Category Archives: Comic-Con International

BIG NEWS: Comic Book Apocalypse, a Jack Kirby Exhibition in Los Angeles!

Splash from Silver Surfer #18 (Sept. 1970), by Kirby & Herb Trimpe, adapted by Louis Solis

From Silver Surfer #18 (Sept. 1970), by Kirby and Herb Trimpe (RIP), adapted by Louis Solis

A major Jack Kirby exhibition in Los Angeles, curated by Charles Hatfield, the author of Hand of Fire!

California State University, Northridge Art Galleries

August 24 to October 10, 2015

Public reception:
Saturday, Aug. 29, 4-7pm

Curator talk:
Monday, Aug. 31, 10am

Panel discussion:
Saturday, Sept. 26, 1pm


I’m proud to announce that the CSU Northridge Art Galleries will be presenting, this Fall semester, the exhibition Comic Book Apocalypse: The Graphic World of Jack Kirby. This show will consist of roughly a hundred original artworks by the King, with a focus on his comics in the late 1960s and in the 70s (but also including works from the 1940s-50s and the 80s). Curating this show has been a dream come true.

Comic Book Apocalypse will highlight Jack’s penchant for superheroes, myth fantasy, and science fiction, along with his visions of the cosmic, the primitive, and the futuristic—and of course dazzling examples of “Kirbytech.” From The Fantastic Four and Thor to The Fourth World, Kamandi, 2001, and Silver Star, this show will capture some of Jack’s grandest themes and images. The exhibition will include two complete comic book stories, a great many more comic book pages and spreads, a handful of Jack’s signature collages, and a couple of images never published in his lifetime.

To celebrate this show, we at CSUN will hold three special events within the Gallery. First will be an opening reception on Saturday evening, August 29—a chance to see and chat about the show in the company of other fans! Then I’ll give a gallery talk two days later, on Monday morning, Aug. 31. Finally, we’ll hold a panel discussion with artists and scholars on Saturday afternoon, Sept. 26. All these events are free and open to the public!

Comic Book Apocalypse will be the first solo Kirby exhibition at a university, and one of the largest Kirby shows yet assembled (comparable in scale to the Words & Pictures Museum show in 1994, and exceeded only by the Fumetto show in Switzerland in 2010). In fact it may be the biggest Kirby exhibition yet mounted in the US—and I hope it will inspire other shows and tributes to Jack over these next couple of years, leading up to his centennial (2017).

Curating this show has been, again, a waking dream for me, both a sequel to Hand of Fire and a plunge into a new way of working. It couldn’t have happened without the support of CSU Northridge’s Mike Curb College of Arts, Media, and Communication, the CSUN College of Humanities, and the CSUN Art Galleries program, the help of Mark Evanier and the Jack Kirby Museum & Research Center, and the generosity of many Kirby collectors.

Comic Book Apocalypse opens in time for the launch of the Fall 2015 semester at CSUN, and will be up for seven weeks. It will include a Kirby collage by Geoff (Jetpack Jr.) Grogan , and will be accompanied by a lavishly illustrated catalog featuring some twenty essays about Jack’s work, co-edited by me and Prof. Ben Saunders of the University of Oregon. This companion book will feature a once-in-a-lifetime mix of comics creators, media professionals, and scholars! (Check back here in the weeks ahead for more details about the catalog.)

This exhibition will kick off a year of comics studies events at CSU Northridge, including a conference in Spring 2016. For a decade now, CSUN has run a very popular course on comics that I founded, and I believe now is the time to trumpet (and expand) our commitment to this vibrant, fast-growing field of study!

I can’t think of a better way of doing that than exhibiting the work of the great Jack Kirby. Readers, I hope you can come out and see the show!


If you’re attending Comic-Con International in San Diego this week, do come to the Annual Jack Kirby Tribute Panel assembled and moderated by Mark Evanier. That’s happening on Sunday morning, July 12, from 10:00 to 11:15 a.m. in Room 5AB. It’s a great tradition. I’ll be announcing Comic Book Apocalypse there! Also, drop by the booth of the Jack Kirby Museum & Research Center—that’s by Lobby B1 in the main Exhibit Hall, in the Gold and Silver Pavilion (see this map). I may see you there.

Hand of Fire, again, goes to San Diego!

