It really seems to me that no name in comics evokes as much emotion and passion as the name Jack Kirby. The reverence and devotion he inspires in fans has a different flavor than other figures in comics—and I put that down to the quiet, persistent commitment to his craft that he displayed during his lifetime as well as the sublime effect his linework has on readers. I’ve often heard people comment that there should have been more done already to celebrate his life and work.
Multi-faceted writer and comics creator Fred Van Lente (Brain Boy, Project Black Sky, Archer and Armstrong, Comic Book History of Comics, Cowboys & Aliens, Action Philosophers) and award-winning playwright Crystal Skillman have thrown down the gauntlet in doing what they do best to pay tribute to this master of comics by Kickstarting and bringing the play King Kirby to life.
And they have plenty of great material to work with in bringing the story of Kirby’s life to the stage from the struggles of his Lower East Side upbringing in New York to his wartime service in France, to the vicissitudes of the comics industry in granting him the recognition he deserved (and still deserves) for his creation and co-creation of characters who have had a massive impact on culture well beyond comics from The Fantastic Four to The Avengers, X-Men, Iron Man, and a plethora of other properties.
The production of the play, currently underway at the Brick theater in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, as part of the Comic Book Theater Festival, has been successfully funded through Kickstarter, but the campaign still has a few days to go, and tickets are still available for the performances. Rewards for backing King Kirby range from a digital PDF of comics telling Kirby’s life story from the Comic Book History of Comics to audio recordings of the play in performance, signed playbills and prints by Ryan Dunlavey (Action Philosophers), and at the highest levels scripts and production notes.
Even if you can’t make a performance of the play between June 20th and June 29th, what better way to say that Kirby is indeed the King of comics than to make a gesture in his honor like this? It’s rare there’s a purely Kirby-dedicated project like this one, and given Van Lente and Skillman breaking new ground like this, I’m optimistic enough to hope for more to help secure Kirby’s legacy in comics culture and beyond.
Here’s the trailer for the King Kirby Kickstarter project:
King Kirby is being performed on June 20th at 7PM, 21st at 3PM, 25th at 7PM, and the 28th and 29th at 5PM as part of the Comic Book Theater Festival at the Brick Theater in Brooklyn. You can get tickets here. You can also back the Kickstarter for Kirby loving rewards here.