As all comic book fans know, Jack “King” Kirby was the single most important comics storyteller of the twentieth century, co-creating not only Captain America, the Hulk, Thor, Iron Man, the X-Men, the Fantastic Four, the Silver Surfer, and Darkseid, but pioneering entire comic-book genres with his partner Joe Simon. Horror, western, crime, romance, sci-fi — they all sprung from Kirby’s fevered imagination in the basement of his Long Island home. Two years ago, the King’s eighteen-year-old granddaughter Emily, who was born a year after her legendary grandfather died, decided to honor his legacy with Kirby4Heroes, an annual charity campaign that’s timed to coincide with Kirby’s birthday on August 28th. Kirby4 Heroes raises funds for Hero Initiative — the only non-profit federally chartered organization dedicated to helping comic-book writers and artists in need of medical or financial assistance. Considering the number of creators out there who worked entirely freelance and have no health insurance — folks like Rocket Raccoon creator Bill Mantlo, who’s spent the last twenty years suffering from a brain injury and can barely move or speak — Hero Initiative is a worthy cause indeed.
According to the LA Times’ Hero Complex, “On Aug. 28 a selection of comics retailers across the country will donate a portion of their day’s sales to the Hero Initiative as part of the Kirby4Heroes drive… Individual stores are also set to mark the anniversary of Kirby’s birth in varying fashion — some hosting ‘birthday’ parties, raffles and live artist events, while the Savannah College of Art and Design in Georgia plans to incorporate two days of study of Kirby’s work into its curriculum.”
Events are also planned for San Francisco’s Cartoon Art Museum and at the Moebius Liceo Gallery in Buenos Aires and in San Paolo, Brazil. “Kirby’s goal,” says Hero Complex, “is to raise $15,000; in 2012, Kirby4Heroes raised $5,000 for the Hero Initiative, while last year’s efforts brought in $10,000 for the charity.” You can learn more by watching the video below, and by visiting the Hero Initiative website.
If you’ve ever thrilled to the sight of Cap slinging his shield, Thor swinging his hammer, or the X-Men battling Magneto, please consider honoring the man responsible for it all.