MARVEL: Universe of Super Heroes

MoPop's Marvel: Universe of Super Heroes (banner)

Marvel: Universe of Super Heroes, at MoPop. Art by Nick Bradshaw.

This weekend my wife Michele and I will be traveling to Seattle to take in the opening of MARVEL: Universe of Super Heroes, the new, and reportedly very large and spectacular, exhibition at the Museum of Popular Culture (MoPop). Call this a belated birthday gift to self. The exhibition opens with a VIP Reception and Opening Party this Friday evening, April 20, and runs until January 6 of 2019.

The show—MoPop’s largest ever, and, I believe, the largest exhibition of Marvel artifacts ever—has been curated by my colleague Ben Saunders, founder of Comics and Cartoon Studies at the University of Oregon. Ben was a consultant, vital contributor, and catalog co-editor for our 2015 Jack Kirby exhibition at the CSUN Art Galleries, and has curated several other excellent comics exhibitions. Co-curating with Ben are my colleagues Matt Smith (Radford University) and Randy Duncan (Henderson State University). The project has also involved MoPOP curators Brooks Peck and Jacob McMurray, comics writer-editors Ann Nocenti and Danny Fingeroth, and another colleague of mine, Andréa Gilroy, also of the UO’s Comics Studies community (and Comics Crash Course). MARVEL: Universe of Super Heroes is jointly produced by German exhibitions company SC Exhibitions, MoPop, and Marvel Entertainment. It sounds as if it’s well worth the trip!

I understand that the exhibition has a theme park-like, immersive quality, with complex installations, statues, paintings, and film props and costumes, as well as original comic art, rare comic books, and other memorabilia. The Seattle Times‘s Paul Constant offered a mouth-watering sneak peek today (and last fall Forbes‘s Rob Salkowitz, also in Seattle, gave a useful heads-up).

I will be anxious to see how the exhibition tells the story of Marvel’s founding and early days, and of course what sort of presence Kirby’s work and career story have in the show (Constant’s article, I note, does not mention Kirby at all, which is a shame). Obviously, I’ve talked to Ben Saunders about this show (we began chatting about it long before it took its final form), and I’ve learned a great deal about curating from Ben’s insightful and committed work in that area—so I’m eager to see how it has all turned out. My sense is that it became a truly collaborative juggernaut and is going to be a bit eye-boggling. Can’t wait!

I look forward to meeting with colleague José Alaniz and hopefully other members of the Seattle comics community this weekend. I’ll be back with a report—with pictures, I hope!

Spider-Man statue at MoPop

Spider-Man at MoPop. Photo by exhibition designer Tobias Kunz, courtesy of Christoph Scholz of SC Exhibitions and Andréa Gilroy, via Facebook.

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Kirby (and Kirby Studies) in Moselle

 

Nov. 11, 2017. Studying Kirby never gets old. These past few days I’ve been in Metz, France, learning new ways to think about him and his work.

Metz lies in France’s northeast corner, in the region of Lorraine, not far from the German border. It belongs to the Département (i.e. administrative region) of Moselle—that is, within the Moselle River valley. It is about an hour and a half’s ride (by super-fast TGV train) from Paris. To me-—to my awestruck American eyes—it seems like a pleasant city that wears its history like a badge. It’s home to the Saulcy campus of the University of (Université de) Lorraine, or UdL, which is where I’ve been these past few days.

To commemorate this, Kirby’s centennial year, the Département of Moselle is paying tribute to him and his work with a series of comics-related events and exhibitions (see kirbysuperheros.fr). That is what brought me to the UdL.

Metz was a pivotal place in Kirby’s life—which is an understatement. As a 27-year-old combat infantryman in World War Two, Kirby took part in La Bataille (Battle) de Metz, which raged in the Moselle from September to December 1944. He was lucky to survive; most of his comrades-in-arms did not.

