King Is Coming

Speaking of Jack Kirby …

Ninety-three years ago today, the King Of Comics was born and the world became a much richer place.

It would take far too many words to sum up Kirby’s contributions to popular culture via the uniquely American artform of comics, so let’s turn our focus to the days before the King earned his crown.

In 1938, the Fiction House publishing group – which owned and operated such wild and wooly pulp magazine imprints as Glen-Kel and Real Adventures Publishing Co. – decided to expand into the nascent, but rapidly growing, comic-book field.

Publisher Thurman Scott subsequently turned to an aggressive, young company known for creating and packaging comic books, Eisner & Iger (i.e. Will Eisner and Jerry Iger, two guys who already knew a thing or two about comics at that early date).

The result: Jumbo Comics #1, cover dated September, 1938. A compilation of adventure strips, the book is notable today for two reasons – the American debut of Eisner and Iger’s Sheena, Queen Of The Jungle and the first comic-book work of one Jacob Kurtzburg,  better known to us today as Jack Kirby.

Working under a variety of aliases, Kirby contributed a science-fiction strip (“The Diary Of Dr. Hayward” as Curt Davis), a western (“Wilton Of The West” as Fred Sande) and a serialization of Alexandre Dumas’ “The Count Of Monte Cristo” (as Jack Curtiss, probably the best pseudonym of the three.)

The features are said to be four pages apiece, but I was unable to find the complete stories. Still, considering that the comic is more than 70 years old and the product of a defunct publisher to boot, we’re fortunate that any material survives at all.

From Jumbo Comics #1, here are fragments of Jack Kirby’s first comic-book works. The strips are crude and only contain hints of what’s to come, but are more than worthwhile for those interested in comics’ rich history.

Happy Kirby day!


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