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Just Draw! Mark Badger Brings Kirby Studies and More to SVCC  

Going to the Silicon Valley Comic Con this weekend? Look out for Kirby stuff, Kirby studies, and ace cartoonist Mark Badger!


Tomorrow through Sunday, March 18-20, Mark, wearer of many hats–artist, teacher, Comic Book Apocalypse essayist, and Kirby expert among them–will be appearing at the inaugural SVCC at the San Jose Convention Center, where he’ll be doing a lot of great things:

  • Manning a booth on behalf of the Kirby Museum (that would be booth AA2 H) in collaboration with underground comix artist Bruce Simon. They’ll be selling the Four Faces of Evil poster for the Museum, plus Museum T-shirts and sundries, plus examples of their own work–and copies of our Comic Book Apocalypse catalog, as a Museum fundraiser!
  • Co-presenting, with Bruce Simon and puppeteer, writer, and longtime Kirby associate Steve Sherman, the Kirby panel A Graphic Apocalypse, on Sunday at 2:00pm. (You can consult the SVCC schedule here.)
  • Presenting his own interactive workshop, Just Draw, a session on “drawing, mindfulness, comics, and storytelling,” on Friday night from 8 to 9pm. This is based on Mark’s new publication, Just Draw, which he describes as a manual for “stressed out” artists who want to stop worrying and “get their work done.”

Did I mention Mark’s own work? How about his amazing, multipart Abstract Kirby project? How about his now complete Kirby-inspired opus, William Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, collected for the first time anywhere, just in time for SVCC? Great stuff.



If you don’t know Mark’s comics, you’re missing out on some wonderful cartooning. I learned to recognize his work back in 1988, when his pencils, inks, and colors on a Martian Manhunter miniseries (scripted by J.M. DeMatteis) hipped me to his distinctive style: swooping, slashing, and bold, abstracted into modernistic pattern and pure vectors of force, taking lessons from Kirby and Picasso alike and wreaking havoc with superhero conventions. I followed him to later projects such as Batman: Run, Riddler, Run (1992, scripted by Gerard Jones) and Animal Rights Comics (1996, scripted by Joyce Brabner). His resume since then has been strange and awesome.

Mark is not only a terrific comics artist, but also a teacher and activist. His current projects, such as Just Draw, pull these threads together. His “Daily Kirby” exercises (a 3-year-long series of devotional studies to the King) have to be seen to be believed. Read more about Mark’s career here, and if you’re going to SVCC, look up Mark and tell him I said hello and thanks! Mark’s been one of the voices reminding me of just how important it is to keep up the dialogue between critics and artists–and his own recent work amounts to an amazing creative and critical encounter with Kirby’s work.

The Apocalypse Now Available at Comic Shops!

I’m delighted to report that the exhibition catalog for Comic Book Apocalypse: The Graphic World of Jack Kirby, co-edited by Ben Saunders and me, and published by IDW in partnership with the CSU Northridge Art Galleries, has at last arrived at comic book shops across the country!

That’s right: the CBA catalog, published last fall, made it to comic shops yesterday, March 16. Kirby fans and scholars, look out for it!

It was a labor of love, and is a trove of Kirby artwork, Kirby lore, interpretation, analysis, and appreciation, as well as a complete documenting of the record-setting Kirby exhibition at CSUN in Fall 2015! For further information, and images, see my posts of January 26, December 5, and October 30, below.

More Kirby news forthcoming!

Apocalypse Delayed, But Have No Fear!

Unfortunately the exhibition catalog for Comic Book Apocalypse: The Graphic World of Jack Kirby has once again been delayed in its journey to comic shops everywhere. We expected it to be out today, but apparently there has been a glitch. Fear not! The confirmed new release date is Wednesday, March 2. Please ask your local comic shop retailer about it!

