Jack Kirby earned his reputation as the "King of Comics" by his prolific body of work and for co-creating the early Marvel Universe characters like Captain America, the X-Men, the Hulk and The Fantastic Four. And while Kirby passed away in 1994, a number of his previously unseen concepts may introduce a new generation to Kirby's creations.
According to the New York Times, Joe Ruby and Ken Spears — the founders of Ruby-Spears Productions — have teamed up with Sid and Marty Krofft (“Land of the Lost”) to develop a treasure trove of Kirby's creations into films, TV series, comics and video games. The material stems from over 600 production boards created by Kirby during his employment at Ruby-Spears in the '80s.
Some of the most promising concept art revealed so far include “Roxie’s Raiders,” featuring a female adventurer — more like Indiana Jones than Lara Croft — and her team; “Golden Shield,” which follows an ancient Mayan hero trying to save humanity during the post-apocalyptic setting of 2012, "Warriors of Illusion," a team of magicians; “The Gargoids,” about scientists infected by an alien virus which gives them superpowers and "Tempest," a futuristic female superhero.
Kirby's started his stint at Ruby-Spears as a character and background artist on "Thundarr The Barbarian" before working on a numerous ideas for animated TV series that never progressed beyond the initial pitch artwork.
“Many times, [Kirby] didn’t have enough to do, or there weren’t enough assignments,” explained Spears. “He was such a prolific guy that he would, on his own, just start sketching out some thoughts.”
And while Kirby's family made headlines last summer when they publicly announced their intention to reclaim the rights of characters Kirby created for Marvel, Marc Toberoff — the copyright lawyer representing the Kirby family — has confirmed that the creations made by Kirby during his time at Ruby-Spears were work-for-hire projects.
Ruby and Spears — along with the Krofft brothers — are hoping that Kirby's standing in the comic industry will help them sell their properties in a marketplace already dominated by comic book related movies.
Do you think Kirby's creations can become successful Hollywood properties without Kirby directly involved in the development? Which of the Kirby concepts would you most like to see adapted? Let us know what you're thinking in the comment section or on Twitter!