KIRBYOLOGY: Jack Kirby’s Gigantic, Inspiring Imagination

Jack Kirby thought big — literally. Some of Kirby’s most memorable characters were space giants, sea monsters, orange freaks, and cosmic colossuses that towered over his other characters, who weren’t exactly teacup poodles. But even Ben Grimm is an ant compared to Galactus.

I feel small lately. 2018 has been a parade of small minds, nonexistent consciences, and backwards ideas wreaking havoc on the small and large scale. I feel shrinkage of the soul every time I read the news or do the dumbest thing possible, look at Twitter. From Comicsgate to Trumpers, the bullies and Nazis and conspiracy-humpers and deplorables seem to be everywhere. Maybe it is a small world after all.

So I reckon we could all use a little extra inspiration to think big, feel big, and be bigger than advertised. In that spirit, here’s a small tribute to Kirby’s giants and all the grandeur they bring.

Kirby’s most famous giant is probably Galactus, who I hope soon graces the Marvel Cinematic Universe in all his purple-clad, herald-employing, antlers-having, planet-chomping glory. I don’t know if the MCU will every reach another climax as glorious as Avengers: Infinity War, but if it does, I bet Galactus is involved.

Kirby also co-created Hank Pym, whose resume of long-underwear identities includes Giant Man.

It’s shame Kirby didn’t live to see Captain America: Civil War, which bodes well for the future of giants in Kirby-inspired film.

Thor: Ragnarok also brought us an awesome version of demonic fire giant Surtur, mostly inspired by Walter Simonson, but Kirby did a helluva version of this mythological flame enthusiast:

Maybe the most impressive giant Kirby ever drew or conceived was a denizen of the Prometheus Galaxy, as illustrated by this unforgettable, Christ-like spread from New Gods #5:

I suppose passing spacefarers with delicate sensibilities should be thankful for the cosmic codpiece.

About a decade earlier, pre-Fantastic Four Kirby monsters tended to be giants.

My favorite, as known by everyone who follows my Twitter feed or penetrates the defenses of my tinfoil hat, is Spragg:

Art by Jack Kirby

Atheist George Carlin said he prayed to the sun and Joe Pesci. I pray to Spragg. If you would like to be a Spraggite and receive immunity from future conquests, please me send your social security number, banking information, and prayers.

When Kirby returned to Marvel in the mid-1970s, he created the Celestials, a mysterious race of cosmic galoots who spurred human evolution back in the days of yore, kinda like the 2001 monolith. I love that the judgment of the Celestials will be a simple thumbs up or down.

Though Kirby giants are cool as hell, they rarely bring good news. They tend to want to eat, conquer, and/or judge humanity while bringing about Ragnarok or plain ol’ doomsday. Talk about colossal bummers.

But as creations of a puny human, these big bastards are awe-inspiring examples that we can still think big, no matter how shrunken we feel.

None of us are likely to come up with something as cool as Galactus. And we can’t eat planets, as tasty as they look. But we can all be a little bigger in some way — ethically, politically, creatively, sexually, humorously, cosmically, whatever—even without purple antlers.

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