To be specific, the 11th Regiment of the 5th Infantry Division of Patton’s Third Army came to Metz in early September 1944. From September 8th to 10th, Kirby and some 1200 other soldiers took part in an ill-fated bid to cross the Moselle at Dornot-Corny (Dornot being a village on the west side of the river, and Corny a village on the opposite shore). They were ordered to establish a bridgehead and drive the Germans from the Fort St. Blaise. Opposing them were battle-worn German soldiers reassigned from the Russian front (the Voss battalion), as well as fresh graduates from a SS school (the Berg battalion) and elements of the 17th SS Panzer Grenadier Division. The Moselle had become a heavily defended German frontier, so the Metz campaign was hard-fought and brutal. Dornot-Corny in particular became a disaster. The Americans were poorly informed and ill-prepared; lines of communication were tangled, and roads clogged; rain poured down, and the waters of the Moselle were ice-cold. Expected support did not come, and artillery support, when it came, inadvertently killed Americans (“friendly fire”). The Germans, for their part, rained artillery on the Americans nonstop; shells whistled and howled through the air, explosions ripped up the ground. Many Americans huddled in makeshift foxholes in a small wood that they came to call Horseshoe Wood (named for the horseshoe-shaped pattern of the troops’ movement). Trees were blasted apart—wooden shrapnel flew—and the woods were laid bare.

The roughly mile and a half of territory around Dornot-Corny became a killing ground. Of the 1200 Americans who went into it, 945 were eventually reported lost or wounded. Within days, American troops did establish a bridgehead further south, at Arnaville, but Dornot-Corny was remembered, if it all, as a defeat—the kind of thing armies would prefer not to remember, in fact. Indeed Dornot-Corny been has been described as “une bataille oubliée” (a forgotten battle). The people of Metz, however, have worked to make sure that it is not forgotten, and the events of September 8-10 are now memorialized as “60 hours in hell.”

Jack Kirby lived through that.

I visited Dornot-Corny two days ago. I will say more about that in a later post, and hopefully with a few photos. It was an oddly appropriate Veterans’ Day observance, so to speak. Suffice to say for now that the experience was moving and eye-opening, and I will not forget it. Thank you to Elisabeth Gozzo and the Association Thanks GIs for working so hard to preserve the memory of the soldiers and their sacrifice.*

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How and why did I get to Metz? I was invited to speak at the colloquy or symposium Expérience autobiographique et bande dessinée de genre: le récit de soi in spaces contraints (Autobiographical Experience and Genre Comics: Self-Narratives in Constrained Contexts), organized by scholar Jean-Matthieu Méon of the CREM (Centre de eEcherche sur les Médiations, or Center for Media Research) at the UdL. The impetus for this colloquy was Kirby’s centenary, as indicated by the subtitle Autour de Jack Kirby et de son passage en Moselle/Traces of Jack Kirby’s War in Moselle—thus the symposium built on Moselle’s larger Kirby tribute. Méon worked generously, tirelessly, to involve me in the symposium, arrange my travel to France, and make sure I understood things despite my language deficit—for which I cannot thank him enough. (Merci mille fois, Jean-Matthieu!)

The colloquy consisted of two days’ conversation in the UdL’s Salle Ferrari (a conference room arranged in concentric rings and with microphones everywhere!). Its main purpose, to paraphrase Jean-Matthieu, was to talk about Kirby, his life, his style, and his development, in order to talk more broadly about the category of “autobiographical comics”; or, in other words, to “expand the repertoire of authors, works, and formal strategies to consider when discussing the expression of autiobiography in comics.” As both autobiographical comics and Kirby are deep interests of mine, I was thrilled to have been invited. Moreover, the opportunity to talk about Kirby in a European context was something I had never experienced before—and frankly I had not realized how deeply Kirby’s work has affected so many readers outside of anglophone North America. To see such strong, firsthand evidence of this has been a great experience. Kirby studies is international!

