by Rey Armenteros
I painted this a couple of years ago on Jack Kirby’s birthday. I was online, looking at comics imagery, and I found it was Jack Kirby’s birthday that day. He would have been 96 or 97. I was planning to paint that day, but now I wanted to make something significant to Jack Kirby. So, I came up with this, something that occurred to me when I going over the reasons that made Kirby so damn great. I thought of my old room, where I started collecting comics. That’s supposed to be my brother off to the side, playing or doing something by the chest of drawers, and those are my comics on the bed.
That room was the place where I first heard of Jack Kirby, where I first read back issues of the Eternals, Machine Man, and Devil Dinosaur. I also had a couple of rare issues of early Fantastic Four and one of Thor; those three issues from before my birth spelled out a mystical time for me. My brother had some Kirby Captain America comics from the Marvel return of the 1970s, and there was more. When I reach back far enough into my memory of Jack Kirby, I go back to this room.
Jack Kirby was there at the dawn of the comic books, and he came to influence that industry in so many ways. In the realm of American superhero comics, there has been no one more influential or beloved. Today marks what would have been his hundredth birthday, and so let us devote a moment of reflection to the King of Comics.
by Rey Armenteros
When you listen to the classical music station, they might suddenly announce over three hundred years of Bach, celebrating the great composer’s birthday, and some people might wonder what’s the angle? I mean, I know it is an appreciation of the man, but why celebrate the birthday of a dead person? I suppose I’m looking for conceptual glue to these types of fragments, and I don’t recognize enough in them to suit me.
With Jack Kirby’s hundredth birthday coming up, now I am beginning to understand. When you think of one hundred years, you can internalize that number, not just because it is a milestone but it is not impossible that a human life can attain such a duration. So there is a physiological connection with the number, an intimate understanding, and then you think that Jack – had all the cards fallen into the right place – could have lived that long. He could still be alive today.
For me, celebrating Jack’s hundred years makes sense. Online, you can find many fans making the point, filing a parade of endless images by the King of Comics, and these are spearheading an incredible interest in the great comic book creator, setting off more fireworks than the publishing houses that owe him a great deal.
In my art, I never (consciously) reference the work of other artists. Here, we have an exception. It comes from my recent reading of the New Gods. I was taken aback by the superb twists in Jack Kirby’s story, particularly the one above, where the main hero, Orion, is revealed to have a natural sinister countenance that he has to hide with the help of his mother box. This is one of the most shocking moments, delivered in a strange circumstance that gives the reader a chill. Below is my attempt at a similar situation (far from finished, and far from good).
Thank you, Jack, for still lighting the fire for artists everywhere.