Guest Column: Jarrett J. Krosoczka on his early influences

The creator of ‘Hey, Kiddo’ and the ‘Lunch Lady’ series shares his love for Batman, the X-Men, Gummi Bears and more.

Before becoming an award-winning cartoonist and the author of Hey, Kiddo, the Lunch Lady series and other books, Jarrett J. Krosoczka was a fan, wearing his love for the Smurfs, Gummi Bear, X-Men and more on the sleeve of his Batman T-shirt.

Now, with the re-release of the Lunch Lady series as two collected editions, we’re happy to present this guest essay from Krosoczka about those early influences on his work and the escape they provided for him as child.

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Living with the King: Telling the Jack Kirby story

Jason Mehmel shares what he learned about Jack Kirby during his time directing the play “King Kirby” in Calgary in 2016.

All this week we’re celebrating the life and influence of comics legend Jack Kirby, who would have turned 100 on Aug. 28. Today we present a guest editorial from Jason Mehmel, a professional director and producer of theatre in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, who had a unique opportunity related to Jack Kirby.

by Jason Mehmel

I’ve known about Jack Kirby for years… his style is as unique as a fingerprint. Crazy designs, often using circles. Crackling energy balls of negative space (later called ‘Kirby Krackles’). It represented the platonic ideal of superheroes, particularly the Marvel characters he created, and the subsequent artists, composing with better anatomy, perspective or even composition, are still ultimately riffing on the energy behind Kirby’s pencil, and the choices it led him to.

Robert Klein as Jack Kirby (Jeff McDonald/Sage Theater)

Two years ago, I came across a theatre script about the life of Kirby and found myself running a theatre company. I decided to jump at it and produce King Kirby: A Play by Crystal Skillman & Fred Van Lente, which walked through the pivotal moments in Kirby’s life:

How he came from poverty, his early love of science fiction and big ideas, and of telling them visually. How he got into comics from that love, and the birth of Captain America, just before his own wartime experience. How Marvel Comics as we know it exploded from his pen, and those of his fellow pencillers, though it would be hard to compete with the sheer volume of characters and stories Kirby developed in those years.

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