Let’s all wish Jack Kirby a big Happy Birthday on Wednesday, August 28th! Kirby is the creator/co-creator of many of the great heroes, including Captain America, The X-Men, Silver Surfer, Fantastic Four, Hulk, Thor, and many more incredible characters. I can honestly say that I would not be the man I am today without the influence of Jack Kirby. His creations were my mentors growing up- shaping my morals and values. His creativity allows my imagination to travel to other universes and escape reality when life is too dull or stressful. We fanboys and fangirls owe so much to “The King”.
This year would have marked Kirby’s 96th birthday. To commemorate the event, his youngest granddaughter Jillian is giving us the opportunity to celebrate her grandfather’s legacy through charity. She had launched the Kirby4Heroes campaign to collect donations for the Hero Initiative– the only non-profit organization “dedicated strictly to helping comic book creators in need.”
Each year, on Kirby’s birthday many comic stores throughout the US donate a portion of their sales to the Hero Initiative. Some stores will even hold “birthday parties” for “The King”, which include original artwork auctions as well as other fun activities. If your store is not participating it would be great if you could harass them and tell them to get on board.
You also can help out by donating to the Hero Initiative online through their website. The Hero Initiative is also holding a Wake Up and Draw event where over 100 artists will create original artwork on Kirby’s b-day. The art will be auctioned off via HeroInitiative.com. So far, Kirby4Heroes has raised over $6,000 to help creators in need, and this year’s fundraising goal is $10,000!
Want to know more about the Hero Initiative? Sure you do– “The Hero Initiative creates a financial safety net for comic creators who may need emergency medical aid, financial support for essentials of life, and an avenue back into paying work. Since inception, the Hero Initiative has been fortunate enough to benefit over 50 creators and their families with over $500,000 worth of much-needed aid, fueled by your contributions! It’s a chance for all of us to give back something to the people who have given us so much enjoyment.”
I am a proud member and supporter of the Hero Initiative. Many comic creators are not given the respect they deserve from the industry. They give us their greatest creations, and then, while publishers continue to profit from their properties, many can no longer support themselves. The Hero Initiative gives these amazing creators emergency medical support, financial support for day to day living, and help finding work to support themselves. The Initiative has also helped pay for funerals for creators who died without enough money to get the proper tribute they deserve. I believe as fanboys and fangirls, we are greatly in debt to the artists who create the mythology that inspires and motivates us. We must give these creators the respect and support they deserve. I believe that we are a community that needs to support each other.
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 1960s. 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.
Jillian also posted an awesome video. It is a must see because it includes many pictures of Jack Kirby that I have never seen before. So check it out:
Be sure to visit HeroInitiative.com and donate before or on Wednesday, August 28th. Tag #Kirby4Heroes on the donation form where it asks for special instructions! HAPPY BIRTHDAY JACK!
______________________________________________________________________________________Jay Deitcher, LMSW(
@mrdeitcher) is an educator on comic history and runs successful Free Comic Book Day events yearly. You can see a listing of his incredible articles at JayDeitcher.com.