In previous years on this day, I've posted pictures of Kirby's great super hero and fantasy creations, but this time I've gone with something a bit different. "Street Code" was Kirby's semi-autobiographical look back at his tough upbringing on the violent, Depression-hit streets of New York's Lower East Side. I'm sorry to say I've never read the whole story but I've come across a few images on t'internet and the one above is a beauty, capturing the vibrant, overcrowded, multicultural milieu of Kirby's tenement roots. Kirby took his experiences of poverty, small time crooks and street gangs and channelled them into his heroes and villains, imbuing them with a real, earthy humanity which grounded their more fantastic qualities.
In his short graphic novel depicting the early years of the comic book industry, The Dreamer, Kirby's contemporary ( and former boss ) Will Eisner included a thinly-veiled fictional version of Kirby, called Jack King. A tough, diminutive, cigar-chomping cartoonist, Jack King stands up to local mobsters who attempt to muscle in on the new comic book studio of the story's Eisner-surrogate. I'll have to paraphrase because I haven't got the GN to hand but, after King boots the mobsters out, Eisner's main character says something like "In the comic book business there are good guys and bad guys...and that's why there's Jack King..."