It has become a tradition here at CO2 Comics to have the opportunity to feature insights from Jack Kirby’s family regarding Father’s Day. Jack Kirby of course is one of the great forefathers of the comic book industry. This year his youngest granddaughter, Jillian Kirby, chimes in with her wonderful perspective as to how she was influenced by Jack and her entire family to recognize the value of real people as heroes and the responsibility we all have for each other. This real-life lesson has motivated her to create Kirby4heroes in an effort to support the Hero Initiative which provides assistance to comic creators in need.
CO2 Comics has been happy to offer Jillian a forum with which to spread the word and we hope that our audience will become involved with this unfortunately necessary campaign to help so many that have brought joy to our lives as comic creators.
Please enjoy Jillian’s essay and take the time to explore the links to the Hero Initiative to see how you can help.
Real People, Real Heroes: A Father’s Day Tribute
Father’s Day: a time to say thank you to all of the dads who love and support their children and family. Fathers, as well as mothers, whose day we also recently celebrated, can be wonderful role models, both for their children and family. Children look up to their parents, just as my father looked up to his, comic book creator and artist Jack Kirby. Children all grow up loving their parents; the bond is a strong one. They also follow the examples parents’ set: whether positive or negative. The lucky children have nurturing parents and homes filled with love. As author Carolyn Coats said, “Children have more need of models than critics.” The unlucky children have a hard task ahead of them, needing to do deep self-examination and difficult work to allow they to be strong, make good choices and fly on a steady course. We owe much of who we are today to our parents, and how they raised us; they truly are modern heroes.
My parents are the biggest influences in my life. Connie Kirby, my mother, is a Speech and Language Pathologist, who passionately serves elementary school children with speech and language difficulties and whom might also suffer from Autism, emotional problems, or Attention Deficit Disorder. Many times, she has given a voice to children who cannot speak a word. A previous job involved serving children in juvenile detention centers, giving them hope for a future outside of prison. The kindheartedness and selflessness she has shown has inspired me to enter into a profession that ultimately benefits others. My father, Neal Kirby, is a science teacher who also loves working with children, awakening in them an enthusiasm for science many have not experienced. His devotion and knowledge also awakened in me a passion for math and science. Both my parents, in their chosen professions and at home with me, are the best role models and heroes I could possibly have.
My other grandfather, Eugene Oliva, had a very successful career in public relations in NYC, working tirelessly as my Grandfather Jack Kirby did. He was a true mentor to those starting out in the field, sharing his creativity and enthusiasm.
My grandmother, Ruth Oliva, epitomized public service. She served on her town board as a Councilwoman and Deputy Town Supervisor. In addition, she was a tireless advocate for environmentalism and preserving the quality of life on the North Fork of Long Island. I never saw her sit still except to eat dinner. What an example she set! I am proud that a county nature preserve, Ruth Oliva Preserve at Dam Pond, was named and dedicated in her honor after she passed away.
My grandfather, Jack Kirby, a WWII combat veteran and member of the “Greatest Generation”, should also serve as a role model in terms of his acts of valor and bravery during the war. In addition, one aspect of his status as a role model for his family and others was his charitable works. Throughout his life, by giving to charity and to his temple, my grandfather embodied the very generous and giving nature that I hope to expand upon. His comic books reached out to so many children, and helped many through difficult times. He was humble and never refused to talk to any of his fans.
And, my Grandmother, Roz Kirby, was a hero, true and steadfast to my Grandfather. Her devotion to him allowed my Grandfather to follow his passion. Another example of selflessness. I am proud to call each and every one of them my grandparent; they have all had a very positive impact in my life. They are all heroes.
Of course, the world is filled with many heroes. And, there are many ways each and every comic book fan can become a hero, or more of a hero than I’m sure most already are. In honoring my grandfather Jack Kirby’s upcoming 96th birthday, I plan to continue the campaign I founded a year ago called Kirby4Heroes. The cause my organization is presently devoting its efforts to are to raise funds to assist and support the Hero Initiative. The Hero Initiative, for the past ten years has been the only non-profit organization helping comic book creators. Through the Hero Initiative, financial aid is made available for comic book creators, artists, and writers who are in need of medical or financial assistance. Giving to the Hero Initiative is a chance for all of us to give back to the individuals in the comics industry who have given us so much enjoyment. These people are not just members of the comic book community but also fathers, mothers, sons and daughters. I want to do everything I can to make sure that they have an equal opportunity to enjoy their lives with their families and continue to have the ability and means to continue to nurture their creative passion. That is the reason why my Kirby4Heroes campaign is dedicated to raising funds for the Hero Initiative.
Now 17 years old, I am looking forward to this summer’s campaign, and once again working with and for all the heroes who have been my constant inspiration. In my home, Kirby4Heroes is me, Jillian Kirby appreciating my parents on many occasions, including Mother’s Day and Father’s Day. In our world, I hope Kirby4Heroes can embrace and celebrate all those in the comic book industry by reaching out a helping hand. You do not have to wait until my Grandfather’s birthday to give to the Hero Initiative. Father’s Day would be a perfect day to donate. Kirby4Heroes and I, appreciate all of you.