They do still talk about comics at CCI

News! Once again the Pop tribes are gathering on San Diego Bay for the adrenaline-fueled whirlwind, the mad four-and-a-half-day spree, that is Comic-Con International! Once again I (Charles Hatfield) and most of my family will be there, and again I’ll be signing copies of Hand of Fire at the Jack Kirby Museum booth!

That’s Booth 5520, the Comic-Con HQ of the Jack Kirby Museum and Research Center. It’ll be along the wall in the Golden and Silver Age Pavilion (near Convention Center Lobby B1), just a few steps away from the TwoMorrows booth, TwoMorrows being the publisher of The Jack Kirby Collector and many other fine magazines and books. Thanks to Kirby Museum trustee and tireless Kirby scholar Rand Hoppe—with of course thanks to his fellow trustees Tom Kraft, John Morrow, and David Schwartz as well—I’ll be there at Booth 5520 signing and personalizing the Eisner-winning Hand of Fire and encouraging visitors to join the Museum.

I’ll be there at the following times (which Rand has kindly posted at the Kirby Museum site as well):

  • Thursday, 12:00-1:00pm
  • Friday, 3:30-4:30pm
  • Saturday, 12:30-1:30pm
  • Sunday 11:30am-12:45pm (immediately after the Kirby Tribute Panel)

I hope many of you will drop by and chat, and show the Museum some love and support—perhaps even donate toward the Museum’s goal of establishing a lasting brick-and-mortar presence. I’m proud to do anything associated with the Kirby Museum, and, once again, grateful that they’re hosting my signings!

The Superhero ReaderNote that I’ll also be premiering my brand-new book, The Superhero Reader, co-edited with friends and colleagues Jeet Heer and Kent Worcester! And I will have some copies of it to sign and sell. So, anyone, everyone, with an interest in Jack Kirby or in the history and criticism of the superhero, seek out the guy at the Kirby Museum booth with the fiery red pen. Give the Museum your support! And, whatever you do, don’t miss the following splendid event:

The (Annual) Jack Kirby Tribute Panel
Sunday, July 21, 10:00 to 11:15am, Room 5AB

Official copy: Each year, we set aside time to talk about Comic-Con’s first superstar guest and the man they call The King of the 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 Neil Gaiman, Tony Isabella, and Kirby family attorney Paul S. Levine. And of course, it’s moderated by Mark Evanier.
Unofficial response: Neil Gaiman? It will need that double room!

Jack Kirby signing at Comic-Con, 1976, courtesy of The Jack Kirby Museum

One last thing: New to CCI, or in need of a refresher course? Tom Spurgeon has a wonderful set of tips for the Comic-Con goer, well worth checking out! Some of those tips have already passed their sell-by date (getting registered for the Con, finding a hotel room, etc.). But many others are still relevant and wise. Enjoy, and take care!

2013 Eisner Award Nominees Announced!

The Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards

I’m proud and happy to have served as a judge for this year’s Will Eisner Comics Industry Awards. The nominees have just been announced!

I have more information about the judging process, as well as the full list of nominees, at my other blog, See Hatfield. Check it out!

The Eisner Awards will be given out at Comic-Con International  in San Diego on Friday, July 19, 2013. Hope to see you there!

Judging the Eisners!

The Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards

News flash! I’m proud to serve as a judge for the latest (2013) round of the Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards, in the company of comics journalist and critic Michael Cavna, comics retailer Adam Heal, professor of Literacy and Childhood Education Katie Monnin, artist, critic, and teacher Frank Santoro, and CCI (Comic-Con International) co-registrar and longtime staffer John Smith. Good company to be in!

The Eisner Awards will be presented at CCI 2013, to be held July 18 to 21 in, as usual, San Diego. Between now and the judges’ get-together in April, I expect to be reading even more comics than usual (heh). I’ve grabbed myself a new notebook, resumed posting mini-reviews to Goodreads, and started scouring the “Best of 2012” lists that have been spreading like wildfire since Thanksgiving. I can hardly wait to compare notes with my fellow judges!

I’m happy and honored to serve!

San Diego Comic-Con Reflections

Hand of Fire's Eisner, in closeup

Good grief—I can’t believe it’s been thirteen days since my last post. I’ve wanted to say so much since then.

It’s been twelve days since the end of Comic-Con International in San Diego, ten since my family and I took off for our annual, always wonderful New England visit, and not quite one since our footsore, jet-lagged, suitcase-lugging return. We’re back in southern California, cooling our heels a bit perhaps, but also prepping furiously for new ventures in the days ahead—no rest for the overambitious!

