Wake Up And Draw! (It’s Jack Kirby’s Birthday)

We'd be fools not to ride this strange torpedo all the way out to the end!

We’d be fools not to ride this strange torpedo all the way out to the end!

I had to bend the rules a little bit here for “Wake Up and Draw!” I get up for work at a quarter to six in the morning, to get to school a bit before seven thirty. In order to actually “Wake Up and Draw!”, I would have to get up at least an hour earlier than that, and I have no idea when I would post during the day. This post needed to be on time, because it is about Important Things.

First, it’s Jack Kirby’s Birthday. He passed away years ago, but his influence on comics is still strongly felt today, as most of Marvel’s visual design was derived from his ideas and his tireless pen. Captain America, Iron Man, the Hulk, Black Panther, Thor, and the Silver Surfer are just a few of his many contributions to that stable of characters, and he also did work for DC, the company that makes Superman and Batman. When he is called “the King of Comics,” it is not hyperbole by any means.

So…why is this an Important Thing? The Hero Initiative, the charitable organization dedicated to helping veteran comic creators in medical or financial need, is celebrating the birthday of Jack “King” Kirby on August 28 with a little help from The King’s family. The annual event has been growing, and raises a substantial amount. The idea is that a large number of professional comic artists “Wake Up and Draw,” with their drawings featured in a special gallery at ComicArtFans.com; they’ll be auctioned later on eBay, with proceeds benefiting The Hero Initiative. You can follow #WakeUpAndDraw on Twitter and Instagram today to see the drawings as they’re posted. You can also donate money directly to the cause there.

How is the King’s family involved? Good question. Jillian Kirby, Jack’s granddaughter, has spearheaded the “Kirby4Heroes” campaign. Jillian has recruited a number of comic stores throughout the country to donate a percentage of their sales to Hero on this special day. Many retailers have decided to “celebrate” with their own ideas, including hosting a “birthday party” for Jack, auctioning off original artwork, as well as other activities; all proceeds will go to the Hero Initiative in the name of the Kirby4Heroes campaign. Activities will grow yearly as we approach Jack’s upcoming 100th birthday in 2017.

“I started the Kirby4Heroes campaign as a way to connect with my grandfather, who died the year before I was born,” said Jillian Kirby. “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 as 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.”

Fans can visit the official Kirby4Heroes campaign Facebook page and donate via the PayPal link at HeroInitiative.org. Please type in “Kirby4Heroes” in the special instructions box…it clarifies that the event is effective.

As for the art above, I wanted something bombastic, energetic, and full of the kind of crazy energy that made me love Jack’s work so much. I make a big fuss of his Fantastic Four work here, but I almost never reference his work at DC on the Fourth World books, which are exploding with ideas. Those are some of my favorite comics in the world, and I felt that today, I should pay an homage to them. Hence Orion’s appearance in the art above, and a direct reference to “New Gods” No. 6, a single comic book so intensely dynamic and full of crazy, I could not possibly hope to summarize its awesomeness. Suffice it to say that the Cosmic Torpedo depicted above is one of Kirby’s less exciting, less off the wall concepts.

Still…I couldn’t just draw one thing. The whole Idea of drawing like Jack, for Jack’s Birthday, to hopefully drive eyeballs to an excellent charity…it made me draw another piece. More 70’s era Marvel driven:

Oh snap!  The Pyromancer Cometh!

Oh snap! The Pyromancer Cometh!

I’m really digging that retro, Anton LeVay looking pyromancer. He clearly has all kinds of supernatural anger issues going on. I have no @#$%ing idea why he has that Ren Faire bikini lady with him, but she certainly doesn’t seem all that happy about it. Maybe because her bikini isn’t very protective against fire. This wasn’t thought out as much as other pieces, it was more trying to channel the kind of idea flow, of cognitive madness that drives a good Kirby book. Certainly, the protagonist’s Nimbus 2000 broomstick is a poor choice of defense against the pyromancer.

In a post to another, more widely read blog than this, Jillian Kirby wrote the following, about previous art for “Wake Up And Draw!” The art will be included after the quote.

“I’ve also included 3 Wake Up and Draw pieces from 2013 that I especially enjoyed: Joe Sinnott’s drawing of my grandfather with the Thing, the character he personally identified with at the top of this blog, Walt Simonson’s drawing of Thor, and Paolo Rivera’s take on Captain America. Thank you so much again for your time, effort and support…”

Jack with his comics voice, Ben, by Joe Sinnot.

Jack with his comics voice, Ben, by Joe Sinnot.

One of Jack's earliest comics creations, Captain America, by Paolo Rivera.

One of Jack’s earliest comics creations, Captain America, by Paolo Rivera.

Thor, by Walt Simonson.

Thor, by Walt Simonson.

For even more information, click here, and go to Kirby4Heroes official web site. Also, if you are local to Los Angeles, both Comic Bug locations (Culver City and Manhattan Beach) will be donating a portion of their revenues tomorrow to the cause. I’m not a fan of that shop, or the guys behind it, but they are doing the right thing here, and you definitely need to pick up your comics. It’s not a bad thing to step through their doors for a day, True Believers. One day…! Let’s not get crazy here…it’s for the Cause.

Remember, the hashtag #WakeUpAndDraw will show all of this year’s art. Phil Hester drew 98 pieces, one for every single year since Jack’s birthday, the first time around. Obviously, he took a little bit of lead time on the project too.

Excelsior!

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