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Silver Surfer

On this date in 1917, comic-book writer-artist Jack Kirby was born (originally under the name Jacob Kurtzberg). Over the course of his career (until his death in 1994), Kirby would be involved in the creation of many of the comic book industry’s most recognisable characters.

With collaborator Stan Lee, he helped create Iron Man, the Incredible Hulk, the Fantastic Four, the X-Men, the Avengers, the Black Panther, the Silver Surfer, Dr. Doom, Magneto, Galactus, the Skrulls, the Inhumans, the Mighty Thor, and Nick Fury. (Rather than Lee’s simply writing a script for Kirby to illustrate, Lee and Kirby would brainstorm a story outline, Kirby would create the pictorial layout – often adding new elements as they occurred to him – and only then did Lee compose and insert captions and dialogue; so Kirby’s contribution was greater than the notation “Lee, script; Kirby, pencils” might suggest.)

With other collaborators he helped create Captain America, Manhunter, Kobra, the Challengers of the Unknown, and a couple of incarnations of the Sandman. In his solo work he came up with Kamandi, OMAC, Machine Man, Darkseid, the New Gods, the Eternals, Devil Dinosaur, Etrigan the Demon, and – in 1958 – the Face on Mars. (And that’s just scratching the surface.)

Over the years Kirby’s energetic drawing style grew increasingly distinctive and his story ideas more wackily inventive; his work had a big impact on my childhood, and I’ve blogged about him fairly often. Happy birthday, Jack.

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