Jack Kirby Biography

(Co-Creator of The Superhero 'Captain America' in 1940 with Joe Simon)

Birthday: August 28, 1917 (Virgo)

Born In: New York, New York, United States

Jack Kirby, born Jacob Kurtzberg, was an American comic-book artist who created innumerable original characters, such as ‘The Incredible Hulk,’ ‘Captain America,’ and ‘The Fantastic Four.’ Born and raised in the US, he was a self-taught artist. He is considered as “The King of Comics” for his influential creations and contributions to the world of comics and his extensive body of work. His distinctive style of drawing, boundless imagination, and storytelling skills helped him create a mark for himself. He created countless popular characters and stories and could work across a wide range of genres, such as war, romance, superhero, and western. His long partnership with Joe Simon created a number of amazing comics. They also founded a company named ‘Mainline Publications,’ which was, however, short-lived. His collaboration with writer and editor Stan Lee produced remarkable characters such as ‘X-Men’ and ‘The Fantastic Four.’ Kirby worked for various comic publications, including ‘Timely Comics/Marvel Comics,’ ‘National Comics Publications/DC Comics,’ ‘Crestwood Publications,’ and ‘Harvey Comics.’ He was married to Rosalind Goldstein, and they had four children. He died of heart failure at the age of 76.

Quick Facts

Also Known As: Jacob Kurtzberg

Died At Age: 76


Spouse/Ex-: Roz Goldstein (m. 1942–1994)

father: Benjamin Kurtzberg

mother: Rose (Bernstein)

Born Country: United States

Quotes By Jack Kirby Cartoonists

Died on: February 6, 1994

place of death: Thousand Oaks, California, United States

Ancestry: Austrian American

Cause of Death: Heart Failure

U.S. State: New Yorkers

More Facts

awards: Alley Award
Best Pencil Artist (1967)
plus many awards for individual stories

Shazam Award
Special Achievement by an Individual (1971)

Childhood & Early Life
Jack Kirby was born on August 28, 1917, in the Lower East Side (LES) neighborhood of Manhattan, New York City, to Rose (Burnstein) and Benjamin Kurtzberg. His parents were Jewish immigrants from Austria. His father worked at a garment factory.
Since childhood, Jack had a liking for drawing. He initially learnt by tracing characters from cartoon strips. He joined the ‘Pratt Institute’ in Brooklyn when he was 14, but quit within a week due to financial issues.
Continue Reading Below
In 1936, he began working for ‘Lincoln Newspaper Syndicate’ under the pen-name “Jack Curtiss.” In his three-year-stint there, he created strips/characters such as ‘Black Buccaneer,’ ‘Abdul Jones,’ ‘Cyclone Burke,’ and ‘Socko the Seadog.’ In 1939, he joined ‘Fleischer Studios,’ a movie animation company, where he worked as an “in-betweener” for ‘Popeye Cartoons,’ but quit it after a while.
He began creating comics for ‘Eisner & Iger,’ founded by Will Eisner and Jerry Iger, which provided comic-book packages on publisher’s demands. He drew his first comic book for ‘Wild Boy Magazine.’ He then created other comic strips under the pseudonyms “Curt Davis,” “Ted Grey,” “Fred Sande,” “Teddy,” “Lance Kirby,” and “Jack Kirby.”
Kirby joined ‘Fox Feature Syndicate’ and teamed up with their artist and editor Joe Simon. Together, they also worked as freelancers. Their collaboration lasted for almost 15 years. In late 1940, they created the patriotic superhero ‘Captain America’ for publisher Martin Goodman’s ‘Timely Comics.’
In 1941, the first issue of ‘Captain America Comics’ released and earned them immediate success, establishing the duo as skilled comic-book artists. Before this, they had introduced many other characters which such as ‘Mercury,’ ‘Tuk the Caveboy,’ ‘Hurricane,’ ‘Red Raven,’ and ‘Comet Pierce.’ Within a short span of time, they produced 10 issues of ‘Captain America’ and then decided to leave ‘Timely Comics,’ as they felt that they were not being paid their promised share.
Simon and Kirby then joined ‘National Comics Publication,’ known for their superheroes ‘Superman’ and ‘Batman.’ They altered a previous character and created a new hero: ‘Manhunter.’ Their new series, ‘The Newsboy Legion’ and ‘Boy Commandos,’ became very popular.
In June 1943, Kirby joined the ‘US Army.’ Following his training period, he was posted to Omaha Beach, Normandy, in August 1944. Because of his background, Kirby was assigned the duty of scouting the areas and drawing maps. Later, he was hospitalized in England, for a frostbitten leg. At the end of the war, in June 1945, he was honorably discharged with three medals.
After his return, he and Simon worked for ‘Harvey Comics.’ Both of them introduced new titles such as ‘Boy’s Ranch,’ ‘Boy Explorers,’ ‘Stuntman,’ and ‘Captain 3-D.’ They also did some freelance work for ‘Hillman Periodicals.’
Simon and Kirby introduced the romantic comic-book series ‘Young Romance’ for ‘Crestwood Publications.’ The quick success of these series inspired them to create ‘Young Love.’ These two series sold millions of copies each month.
In late 1953, they started their own company, ‘Mainline Publications,’ through which they published titles such as ‘Foxhole,’ ‘Bullseye: Western Scout,’ ‘Police Trap,’ and ‘In Love.’ Due to distribution issues, the company had to be closed in 1955. Later, the partners drifted apart, Simon entered the advertising field, while Kirby continued with his freelance work.
Continue Reading Below
With his friend Frank Giacoia, Kirby briefly worked on a few strips for ‘Timely Comics,’ now known as ‘Atlas Comics,’ and introduced characters such as ‘Master Jeremy,’ ‘King Masters,’ ‘Black Rider,’ and ‘Yellow Claw.’ However, in 1957, ‘Atlas’ faced some problems, which affected work. Kirby turned to ‘National Comics Publications,’ now known as ‘DC Comics.’
At ‘DC Comics,’ he collaborated with writer brothers Dick and Dave Wood to produce the successful newspaper strip ‘Sky Masters of the Space Force,’ which ran from 1958 to 1961. They created an oceanic world comic ‘Surf Hunters,’ which, however, did not succeed. His other creations for ‘DC’ were ‘Challengers of the Unknown,’ ‘Green Arrow,’ and ‘House of Mystery.’ Later, Kirby left ‘DC Comics’ due to issues related to his contract.
Soon, he began freelancing for ‘Atlas’ and drew various genres of comics through series such as ‘Strange Tales,’ ‘Tales to Astonish,’ ‘Amazing Adventures,’ and ‘World of Fantasy.’ For a brief while, he worked with Joe Simons for ‘Archie Comics’ to create ‘The Fly’ and ‘The Double Life of Private Strong.’