Fourteen scholars gave papers: eight from France, three from Belgium, one from the UK, and two (including myself) from the US. In addition, Jean-Matthieu framed the event with opening and closing remarks, establishing a rich theoretical and historical context for our discussions. Following, in order of presentation, are brief notes about the talks. Some addressed Kirby particularly, while others dealt with different topics at the intersection of comics and autobiography studies:

  • Benoît Crucifix of the University of Liège, Belgium (whom I had met before), spoke on autobiographical readings of Frank King’s Gasoline Alley in the archival reprint volumes organized by Chris Ware and Jeet Heer.
  • Benoît Tellez spoke on autobiographical dimensions of Winsor McCay’s comics.
  • Maaheen Ahmed discussed authorial presence in works situated between autobiography and genre comics, including works by Pratt, Seagle and Kristiansen, and Larcenet, and how those works construct author-personas by invoking memories of past comics as well as memories of other media incorporated by comics.
  • Jean-Charles Andries de Levis discussed Alex Barbier’s Lettres au maire de V., and how the image of the werewolf in that and other works takes on an autobiographical function.
  • Benoît Glaude explored the phenomenon of pseudo-autobiographical texts attributed to comics characters (Little Nicholas, Corto Maltese, etc.), i.e. “the passage of non-autobiographical comics through the autobiographical literary genre.”
  • Pascal Robert spoke on the drawn signatures of cartoonist André Franquin and how those signatures assert the individuality and status of the author and renegotiate the relationship between author and editorial/publishing establishment.
  • Bounthavy Suvilay presented on the work of mangaka Hiroyuki Arakawa and how that work, as it conveys the story of a community rather than giving an individual confession, does not subscribe to Western conceptions of autobiography as genre but instead follows models specific to Japan.
  • Jean-Matthieu Méon spoke on the autobiographical works of the late Sam Glanzman and how they both conform to and exceed the conventional straits of the war comic genre.
  • Hugo Frey (University of Chichester, UK), with whom I have worked but whom I had never met, spoke on Hugo Pratt’s contributions to British war comics (Fleetway’s War Picture Library) in the late 1950s to early 60s, and how hints of Pratt’s later expressionistic style emerge even in these highly conventionalized comics.
  • Laura Caraballo (presenting a paper written in collaboration with Roberto Bartual) explored Kirby’s treatment of the sublime and the “concern for pure form” that emerges in the second half of his career, in relation to abstraction, Pop Art, and psychedelic art.
  • Éric Maigret presented on contested or fractured masculinity (or conflicts between hegemonic and subordinate masculinities) as the ground of Kirby’s personal and professional struggles, as revealed in diverse works.
  • Mathieu Li-Goyette (Université de Montréal, Canada) spoke on how Kirby’s war comics address the self “in a context of brotherhood” and heterogeneity, as analyzed within a schizoanalytic framework informed by the theories of Deleuze and Guattari.
  • Steven Brower (Skyping in from the US) discussed Kirby’s late works, particularly OMAC, as prophetic and dystopian “cautionary tales.”

I had the honor of leading off the colloquy with a keynote exploring Kirby’s changing view of war via his depictions of Japanese soldiers in two very different comics, one “The Treachery of Osuki,” a Boy Commandos story from Detective Comics #68 (Oct. 1942), and the other “Bushido,” a Losers story from Our Fighting Forces #154 (April 1975). My goal was to contrast early Kirby and late Kirby regarding the way he imagined the “enemy” and the nature of heroism in war—and to show how Kirby moved from wartime propaganda to more complex views. Along the way, I indulged my growing interest in the “kid gang” genre of comics pioneered by Kirby and Joe Simon in the early 1940s, and sought to place that genre in the context of Kirby’s autobiography as well as popular culture influences.

