Jack Kirby Museum and Research Center
The JKMaRC site issued a press release two weeks ago saying that they were looking to get a brick and mortar gallery for the extensive work of one of comics’ legends. The campaign is looking for an initial $30,000 for a temporary space with the hopeful permanent site to be placed in New York’s Lower East Side (where Kirby spent his childhood.)
John Morrow, project announcer and publisher of the Jack Kirby Collector Magazine said:
“Having such a space in one of New York City’s most vibrant neighbourhoods will allow us to showcase educational programs, lectures, exhibits and more to pay tribute to one of the greatest storytellers of the 20th century.” and “We are already reaching out to art collectors and educators in anticipation of opening.”
On the personal side, I’m hoping for this museum to take shape. There are several different comics museums worldwide, but here in America I can only name two; the Museum of Comic and Cartoon Art (MoCCA) in New York and the Cartoon Art Museum in San Francisco. If there are more here in the states, I apologize. Most of the ones I’ve come to know have been mostly websites. In this respect, I’d love to see individual artists receive their own museums to showcase catalogues that have taken decades of work to put together. Like in the case of all museums, it’s great to see how an artist started initially in his artwork and how it evolved into the style that was well known. In Kirby’s, much like many comic artists case, his style was instantly recognizable. He was a much beloved artist by so many.
I’ve never been a huge Kirby fan myself, but I can’t deny the man’s place in history. In DC’s history, he was responsible for Darkseid. I know that he came up with a lot more, but Darkseid remains as one of my personal favorites. As to Marvel, it’s almost easier to list off the characters he didn’t have influence over. If Stan Lee was Mr. Marvel, then Kirby was a close number 2. With that in mind, he deserves a building to showcase his collection. Hopefully it would inspire others to push for other legendary comic artist/writers to get their own corner of the globe; Siegel and Shuster spring to mind. In fact, so many artists have such an expansive library of work that it’s almost a shame that it hasn’t been done more often.
I can see the benefits of having this around, but as with everything, I also see why this sort of exhibit won’t take off. MoCCA works because people with money love it enough. The fans of this art form love it enough. New York has been the main center of comic books since the 30s. If you take into account pulp art, you can count it back to at least the early 20s and further back at that juncture. It’s a repository of all things comic art and is in a quirky enough city to make it work. San Francisco has that same motif, it’s an art loving community that loves to see what’s outside the norm. Now let me put this into perspective, I’m not saying you have to be quirky to enjoy comic art. I am quirky (to put it EXTREMELY mildly), but the tone of a city does make the difference. Here in the area that I live in (Dallas/Fort Worth for those who don’t know) our fan based community is loud and proud. Texas in general has a very large fan base! However, here in D/FW I don’t believe a comic museum of this sort would work. We have had numerous webcomic artists from here, not to mention comic book artists. Certainly enough to make an exhibit work if not its own gallery somewhere. D/FW just isn’t built for that sort of thing. Given time, effort, and the mainstream on our side perhaps it might be an oddity for the masses. The fear is that it would fold fairly quickly leaving the true fans of the art form to support it. Austin might have a more successful time of it, as it has that same sort of quirk to it that makes people want to explore the different. There are a few cities like that, but I digress.
Kirby’s artwork is generally recognized even from the outside of the fanbase. They might not know a lot about the man, but earning a WikiScholar isn’t that hard, and in the meantime it’s a name that will draw curiosity. The sad state is that it’s taken this long for such a thing to happen. Not due to any fault of the people at the Kirby Museum Website, I can’t blame them for taking it one step at a time. The truly sad part is that we true fans recognize it as a true art style that can be hung on the walls of a gallery proudly. Comic art sells very well, and certain pieces from certain books sell for many thousands of dollars. The mainstream crowd doesn’t see it as Picasso or Van Gogh, so it’s not looked at as any sort of genius. If you look at Van Gogh, his style was never appreciated by the masses during his lifetime. Sadly, it might be a long time coming before people outside the fandom see the true mastery of sequential art and those subtle pencils, inks and colorings of our masters. Hopefully, this museum will take the first step into that world.
To visit the website go to: http://kirbymuseum.org/
If you agree that their should be a physical museum, there is a donation link on the page.