Mark Evanier - Kirby: King of Comics (4 stars)

Kirby: King of Comics

(Abrams)

BIOG

As befits a book about the man who reinvented comics with the most dynamic artwork the medium had ever seen, friend and colleague Mark Evanier’s biography/critical commentary is a large format coffee table hardback full of big and beautiful illustrations. Beginning with Kirby’s early work in Manhattan cartooning sweatshops at the tail end of the Depression era, Evanier covers Kirby’s fruitful collaborations with Joe Simon (with whom he created Captain America), his even more successful creative partnership with Stan Lee in the 1960s (which produced The Fantastic Four, The X-Men, Thor, The Hulk et al), his unhappy switch to DC Comics in the 1970s (which nevertheless resulted in the mind-blowing Fourth World stories), and Kirby’s final years working for independents and in TV in the 1980s.

Evanier does a pretty good job of explaining just how – and how far – Kirby pushed the envelope, and doesn’t shy away from detailing how his workaholic subject was exploited and screwed over by his employers time and again. And Evanier, who’s a comics historian and comic book writer, has a very readable style that’s laced with a wry sense of humour. ‘Nuff said.

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