, and much, more more - this book covers it all, and covers it all in a splendid, frenetic fashion that manages to cover all of the details yet always feels like an easy, enjoyable read; which is regularly helped by plentiful doses of glorious Kirby artwork, be it his own personal stories or his work with some more notable comic book characters.
Jack Kirby was a true instrument of change, a bona fide legend of comics books and pop culture as a whole, and the deliciously detailed Kirby: King of Comics is the perfect way to delve deeper into just who Jack was and what made him so special. Put together in a way that feels as vibrant and engaging as Kirby’s artwork, Kirby: King of Comics deserves to be added to your collection as soon as possible and is easily one of the greatest comics-driven books we've ever had the pleasure of reading. Hail to the King, baby.
KIRBY: KING OF COMICS / AUTHOR: MARK EVANIER / PUBLISHER: ABRAMS COMICARTS / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW