Jack Kirby in "The Dungeon," his home studio, in 1949. (Kirby family collection)Link
Jack Kirby, 1945, Brighton Beach. (Kirby family collection)Link
Jack Kirby in 1949 in New York City. (Kirby family collection)Link
Long Island, 1950. Rosalind and Jack Kirby with their children, Neal, 2, and Susan, 6. Credit: (Kirby family collection)Link
1961, Neal Kirby's Bar Mitzvah. Left to right in rear: Neal Kirby, Rosalind Kirby, Susan Kirby and Jack Kirby; Barbara Kirby in front. (Kirby family collection)Link
Jack Kirby touching up an Iron Man page in 1965 at the Marvel offices. (Kirby family collection)Link
Jack Kirby at work in his Thousand Oaks home studio in 1982. (Kirby family collection)Link
Jack Kirby, 1991 portrait photo. (Ray Wyman/Kirby family collection)Link
Wednesday, Aug. 28, would have been the 96th birthday of Jack Kirby, the creator/co-creator of iconic Marvel characters — Captain America, the Fantastic Four, X-Men, the Avengers and Thor, among them. To commemorate the occasion and to celebrate both his creative legacy and his charitable nature, Kirby’s youngest granddaughter, Jillian, has undertaken a new fundraising campaign as part of Kirby4Heroes, the venture she launched last year to help generate donations for the Hero Initiative, the only non-profit organization to help comic book creators in need, offering assistance to artists and writers.
Last year, Hero Complex helped Jillian, 17, get the word out about her campaign, and we’re pleased to do so again this year. Read what Jillian — whose father, Neal Kirby, last year contributed an essay to Hero Complex about his experiences growing up as Jack’s son — had to say about the project in her own words below, and watch the video she created to learn more about how to give to the cause.
I started the Kirby4Heroes campaign as a way to connect with my grandfather, who died the year before I was born. 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 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.
One example of my grandfather Jack’s charitable nature can be seen in an anecdote my father shared with me on many occasions. It took place during the Bar Mitzvah of my grandfather’s nephew in a Lower East Side Manhattan synagogue in the early 1960s. After the service, his nephew’s family, being of modest means, had just a simple buffet served in the large entrance foyer of the synagogue. Noticing a homeless man standing in the open doorway, just looking in at the celebration, my grandfather Jack immediately walked over to the man, took him by the arm, led him into the room, sat him down at a table and served him a plate of food. Not a word was spoken between the two men.
My grandfather, himself having grown up in poverty, knew hunger. This act of kindness, typical of my grandfather, inspired me to raise money and awareness for the Hero Initiative, because a charity that helps others in the comic book community and gives aid to those in need exemplifies the devotion my grandfather Jack always had for his fellow man.
Last year, I reached out directly, through phone calls and emails, to comic book retailers, primarily in California. Through my YouTube video, I was also able to reach numerous individuals for private donations to the Hero Initiative. Many retailers publicized my campaign in their newsletters, on Facebook and through use of in-store Kirby4Heroes campaign posters and collection jar labels. In addition, select comic book retailers pledged to donate a percentage of their profits to the Hero Initiative on Aug. 28, what would have been my grandfather’s 95th birthday.
Also, on Aug. 28 last year, the Hero Initiative commissioned 100 comic book artists to create original pieces of art celebrating my grandfather, which were later auctioned off to benefit the Hero Initiative. The event was called Wake Up and Draw and was publicized with a video starring artist Tim Seeley and my father, Neal Kirby. The total Kirby4Heroes campaign’s efforts raised more than $6,000 for the Hero Initiative.
This year, I am not only working with retailers in California that supported me last year, but have expanded the Kirby4Heroes campaign to include select major retailers throughout the country. In addition to requesting the comic book stores donate a percentage of sales on my grandfather’s 96th birthday to the Kirby4Heroes campaign for the Hero Initiative, many retailers have come to me with their own ideas. These include hosting a “birthday party” for my grandfather and auctioning off original artwork, as well as other activities; all proceeds will go to the Hero Initiative in the name of the Kirby4Heroes campaign. The Wake Up and Draw event is also going to occur again this year.
Besides profits produced by the comic book retailers, I am also targeting comic book fans across the nation. In addition, I’m trying to raise awareness to the public, who enjoy the superhero movies based on the characters my grandfather created or co-created, about his legacy. The goal I have set this year is to raise $10,000 for the Hero Initiative, and I have my sights set on continuing to raise awareness, with the big target date being my grandfather’s upcoming 100th birthday in 2017.
– Jillian Kirby
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