 

I wish I could share photos from the actual symposium proceedings, but I did not get any good ones of the speakers speaking—partly because the setting was small and intimate and I didn’t want to make anyone feel awkward, and partly because most of the presentations were in French and I was straining to understand them. The colloquy included both French and English talks, but frankly when it comes to French, I have seulement un trop petit peu (though this trip has given me some practice) and cannot converse in the language, so I relied on notes and impromptu help from colleagues. Fortunately, all presenters used PowerPoint, and most embedded in their slideshows text in whatever language they were not speaking; in my case, for example, I prepared French-language text for my talk. So that meant that I could follow the outlines of arguments in cases where I could not grasp the details of language. But I was keenly aware of my language deficit and working hard to show that I was listening and trying to understand—an occasionally frustrating experience, but overall the group worked hard to realize Jean-Matthieu Méon’s vision of a truly international summit. Everyone was gracious about it. I have to say, it was intense to spend so much energy trying to pick out whatever words I could recognize; fortunately, most presenters explicitly framed their talks in terms of theoretical perspective, methodology, and corpus of study, and those academic habits, which I’m familiar with, helped make up for my lack of fluency in the language. (In all, six presentations were in English and eight in French.)

This was a tremendous intellectual workout for me, and a great social occasion too. I got to make new friends, stretch my understanding, get a renewed feel for French language and culture, and—as I’ve said—learn that there are diverse international perspectives on Kirby. I only wish that I could have made it Metz earlier this year, and spent more time there, so as to fully experience the region’s celebration of Kirby (again, see kirbysuperheros.fr).

Once again, my deepest thanks to Jean-Matthieu Méon and his colleagues for making this happen!

KIRBY VIT!

*(My two main sources for the above account of the battle at Dornot-Corny are, one, my memories of conversations at the battle site, particularly the recollections of historian Elisabeth Gozzo; and two, the commemorative booklet Une bataille oubliée: les têtes de pont de Dornot-Corny et d’Arnaville, 2009, partly written by Gozzo and sponsored by the Office National does Anciens de la Moselle and the Association Thanks GIs, which Gozzo leads. They have done some wonderful “memory work” to make sure that the terrors and sacrifices of the War are not forgotten.)

CSUN Celebrates Kirby’s 100th

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Kirby lives.

This coming Monday, August 28, is Jack Kirby’s birthday—I call that Kirby Day. What’s more, this particular August the 28th would have been Kirby’s 100th birthday, his centenary. To think of what Kirby lived through, from his boyhood on New York’s Lower East Side in the 1920s, to his passing in 1994, fills me with awe, and his work continues to fill me with a sort of tongue-tied gratitude for its never-ending richness. I try to observe Kirby Day on this blog every year, but on this 100th anniversary it seems especially urgent.

Monday the 28th also happens to be the first weekday of the new (Fall 2017) semester at my school, California State University, Northridge. That these two events—one the centennial of an artist vital to comics, visual culture, and my own life, and the other the perhaps-routine but still always exciting start of a new school term—should coincide seems a bit crazy, but too wonderful an opportunity to pass up. So CSUN, and particularly the Comics@CSUN initiative that I head, will be commemorating Kirby’s 100th in two ways:

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First, I have curated an exhibit of Kirby works from the 1940s to the 1980s, called Jack Kirby @ 100. This exhibit consists mainly of comic books, photographs, and art prints, and will be up in the Oviatt Library’s Music & Media wing from August 25 (that was today) through October 1. From The Boy Commandos  and Young Love to Captain Victory and The Hunger Dogs, this show gives a small but vivid window onto Kirby’s comic book career.

Second, this Monday the 28th—Kirby Day, the centennial edition!—I will be moderating a panel discussion with two great, Kirby-inspired comics creators who have taken Kirby’s influence in their own unexpected and original directions: Mark Badger and Tony Puryear. The panel will take place in the Oviatt Library’s Jack & Florence Ferman Presentation Room from 3:00 to 5:00 p.m., and will be followed by a visit to the exhibit (upstairs).

Both the exhibit and the panel discussion are FREE and open to the public—readers, please feel free to drop in! For more info, see the Comics@CSUN Events page, or just visit the CSUN homepage. And please help spread the word via social media, with the hashtags #KirbyAt100 and #ComicsAtCSUN. Thanks!

