Posts Tagged ‘Neal Kirby’

Looking Forward to 2015: Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 30th, 2014

The two comic related stories that impressed me the most this past year were the Kirby v. Marvel settlement and Rocket Raccoon co-creator, Bill Mantlo’s generous treatment by Marvel in response to the  Guardians of the Galaxy film.

I found these moments to be significant because they were the culmination of decades of struggle by the men, their families, and a legion supporters of Creators Rights in the Comics Industry.

Thirty years ago, the idea of Jack Kirby or his family being compensated appropriately for the Marvel characters he created or co-created was an idealistic fantasy that most people believed could never be fulfilled.

Twenty-two years ago, when prolific Marvel writer Bill Mantlo suffered a traumatic head injury in a tragic accident, there was little hope that any potential success gleaned from characters or stories that he created while working in comics would benefit his long term care.

In 2014, after years of monumental success of comic book properties in film, the ice began to thaw on the relationship between creators and comic book companies. Deals began to happen behind closed doors to satisfy creators who challenged ownership of properties that had long been held tightly under the premise of “Work for Hire.”

Though everything regarding Creator’s Rights in comics may still not be perfect, strides have been made.

For me, little was much more pleasing than watching a proud and content Neal Kirby participate in a Marvel 75th Anniversary Celebration or seeing pictures of a beaming Bill Mantlo watching a private screening of Guardians of the Galaxy from his bed in a long term care facility, all set up by Marvel executives.

Knowing that deals have finally been made to secure the Kirby family well into the future and that Bill Mantlo will be the recipient of royalties that could be used to support his tremendous healthcare needs proves what many of us in the comics industry believed, that creators could and should be beneficiaries of the success of their creations.

It also proved that if you believe in something strong enough, work at it hard enough, and have enough support from the people around you, you should never give up. There is hope for the future.

While working on the fourth volume of David Anthony Kraft’s COMICS INTERVIEW: The Complete Collection,  I had the opportunity to re-read an interview with me and Art Director, Geraldine Pecht while at Comico in 1987. It was a look back at my own hopes and dreams nearly three decades past in comparison to the reality that transpired.

It was true affirmation that we have no idea what the future holds but that some dreams never die. It was a flashback that rekindled a youthful enthusiasm that I can only hope to maintain throughout 2015 and beyond.

I had big plans for Comico in 1987. Plans that, for me, ended abruptly that same year. Like the Kirby family and Bill Mantlo, though, I have never given up and neither has by former Comico partner, Bill Cucinotta who had his Comico career cut short prior to mine.

Now we both have big plans for CO2 Comics but with the benefit of many hard lessons learned.

Comico Black Book cover

When I sat for that interview, Comico was at it’s peak and ready to celebrate its five year anniversary with a little product called Comico Black Book. Little did we know, the company was was poised to crash and burn.

I comparison, halfway through our fifth year, CO2 Comics is still building a solid foundation and growing.   Though we may not have had the meteoric successes that we had with Comico and have seen our share of setbacks, Bill and I are content that  we work with people we trust and have mutual respect for. We have more control over our product and integrity and we produce comics and product in a way that does not put us in jeopardy of the production expenses the distribution system or the competition that existed in the 1980’s.

The future is bright and hopeful for CO2 Comics because we have held on to a dream that we are unwilling to give up. Yes, we are looking forward to 2015 and many years after that!

Thanks to all the wonderful people that continue to believe in us and support us. We could not have come this far without you!

We wish you all a very happy, healthy and prosperous New Year as we look forward to 2015!

Gerry Giovinco

Comic Book Entropy: Marvel and DC

Tuesday, November 18th, 2014

When it comes to order and disorder regarding comic books one needs to look no further than the Big Two, Marvel and DC, for examples of each in regards to their corporate direction.

