The Spirits of Vengeance artist speaks on how Kirby influenced him!
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.
For some, Jack Kirby’s artwork fit in seamlessly with the rest of their comic-reading habits. For artist David Baldeón, though, the artwork of “The King” proved so potent and captivating that he could only think of Kirby when it came to comics!
A devoted fan, Baldeón has drawn many of the same characters that gained life from Kirby’s pencils like Captain America and many of the pre-super hero monsters. He’s built off of the King’s work as well, with books like NOMAD and YOUNG ALLIES.
We talked with Baldeón about how Spanish reprints helped introduce him to Jack’s work, what that discovery did to his reading habits, and how he feels drawing some of Kirby’s most famous creations.
Marvel.com: How did you come to discover the King’s work and what struck you about it at the time?
David Baldeón: I discovered Kirby’s work before knowing it was actually Kirby’s. I guess it happens quite a bit when you’re a kid, but the Spanish editions of some Marvel Comics back in the day were not the best at crediting creators.
Anyway, I must have been 10 years old. I was already an avid comic book reader without giving much mind to where or from whom they came from. An issue of the FANTASTIC FOUR fell into my hands. It was the one in which The Thing ends up as the pirate Blackbeard, which I later learned was [Stan] Lee and Kirby’s [FANTASTIC FOUR] #5. I knew nothing; who those guys were, where they came from, what the hell was going on. I only knew it looked different; brash and energetic and fun and dramatic.
I never went back to my old comic books. I kept looking for that energy when I scanned through a new one, before buying. Kirby became the measure bar for every comic book I bought, without me really knowing his name.
Marvel.com: As a developing artist, did you take any inspiration or learn any lessons from looking at Kirby’s pages?
David Baldeón: Well, he was and is the standard. Even when you try to go in a different direction, his work very much determines that—precisely because you’re trying to not go Kirby! But if I have to say one thing, it goes back to what I said above: the lesson was the crisp energy, the clarity.
Marvel.com: NOMAD is an interesting book because it’s about an alternate-dimension version of Bucky. Did you look back at any classic Kirby Cap books when developing your take on Rikki Barnes?
David Baldeón: Funny thing is, back when I got the Nomad job—and it was my first kinda-sorta ongoing Marvel work!—I was going through some classic Cap in one of the editions I had collected. I kept going back to it because Steve Rogers and his man-out-of-time feel were a perfect companion to our “Girl Without a World,” Rikki. Of course, a good deal of those books being so powerful was Kirby’s work.
Marvel.com: Rikki carried over into YOUNG ALLIES, another book soaked in Marvel history while also looking fresh and current. How was it playing with those characters?
David Baldeón: It was like having a little taste of history. It was so in sync with everything I love about the [Marvel Universe]. And as you say, it sunk its roots deep and wide into Marvel history.
Marvel.com: Kirby also helped create many of the creatures seen in MONSTERS UNLEASHED. How fun has it been going back, looking at those designs, and rejuvenating them?
David Baldeón: Oh, that was fun. I must confess I knew way less about Kirby’s monsters than I thought and digging into that part of his work and finding out what he did, that was awesome. Even more when you start studying the designs, and capturing their essences and pour a bit of that into the book. That’s when you learn that some things only worked when it was him doing them. It certainly does not make the work less fun, but it makes you admire him even more.
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.