It’s been a challenge to do these things while also preparing new courses for a new semester—but there’s no way I could let this centennial pass without officially observing it at CSUN! Thanks to the University and all my colleagues and sponsors who helped make this happen, and to the Jack Kirby Museum & Research Center for their unstinting support! (Check out the Museum’s own schedule of Kirby centennial events this weekend, at its popup museum in NYC’s One Art Space.)

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PS. Don’t forget to support Jillian Kirby’s annual charity drive, Kirby 4 Heroes, which raises funds for the Hero Initiative, a nonprofit that supports veteran comics creators in need! Each year the drive has been raising more and more money—let’s make Kirby’s centenary a record-breaking year! This is a project Jack Kirby would have been behind 100 percent.

Kirby lives.

The CCI Kirby Museum Booth, plus What I’m Doing at CCI

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I’d like to crow about what I’m doing at Comic-Con International: San Diego this weekend, but more importantly, I want to talk about the Jack Kirby Museum & Research Center.

The Kirby Museum is the epicenter of grassroots Kirbydom, a champion of comics and Kirby scholarship, and an incredible repository of images and history. It’s also the work of a great and generous team.

They will be at Comic-Con International: San Diego this weekend, of course, telling the world about Jack Kirby and his art. Showing his art, in fact, and inviting everyone to share in the project of Kirby studies. All convention long, the Museum will be displaying 2100 images from Kirby’s original art—a stunning exhibition of Kirbyana. What’s more, their booth will play host to artists and commentators like Mark Badger, Ray Wyman, and the great Kirby collaborator Mike Royer—all part of a concerted celebration of Jack’s centenary.

As if Comic-Con’s exciting slate of Kirby centennial and Will Eisner centennial events weren’t enough, the Kirby Museum team will make its booth the very HQ of Kirby studies right on the exhibit hall floor! That’s Booth #5520, in the Gold and Silver Pavilion, just across, as usual, from the TwoMorrows booth (where of course there will also be a wealth of Kirbyana, including issues of The Jack Kirby Collector and the new Kirby100 book, courtesy of the great John Morrow and co.). You really should visit that Pavilion.

Signing and selling: Thanks to the Kirby Museum’s generosity, I get to spend some time signing and selling my Kirby studies books at the Museum’s booth. Copies of the Eisner-winning Hand of Fire (2011) and the Comic Book Apocalypse exhibition catalog (2015) will be available, and a cut of the proceeds will go to the Kirby Museum! Look for me on:

  • Thursday, July 20, 3:30-6:00pm
  • Friday, July 21, 3:00-4:00pm
  • Saturday, July 22, 2:00-5:00pm

I look forward to talking with anyone and everyone with an interest in the King!


Biographical and Autobiographical Comics: Besides reveling in Kirbyana this weekend, I have the honor of moderating a panel on nonfiction comics with four great cartoonists: Box Brown (Andre the Giant; Tetris), Sarah Glidden (Rolling Blackouts; How to Understand Israel in 60 Days or Less), Sonny Liew (The Art of Charlie Chan Hock Chye; The Shadow Hero) and Mimi Pond (The Customer Is Always Wrong; Over Easy). We’ll be discussing the slippery relationship between fiction and nonfiction, with reference to their wonderful books. That’s Biographical and Autobiographical Comics, on Friday morning, July 21, from 10:00 to 11:00 am, in Room 28DE. You couldn’t ask for a stronger set of creators in one panel!

Join the Kirby and Eisner Celebrations at Comic-Con 2017!

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With apologies to Rick Geary, Jack Kirby, and Joe Sinnott!

Wow. This is a year to be at Comic-Con International: San Diego. It’s the centenary of Jack Kirby (1917-1994) and the centenary of Will Eisner (1917-2005), two comics greats who improbably crossed paths early on and improbably kept innovating and nudging comics forward throughout their long careers. The two men eventually developed very different reputations in comics studies, but both were seminal, inspiring, and frankly astounding narrative artists who carried comics a long way. Both left their mark on Comic-Con too, becoming household saints of that great convention. Both are honored yearly for that. But this year is something special, as Comic-Con is observing the centennial of both men with a special series of panels and events throughout the weekend. See below for a full listing of those CCI events that appear to be Kirby and/or Eisner-related (clicking on an event’s title should take you to its official place in the online CCI schedule).