This past week Marvel celebrated their 75th anniversary with a televised special/infomercial titled Marvel: 75 Years, From Pulp to Pop! The show managed to  cram their long history into just 44 succinct minutes in a way that only Marvel can because they have admittedly and willfully refined their direction to the fundamental creative basics established by Stan Lee, Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko.

Marvel recognizes that their success is built on the creative geniuses of these three men and the culture of the Marvel Bullpen that has managed to maintain a continuity that has reverently adhered to the principle foundations of the characters they created.

The new found harmony that exists since the settlement between Marvel and the Kirby Estate, as exhibited by the inclusion of a proud Neal Kirby speaking on his late father’s behalf in the special, reinforced Marvel’s dedication to the tradition of the source material.

Marvel does not stray far from the source material. They embrace it because they know it is based on good storytelling that has stood the test of time. The result is the global phenomenon known as the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It is a bountiful collection of heroic adventures dictated by simple order managed by a decree to not fix what is not broke.

Flip the coin and disorder rears its head as DC Comics once again applies a bandaid to the hemorrhage that is the complicated multiverse known as the DCU. The cure of the moment is called Convergence and it is a two-month-long event focused around the concept that Brainiac will gather the bottled up realities of the infinite earths in the DCU and bring all the variants of all the characters together in one place and let them mix it up like some tormented game of “shake n’ bake.”

While these fifty comics are being published the rest of the already established line will go on a two-month hiatus while the corporate offices move west. Fans get to wait it all out and hope they are satisfied with what promises to be yet another thread of convoluted reality attempting to make sense of what has been convoluted for decades.

DC has long lost any attachment to the foundations of any of their characters let alone any respect for the values or intentions of the creators of their iconic properties. Any opportunity that DC has to exploit their characters in another medium is just a chance to twist in another reality option. TV Flash is already rumored to be from a different reality than film Flash and so the spiral continues.

Through it all fans, are expected to sit back and wait for the shoes to fall then jump back on the bandwagon like nothing ever happened. But fans don’t like to be thrown from the bus. Major League Baseball learned this the hard way when they canceled a season due to strike and it took years to regain the trust of the fans. Why should comics be different?

Nostalgia is a large part of what we all love about our comics and our heroes. Marvel has found a way to introduce new generations to characters that are tried and true while DC continually attempts to recreate their characters to appeal to what they believe are the tastes of a new generation. The end result is that today’s Superman is not your parents’ Superman but today’s Captain America still resonates with the patriotism of your grandparents.

Entropy is, of course, all about the balance of order and disorder in relationship to chaos which is the driving force behind true creativity. Chaos is a beautifully amazing thing which can be easily witnessed in comic books just by looking at a rack of independent comics that source their creativity from every direction and, in fact, continue influence the entropy of the Big Two.

In the Marvel special,  a quick pan of a 1980’s era comic book rack began with a flash of X-Men comics before culminating into a display of independent comics featuring titles like GRENDEL, ELEMENTALS, JUSTICE MACHINE, FISH POLICE and TROLL LORDS, all titles that, at one point, were published under the COMICO imprint, a company co-founded by CO2 COMICS’ own founders, Bill Cucinotta and myself.

It is nice to know that, somehow, our work has impacted the bigger picture of comic books that the world too often recognizes only as Marvel and DC. It is great to be part of the chaos. In the end, it’s all simply about making comics because we want to.

Gerry Giovinco

Real People, Real Heroes: A Father’s Day Tribute

Tuesday, June 11th, 2013

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

Jack with Parents Rose & Benjamin Kirby 1918

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.

Jillian Kirby

Kirby4Heroes: A Granddaughter’s Campaign to Honor Jack Kirby’s 95th Birthday

Tuesday, August 28th, 2012

Celebrating  what would have been Jack Kirby’s 95th birthday and his illustrative carreer as possibly the greatest and most influential comic creator ever, we at CO2 Comics are proud and honored to present our blog as a forum to his granddaughter, Jillian Kirby, to promote her exceptional campaign, Kirby4Heroes, a noble effort to raise funds in Jack Kirby’s name for the Hero Initiative.

