By Peter S. Svensson
Jack Kirby, comics luminary, now floats through space eternally. Well, a planetoid named after him does at least! In a recent International Astronomical Union publication, a list of minor planets which had been recently officially been assigned names was given. (You can read it here, on page 955.)
There, the names of two new minor planets, Kirby (minor planet 51985) and Simonson (minor planet 53237) are listed. Both of them were discovered by prolific astronomer Roy A. Tucker, who in the past has named minor planets after William Shatner, and the Japanese vocal group Kalafina, known for their anime themes. Tucker can only suggest names for his discoveries, and the International Astronomical Union has to approve them. It seems that in this case, Jack Kirby and Walt Simonson were deemed appropriate names for celestial bodies.
Jack Kirby, born in 1917, is probably best known for his collaborations with Stan Lee in the 1960s at Marvel Comics, where the two co-created the X-Men, the Fantastic Four, the Avengers, the Inhumans, and many more. Prior to this, Kirby had a long partnership with Joe Simon dating back to 1940, where they created Captain America, did fantastic work at DC with the “Boy Gang” style of comic, where a group of young boys would get into adventures, and established Romance Comics. Kirby would later by himself create the New Gods at DC Comics in the 1970s, as well as other concepts like Kamandi and The Demon, as well as the Eternals. Kirby was very known for his “Cosmic” work, with the Fantastic Four, Thor, the New Gods and the Eternals, creating concepts that other creators would expand upon and draw inspiration from. He died in 1994, having been one of the most influential people to comics as we know them today.
Walter Simonson, born in 1946, is an artist and writer known best for his 1980s run on Thor for Marvel Comics, which is still held by many to be the best the character has ever had. Drawing inspiration from Kirby yet still finding ways to innovate, Simonson’s art and writing on books as wide ranged as Fantastic Four, Manhunter, Orion, Starjammers and Metal Men have captured the hearts of many readers. Simonson is known for doing Cosmic with his critically acclaimed work on Jack Kirby’s New Gods and with Thor. Simonson is currently writing and drawing Ragnarok for IDW, a book about the Norse Gods after the end of the world.
While there are other creators who have done cosmic comics, there is no doubt that Jack Kirby and Walt Simonson are deserving of the honor of having planetoids named after them.