I will be lucky enough to take in part of the weekend. Though I won’t be able to attend all of the events listed below (who could?), I will be at several, and man am I grateful for that! Both Eisner and Kirby have meant a lot to me as a comics reader and scholar, and I’m sure that this is going to be one long nostalgiathon!

NOTE: I have the good fortune to spend part of the Con signing and selling books at the Jack Kirby Museum & Research Center’s booth (#5520), as detailed in this separate post. The Booth is going to be amazing, so come check it out!

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Eisner and Kirby, 1982. Photo by Alan Light.

 

Kirby and Eisner Shop Talk

(The following blurbs come direct from the CCI program, with minimal editing:)

Jack Kirby’s Consciousness, Roger Zelazny’s Lord of Light, Barry Ira Geller, and the Real Argo

Thursday, July 20 • 10:00am – 11:00am • Room 5AB

Finally, the fascinating truth about the real CIA Argo mission! Hear how Jack Kirby and Barry Ira Geller’s script and production designs for Lord of Light made the actual Argo mission successful, as recently testified to by the “Sons of the Iranian Revolution.” The Kirby/Geller work, though not mentioned in the Oscar-winning film, rests in the International Spy Museum forever. Discover the unbelievable awareness and consciousness of Jack Kirby as remembered by Barry Ira Geller, one of the last people to have creatively partnered with Jack. Kirby was the Rembrandt of comic art, the Einstein of superhero visions, and the creator of the modern romance genre. Hear Mike Royer, arguably the best Silver Age inker–certainly Jack Kirby’s favorite–give the real story behind the inking of these fantastic series!

Spotlight on Mike Royer

Thursday, July 20 • 11:30am – 12:30pm • Room 4

As part of this year’s gala Jack Kirby Centennial, here’s an hour-long chat with Jack’s favorite inker of his work, the man who worked with him on the Fourth World comics, Kamandi, The Demon, and many others. But Mike Royer was so much more than just Jack Kirby’s inker. He worked with Russ Manning on the Tarzan comic books and newspaper strip and again with Russ on the Star Wars newspaper strip. He drew for Creepy, Eerie, and Vampirella and worked on the ’60s Marvel superhero cartoons and for Gold Key Comics and had a multi-decade career working for Disney on things as un-Kirbylike as Winnie the Pooh. Come hear him be interviewed by his friend and colleague, Mark Evanier.

Cartoon Art Museum Workshop: Mastering the Art of Jack Kirby

Thursday, July 20 • 2:00-3:00pm • Room 2

Ever wondered how the legendary Jack Kirby created his signature style? Now you can learn the tricks of his trade and those he collaborated with to draw Captain America, the Fantastic Four, and the X-Men among many other iconic characters. Celebrate Jack Kirby’s 100th birthday with Kirby fan and cartoonist Mark Badger (Batman, Just Draw) leading this workshop, with guidance from the Jack Kirby Museum. Supplies provided by Sakura.

Why Will Eisner Still Matters at 100

Thursday, July 20 • 3:00-4:00pm • Room 9

Born 100 years ago, Will Eisner not only recognized the future potential of comics at an early age but also worked his whole life to help achieve those goals. But how could Will Eisner still be relevant to us today? Join Paul Levitz (former president of DC Comics, author of Will Eisner: Champion of the Graphic Novel, educator, comics historian), Jackie Estrada (administrator, Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards), Paul Dini (Harley Quinn co-creator, writer, producer), Maggie Thompson (writer, editor, comics historian), and maybe a surprise special guest to discover why.

