|Edited by John Morrow||Jack Kirby Collector celebrates the life and career of the "King" of comics through interviews with Kirby and his contemporaries, feature articles, and rare & unseen Kirby artwork. Now in tabloid format, the magazine showcases Kirby's art at even larger size.|
Eulogy for Rosalind Kirby
by Mark Evanier
One Tuesday in July of 1969, I drove down to Irvine, California to meet my favorite comic book artist. I thought I'd meet him and maybe get an autograph and an interview for my fanzine but it didn't work out that way. When I left, I had no autograph and no interview, but I did have two new people in my life...two people who would come to be important to me in ways I cannot fully articulate, even now, even to myself.
I was not alone in this experience. Millions of us loved the comic books that came out of the Kirby house. Most of us who were privileged to visit there instantly came to love the man who made them happen, and the woman who made them possible.
We loved Jack because of his brilliant imagination and his outstanding decency and sense of humanity. And we loved Roz because...well, first of all, because she loved Jack. She dressed him and fed him and drove him and cared for him. And often, just this side of dawn, she'd go into his studio and tell him to, for God's sake, put down the pencil and come to bed.
You rarely see two people who so totally and truly belonged together, each putting themselves second so the other could be first. Every time we went to a restaurant, Jack would look at the menu and announce what he was going to order. And then Roz would tell him what he should eat and he would change his order...because he knew (a) that she was always right and (b) that she had only his best interests at heart.
You couldn't help but appreciate the synchronicity: Jack sitting there 'til all hours, cobbling up tales of great champions, protecting the world from total annihilation...and Roz sitting there in the next room, protecting Jack. Compared to her, the super-heroes had it easy -- because Jack, God love him, needed a lot of protecting.
We never saw her go off-duty, never saw her flinch. One time at a convention in the 80's, a stooge for one of the comic companies started yelling at Jack, denouncing him for a stand which struck all of us as a simple matter of independence and integrity. Before any of us could rush to Jack's defense...before Jack himself could even raise his voice, there was Roz, telling off the corporate goon better than any of us could. The guy is still probably trembling...because nothing scared her when her life partner was threatened, and Jack was the same way about her.
When I think of her today, I think of her courage and I think of her compassion. I think of how proud she was of her family...Susan, Barbara, Lisa and Neal, and all the grandchildren and in-laws and nieces and nephews and everyone.
And then there was that extended family...all of us writers and artists and comic fans who thought of Jack and Roz as surrogate aunt and uncle. There's no way to estimate the number of talented folks who received valuable encouragement and inspiration from them both. Since word spread that we had lost her, they've been calling to commiserate. One author was practically kicking himself that he hadn't sent yet sent her his new book. It may well be a huge hit but something will always be missing for him: He didn't get to show it to Roz and get her approval.
It was never dull around them. I remember Jack telling the story of sitting there in his studio one day when Roz was coming home from the store. Her foot slipped on the brake and she plowed through the back of the garage, right into Jack's workspace. No one was hurt and Jack, in a strange way, enjoyed the shock of it all. He said to me, "I'm sitting there drawing and I hear a noise...and suddenly, here's Roz comin' right through the wall." Then he paused and added, "You know, we've been married half a century and she's still finding ways to surprise me."
In an equally strange way, I think Jack would have liked the fact that she survived him a few years. Not that anyone wished that loss on her but she did deserve that brief time in the spotlight. The day before Jack's funeral, she told me she was worried that all the people who called and came to the house would drift away...because really, they only cared about Jack.
That never happened. They called and they came, to the point where she sometimes announced, tongue-in-cheek, she was sick of all the attention. At the San Diego Comic Convention, they stood and cheered her, because they knew that Jack Kirby was a two-person operation.
Today, we're all sad to lose her. But we're glad he's got her back.
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