Jack Kirby, the legendary Superman and Fantastic Four illustrator and co-creator of Captain America, had a pet dog called Riku, aka Takao, that would live to be well into his eighties.
And we’re not just talking about a cute Jack Russell. Like Captain America, he became a superhero in his own right, having long limped and been kept listless. On his most recent trip in 2011, the studio handler wouldn’t be drawn on details of when and where he was taken, but he did offer a revealing tagline about their dog: “If Riku had weapons, he would be a samurai.”
If anyone was to miss Riku, imagine how Riku missed his owner, especially when he didn’t come home for 17 years!
Now with the potential as a muse, Riku has inspired Terry Hutt, a Toronto gallerist specializing in memorabilia of the Marvel Comics universe. He just reissued his great Kirby “product” in a monograph with Kochrab Notebooks.
“Not only do I own The Fantastic Four’s first appearance, I also own the first offering in our collaboration, a book featuring 40 pages that came out in 1961,” says Hutt. “His incredible spirit, his high-class manners, his noble demeanor, his smarts, his exaggerated expression – those and so many more are all immortalized by the artist.”
The framing, not above calling himself “the Joker of Ashtabutras,” describes Riku as not only a dog-themed artist but a gay superhero–a duality very much reflected in Kirby’s own role and such original cosmic heroes as Captain America.