Graphic Novel Creator Richard Kyle’s Legacy

Thursday, July 20 • 8:30-9:30pm • Room 8

Richard Kyle published the first graphic novel, Beyond Time and Again by George Metzger, as well as Graphic Story World and Argosy magazines. Mr. Kyle’s publishing work and the future of graphic novels will be discussed by a panel of experts: Mike Royer (artist, writer, Jack Kirby’s inker), Denis Kitchen (artist, writer, publisher, creator of Kitchen Sink Press), Ron Turner(writer, publisher, founder of Last Gasp), Jamie Coville (writer, comics historian), Phil Yeh(cartoonist, publisher of Uncle Jam), Greg Koudoulian (early SDCC film program contributor), David G. Brown (cartoonist, winner of the 2009 NAACP Image Award), and Maggie Thompson(writer, comics historian, co-editor of the Comics Buyer’s Guide).

Will Eisner: Portrait of a Sequential Artist

Thursday, July 20 • 9:00-10:30pm • Room 9

This feature-length documentary about Will Eisner premiered at New York’s Tribeca Film Festival. The film includes interviews with Stan Lee, Jules Feiffer, Jack Kirby, Art Spiegelman, Frank Miller, Kurt Vonnegut, Michael Chabon, Gil Kane, and many other famous writers and cartoonists who knew and worked with Will Eisner. The showing will be introduced by Danny Fingeroth (comics historian, Spider-Man group editor) with a brand-new videotape introduction from the film’s director/producer Andrew D. Cooke and writer/producer Jon B. Cooke.

Spotlight on John Morrow

Friday, July 21 • 11:00am – 12:00pm • Room 4

Comic-Con special guest John Morrow (publisher at TwoMorrows) presents a sequential image, stereophonic, multimedia extravaganza: “Jack Kirby: Yesterday, Today, and TwoMorrows!” Join John on a comics history road trip that explores how Kirby’s career was inexplicably intertwined with John’s own life, long before he published Jack Kirby Collector #1 in 1994, and continues to permeate TwoMorrows Publishing today. You’ll see rare Kirby artwork, video and audio of Jack himself, rare photos, and the debut of John’s new book, KIRBY100, an all-star celebration of Jack’s 100th birthday! The video presentation will be followed by a Q&A session with details of other new TwoMorrows titles, including their Reed Crandall biography and GROOVY, which documents how flower power affected comics and pop culture.

Comic Arts Conference #6: Comics Auteurs: Kirby and Eisner at 100

Friday, July 21 • 11:30am – 1:00pm • Room 26AB

2017 marks the 100th anniversary of the births of comics masters Jack Kirby and Will Eisner, whose contributions to comic books and graphic novels cannot be overstated. Marc Greenberg (Golden Gate University School of Law) discusses how copyright law partially helped the Jack Kirby and Jerry Siegel estates get a second bite at the apple in renegotiating publishing deals. Kim Munson (From Panels to Frames: Comic Art in Museums) looks at how recent art shows contribute to the constant rediscovery and reevaluation of Eisner and Kirby’s work. Jennifer Willms (University of Koblenz-Landau) delves into the Eisner’s comic compendium of Jewish American history and the immigrant experience.

Will Eisner: Mentor, Partner, Friend

Friday, July 21 • 12:30-1:30pm • Room 8

Comic-Con special guest Denis Kitchen looks back on his 35-year relationship with Will Eisner, from the unlikely friendship that formed between a scruffy underground comix publisher and a buttoned-down businessman to the creative and publishing partnership that brought The Spirit to a new generation and helped give birth to the graphic novel.

Jack Kirby: Friends and Family

Friday, July 21 • 1:30-2:30pm • Room 8

If Jack Kirby were as immortal as his work, he’d be 100 years old next month . . . and he’s still here in spirit and impact. Today a group of his family members and closest friends will talk about the man they knew, the man whose genius revolutionized the comic book industry again and again, and they’ll even tell you what he liked on his pizza. Your moderator is former Kirby assistant Mark Evanier (author, Kirby: King of Comics).

The Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards

Friday, July 21 • 8:00-10:30pm • Indigo Ballroom, Hilton San Diego Bayfront

The 29th annual Eisner Awards (the “Oscars” of the comics industry) honor comics creators and works in 30 categories… Other prestigious awards to be given out include the Russ Manning Promising Newcomer Award, the Bob Clampett Humanitarian Award, the Will Eisner Spirit of Comics Retailer Award, and the Bill Finger Award for Excellence in Comics Writing.

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This is a great comic!

This is the 13th year for presentation of the Bill Finger Award… The 2017 recipients are William Messner-Loebs (Superman, the Flash, Aquaman, Mr. Monster, Hawkman, Green Arrow, Wonder Woman, Dr. Fate, Jonny Quest, Spider-Man,Thor, Journey) and… Jack Kirby! …The awards will be presented by Mark Evanier. 

Comics Greats on Will Eisner’s The Spirit

Saturday, July 22 • 11:00am – 12:00pm • Room 4

Originally a syndicated Sunday newspaper comic insert, Will Eisner’s The Spirit is still acclaimed for its great artwork, imaginative splash pages, unforgettable characters, and attention-grabbing storytelling. Hear Danny Fingeroth (Spider-Man group editor, comics historian), Denis Kitchen (publisher, writer, comix cartoonist), Jeff Smith (cartoonist, Bone,RASL), Joe Staton (cartoonist, Dick Tracy) and, on videotape, Jules Feiffer (Pulitzer Prize and Oscar-winning cartoonist and screenwriter) talk about the impact of The Spirit on their own careers. Hear about their favorite Spirit adventures and learn why Will Eisner’s original Spiritstories are still in print today with new comics appearing monthly.

Jack Kirby’s 100th Birthday Celebration with IDW!

Saturday, July 22 • 1:00-2:00pm • Room 25ABC

Featuring an impressive library of more than 1,300 pages of Kirby original DC and Marvel artwork — the largest showing ever! IDW president Greg Goldstein hosts this stellar birthday tribute with a groundbreaking slide show, featuring art from eight different Artist’s Editions plus some surprises. The panel features superstar creators Walter Simonson and Kevin Eastman, who will share their Kirby remembrances and influences, along with senior editor Scott Dunbier and creative director at IDW PDX Dirk Wood. Everyone who attends will receive a “birthday” gift! One lucky fan will go home with an Artist’s Edition!

The Centennial of the King of Comics, Jack Kirby

Saturday, July 22 • 2:00-3:00pm • Room 29AB

 Illustrator and comic book historian Arlen Schumer (The Silver Age of Comic Book Art) marks the centennial of Kirby’s birth with a multimedia retrospective about how a first-American generation son of European Jewish immigrants growing up in the Lower East Side of New York City named Ya’akov Kurtzberg became acknowledged by both professionals and fans alike as the single greatest artist and storyteller in the history of comic books, Jack “King” Kirby.

The Annual Jack Kirby Tribute Panel

Sunday, July 23 • 10:00-11:15am • Room 4

Continuing the celebration of the Kirby Centennial, this is the annual panel about Comic-Con’s first superstar guest, the man they call “The King of Comics,” Jack Kirby. Jack left us in 1994, but his influence on comics, film, and this convention has never been greater. Discussing the man and his work this year are Jim Chadwick (editor at DC Comics), Paul Levitz (former president at DC Comics), Mike Royer (Kirby’s favorite inker), attorney Paul S. Levine, and several highly surprising surprise guests. Naturally, it’s moderated by former Kirby assistant Mark Evanier.

Will Eisner at 100: The Real World of Publishing Comics

Sunday, July 23 • 2:45-3:45pm • Room 5AB

Andrea Colvin (Lion Forge), Gina Gagliano (First Second), Kurt Hassler (Yen Press), Heidi MacDonald (The Beat), and Filip Sablik (BOOM! Studios) talk about the challenges and opportunities of selling graphic novels into traditional book markets. Moderated by John Shableski (Will Eisner Studios and Udon Entertainment).

Shnobble

With apologies to Rick Geary and Will Eisner!

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