105 years ago tomorrow — August 28, 1917 — Jacob Kurtzberg was born at 147 Essex Street on NYC’s Lower East Side, the first native-born American in his family. His parents, Rose and Ben, were immigrants from Galicia, in what was then the Austrian-Hungarian Empire.
“Jakie” grew up in the claustrophobic tenements of the Lower East Side, scrabbling for territory and opportunity like so many other kids around him. He ganged up with other kids. He fought with other kids. He read, soaked in movies like a sponge, made up stories in his head, and drew, drew, drew. He eventually drew himself and his family out of the Lower East Side.
As Jack Kirby, he turned the world of American comic books on its head. We continue to reap the harvest of his tameless imagination, furious narrative drawing, and huge, thrilling, absurd ideas. What a force.
I suspect that Kirby always bore the weight of his upbringing around with him, in his mind, and in his drawing. The above image seems to bear that out.