Eric Kramp

Design × Motion × Technology

Kirby’s Universe

stylized illustration of a spaceship flying through space

Art Direction | Illustration | Data Visualization | HTML/CSS/JS

The Brief

Inspired by reading “Marvel Comics the Untold Story” and learning just how much of a revolving door all the comic publishers had throughout their history, I created this visualization of the publishers that Jack Kirby worked with throughout his career. Jack Kirby featured prominently in the book, and already being a fan, I thought this project would be an interesting way to explore his body of work.

The visualization imagines Kirby’s career as an empty universe that fills with planets as the years pass, and Kirby himself is represented as a spaceship traveling between them and orbiting. In each year the publishers that Kirby works with grow in size from the previous year, allowing scale to represent the relative amout of work Kirby did with any given company.

I was definitely unprepared for the total number of publishers that he worked with, many only once or twice, and of course the big powerhouses (Marvel/DC) have the biggest presence. Each year is compressed into 2 seconds, so you can also really get a sense of which years had the biggest variety for him as well. Since this was an exploratory project for me there are a few caveats about the data that I outline below.

See it live here.

The Data

The data for this visualization was scraped from (now defunct), which was a user submitted database, so I can’t verify the accuracy of each entry.

The dataset also includes work as recently as 2015, and since Jack Kirby died in 1994 I assume rather than new work this represents licensing deals by his estate.

The Visualization

Powering the visualization is Fabric.js, I had started with a D3.js based SVG visualization but there are so many objects that I needed to switch to a canvas-based solution to improve performance.

The visualization isn’t responsive, it’s size is based on the size of your browser window when you load the page, so I recommend viewing it full screen for the best experience.