During that time, Hand of Fire‘s Eisner Award, the time I spent signing and chatting at the Jack Kirby Museum booth (thanks to Rand Hoppe), the many warm, encouraging conversations I had, and the whole rapturous, adrenaline-fed, exhausting CCI experience has never left my mind. I’ve been to CCI many times, but never enjoyed it more.

CCI, 13 July 2012, jostled, blurred (of course)

It was a great pleasure to make the Kirby Museum booth my nerve center, my family’s rendezvous point, and my default social stop on the bustling convention floor. It was likewise a pleasure to participate in several panels; witness friends, colleagues, and mentors at several more; discuss comics passionately throughout the several days of the show; and share podiums with Ben Saunders, Rand, Arlen Schumer, Craig Fischer, and John Morrow, as well as Mark Evanier and the others who took part in CCI’s annual Kirby Tribute Panel: Stan Goldberg, Paul Dini, and Paul S. Levine.

John Lent speaks, CCI, 14 July 2012

So many good friends and fellow scholars spent time with me during CCI. I can hardly list them all. But I would be remiss if I did not cite the “Pioneers of Comics Scholarship” panel (Saturday, 14th July) as a particular highlight: it was an honor to meet up again with several path-breaking scholars who have inspired me, including John Lent, David Kunzle, and my good friend and mentor Rusty Witek.

Two stunning, abstract-leaning pages from Kirby's 2001

Likewise a thrill was Andrei Molotiu and Mark Badger’s panel on “Jack Kirby, Modernism, and Abstraction,” which I believe is going to have quite an impact down the road. Hearing Andrei and Mark talk about images like the above was a gift.

Mario, Gilbert, and Jaime: Los Bros Hernandez, CCI, 13 July 2012

Another genuine treat was observing the 30th anniversary of Love & Rockets—and seeing Los Bros Hernandez, Gilbert, Jaime, and Mario, absorb some much-deserved accolades. At the L&R panel, several readers, among them Mike Allred, spoke movingly to the Brothers about the impact they’ve had. Seconded! I love L&R, and credit it for keeping me in comics as a grownup. Great, great work.

Also, I felt particularly fortunate to spend a bit of time with old friends and colleagues Marc Singer and (far too briefly) José Alaniz, whose works and conversation mean a great deal to me. And to converse with Tom Spurgeon, Diana Schutz, and others I’ve come to known from the comics business. Whirlwind social occasions, all too quickly passed!

Shi Long Pang, one of the last Xeric winners, by the terrific Ben Costa

Most touching for me was the presence and support of so many present and former students of mine from CSU Northridge, from Ben Costa, author of Shi Long Pang, who was busy working a booth, to so many others (Norma, thanks for sneaking into the Eisner Awards hall early to give me a boost!). The number of students I talked to at CCI really surprised me! That meant as much to me as anything—it’s an honor to have taught these folks.

CH at the Eisners, 13 July 2012 (isn't that Mark Waid on the right?)

And most especially touching was having my family and several dear friends with me at the Eisner Awards ceremony, which, well, turned out pretty good. 🙂

Comic-Con gets a bad rap because it has grown so outsized, jam-packed, and crazy—and because, increasingly, comics seem to be marginalized even there, elbowed to the margins by the inrush of film, TV, gaming, and other media industry franchises. Comics, it’s often said, are second fiddle at Comic-Con, and of course that seems profoundly wrong. It’s true, I saw ample evidence of these frustrations at CCI this time, and,

I've got the ring! (Even CH yields to the non-comics content)

had I not been continually busy socially and professionally, I might have felt those problems keenly. The Con is a madhouse—one reason I did not attend in 2009-2011 despite the fact that San Diego is, so to speak, just down the road.

Yet I confess that, from the moment I arrived on Wednesday, I felt a tremendous surge of excitement: my adrenaline was indeed spiking. I knew that I’d be talking Kirby at the Con, that I’d know a fair number of people there, that I’d be working alongside and with some trusted colleagues, that my family would be with me much of the time, and that I’d probably have a lot of nice fortuitous meet-ups with good people here and there (I did). So I was supercharged and ready to go. I stayed that way right through to late Sunday afternoon—the Con was a gas, and felt like Hand of Fire‘s coming-out party.

Thanks to everyone who helped to make it so! Thanks especially to Rand and company at the Kirby Museum for giving me a berth.