Jack Kirby, the legendary artist who, with Joe Simon, created the genre of romance comics before going on to co-found the Marvel Universe with the likes of Stan Lee, Steve Ditko and Don Heck, would have turned 96 today.
If you’ve enjoyed stories about Captain America, the Fantastic Four, the Avengers, Challengers of the Unknown, Thor, Etrigan the Demon, Nick Fury, the X-Men, Klarion the Witch Boy, Black Panther, Ant-Man, the Wasp, the Incredible Hulk, Darkseid, the Red Skull, Kamandi or Mister Miracle — in comics, in film or on television — you should thank Kirby, who created all of those characters (and many, many others) either in collaboration with Simon or Lee, or on his own.
But most people reading this blog already know that. What you may not know is what’s being done today to celebrate Kirby’s birthday — and how you can help.
Following last week’s launch of the second annual Kirby4Heroes campaign, The Hero Initiative has announced details of “Wake Up and Draw” and in-store events on Aug. 28 to celebrate the 96th birthday of Jack Kirby.
The organization, which provides financial support to creators in need, has recruited more than 40 artists to celebrate the day by drawing “birthday cards” to Kirby. Their illustrations will be showcased at ComicArtFans.com and auctioned at a later date, with the proceeds going to The Hero Initiative.
On that same day, retailers across North America will hold special events to mark Kirby’s birthday, with some pledging to donate a percentage of profits to the organization. Here’s a partial list of participating stores: Jesse James Comics, Glendale, AZ; Flying Colors Comics, Concord, CA; Lee’s Comics, Mountain View, CA; Alakazam Comics, Irvine, CA; Mission: Comics and Art, San Francisco, CA; Golden Apple Comics, Los Angeles, CA; The Secret Headquarters, Los Angeles, CA; A&M Comics, Miami, FL; Chimera’s Comics, Lagrange, IL; Aw Yeah Comics, Skokie, IL; Graham Crackers Comics, Plainfield, IL; Alternate Reality Comics, Las Vegas, NV; Paradise Comics, Toronto, Ontario; Floating World Comics, Portland, OR; and Austin Books & Comics, Austin, TX.
Kirby4Heroes was established last year by Kirby’s granddaughter Jillian Kirby, who’s been sharing vintage photos and her grandfather’s art on the campaign’s Facebook page.
For the second year in a row, Jack Kirby’s youngest granddaughter Jillian is commemorating the legendary artist’s birthday by spearheading the Kirby4Heroes campaign to help creators in need.
On Aug. 28, what would have been Kirby’s 96th birthday, fans are asked to donate to The Hero Initiative, the only industry organization that provides financial assistance to creators who have fallen on hard times.
Some retailers have also pledged to donate a percentage of their profits on that day. Writing on Hero Complex, 17-year-old Jillian Kirby says some stores will host “birthday parties” for her grandfather and auction off original art to benefit The Hero Initiative. This year’s goal is $10,000, nearly double what was raised in 2012.
“I started the Kirby4Heroes campaign as a way to connect with my grandfather, who died the year before I was born,” Jillian writes. “I’ve grown so much closer to him through my endeavors in this area. I have to admit I’m astounded by him as an artist, family member and just a kind human being. Raising funds for those in the comic book industry in need of financial and medical assistance is a cause my grandfather Jack would have championed. He never turned his back on a person in need.”