Lisa Kirby, the daughter of the late Jack Kirby, artist and co-creator of the Fantastic Four, the X-Men, the Hulk, Captain America and many other comicbook characters and stories, announced the creation of the Jack Kirby Museum and Research Center (JKMRC).
"My dad's work, starting with Captain America in the 1940s and reaching a peak with most of the other Marvel Comics superheroes in the 1960s, had a great influence on our culture," Lisa Kirby said. "His imagination, storytelling ability, and prolific output contributed significantly to making the comicbooks he created among the most highly regarded in the U.S. In the years since his death in 1994, there have been a number of high profile movies featuring properties and characters Dad created, but he has, for the most part, not been featured in the movies' promotions. In that respect, my family and I were excited by the creation of a non-profit educational organization devoted to Dad's work."
Spearheaded by Randolph Hoppe of Hoboken, New Jersey, a cartoonist and web designer who hosts Kirby discussion groups, and supported by the Kirby Family and John Morrow, the award-winning publisher/editor of the JACK KIRBY COLLECTOR magazine from Raleigh, North Carolina, JKMRC is devoted to promoting and encouraging the study, understanding, preservation and appreciation of the work of comicbook creator Kirby.
"Our first program is to build an exhaustive, collaborative online Jack Kirby 'Catalogue Raisonné'," said Hoppe, referring to the term for a book of "all the works" by an individual artist. "With support from the Kirby Estate, TwoMorrows Publishing, JKMRC members and scholars worldwide, we will take what has been known as the Jack Kirby Checklist and build it into an invaluable media-rich resource not just for comicbook and Kirby fans, but for popular culture scholars, as well. I hope that programmers who have knowledge of or experience working on similar volunteer-based online projects will be able to provide some expertise."
However, the online Catalogue Raisonné is not JKMRC's only project. "We hope to develop an exhaustive, multimedia Jack Kirby biographical presentation and to partner with museums, conferences and conventions around the world on Kirby-related exhibits, papers and more," Hoppe added. "But it all depends on how much support we can garner. I know the first question on most people's mind when learning about a new Jack Kirby Museum will be, 'where will the building with the collection and the exhibit space be built?' My cautiously optimistic response is, 'One step at a time'. At this early stage, it's best to say that anything's possible with the right support."
"I've been editing and publishing the JACK KIRBY COLLECTOR magazine for more than 10 years," Morrow said. "Back in 1995, Rand approached me about posting a website for the Kirby Collector I didn't know what a website was. When he told me his idea for a Kirby Museum, I agreed its time had come. I'm going to put the full resources of TwoMorrows Publishing behind this effort." TwoMorrows started with a 16-page bi-monthly xeroxed Kirby Collector, and is now a thriving operation publishing trade paperbacks and five magazines targeted at the comicbook specialty market.
JKMRC will also celebrate Jack Kirby's co-creators and colleagues. For almost 15 years starting in 1940, Joe Simon partnered with Kirby, becoming the top creative team during comicbooks' so-called "Golden Age". Starting with their work on CAPTAIN AMERICA, they then worked on SANDMAN, MANHUNTER, NEWSBOY LEGION and BOY COMMANDOS. Simon and Kirby also invented the Romance comicbook genre with the publication of YOUNG ROMANCE COMICS in 1947.
"Most people remember Jack for developing and telling the stories of the Fantastic Four, the X-Men, the Hulk and more in the 1960s with Marvel Comics' editor, art director and writer Stan Lee," Hoppe noted. "Marvel Comics would not be what it is today without those Kirby/Lee collaborations. They defined the Fantastic Four in the more than 102 issues they produced together," he said. "We can't celebrate Jack's 1960s work for Marvel without acknowledging Stan Lee's substantial efforts. We look forward to any contributions Stan Lee can make to our programs. Lee's partner on Spider-man was artist Steve Ditko.
More information will be posted on the Museum's website at kirbymuseum.org as it develops.