Jillian’s post:

As I sit on my bed reading one of my grandfather, Jack Kirby’s, comic books, his characters explode off the page and appear vividly lifelike. I feel like Captain America, Thor, The Avengers, and the Fantastic Four are parading in front of me! At 16 years old, it makes me so sad that I never got to meet my grandfather, who died the year before I was born, but I feel his spirit everywhere. Growing up surrounded with his art, comic books, and family stories, I felt the need to make a stronger connection with the grandfather I never knew.  A 95th birthday present to honor his legacy struck me as an obvious choice, but what could I do?

The spark that ignited my Kirby4Heroes campaign occurred last spring at the dinner table, where my parents, Connie and Neal, were discussing an organization called the Hero Initiative. I learned that the Hero Initiative is the only nonprofit charity that raises money to assist comic book creators, writers and artists in medical or financial need. The mission and uniqueness of this organization immediately impressed me, as I couldn’t believe that currently they are the only nonprofit charity of this kind in the comic book industry.

Then and there, I made a personal commitment to raise money for the Hero Initiative in honor of my grandfather Jack on his 95th birthday. He was a very kind and generous man and would have been among the first to support the Hero Initiative.

One example of my grandfather Jack’s charitable nature can be seen in an anecdote my father shared with me on many occasions. It took place during the Bar Mitzvah of my grandfather’s nephew in a Lower East Side Manhattan synagogue in the early 1960’s.  After the service, his nephew’s family, being of modest means, had just a simple buffet served in the large entrance foyer of the synagogue.  Noticing a homeless man standing in the open doorway, just looking in at the celebration, my grandfather Jack immediately walked over to the man, took him by the arm, led him into the room, sat him down at a table, and served him a plate of food. Not a word was spoken between the two men. My grandfather, himself having grown up in poverty, knew hunger. This act of kindness, typical of my grandfather, inspired me to raise money and awareness for the Hero Initiative, because a charity that helps others in the comic book community and gives aid to those in need exemplifies the devotion my grandfather Jack always had for his fellow man.

Here was my idea. First, since I have lived in California my whole life, and my grandfather lived here for almost 30 years, I would contact over 200 comic book retailers in my home state. Second, as my grandfather Jack was born in Manhattan, I would also get in touch with the major comic retailer in that city: Midtown Comics. Third, I would contact key science and art museums in select metropolitan areas, such as New York City, Chicago, and Los Angeles. It is obvious why I would contact the art museums, but science? Not so much. I decided to approach the science museums because much of my grandfather’s artwork was influenced by and reflects not only the science and technology of his day, but what he envisioned for the future.

After sending out an initial cover letter to the retailers and museums previously mentioned, I personally visited my neighborhood comic book store, Alakazam! Comics in Irvine, CA. This enabled me to get a general feel of how comic stores would react to my Kirby4Heroes campaign. At first, I was pretty nervous and stumbled over my words a bit, but by the end of the explanation of my campaign, because Will Call, the store’s manager, was very enthusiastic and supportive, I gained a great deal of confidence. Mr. Call agreed to set up a donation jar, and he and the store’s owner, Marco Davanzo, additionally pledged to donate 10% of their profits on August 28th to the Hero Initiative! As this was the first comic book retailer I approached, the positive feedback I received from them gave me the impetus to personally contact many major comic book retailers in California, such as Meltdown Comics, Earth-2 Comics, Comics N Stuff, and A-1 Comics, as well as many smaller individual stores.

My Kirby4Heroes campaign was off and running! In total, I contacted over 200 comic book stores by U.S. mail, email, telephone calls, or personal visits. I designed and provided the retailers with a flyer advertising my campaign, a collection jar label, a Kirby4Heroes remittance card and website information for online donations. As a result, many retailers included this information in newsletters, on their Facebook pages and websites in order to reach as many fans as possible. I was hesitant at first about the campaign’s large scale, but my enthusiasm escalated and my concerns disappeared thanks to the outpouring of goodwill from all.

