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Jack Kirby and Captain America

March 14, 2014

Comic strip artists often stuck around for the long haul with the strips they had developed, but in the days before widespread creator ownership of comic book characters, incredibly long tenures with comic book characters was something of an anomaly.

But then again, so was Jack Kirby.

He and Joe Simon had created Captain America in the early days of 1941, when the character first appeared in Captain America Comics #1.

Kirby's career, of course, spanned decades. While he and Simon left Timely not all that long after Captain America’s debut, he became the workhorse of the early days of the company’s Marvel era.

With Stan Lee, he revived Cap for new audiences in the early 1960s in Avengers #4 and then drew his solo adventures in pages of Tales of Suspense.

When Tales of Suspense, a title Cap shared with Iron Man, transformed into Captain America with #100, Kirby was there, too.

That led to his two-page re-telling of Captain America’s origin in Captain America #109 (cover dated January 1969). The pages are currently up for bid at Hake’s Americana & Collectibles in an auction that closes on Thursday, March 20, 2014.

The sequence shows Steve Rogers entering Dr. Erskine’s futuristic laboratory and being enhanced to the peak of human perfection by an experimental serum, in order to aid the United States government's efforts to win World War II. The second page shows Rogers transforming from his previous scrawny physique to that of the muscular Captain America.

In this case, of course, Kriby was recreating his own work from Captain America Comics #1.

Jack “King” Kirby would again return to Captain America, this time as writer-artist, beginning with Captain America #193. In addition to that run, he also created the Treasury Edition Captain America’s Bicentennial Battles.

Both the character’s origin and Kirby’s influence on the world of comic book art show no signs of waning.

Captain America’s popularity is very high at the moment. Following a strong, lengthy run by writer Ed Brubaker on the comic book series, the performance of the character's first feature film, Captain America: The First Avenger, at the box office, and his part in the blockbuster Marvel's The Avengers, awareness and anticipation are high for Captain America: The Winter Soldier, which is due in theaters April 4, 2014.

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