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Friday, January 29, 2010

Would the Real Jack Kirby Please Stand Up?

Decades ago there was a game show on television called, To Tell The Truth, in which contestants questioned a panel of 3 individuals to try and determine which of the 3 was the real person they all claimed to be.  At the end of it all, the game show host would say..."Would the real [person's name] please stand up?"  Then the real person would stand up and they contestants who guessed correctly won a prize. 

Today, it is not uncommon for an individual to want credit for the work that he or she has done on a project.  In a sense, we all want to make some sort of name for ourselves and leave our mark on society.  However, it is not uncommon for artistic individuals to use a pseudonym, or a pen name, in place of their real name.  A few writers still do this today.  Among comic book artists and writers this was popular as well.  For example, Stanley Martin Lieber (who actually appeared on the aforementioned game show twice) is more affectionately known as Stan Lee.  The same is true for "The King" of comicdom Jacob Kurtzberg, or Jack Kirby. 

What were some pen names used by Jack Kirby?  There is a long list!  Jack Curtiss, Curt Davis, Fred Sande, Ted Grey, Teddy, Charles Nicholas and eventually he settled on the pen name Jack Kirby because it reminded him of the actor James Cagney.  The first work that ever featured the "Jack Kirby" pen name was Blue Bolt #5, a work he and Joe Simon produced for Fox Feature Syndicate.  Eventually Jack Kirby and Joe Simon created in late 1940 Captain America which they convinced Timely Comics to produce.  Today Timely Comics is better known as Marvel Entertainment.

I have often thought of operating under a pseudonym myself but not sure what I would use.  I enjoy my own name because if it's originality.  Whether I will ever be as famous as Jack Kirby is doubtful.  Until such time, if it ever occurs, I will continue to enjoy the rich artwork left behind by "The King" for us all to marvel over.  Jack Kirby died February 6, 1994 in Thousand Oaks, California, at the age of 76.

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