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JACK KIRBY by Tom Scioli


The Epic Life of the King of Comics

by Tom Scioli ; illustrated by Tom Scioli

Pub Date: July 14th, 2020
ISBN: 978-1-984856-90-6
Publisher: Ten Speed Press

An unauthorized graphic biography of the comic-book artist Jack Kirby (1917-1994).

“This is a biography…not an autobiography or memoir,” writes Scioli on the first page. “The first-person narration in this work is a literary device. The story is told through ‘Kirby’s’ point of view, adapted from a number of sources, including interviews he gave throughout his life.” One of the claims from the protagonist’s mouth is that he “saved Marvel’s ass.” While comic-book aficionados and cultural historians have long recognized Kirby’s crucial role in the expanding Marvel universe—and his creative development of Spider-Man, the Hulk, Ant-Man, and Iron Man—he has never achieved the name recognition among the public at large as Stan Lee, with whom Kirby had a troubled, complex relationship as a collaborator and rival. In Scioli’s treatment, Lee gets the chance to say his piece, but it is clearly meant to serve as a corrective to restore some critical balance. In a vivid style similar to Kirby’s, Scioli brings out his subject as a comic hero himself and gives repeated voice to his complaints: that Lee took more credit than he deserved, promoting himself as a hipster icon; and that as Marvel continued to generate revenue streams through TV and film adaptations and licensed consumer goods, the artist responsible for creating these characters saw little or nothing in the way of either acclaim or money. As the man Kirby knew as “Stanley” promoted his own legend, making himself synonymous with Marvel, his leading artist counters, “It’s all lies.” Whomever one believes, the book underscores how difficult it can be to assign credit or negotiate a fair deal in a market-driven business filled with copycats, where any popular success spawns numerous imitators and artists borrow or steal from each other regularly.

A fast-paced celebration of an underheralded legend within the comic-book industry.