Jack Kirby's legacy continues through Kirby4Heroes and his many creations

Jack Kirby's influence is not only still being felt through his creations and the Kirby4Heroes organization that his granddaughter has created, but is still generating new content in many ways today.

Founded by the iconic artist's granddaughter, Jillian, when she was 16 years old, the Kirby4Heroes campaign supports the Hero Initiative, the only federally registered nonprofit organization that helps comic book professionals who have fallen upon times, whether it be medical and/or financial assistance. The Hero Initiative has helped many artists, including Russ Heath, who drew a comic about the aid he received. 

And in In 2012, the Kirby4Heroes campaign helped raise $5,000 for the Hero Initiative, which increased to $10,000 in 2013 and $15,000 in 2014. The goal this year is to continue the trend and go for $20,000.

"My grandfather Jack's generosity was legendary in the comic book industry. He always gave encouragement to budding comic book artists asking for advice. He never turned away a fan! His Thousand Oaks home was famous as a haven for comic book lovers, fans, and those just seeking one of my grandma Roz's famous bologna sandwiches!" Jillian said in an email to The Times.

"One of the most satisfying surprises from my 2014 campaign was the amount of personal donations in the name of Kirby4Heroes sent in to the Hero Initiative either by mail or on the Hero Initiative website. The addition of my public Kirby4Heroes Facebook  page in 2013 and its growth in 2014 greatly helped my fund raising efforts. This Facebook page is meant to serve as a type of personal Jack Kirby art museum. I try to keep my grandfather Jack's legacy thriving through daily postings of his artwork."

The campaign has expanded with comic book retailers and companies supporting the fund-raising, and the Wake Up And Draw event (WUAD) -- where artists donate their time and works to auction off art for the cause -- helping the organization reach its goals.

Axel Alonso, editor-in-chief of Marvel Comics, declared, "If there was a Mount Rushmore of comic book artists, Jack Kirby would sit front and center."

Alonso stands by that statement, as Marvel has a couple of comic book initiatives that pay homage to Kirby's art. The first comes this month as Marvel celebrates 50 years of S.H.I.E.L.D. The storyline will be centered on the question of "Who is the 'Man Called D.E.A.T.H.,'" with a cover spotlighting a guy looking a lot like Nick Fury. The story features a never-before-published S.H.I.E.L.D. sequence penciled by Jack Kirby and inked by Jim Steranko. The special issue also includes the very first S.H.I.E.L.D. story by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby.

Further noting Kirby's influence, Marvel is putting out a series of covers featuring many of the monsters that he drew during his artistic tenure. In books like "Tales to Astonish," "Journey Into Mystery" and "Strange Tales," Kirby created creatures like Kraa the Unhuman, Hypno-Creature, Fin Fang Foom, and everyone's favorite Guardian of the Galaxy, Groot. Marvel is celebrating their legacy this October with over 25 Kirby monster variants on some of their biggest titles.

With these comics homages, and even with Marvel's movie slate and the current success of the Kirby-co-created Ant-Man character doing well in his own debut, Kirby the creator still looms large, and his family is paying it forward. 

Follow Jevon on Twitter: @Storiz

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