This fall would have been legendary comic book artist Jack Kirby’s 100th birthday. Although Kirby’s birthday is Aug. 28, Carol & John’s Comic Book Shop is hosting a birthday celebration from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 16, to benefit Kirby’s charity, Kirby4Heroes, created by Kirby’s granddaughter Jillian Kirby. The event includes reprints of Kirby’s comics, giveaways, a raffle, a live painting from the Rust Belt Monster Collective and a Kirby-themed ice cream available at Kamms Corners Ice Cream Company for one day only.
Even if you’re not familiar with Kirby, you’re definitely familiar with his creations. During just five years at Marvel, Kirby and Stan Lee created the foundation for the Marvel Universe that has overtaken the cultural zeitgeist in the 21st century. From 1961 to 1966, Kirby and Lee debuted the Fantastic Four, X-Men, The Avengers, Iron Man, Thor, Incredible Hulk, Nick Fury, Silver Surfer, Black Panther and more. Although Kirby later felt slighted by Lee and his employers, the impact and importance of their work together is nothing short of legendary. Although Lee has long been considered the biggest name in comics history, Lee himself refers to Kirby as the “King of Comics.”
“In a nutshell, Jack Kirby is the greatest comic book illustrator off all time and the true King of Comics,” says Carol & John’s owner John Dudas. “That’s something we don’t take lightly here at the shop. Jack’s work was one of the first times I started to distinguish between artists as a kid. There was just something different about his work, even from the perspective of a six-year-old. Jack’s 100th is a huge benchmark for both the industry and our shop personally. We’ve put together a day that’s about appreciating Jack’s work, showing his impact on local artists, raising some funds for the charity Jack’s family has chosen, and giving you some incredible free and exclusive merchandise to commemorate the day. We hope the day helps to introduce people new to the hobby to just what Jack Kirby means.”
Let’s start with the comics. Thanks to a suggestion from Carol & John’s, Marvel has reprinted 12 classic Kirby comics in honor of the artist’s centennial birthday, and is selling them for just $1 each, with all money going to Kirby4Heroes. Titles include: Iron Man
, Ant-Man and the Wasp
, Devil Dinosaur
, Nick Fury Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D.
, Captain America, Black Panther, The Inhumans, The Mighty Thor, Groot, The Avengers, Thor vs Hulk
and The Inhumans
. Just $12 will get you the full set, a crash course history lesson in Kirby’s career, and it all benefits Kirby4Heroes.
In addition to these Kirby reprints, all back issues in the store will be 50 percent off all day. With every purchase, guests will receive one 11 in. by 17 in. cardstock lithograph by Cleveland artist Tim Switalski. The lithographs feature Devil Dinosaur in front of Terminal Tower in Downtown Cleveland. The shop printed 500 copies, and the first 100 customers will receive a print, signed and numbered by Switalski. Customers can buy extra prints for $5 each and get them signed by the artist, who will be painting a 16-foot, Kirby-inspired mural with his friends in the Rust Belt Monster Collective. The mural will feature Kirby’s monsters from the 1950s and 60s attacking Cleveland. After its completion, the mural will be installed inside the shop.
Additionally, Carol & John’s is giving away 400 Kirby graphic novels, worth more than $13,000. The first 400 customers will have their choice between The Origin of the Inhumans
by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby ($40 value) or The Complete Devil Dinosaur
($25 value). Carol & John’s will have 200 copies of each available on Saturday. Inhumans
is sure to be popular, as a new, highly anticipated Fox television series premieres on Sept. 29.
Each customer will also receive a ticket for a raffle of items including: a king-size Kirby hardcover ($200 value), Nick Fury: Agents of Shield Omnibus
and original Kirby comics, including Dudas’ personal copy of Captain America #109
. Additional raffle tickets are $1 each, and each dollar will be donated to Kirby4Heroes. Winners will be drawn at the end of the day.
The celebration doesn’t end at Carol & John’s, though. Before or after your visit to the shop, stop by Kamms Corners Ice Cream Company, located about 200 feet from the shop’s door, to try Kirby Krackle, a vanilla ice cream with Rice Krispies dipped in chocolate, created especially for Kirby’s 100th birthday and Carol & John’s event.
Kirby4Heroes raises funds for the Hero Initiative, which creates a financial safety net for comic creators in need of emergency medical aid, financial support for essentials of life and a channel back into paying work in the industry.
(Carol & John’s Comic Book Shop) 17462 Lorain Ave., 216-252-0606, cnjcomics.com.