WWLA: Kirby - King of Comics Panel w/ Mark Evanier

Mon, March 17th, 2008 at 12:00am PDT

Comic Books
Matt Murphy, Guest Contributor

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"Kirby: King of Comics" on sale now

In a small but intimate panel at Wizard World Los Angeles on Saturday, writer Mark Evanier discussed his new book, "Kirby: King of Comics," and his personal relationship with legendary comics creator Jack Kirby.

Evanier began with an e-mail he received just seconds before the panel, from the writer working on the French translation of "Kirby." The translator gave up on meeting his deadline, "'relinquished [his] translation and read the book out of sheer pleasure," read Evanier.

"People love the book without even reading it because it's about Jack; it's a celebration of him," said Evanier.

Evanier met Jack Kirby in 1969, shortly after he graduated high school. After a coincidental encounter at science fiction convention Westercon, Evanier and his fellow officers of a local comic book club visited Kirby at his home. They wanted Kirby to speak at the club, but ended up walking out with something different. "I was always more interested in how the comics were made than even the stories," said Evanier, and that knowledge base helped him land a gig as one of Kirby's assistants some time later.

There was a lot about Kirby that was surprising, said Evanier. "Jack had the crummiest drawing table you ever saw. I had a better one at home. Jack would leave the first word of a sentence out, or pick up conversations from three days earlier. And he was okay with being scatterbrained."

Mark Evanier speaking with fans at Wizard World LA 2008
Evanier opened the floor for questions, revealing more anecdotes. On the subject of Kirby's rocky relationship with Stan Lee, Evanier tried to remain objective. "Jack felt he was doing far more writing than he was given credit for. In the end, Stan did more writing than Jack remembered, but Jack wasn't given as much credit as he deserved."

He also shed light on the urban legend that Lee pitched the Galactus trilogy to Kirby as "the Fantastic Four fight God." "I think that's like the Spider-Man worrying about his acne [urban legend]," Evanier said. "My theory is that Stan turned to Jack and said 'let's make the biggest, most epic story ever,' and Jack went home and started plotting 'The Day the Earth Stood Still.'" The story also may have had it's origins within the Wall Street Journal, in which Kirby would read about large corporations taking over smaller companies and "devouring all their assets, leaving them an empty shell."

Evanier said he is working on a second Kirby book. "The next [book] is a much more exhaustive biography, due out in a couple of years. It'll have half a million words, some of them repeated."

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