Writer Robbie Thompson celebrates the hope that Jack brought to comics!
1917 to 2017: 100 years of Kirby.
Join us this month to celebrate Jack “King” Kirby’s 100th birthday by learning about the characters and stories he created that changed comics forever. To commemorate Jack’s centennial, we’ve sat down with the modern-day creators he influenced—and the decades of work he gifted us all.
Robbie Thompson could see something special in Jack Kirby’s artwork from the first moment he discovered it.
Having written SILK, VENOM: SPACE KNIGHT, DOCTOR STRANGE AND THE SORCERERS SUPREME, Thompson is set to take over SPIDER-MAN/DEADPOOL with issue #23. So he’s done his fair share of playing in the universe that Kirby helped create.
We celebrated Jack Kirby’s centennial alongside Robbie with a chat about discovering The King, loving Galactus, and adventuring with the Fantastic Four.
Marvel.com: Do you remember how you first discovered Jack’s artwork? Did you immediately enjoy it or did it take some getting used to?
Robbie Thompson: My brother and I used to get comics at the local drug store off a spinner rack—but for classic issues, we would get them from the local library. That’s where I first saw Kirby’s incredible work. They had copies of ORIGINS OF MARVEL COMICS, SON OF ORIGINS, BRING ON THE BAD GUYS, SUPER HERO WOMEN. All the artists in those collections are incredible, but Kirby’s work felt so singular. It became abundantly clear that he stood as a titan in creating the characters and universe my brother and I had grown to love.
Marvel.com: Does a particular Kirby book, arc, or series stick out in your mind as quintessential Jack?
Robbie Thompson: There’s almost too many to choose from! But I adore FANTASTIC FOUR; Kirby’s work on that series couldn’t have been more epic. There really wasn’t a book like it on stands at the time. It broke all kinds of ground and started the Marvel Universe. From character performances, to designs, to world-building, to layouts, Kirby created something timeless. The book has it all and it’s the one I revisit all the time. Plus, that’s where Kirby brought Galactus to life—and he’s one of my all-time favorite characters!
Marvel.com: When it came to creating new characters, few did it better than Jack and Stan Lee. But you’ve added a few toys to the Marvel sandbox yourself, so how does it feel adding to the stable they built?
Robbie Thompson: I feel incredibly fortunate to be standing on the shoulders of those giants and getting to play in the amazing universe they built. There’s a great quote from Kirby—it’s a perfect guiding light for playing in the Marvel Universe—which was, “I feel my characters are valid, my characters are people, my characters have hope. Hope is the thing that’ll take us through.” I love the hope in the Marvel Universe, and I’m so grateful to be playing a small role in it.
Marvel.com: In your mind, what about Kirby’s style and storytelling make him the person new fans keep discovering and older ones keep digging into?
Robbie Thompson: I think there’s really something for everyone in Kirby’s work if you love design, architecture, world-building, crazy technology, cosmic adventures, incredible characters with layered performances, romance, intrigue, suspense. He could do it all. He defined and then constantly redefined what could be done in a comic book as an art form—that’s what made him a legend.
Plenty of Kirby’s work has been adapted, and will be adapted for years to come; I can’t wait to see all the Kirby love in “Thor: Ragnarok.” His work defines pure comics—I think that’s what sets Kirby apart and what keeps him timeless. He did things that simply can’t be recreated in another art form. He was an absolute genius and I’m thrilled each new generation keeps finding and appreciating his legacy.
Stay tuned to Marvel.com for more throughout Kirby Month and beyond! And join the conversation on all of our social channels with the hashtag #Kirby100.