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44: Keep Fighting On!
Wherein I discuss how Jack Kirby saved the comic industry at age 44.
Welcome to week 44 of the Draw or Die Newsletter for visual storytellers. Just quick reminders before we dive in:
“28” is coming up, our February Drawing Challenge. I’ll be drawing the prompts live every night at 8pm EST on the Youtube channel. Details HERE
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"I'll lay me down and bleed a-while,
And then I'll rise and fight again."
- from the Ballad of Sir Andrew Barton
I had another topic in mind to write about this week, but as soon as I wrote the number “44”, I knew my plans had changed.
The number 44 is really inspiring to me.
First, for those who think they are too old to start something new, a reminder that Jack Kirby was 44 years old when he went to his little “dungeon” basement studio and penciled out the story for Fantastic Four #1 IN A SINGLE WEEKEND.
The story goes, according to those who were there, that Jack had showed up to the Marvel offices one day in 1961, and Stan Lee was emotional and crying and saying saying they were closing down the comics. Sales were bad. Men were physically moving office furniture out. Jack said no no no. “Don’t let em!” And he laid out his gameplan and it was simple, “bring back the super heroes”
You see it had been over a decade since WW2 since “heroes” were heavily featured in the comics, and sales had declined. Every publisher was in deep trouble.
But Jack had the vision. He knew what would sell. He said back then that these stories could be blockbuster films and tv shows. He could see it.
And he was right.
While others were just laying down and giving up, Jack said no, let’s fight on! Let’s bring back this old thing and make it new again.
And you know the rest of the story. “The house that Jack Built” has gone on to dominate and push popular culture, upending hollywood and the status quo. A shame he never got to live to see the fruits of all that labor.
44 years old.
And that’s the GREATEST story we know. But there were so many years of struggle not seen or talked about. Flops, failures. Bad partnerships.
3 years before he saved the comic industry, he actually thought he had finally hit the big time when he landed his own daily comic feature, Sky Masters of the Space Force. He was so proud of achieving that. But it turned into 3 years of turmoil and contract fights, and in the end the feature flopped.
And he didn’t give up. He rolled up his sleeves and fought on.
Then I have my other reasons 44 stands out for me.
My Dad had a massive heart attack at age 44, he survived it. He’s almost 80 years old now.
My older brother Scott died at age 44 from Esophageal cancer, brought to him in part by the burn pits of Desert Storm.
I remember when I hit the age of 44 a few years ago and I thought… “I havent’ done enough!” - But all of these guys are a reminder to me that:
I’m still alive. I still have time. And I’m thankful for it every day.
When things don’t go as planned, roll up your sleeves and fight on.
Video Highlight of the week:
On Thursday night’s video podcast, I went on a rant about the FUTURE OF COMICS and a recipe for comic creators to use. I’ll be talking a lot more about this topic…
Thanks for supporting the channel over there. We’re live every Thursday at 8pm EST. Stop in and chat with others live and take part!
R&D SNEAK PEEK
Behind the scenes, we’re cooking up some fun things. Here’s a little peek.
Just another reason to listen in to the podcast :)
The Weekly Drawing
This week’s prompt is…
“SAVING THE DAY.”
Tag your drawing #drawordieclub on social of your choice so we can find it and show off your work!
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Stay encouraged, and keep fighting on!