For further details, please see my post of January 26 (below). As a reminder, this baby is co-edited by the brilliant Ben Saunders (Do the Gods Wear Capes?) and myself, co-published by IDW and the CSU Northridge Art Galleries, and thoroughly documents our record-setting Kirby exhibition at CSUN last fall! The book contains a raft of personal and analytical essays by a crazy quilty of writers: a veritable who’s who of cool people from the worlds of comics, fine art, fiction, and academia. 

Can you tell that I’m insanely proud of this? 🙂 

The Apocalypse is Coming, Honest 

Our exhibition catalog, Comic Book Apocalypse: The Graphic World of Jack Kirby, co-edited by Ben Saunders and me and co-published by IDW and CSU Northridge, is due to hit comic book shops soon.

Unfortunately, its release date has been pushed back from tomorrow, Jan. 27, to three weeks from now, Wednesday, Feb. 17. But it IS coming, have no fear!

For more information about the catalog, and all the wonderful writers and pieces included in it, see my post of Oct. 30. For information about how to order the catalog directly from CSU Northridge, via the Art Galleries website, see my post of Dec. 5

    
   

Will 2016 be a turning point for Kirby studies?

Happy New Year to all my readers, with thanks for your continued interest and support! I have the feeling that 2016 may be a banner year for the study of Jack Kirby. In that spirit, here are three items of Kirby-related news, one truly new, the other two somewhat-egotistical reminders:

  
1. The latest (Jan. 2016) issue of Art in America, the venerable art-critical magazine, has a comics theme, with several articles related to the medium. To me, the one that leaps out (besides of course another smart article by the great Ryan Holmberg) is Alexi Worth’s on Kirby, titled “Genius in a Box,” a welcome and indeed long-overdue appraisal of Kirby from a fine arts perspective. From my vantagepoint, this is an insightful piece of work, sharp, forcefully expressed, and only occasionally marked by the inevitable boundary issues (comics world vs. arts world). While the essay says a few things I would dispute, in the main I found it thoughtful, invigorating reading, and I’m grateful for it. I’m also grateful to have been cited in it: the Comic Book Apocalypse exhibition figures in the article, along with Dan Nadel’s important curatorial work. (My one complaint would be that Ben Saunders, co-editor of the Apocalypse catalog, should also be cited.)

Worth of course compares Kirby to a number of fine art masters, but also acknowledges that such comparisons don’t quite work, because

[Kirby’s] pictures were conceived as sequences. Continuity was their aim. And that continuity was built around the panel architecture of each page. When a furious Thor swings back his hammer, preparing to destroy a wall, he seems to be aiming his blow at the narrow white border that contains him—the very same border that, in the adjacent panel, frames the satisfying impact of his blow. When the Human Torch flies across the skies of Europe, zooming left, then right, then looping playfully around a quartet of missiles, his progress models the reader’s own zigzagging progress through the page’s quadrants. These are exhilarating sequences, not overpowering single images. That’s their point. For better or worse, much of the beauty of Kirby’s art is bodiless, suspended in the eager forward motion of the reader’s experience: a flight path, not an icon. 

Exactly right, I think — and with that Worth has put his finger on what was so challenging about arranging a Kirby gallery exhibition.

Responses to Worth’s essay have begun to crop up online. Over at The Comics Journal, Nadel has posted a response praising it. Kirby biographer Mark Evanier has also weighed in, on his blog. Nadel has responded to Evanier, in turn. I’ll be interested to see further responses spin out, over time.

Make no mistake: the Art in America article signals an important shift in the way art critics can talk about Kirby. A turning point?

  
2. The Comic Book Apocalypse catalog makes it to comic book shops this month, on Wednesday, Jan. 27. I hope your local shop will stock it! For more about this, see my post of October 30.

3. The Apocalypse catalog can also be ordered online, via the CSU Northridge Art Galleries website. For those whose local shop cannot get the book, that may be your best option. Further info can be found in my post of December 5.

I’m delighted to be part of what seems to be a groundswell in Kirby criticism and appreciation within academia and the art world. In the spirit of the New Year, let’s resolve and hope for more! I’m planning on it…