8/31/2003

Jack Kirby

Michael Chabon's Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, "The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay," is set in the world of 1940's comics publishing. The author's acknowledgments end with this loving coda: "Finally, I want to acknowledge the deep debt I owe in this and everything else I've ever written to the work of the late Jack Kirby, the King of Comics."

Kirby, a prolific writer and illustrator whose bold and sculptured hero drawings have been emulated for decades, died in 1994. Tomorrow would have been his 86th birthday. He had an enduring influence on comics, but he left his stamp on the movies, too. There he is survived by many of his creations and by films that used his work as a starting point.

"It just says something awful and it says something about comics that someone like Jack Kirby is so little known, and the characters he created are everywhere still," Mr. Chabon said in a telephone interview.