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Sample Autograph Signature: Jack Kirby

American comic book artist, writer and editor known as Jack Kirby (1917 – 1994) was born Jacob Kurtzberg to Conservative Jewish-Austrian parents in New York City's Bowery district. His father was a garment-factory worker, and Kirby grew up in a poor family in a poor neighborhood. He attended public elementary school and then Hebrew school. He had developed an early passion for newspaper comic strip type illustration and was particularly influenced by Alex Raymond’s "Flash Gordon" and Milton Caniff "Steve Canyon". He saw art as a means out of the slums and poverty and enrolled at the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn when he was 14, but was dissatified with the program and left after a week. Attempts to sell his work to various publications met with no success, but he did find his first drawing job in 1936 drawing comic strips and cartoons for the Lincoln Newspaper Syndicate. He left in late 1939 to work briefly at the Max Fleischer Studio on animated cartoons, but was also doing work for Eisner & Iger Studio on a number of their weekly comic strips under various pseudonyms. Also in 1939, Kirby met the editor of comic-book publisher and newspaper syndicator Fox Feature Syndicate, Joe Simon, with whom he be collaborating until 1955. Simon & Kirby's first big hit was Captain America, a character they created for Timely Comics in late 1940. They left Timely Comics the next year and created their next big hit, Boy Commandos, at National Comics (DC). After establishing their names as synonymous with superhero comics, both men were drafted in 1943. After World War II superheroes lost popularity and Simon & Kirby turned to the other comics genre of romance, crime, horror, western and humor. When their partnership ended amicably in 1955, Kirby did a variety of freelance work for Archie Comics, Harvey Publications, and Classics Illustrated., He drew Green Arrow stories for DC Comics (then National Comics), leaving after a contractual dispute. He joined Marvel Comic in 1958, and eventually left in 1970 for rival DC Comics under a contract that gave him full creative control as editor, writer and artist. Kirby then returned to Marvel Comics in the mid 1970s here he wrote and drew Captain America and created several new series. Dissatisfied with Marvel's refusal to provide health and other benefits, Kirby left to work in TV animation. In 1979-80 he also illustrated an adaptation of the Disney movie The Black Hole for Walt Disney's Treasury of Classic Tales, a Sunday syndicated comic strip. In the early 1980s, Kirby made a precedent setting contract with Pacific Comics to publish his series Captain Victory and the Galactic Rangers in which Kirby would receive royalties on and retain copyright over his series. This not only served him well, but helped demolish the the "work for hire" system which denied comics creators and freelancers rights to characters they created. Among the hundreds of characters that he either created or co-created were Captain America, The Fantastic Four, The X-Men, The Incredible Hulk, Boy Commandos, Challengers of the Unknown, The New Gods, Kamandi, Darkseid, Sgt. Fury and His Howling Commandos, Captain Victory, The Silver Surfer, and The Mighty Thor. Kirby is also credited with introducing the first minority characters and first Black and Chinese superheroes. Among the awards received by this self-taught artist were the 1967 Alley Award for Best Pencil Artist, a 2nd place for the 1968 Alley Award Best Pencil Artist, a Shazam Award for Special Achievement by an Individual in 1971, and induction into the Shazam Awards Hall of Fame in 1974. The Jack Kirby Awards and Jack Kirby Hall of Fame have also been named in his honor.

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Author: Jack Kirby

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