Jack Kirby, ARGO & Jim Lee: A Hollywood Legend

For the past couple of weeks, moviegoers across America (including many of the iFanboy staff)  have been enjoying Argo, the film starring and directed by Ben Affleck telling the story of a secret CIA mission to smuggle Americans out of Iran during the Iran Hostage Crisis of 1979 and 1980.  For those who haven’t seen it yet, the plot includes a cover story hatched by the CIA where a fake Hollywood movie was used as the cover story to help smuggle the Americans out.

Every once in a while, history and pop culture have a fun way of crossing paths with our beloved world of comics. Keen eyes on the film will notice a scene where an artist is drawing storyboards and concept art for the fake film.  If you stayed to watch the credits, you’d see that the role of that artist was credited as none other than Jack Kirby.

You see, Jack Kirby moved to Los Angeles and in the 1970s and 1980s, in addition to his comics work, did conceptual art for movies, animation and television.  He was contracted to do conceptual art for a science fiction movie called Lord of Light, that later became Argo.  It’s unknown as to if Kirby knew of the larger plot. It’s probably safe to assume that he had no idea, and it was just another gig.

For those curious, you can see Kirby’s conceptual art for Lord of Light over at Cap’n’s Comics blog, where he’s posted the full array of art from Lord of Light, which is classic Kirby with big celestial-esque beings, all in a Middle Eastern like setting. Here are a few samples:

Now, here’s where the story gets even weirder.

Last week, DC Comics Co-Publisher and acclaimed artist Jim Lee posted on Twitter that he went to see Argo and not only enjoyed it, but revealed that he actually owned some of the Kirby concept art from the movie:

I’m often amazed at how small of a world it is, that this great moment in American history involved one of our greatest legends of comics, and not only that, but to have it come back around to Jim Lee is just insane.

If you haven’t seen Argo yet, go see it. It’s definitely one of the best movies I’ve seen all year.  And then stay for the credits and cheer for Jack Kirby when you see his name in the credits.



  1. Good Moive. Argo go @#$% yourself!

  2. Very very interesting. I tried to read Lord of Light by Roger Zelazny 10 years or so ago and couldn’t make it through. Far out ideas from the 60’s – like wow man non-western religions – that have made their way into everyday culture made it a very tough, boring read.

    But its interesting to see how that was originally supposed to be a movie, then turned into a fake movie. Very cool and of course – killer Kirby art.

  3. I went to see Argo opening day and loved it. This is the first I’ve heard about Jack Kirby’s involvement. Makes me like the movie that much more.

  4. Awesome, when I was watching the movie I thought about looking up to see who drew the art but then I kind of forgot about it, totally didn’t notice Jack Kirby in the credits.

  5. I heard he was in the movie, but got cut. Can’t wait to see Argo

  6. Very cool.

  7. Interesting.

  8. I already cheer for Jack Kirby on a daily basis 🙂

  9. Argo is great movie. Heard about this op when I was still in the Navy found out about Jack’s involvement latr on. Between this operation and his World War II service one would argue he was a real american hero.

  10. Argo sounds cool, but look at that art… I want to see Lord of Light!

  11. Lord of Light is my favorite Zelazny novel.

    Far future space colonists deify themselves as the Hindu pantheon and rule over their own progeny’s medieval world with god-like powers derived from the same high-technology that gives them immortality. One of their original comrades is summoned back from exile/nirvanna (downloaded from the heavens into a new body) and resumes his war against the Gods, Buddhism his primary weapon against them.

    Lord of Light is an excellent sci-fi novel, with one unforgivable pun.

  12. I was actually hired in September 2011 to play the hand double for Michael Parks, the actor playing Jack Kirby.
    Apparently, the first guy they had couldn’t draw quickly on camera and froze up. I was told that the scene was this:
    -the Lord of Light storyboards didnt seem Islamic enough to convince the Iranians, so they had asked Kirby to add some Islamic architectural elements to them.

    I met the Art Director on the WB lot and drew some quick Minarets and Domes that were approved; as long as Affleck agreed, I had the job. Day 2, Ben showed up, was totally cool and watched me draw for a few seconds and approved me, I booked.
    Then, since I am younger (than both Parks and Kirby was) and a non smoker, my hands and forearms had to be transformed into old smoker looking-they wrapped fish skin around my skin, hand glued white hairs w tweezers and stippled for spots and hand painted blue veins w watercolor-it was astounding to watch these two awesome MU women doing each arm/hand-one on each side. It took them about two hours each time to apply and another two to remove. I got to enjoy this “show” three times before filming as each time, prod wrapped having run out of time for the shot-I spent most of the day in my trailer practicing drawing and reading and enjoyed awesome lunches including Lobster. Finally, at the “CIA” headquarters (which was actually the LA Times offices in downtown LA) they had the time, set up the shot and rolled one late afternoon in October. We did about 5 takes and were done-Affleck was in an adjoining office, watched the takes on a monitor and was satisfied. Unfortunately, after ALL this, the scene was cut from the movie and I’m not even credited. I have pictures and everything from my trailer-I even have the monitor footage of a couple takes…