For the next phase of my campaign, my family room was transformed into a mini video production studio. I wrote, produced, and edited a video explaining and advertising the Kirby4Heroes cause. My friend, Daniel, helped direct and set up certain shots. I later was fortunate enough to work with Seth Laderman, the Head of Production of the Nerdist Channel on YouTube, who generously donated his time to help me put some finishing touches on the Kirby4Heroes video. Working with Mr. Laderman was such an educational experience. Geoff Boucher, of the Los Angeles Times Hero Complex, wrote a fantastic article about my campaign and posted my video. Mr. Boucher’s support and encouragement have been constant throughout the duration of this campaign, and his article was instrumental in spreading the word about the Kirby4Heroes cause far beyond the comic book stores. Two days later, the video was released on YouTube via the Nerdist Channel.

I knew that my grandfather Jack was well regarded in the comic book industry, and the reception I have received confirms it. Sometimes I feel his spirit with me, especially when I’m reading comic book anthologies or biographies of my grandfather. I felt him looking over my shoulder when I visited comic book stores, because of how his home had an open door policy and he would let anyone visit, just as the comic book retailers were so welcoming to me. I have been met with such an outpouring of support, and it has truly touched my heart.

When I first started Kirby4Heroes, I was advised to think small, just start with one comic book store. Did Jack Kirby think small?  Thank God, no! He let his imagination soar to heights that have entertained and enlightened us for almost 75 years! So, I went as big as I could, given the time and manpower limitations, and so far this campaign has turned out better than I could ever have imagined! I thank all of the comic book retailers, fans, Geoff Boucher and the rest of the news media, Seth Laderman at the Nerdist Channel, my other grandfather, Gene, my extended Kirby family, and finally my parents, for their guidance. My utmost gratitude is given to CO2 Comics, who provided me the opportunity to share my story. Most of all, I thank my grandfather, Jack Kirby, and all comic book creators in the industry. I’m sure countless fans do the same when they enjoy comic books, characters in movies, and other comic book driven entertainment media.

I need you to support the Kirby4Heroes campaign as well. Today is the day! Please watch my video for further details about how to donate in honor of Jack Kirby’s 95th birthday! For all the fans out there, here’s how you can be a part of the Kirby4Heroes campaign. One way is to visit your local comic book store, or you can mail a donation to the Hero Initiative at this address:

c/o The Hero Initiative
11301 Olympic Blvd., #587
Los Angeles, CA 90064

Finally, you can donate online at the Hero Initiative website via Paypal, and be sure to type “Kirby4Heroes” where it asks for special instructions.

This journey has not only been deeply satisfying for me as an emotional connection with my grandfather, but conceiving, planning and implementing the Kirby4Heroes campaign has been an invaluable learning experience. Sometimes when I gaze upon grandpa Jack’s drawing board in our small den, I can feel his presence with me.  Because of founding this campaign, I know that he is smiling down on me with pride. I also know that he would want each and every one of you to reach out to the Hero Initiative just as he, long ago, reached out to that downtrodden man in the doorway of the synagogue in New York. Even a dollar can make a difference! The Kirby4Heroes campaign and I thank you so much for your support!

Jillian Kirby

CO2 Comics would like to extend our support to Jillian’s Kirby4Heroes campaign by donating our entire share of all profits made from any of our printed publications sold during the week of Aug 28th-Sept 4th.

This is your opportunity to try something new and contribute to a good cause.


Father’s Day Tribute To Jack Kirby From His Son

Monday, June 13th, 2011

Two weeks ago we ran a blog post here at CO2 Comics titled The King and The Man that compared excerpts of interviews with Stan Lee and the late Jack Kirby who recollected their dramatically opposing perspectives of the creation of the FANTASTIC FOUR and much of the Marvel Universe.

