Heartless, cold, slime.
How I swore. Marvel Comics treated Jack Kirby like shit while trying everything it could to not recognise his major contribution or reward him financially (despite what you might believe, in private, Stan Lee tried a lot but he was not the boss -he was hired help and he didn't like how Kirby was treated either).
Then I saw this:
"On Sunday, August 28, anybody who has ever enjoyed a Marvel comic, movie, TV show, or character should take a moment to wish a happy 99th birthday to the one and only Jack Kirby, one of comics’ all-time greatest creators and a pillar of the House of Ideas. All-week long to celebrate, Marvel.com will be featuring the best of “The King,” with interviews, art, stories, and more!
Also be sure to check out and support Kirby4Heroes, a special campaign to raise money in Jack’s honor for the Hero Initiative founded by his granddaughter Jillian!
Same Old Same Old
Comics became more diverse with the crowning of a new king.
For the first few decades of comics history, the black characters in stories took on stereotypical roles due to the popular mindset of the times. If readers saw them at all, they saw mostly comic relief characters such as menial workers, shoeshine boys, or layabouts. What they didn’t see would be black heroes, and especially not black super heroes.
In 1965, the Dell comic book company produced a book with a lead black character named Lobo, but due to different factors, it sunk almost immediately and disappeared after its second issue. It would be another year before diversity history would be made once again in the comics industry.
"A King to Crown a King
In the pages of their wildly popular FANTASTIC FOUR title, Stan Lee and Jack Kirby decided to shake things up a bit.
FANTASTIC FOUR #52, cover dated July 1966, introduced a brand-new character, the Black Panther, and comics would never look the same again. No menial or sidekick, the Panther hailed from the African nation of Wakanda, a technologically advanced country over which T’Challa ruled as monarch. The Fantastic Four expressed awe at their new acquaintance, as did their fans.
“It is the Black Panther who truly began the rise of racial and ethnic diversity in the Marvel Universe as it exists today,” proclaims comics historian Peter Sanderson. “The debut of the character in 1966 was a landmark in the history of both comics and American popular culture, as he was the first black super hero in mainstream comics.
“Moreover, the first Black Panther story arc proudly asserted the character's background in African culture, or Stan Lee and Jack Kirby's version of it. Once again, Kirby was combining the mythic with the modern: The Black Panther's Wakanda seemed to be a mixture of traditional African culture with futuristic technology. Like most of American popular culture up to that time, comics had mainly depicted only white people of unspecified ethnicity. In the 1960s Marvel began to change this status quo by introducing characters like Gabe Jones, an African-American, in SGT. FURY, but T'Challa, the Black Panther, was the truly groundbreaking character.”
After his initial two-part adventure in FANTASTIC FOUR, the Panther quickly became a staunch ally of the famous foursome and provided them with both technological inventions and physical support in their battles against evil. In the sprawling story of 1967’s FANTASTIC FOUR ANNUAL #5, T’Challa joins forces with not only the Fantastic Four, but also the entire cast of Inhumans--yet holds his own versus the wily Psycho Man and his island of deviltry.
“I really think my father created and introduced the Black Panther because it was the right thing to do at the time,” says Neal Kirby, son of the famous artist. “It broke all the stereotypes—a black super hero with a scientific brain. It’s no secret that my father was very socially liberal, and I think he saw this as his personal way of making a statement and ‘joining’ the civil rights movement.”
On the Prowl
With Marvel readers reacting positively to the Panther’s debut, Lee and Kirby allowed him to roam free in the still-growing Marvel Universe.
Following his initial appearances in FANTASTIC FOUR, the duo introduced T’Challa to Captain America in the patriotic hero’s story spot in TALES OF SUSPENSE #97. Cap received a call for assistance from the Panther, and found himself whisked away to Wakanda and immediately embroiled in a dangerous plot therein. In that tale, a bond formed between the two characters, one that would lead to even greater things for the Black Panther in his near future.
In 1968, Kirby paused his pencil to let T’Challa find his path with other artists and writers. In the landmark AVENGERS #51, the King of Wakanda arrived in America under the guidance of writer Roy Thomas and artist John Buscema, and the Panther joined the ranks of Earth’s Mightiest Heroes as their first black member and one of their greatest teammates.
With the floodgates thrown wide, Marvel debuted more black heroes, such as the Falcon and Luke Cage, and never looked back.
Return to Wakanda
Jack Kirby requested two existing characters to work on when he returned to Marvel Comics in 1977, of which he possessed intimate knowledge: Captain America and the Black Panther.
Although the Panther headlined a series of stories in JUNGLE ACTION from 1973 to 1976 and maintained a prominent role with the Avengers, he’d never been favored with his very own eponymous title. That changed with 1977’s BLACK PANTHER, written, illustrated, and edited by his co-creator, Jack Kirby.
From the very first page of BLACK PANTHER #1, readers knew that Kirby intended a flight of fancy for his creation like none before it. Wild technology, situations, and villains flew at fans issue and after issue, endowing T’Challa and Wakanda with even more back story and detail, all trademarks of the “King” at work. Kirby left the book after a breathless twelve-issue run, leaving behind a rich manuscript for future creators to follow when crafting their adventures for the Panther.
That Kirby mark still exists today, in the work of artist Brian Stelfreeze on T’Challa’s latest title. “I believe Jack Kirby's work is the greatest triumph of form and function in synchronicity,” he notes. “He designed his work flow for brevity but in doing so created a fantastic style. He blurred the line between illustration and graphic design to create iconographic and magisterial characters. Jack Kirby taught me how to draw power, and I always review his work when I need to recharge my batteries.”
Yeah. You read it right. "Good Ol' Jack!" Did no one at Marvel even choke when they wrote this or had the whole "Kirby Week" idea? I doubt it since all they really give a shit about is the money. Yes, you can buy a digital edition of that Black Panther first FF appearance. Well, of course you can and I'll bet there are going to be more opportunities to buy even more digital editions this week to celebrate "Good Ol' Jack". Hey -mention the family created charity and tell us we can support it -but will Di$ney/Marvel be contributing from sales?
Creators out there -this is how big companies will take your work and then claim all copyright, impune your reputation and name and let you linger "making do" but later, once you are dead, you'll find out how great you were and how the company would not have been as great without you.
More on Marvel.com: http://marvel.com/news/comics/26638/jack_kirby_week_the_black_panther#ixzz4ISQlqG2D