Working with writer and editor Stan Lee of ‘Atlas,’ now known as ‘Marvel Comics,’ Kirby introduced the superhero comic series ‘The Fantastic Four’ in November 1961, which became a great success. Lee and Kirby designed many remarkable characters, such as ‘The Hulk,’ ‘Iron Man,’ ‘X-Men,’ ‘ Thor,’ ‘Magneto,’ ‘The Black Panther,’ and ‘Doctor Doom.’ Characters, such as ‘Sub-Mariner’ and ‘Captain America,’ were revived. Many of these characters were collectively featured under the title ‘The Avengers.’
‘Marvel’ planned to introduce a new superhero, ‘Spiderman,’ which Simon and Kirby had created earlier in the 1950s. Kirby began working on a fresh story, but Lee constructed a new ‘Spiderman,’ with artist Steve Ditko. ‘Marvel’ characters reached the peak of popularity in the mid-1960s and appeared on TV as cartoon series. However, due to many reasons, Kirby felt unhappy with ‘Marvel’s’ administration.
In 1970, he quit ‘Marvel’ and joined ‘DC Comics.’ There, he introduced a new trilogy: ‘New Gods,’ ‘Mister Miracle,’ and ‘The Forever People,’ all of which were included in ‘The Fourth World.’ ‘Mister Miracle’ was closer to his own life, and the character of ‘Miracle’s wife was based on his wife, Roz. He also worked on the already existent ‘Superman’s Pal Jimmy Olsen.’
Kirby created the series ‘Kamandi,’ ‘The Demon,’ ‘OMAC,’ and ‘Kobra’ for ‘DC Comics.’ Once again, he worked with Joe Simon to re-create ‘Sandman.’ He also produced ‘Atlas the Great,’ a new ‘Manhunter,’ and the ‘Dingbats of Danger Street.’ However, he faced some issues, as he worked from California. He was also often compelled to work on projects he did not want to.
Kirby returned to ‘Marvel’ in 1975 and introduced a new series, ‘The Eternals.’ He also drew the monthly series ‘Captain America’ and ‘Black Panther.’ His new contributions were ‘Machine Man’ and ‘Devil Dinosaur.’ His last creation with Stan Lee was ‘The Silver Surfer: The Ultimate Cosmic Experience’ (1978).
Soon, Kirby quit ‘Marvel’ to work in the field of animation with ‘Hanna-Barbera.’ He created the series ‘Turbo Teen’ and ‘Thundarr the Barbarian’ for TV. He also created the animated series ‘The New Fantastic Four,’ with Lee as the scriptwriter. He worked on the adaptation of the ‘Walt Disney’ movie ‘The Black Hole.’
During the 1980s, new changes allowed creators of comic characters to have rights on their creations. He created the series ‘Captain Victory and the Galactic Rangers’ and ‘Silver Star’ for ‘Pacific Comics.’ He produced an autobiographical strip, ‘Street Code,’ in 1983, which was published in 1990. With Gil Kane, he helped design the animated TV series ‘The Centurions.’
His later years were spent fighting legal battles with ‘Marvel Comics’ over the ownership of his work. The last comic book that he drew before his death was ‘Phantom Force.’
Awards & Achievements
In his illustrious career, spanning five decades, Kirby won innumerable awards and honors. He received the 1967 ‘Alley Award for Best Pencil Artist’ and many other ‘Alley Awards’ over the years. In 1971, he was awarded the ‘Shazam Award’ for ‘Special Achievement by an Individual’ for his ‘Fourth World’ series. He was given the ‘Inkpot Award’ in 1974 and was inducted into the ‘Shazam Awards Hall of Fame’ in 1975. Kirby was the inducted into the inaugural ‘Will Eisner Comic Book Hall of Fame’ in 1987. He received two awards posthumously: the ‘Harvey Award’ and the ‘Eisner Award’ in 1998.
An asteroid discovered on September 22, 2001, was named ‘Asteroid 51985 Kirby,’ to honor him. The ‘Jack Kirby Awards,’ and the ‘Jack Kirby Hall of Fame’ were named in his honor.
Personal Life
Kirby met Rosalind Goldstein when his family moved to Brooklyn. They married on May 23, 1942. They had four children: Susan, Neal, Barbara, and Lisa. He bought a house in Mineola, Long Island, New York, in 1949. In 1969, the entire family moved to Southern California. He died of heart failure at his residence in Thousand Oaks, California, on February 6, 1994.
Recommended Lists:

See the events in life of Jack Kirby in Chronological Order

How To Cite

Article Title
- Jack Kirby Biography
- Editors, TheFamousPeople.com
- TheFamousPeople.com

People Also Viewed

Andy Warhol Biography
Andy Warhol
Marilyn Manson Biography
Marilyn Manson
Don Gummer Biography
Don Gummer
Matthew Gray Gubler Biography
Matthew Gray Gubler
Grace Slick Biography
Grace Slick
Jim Henson Biography
Jim Henson
Matt Groening Biography
Matt Groening