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…

Apocalypse Catalog for Sale!

The catalog for our acclaimed exhibition, Comic Book Apocalypse: The Graphic World of Jack Kirby, is now available for purchase from the CSU Northridge Art Galleries online store! Just go to the CSUN Galleries homepage and look for the Kirby Catalog sidebar.

The book lists for $39.99 US, but online orders from CSUN must add $5 for shipping. Also, CA residents must add sales tax (Los Angeles orders should expect a 9 percent tax, or $3.60, so that means the total cost of an L.A. order, with shipping, would be $48.59).

This catalog, a labor of love, is co-published by CSU Northridge and IDW Publishing, under the supervision of Scott Dunbier. It runs 168 pages (at 8 x 12 inches) and includes over 120 images, plus twenty essays by various creators and scholars. It’s a feast for the eyes, a memento of the USA’s largest Kirby exhibition ever, and, we dare hope, a lasting contribution to Kirby scholarship! Further details are available here.

Also, the catalog will be in comic shops on Jan. 27, 2016. Further details about that, and how to find the catalog in Previews, can be found in my post of Oct. 30, here.

Thanksgiving

The exhibition I curated, Comic Book Apocalypse: The Graphic World of Jack Kirby, closed over a month ago, and I still feel as if I’m waking from a dream. This show has been the most challenging, rewarding, and flat-out dizzying experience of my years at CSUN, taking me to new areas, teaching me new kinds of work, and bringing me into contact with wonderful new people. I’ve learned so much from it. To have shown Kirby artwork to a vast public, and had the pleasure of acting as docent and guide for so many folks — that’s an honor I never could have expected when I came to CSUN, and I’ll always be grateful for it. To me, Comic Book Apocalypse was a rare and wonderful example of taking scholarship public and making of it a genuine shared experience.

Attendance-wise, Comic Book Apocalypse was the biggest show in the history of the CSUN Galleries, drawing about 6000 visitors during its seven-week run. From the very first day (Aug. 24), when more than a hundred people showed up in the first two hours, to our opening reception (Aug. 29), which drew more than 600, to our panel discussion (Sept. 26), which also drew several hundred, to the last day (Oct. 10), i.e. the very last few hours of the show, which, incredibly, drew another 500 — this exhibition proved that many, many people want to see the work of Jack Kirby. I’m proud of those numbers, and dearly hope that further comic art exhibitions, both at CSUN and elsewhere, will be in my future. I’m planning on it.

(BTW, the exhibition catalog is now available for purchase through the CSUN Galleries’ online store. More to come about this!)

My work on Kirby has always been about thanks: my profound gratitude to Jack for boosting my imagination, for enriching the comics field and my life, and for the sheer generosity of his work. And this feels like the right time to express my thanks — many, many thanks — to the people and institutions who made this show possible, or enriched it, or helped spread the word:

The Mike Curb College of Arts, Media, and Communication, CSU Northridge:

Dan Hosken, Dean

Jay Kvapil, former Dean

Michael Ryan, Director of Development

The College of Humanities, CSU Northridge:

Elizabeth Say, Dean

Suren Seropian, Director of Development

Chhan Mech, Systems and Technology Coordinator

Teresa Morrison, Grants Officer

Judith Spiegel, Web Developer

CSUN Art Galleries:

Jim Sweeters, Gallery Director

Michelle Giacopuzzi, Exhibitions Coordinator

Jack Castellanos, Gallery Assistant

Janet Solval, Gallery Assistant

The entire Gallery team!

Ben Saunders, University of Oregon, catalog co-editor and curatorial consultant

The Jack Kirby Museum and Research Center (www.kirbymuseum.org)

Mark Evanier

The Rosalind Kirby Trust

Lisa Kirby

Paul S. Levine

Neal, Connie, and Jillian Kirby

CSUN Department of English:

Jackie Stallcup, Chair

Marjie Seagoe, Graduate Administrative Support Coordinator

All of my colleagues

CSUN Department of Art

University of Oregon Comics and Cartoon Studies Program

CSUN Office of Research and Sponsored Projects

Comics@CSUN

Louis Solis, graphic design and banner production

Geoff Grogan, banner design

Tom Kraft, iBook design; image acquisition and production

Our generous lenders:

Glen Brunswick

Carr D’Angelo, Earth-2 Comics

Jackie Estrada

David Folkman

Barry Ira Geller

Glen David Gold

Richard Howell

Tom Kraft

Erik Larsen

Jud Meyers, Blastoff Comics

Ethan Roberts, Ph.D.

Steve Roden

Dick Swan

Wally Wolodarsky

And our anonymous lenders

IDW Publishing

Scott Dunbier, catalog project manager

Randy Dahlk, catalog designer

David Althoff, Marvel Entertainment

Robert Boyd

Scott Bukatman

CSUN University Advancement

Mark Farquhar, CSU Northridge

Doug Harvey

Rand Hoppe

Neil Kendricks

Jay Kogan, DC Entertainment

Harry Mendryk

Aubry Mintz, CSU Long Beach

John Morrow

Paul Sager, Continental Comics

Diana Schutz

Tom Spurgeon

Robert St. Pierre, CSUN

Terry Wilson

Our catalog contributors:

Mark Badger

Scott Bukatman

Howard Chaykin

Brian Cremins

Ramzi Fawaz

Craig Fischer

Glen David Gold (again!)

Doug Harvey (again!)

Adam McGovern

Carla Speed McNeil

Andrei Molotiu

Dan Nadel

Adilifu Nama

Ann Nocenti

Tony Puryear

James Romberger

Ben Saunders (again!)

Diana Schutz (again!)

All the journalists who covered the show

All of the local comic shops that helped promote it

All of my friends who came to see it!

As always and above all, my family:

My mom and dad, Ella and Jerry Hatfield

My brother Scott and my sister-in-law Corine

My New England side of the family, for cheering us on

My kids, Nami and Nick

My wife and my rock, Michele, who knows the whole story better than anyone!

I hope I haven’t forgotten anyone. The list of people who made a difference is very, very long, and no words will be enough.