Jack Kirby was an American writer, editor and comic book artist, who is often regarded as one of the most influential artists in his field for bringing about a string of innovations that went on to define the industry. He started off in the comic industry at some point in the 1930s when the industry was not too developed and by 1940, Kirby had created the iconic superhero ‘Captain America’. He worked for 'DC Comics’ and ‘Marvel Comics’, two of the most renowned comic strip companies in history. Later, Kirby switched to independent comics and television animations, which portrayed his versatility as a comic artist. Kirby’s contributions as the most influential comic artist in history received due recognition in 1987 when he was inducted into the ‘Will Eisner Comic Book Hall of Fame’. Kirby expressed his views and thoughts on the intricacies of comic art and the evolution of comic strips through his books and work. Following are some notable quotes and thoughts by Jack Kirby, one of the true artistic giants in the history of comic books.
I feel that man can transcend himself to a point where he can accomplish greater things than he thinks. I see people depressed and I see people who devalue themselves and I feel that's a terrible, terrible waste. But I love the people who try. But try fairly, try honestly.
There are people that I didn't like, but I saw them suffer and it changed me. I promised myself that I would never tell a lie, never hurt another human being, and I would try to make the world as positive as I could.
I always resent anybody interfering with anybody else trying to do his job. Everybody has his own job to do. If he's good, he'll do well, but if he's mediocre, he's not going to do as well as he should.
I want to be better than five guys. I was that way when I used to box, I was that way in any sport. I want to compete with five other guys. If I beat five other guys, I'd like to see if I can beat six.
A good commander can beat the odds. A great commander can beat the gods.
I began to learn about the universe myself and take it seriously. I know the names of the stars. I know how near or far the heavenly bodies are from our own planet. I know our own place in the universe. I can feel the vastness of it inside myself. I began to realize with each passing fact what a wonderful and awesome place the universe is, and that helped me in comics because I was looking for the awesome.
The artist is the lowest form of life on the rung of the ladder. The publishers are usually businessmen who deal with businessmen. They deal with promotional people. They deal with financial people. They deal with accountants. They deal with people who work on higher levels. They deal with tax people, but have absolutely no interest in artists, in individual artists, especially very young artists.
I taught myself how to draw, and I soon found out it was what I really wanted to do. I didn't think I was going to create any great masterpieces like Rembrandt or Gauguin. I thought comics was a common form of art, and strictly American in my estimation, because America was the home of the common man - and show me the common man that can't do a comic. So comics is an American form of art that anyone can do with a pencil and paper.
If a carpenter makes a chair that's comfortable for the person who's going to sit in it, he's done his job. If a train engineer gets a train in on time, he's going to make someone happy who's waiting at the station. And if an artist draws the kind of a picture that people are going to enjoy looking at, or he makes a visual story which people are going to enjoy reading, he's done his job.
I feel that life is a series of very interesting questions, and very poor answers. But I myself am willing to settle for the questions. If the questions are interesting, I feel I evoke them in what I do. I feel that should be good enough for everyone else.
All life on Earth is subject to the rumbles and rockings of the parent stucture which has no control over the disastrous effects of its stresses and strains on whatever thrives on its surface. The ambitions and dreams of men are irrelevant to this planetary giant which pursues its own way in its own manner. Man is its child, tenant and still, to this date, its captive.
Superman is going to live forever. They'll be reading Superman in the next century when you and I are gone. I felt, in that respect, I was doing the same thing. I wanted to be known. I wasn't going to sell a comic that was going to die quickly.
I get a lot of comics, and I can look at a comic and tell immediately whether I'll enjoy it or not. There are elements in the stories that I have no rapport with. I see dirty language, I see sleazy backgrounds; I see it reflected in the movies, the movies are comics to me. And I don't see a sleazy world. I see hope. I see a positive world.
Some of my friends became gangsters. You became a gangster depending upon how fast you wanted a suit. Gangsters weren't the stereotypes you see in the movies. I knew the real ones, and the real ones were out for big money.
There were very strict social conventions, and you adhered to it, and I think it gave you a lot of character. When a man said something, he meant it. He wasn't kidding around. There were no jokes involved. Nobody was in the mood to joke unless you hit a guy with a baseball bat.
I'll never speak to another person without telling the truth. I've been a cruel man in my time, I've been a devious man in my time, like everybody else. I've told lies in my time. But I've seen enough suffering to experiment with the truth.
There was one time they knocked me out and laid me in front of my mother's door. And in order for my mother not to be shocked they readjusted my clothes and they saw that nothing was rumpled and I looked very comfortable next to the apartment door, so when my mother would open the door it wouldn't be that much of a shock.
I couldn't draw anything that was too outlandish or too horrible. I never did that. What I did draw was something intriguing. There was something about this monster that you could live with. If you saw him you wouldn't faint dead away.