The post sparked an animated debate throughout the internet in forums and discussion boards on comic related sites, highlighted for us at CO2 Comics by a brief and pleasant correspondence with the son of a legend, Neal Kirby who politely defended the validity of his father’s position.

This week as, we prepare to celebrate Father’s Day, Neal Kirby has delighted us again by offering CO2 Comics the opportunity to post a very touching Father’s Day letter that he has written as a tribute to his dad.

Those who follow our posts regularly know that Tuesday is our feature blog day and that this would be our last blog before Father’s Day. By coincidence, today is Flag Day. What better day to honor the man that gave us the original star spangled superhero, CAPTAIN AMERICA?

We are proud and humbled to be able to present to you this letter from Neil Kirby to his father and the father of superhero comics as we have known them, Jack “King” Kirby:

Happy Father’s Day; Glad You’re Not Here

Jack Kirby and son Neal, Photo © Neal Kirby

I’ve just turned 63 and my fathers’ been gone over 18 years, but I still cry when I think of him, especially when I see one of those overly realistic WW II shows, and I see him as a young man trudging through northern France dodging machine guns, mortars, and those dreaded ‘88’s, until his feet froze inside his boots.   I cry when I think of all the nights I spent in his little 10X10 studio in the basement of our Long Island home (“the Dungeon”) watching a Brooklyn Dodger game or Victory at Sea on a little black and white TV in a wooden cabinet.  Most of all I miss watching him create and draw.  He would sit there, hours on end, pipe or cigar in mouth, right hand flying over the page, sometimes simultaneously writing story notes or script in the margins for the mythology that became the Marvel Universe.   And always surrounded by bookcases full of his beloved books: history, mythology, Science fiction – especially the pulps!

Young Jack Kirby, Photo © Neal Kirby

Captain America 1

For those of you familiar with the world of comic books, the name Jack Kirby is instantly synonymous with being the greatest comic book artist – ever.  Captain America, the Fantastic Four, X-Men, Thor, and the Silver Surfer; just to name a few out of hundreds.  Those with also a modicum of knowledge of comic book history are also aware that my father was either the creator or co-creator of almost all the Marvel characters he had a hand in bringing to the public.

First appearances of Fantastic Four, Silver Surfer, The Hulk, X-Men and Thor

If your unfamiliar with the comics industry, and just enjoy super-hero movies, you will notice my fathers’ name on some screen credits, usually buried at the end of the movie; sometimes, as in the recent “Thor” release, coming third after someone who had no hand in the characters’ creation other than being the editor-in-chief’s brother.  Unfortunately, for the past several years, some in the comics industry who have had the benefit of longevity have used the opportunity to claim to be the sole creator of all of Marvels’ characters. Must be great to be the last man standing.  It would seem that being backed by the public relations department of a large corporation buys access into the 24/7 news cycle.

Marvel movies based on Kirby creations

My father, to the contrary, was the most humble person I ever knew, probably to his detriment.  If you were to ask anybody who ever knew him they would tell you that was his most endearing trait. Taking credit for someone else’s work was just not in his make-up.  His super heroes did not consider themselves to be super or heroes.  There was no ego involved.  His goal through his characters was to be the defender of the little guy; the just and noble whose role, whether chosen or thrust upon them, was to protect those who through no fault of there own could not defend themselves.

Kirby Family 1961, Neal, Roz, Susan, Jack and Barbara up front, Photo © Neal Kirby

Maybe it’s now time for those still in the industry and comic book/super-hero fans, the “little guys,” to speak out.  Demand fairness not just for my father, but also for all those who have unjustly had their creative credit stolen from them.  As my father would say, “Show a little moxie!”

So Dad, I love you and miss you, but I’m glad you’re not here; not here to see others take credit for the characters you selflessly created over the years for the enjoyment of millions of children and adults.  But God, I sure wish you were the last man standing.

Neal Kirby 2011

© 2009-2018 CO2 COMICS All Rights Reserved. All other material © their respective creators & companies