Thursday, May 17, 2012

The Avengers - It All Started With Two Jewish East Side Kids


The Avengers, the top box office film this month ($1 billion in 19 days) featuring Captain America and a host of super heroes is based on Marvel Comics written and illustrated by two Jewish boys from the Lower East Side of New York and one from Rochester. Jack Kirby (Jacob Kurtzberg) and Stan Lee (Stanley Lieber) grew up on the streets of Manhattan and Joe Simon (Hymie Simon) came from Rochester. 

Together, they were responsible for the creation of Captain America, an early Marvel Comics hero in 1940. The first issue sold more than a million copies.

Yesterday the Wall Street Journal featured an article that focused on Kirby, how his popularity faded after a stint in the Army, and how he has achieved posthumous fame with the opening of a new museum in his honor and rising auction prices for his original sketches.

In an article titled "Fighting to Rescue the Lost Avenger", Bruce Bennett reported:
Kirby, a Manhattan native who died in 1994, co-created "Captain America" with Joe Simon in 1940 when he was 23 years old. Though the series was launched before the attack on Pearl Harbor, Kirby and Simon, both the children of Jewish immigrants, had drawn a bead on the pre-Word War II zeitgeist, conceiving an image of "Cap" greeting Adolph Hitler with a right hook. 

Two decades later, he came up with Iron Man, the X-Men, Thor, the Hulk, the Fantastic Four, Nick Fury and many other Marvel Comics characters and stories in collaboration with Mr. Lee.
Alas, Kirby's financial fortunes did not keep pace with his creative growth. The artist's dealings with Marvel and DC were fractious enough to incline him to never settle down with either company, and his posthumous stake in his Marvel co-creations has been disputed. A court ruling last year halted an effort by the artist's heirs to deny Marvel character copyrights and to collect additional royalties.
With characters of his co-conception and his original art breaking records on the screen and in auction houses, the epitaph for a man name-checked by such baby-boomer literati as Michael Chabon and Jonathan Lethem remains bittersweet. Said Mr. Gold, "Kirby's life was both a triumph of creativity and a tragedy of sharing in the spoils of it."
Here's a look back at the cast of characters drawn by Jack Kirby (including a self-portrait) and family reflections on his hard-working lifestyle.  Enjoy!
 
(A SPECIAL NOTE FOR NEW EMAIL SUBSCRIBERS:  THE VIDEO MAY NOT BE VIEWABLE DIRECTLY FROM THE EMAIL THAT YOU GET EACH DAY ON SOME COMPUTERS AND TABLETS.  YOU MUST CLICK ON THE TITLE AT THE TOP OF THE EMAIL TO REACH THE JEWISH HUMOR CENTRAL WEBSITE, FROM WHICH YOU CLICK ON THE PLAY BUTTON IN THE VIDEO IMAGE TO START THE VIDEO.)