The Monster Movies That Inspired JACK KIRBY

A BIRTHDAY SPECIAL: These cinematic beasts unleashed the King’s fertile imagination…

The late, great Jack Kirby was born 102 years ago – Aug. 28, 1917 — and wouldn’t you know it, The Jack Kirby Collector #77 is out the same day.

This issue’s theme? “Monsters and Bugs.”

I mean, the whole issue is crawling with them. (Get it? Oy.)

Just check out the table of contents:

Some great stuff in there. You can grab the issue at your local comics shop or directly through publisher TwoMorrows. (Click here.)

Now, as happens in these parts, we’ve got an EXCLUSIVE EXCERPT for you and this is a funky one, courtesy of the mag’s editor and publisher, John Morrow: a list of a dozen ’50s monster movies that inspired the King’s own menagerie of bombastic behemoths. (Hey, why couldn’t it have been 13?)

Side note: You know what else is out on Kirby’s birthday? Marvel Monsters #1 – a one-shot that pays tribute to many of the King’s ghoulish giants. Click here for a SNEAK PEEK.

Anyway, if you want to celebrate Kirby’s birthday with dinner and a movie (and a comic), this is a good place to start:


Whether he saw them at a movie house, drive-in, or in a TV ad, here’s a dozen ’50s creature features Kirby used for inspiration, and where:

Them! (1954)
The earliest atomic tests in New Mexico cause common ants to mutate into giant man-eating monsters that threaten civilization.
Tales to Astonish #14 (Dec. 1960)
Strange Tales #73 (Feb. 1960)

Poss. Steve Ditko inks

It Came from Beneath the Sea (1955)
A giant, radioactive octopus rises from the Philippine Trench to terrorize the North American Pacific Coast.
Tales of Suspense #8 (Mar. 1960)
Tales of Suspense #11 (Sept. 1960)

Dick Ayers inks

Day the World Ended (1955)
In a post-Apocalyptic world after an atomic war, seven disparate people find themselves in a protected valley in the home of a survivalist and his beautiful daughter.
Strange Tales #97 (June 1962)

Ditko inks

Tarantula (1955)
A spider escapes from an isolated Arizona desert laboratory experimenting in giantism and grows to tremendous size as it wreaks havoc on the local inhabitants.
Journey Into Mystery #64 (Jan. 1961)
Journey Into Mystery #73 (Oct. 1961)

Ayers inks

The Mole People (1956)
A party of archaeologists discovers the remnants of a mutant five-millennia-old Sumerian civilization living beneath a glacier atop a mountain in Mesopotamia.
Fantastic Four #1 (Nov. 1961)

George Klein inks

Godzilla, King of the Monsters! (1956)
A 400-foot (122-meter) dinosaur-like beast, awoken from undersea hibernation off the Japanese coast by atomic-bomb testing, attacks Tokyo.
Strange Tales #87 (Aug. 1961)
Strange Tales #89 (Oct. 1961)
Journey Into Mystery #58 (May 1960)

Ayers inks

Attack of the Crab Monsters (1957)
Scientists become trapped on a shrinking island with intelligent, murderous giant crabs.
Tales to Astonish #10 (July 1960)

Ditko inks

The Abominable Snowman (1957)
A kindly English botanist and a gruff American scientist lead an expedition to the Himalayas in search of the legendary Yeti.
Tales to Astonish #24 (Oct. 1961)

Ayers inks

The Black Scorpion (1957)
Volcanic activity frees giant scorpions from the earth who wreak havoc in the rural countryside and eventually threaten Mexico City.
Journey Into Mystery #82 (July 1962)

Ayers inks

The Cyclops (1957)
An expedition to Mexico finds and does battle with a mutated 25-foot man with one big eye.
Tales of Suspense #10 (July 1960)

Ditko inks

The Strange World of Planet X (1958)
A friendly visitor from outer space warns against conducting experiments with the Earth’s magnetic field, that could mutate insects into giant monsters.
Tales of Suspense #24 (Dec. 1961)

Ayers inks

The Giant Gila Monster (1959)
A giant lizard terrorizes a rural Texas community and a heroic teenager attempts to destroy the creature.
Tales to Astonish #9 (May 1960)

Ayers inks


— 13 COVERS: A JACK KIRBY BIRTHDAY Celebration. Click here.

— JACK KIRBY: Comics Pros Pay Tribute to the King. Click here.

Cover images and credits from the gargantuan Grand Comics Database.

Author: Dan Greenfield

Share This Post On


    • That why they called him Jack ” The King” Kirby

      Post a Reply
  1. C`Mon let’s not forget the 1962/61 British sci_film `Gorgo`, as a Tale to Astonish #9 influencer,..I think Gorgo was taller than Godzilla, based on relative height difference to tall buildings. There werent too many cool British scFi films however.

    Post a Reply
    • 1961’s Gorgo could not have influenced Astonish #9 as that issue came out in May, 1960 – a full year or more before Gorgo’s release…

      Now what is missing is the grand daddy of ALL radioactive monster movies – THE BEAST FROM 20,000 FATHOMS!

      Post a Reply

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: