Happy birthday Jack Kirby!
Jack Kirby (August 28, 1917—February 6, 1994) was an American comic book artist, writer, and editor. He had a prolific career at several different publishers and also animated for movies and television. He is perhaps best known for creating the comics Captain America and The Fantastic Four.
Kirby was born Jacob Kurtzberg in Manhattan, New York to Rose and Benjamin Kurtzberg. Kirby always liked to draw as a child, and was influenced by the comic book artists Milton Caniff, Hal Foster, and Alex Raymond. He drew very fast, and for that reason, he felt he wasn't cut out for studies at the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, which he left after one week of enrollment.
In 1936, he joined the Lincoln Newspaper Syndicate, where he worked on the advice comic Your Health Comes First!!! By 1939, he began working as an "inbetweener" for Fleischer Studios, drawing the fill-in scenes between major action scenes in Popeye.
It wasn't long before Kirby detoured to work for the comic book publisher Eisner & Iger, drawing strips for Wild Boy Magazine. Some of his notable strips from this period included "The Diary of Dr. Hayward," "Wilton of the West," and "Socko the Seadog."
Soon, he moved to publisher Fox Feature Syndicate, where he first developed the comic The Blue Beetle in January of 1940. Kirby met editor Joe Simon while at Fox, and the two would become lifelong partners.
Kirby left Fox to begin work at Timely Comics, where he first conceptualized the foundations for the Captain America comics. When the first comics were released in 1941, they were an instant hit. Eventually, Kirby and Simon left Timely, where they were being paid a meager salary for their successes, and moved to National Comics (later called DC Comics) for salaries that were more than five times higher.
When America's draft went into effect during World War II, Kirby and Simon were paid to create a year's worth of comics in advance. To do so, they hired a slew of writers, letterers, illustrators, and other staffers. After being drafted in June of 1943, Kirby spent some of his time as a scout who would advance into enemy territory and draw maps for reconnaissance.
When he returned from war, Kirby, along with Simon, began creating the comic Young Romance for Crestwood Publishers.
Eventually, Kirby's partnership with Simon dissolved amicably, and Kirby moved on to Marvel Comics, where he would remain for 12 years. It was at Marvel that Kirby developed the hit series The Fantastic Four.
Kirby became hugely instrumental in the success of the company, creating other such comics as Thor, the Hulk, Iron Man, the original X-Men, the Silver Surfer, Doctor Doom, Galactus, Uatu the Watcher, Magneto, and Ego the Living Planet.
Kirby left Marvel in 1970 over dissatisfaction with his recognition at the company and moved to what had become DC Comics. There, he produced the comics OMAC, Kamandi, The Demon, The Losers, Dingbats of Danger Street, Kobra, and others.
After DC, he spent the latter years of his career back at Marvel for a time before doing some animation for film and television. Some of his work included the shows Turbo Teen, Thundarr the Barbarian, and Disney's The Black Hole (1979).