An old radio interview uncovered earlier this summer gives us a glimpse into the mind and history of the King, Jack Kirby.
Source: Comic Book Collector's Club
As we celebrate what would have been Jack "King" Kirby's ninety-fifth birthday today, The Outhouse will share an interesting Kirby artifact that many may not have come across. Twenty-five years ago on this day, that being Jack's seventieth birthday if you're doing the math right, The King of Comics made an appearance on Earth Watch, a science-centric radio program on New York's WBAI (a program that still runs today). The fine folks at Comic Book Collector's Club uncovered the audio of the interview back in June, and it made the rounds on the internet back then (they also provided a transcription of the interview). We at The Outhouse would like to remind of you this great find, and maybe give it look tonight as you remember everything Jack Kirby did in comics.
Some highlights from The King:
On what the artist brings to a comic:
The artist influence is the visual part of the book and the visual part of the book is what attracts the attention. And in order to make sales, the visual part of the book is the, is the, is the, is what attracts the eye. You can see it from a newsstand, you could see it from the store window. Whatever you see is, is what attracts you. And the job of the comic book artist is essentially sales, and therefore I felt that was my job and I did it as spectacularly as I could.
On how the anatomy of his characters reflect the way he sees the world:
I love people, I love, I love nature. I love that things that nature produces. And therefore I, I believe, I believe in it strongly and I try to mirror all that in my work. I never contrive phony design or phony anatomy. I, I draw people as I see them. I’m not involved in making artistic masterpieces. My, my object is to mirror people and I’ve always done that. Believe me, there have been occasions when I’ve had to face severe criticism of my figure anatomy. And I’ve faced those down with the, with the knowledge that my, my object in drawing was not to get the anatomy perfect but to mirror the people themselves. And I believe I accomplished that.
His impressions of Joe Simon, and how Simon helped him in the business:
Joe Simon was a, was a little older and a lot taller than I was, and Joe Simon made an impression on that rigid system and I became Joe Simon’s partner because, well, Joe Simon was a, was a marvelous entrée into the field and all of us were not only friends, but we were learning from each other and Joe, Joe was certainly someone, someone whose type was new to me and he was not only a good friend but he opened up the world to me, and I began to see different types of, different types of people, different types of systems. And I, I, I began to know new types of friends. And it was, Joe who is actually, Joe was, well, he was just a wonderful symbol to me of a class that I’d never seen.
On his individualism as an artist:
It, like I say, comics is a personal view and certainly, remember my comics were done at different periods and I, I can only think in an individual way. And what comes out of me at certain times is completely individual. What you’re reading is Jack Kirby. What you’re looking at is Jack Kirby. And if it’s, if, you know, it can be no one–it can be no one else. My style is personal, my style of writing is personal, and I believe in that. I believe what comes out of me is an individual thing, and that’s why I, I believe in the individual. I know that whatever you write, I will recognize. I will recognize it because you wrote it.
True to what we know about Jack and everything that's happened to him, Stan Lee ends up calling into the program to wish Jack a happy birthday. After a bit of talking about the current comics scene (Stan was a big Watchmen fan), Lee and Kirby get into an unfortunately contentious argument about credits in comics, stemming from their Fantastic Four collaboration. It's almost darkly apropos (part of that argument is available in audio form.
Despite that bit of business, it's still an interesting interview, so head over to Comic Book Collector's Club to read what The King had to say on his seventieth birthday.
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About the Author - Royal Nonesuch
As Senior Media Correspondent (which may be a made-up title), Royal Nonesuch tends to spearhead a lot of film and television content on The Outhouse. He's still a very active participant in the comic book section of the site, though. Nonesuch writes reviews of film, television, and comics, and conducts interviews for the site as well. You can reach out to him on Twitter or with Email.
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