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Hand of Fire: The Comics Art of Jack Kirby (Great Comics Artists Series) Paperback – December 12, 2011
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Inside there are numerous examples of Jack Kirby's work (including a center color section) chosen specifically to illustrate the points raised by the author. If you want Kirby artwork, there are plenty of options here on Amazon; this is an analysis of his prodigious output, not a collection.
Two small quibbles: Hatfield has not been well served by his editor(s). A surer hand would have guided him away from such sentence-stoppers as "conflictual." And references could have been simplified by standard numerical superscript instead of clogging the narrative with titles and page numbers. (Also, the book itself is printed on paper and will burn if placed in proximity of fire).
The two great ideas Hatfield contributes to Kirby scholarship are, in my view, the concepts of "narrative drawing" and what he calls Kirby's "technological sublime." I can't imagine any new writing on Kirby's work that does not process and include the insights that Hatfield discusses here. Chapter 6, Kirby at Apogee is a deep exploration of two classic New Gods stories, "The Pact" and "Himon."
This chapter alone is worth the price of the book, in my opinion. And you can believe me, because I'm not a fictitious shill for the author. I'm just a lonely, aging comic book fan who was bribed with candy and temporary tattoos (Thanks, Chuck!).
If you want serious, challenging scholarship about one of the defining figures of comic art in the 20th Century, you will appreciate this book. It's deep. It's thought-provoking. It should be rapturously reviewed in a future issue of The Comics Journal, if there's any justice.Read more ›
In addition to situating the work of Jack Kirby in a broad context of the history of comics and carefully dissecting his lasting impact Hatfield discusses a range of issues, from the formal properties of comics to the mythological dimensions of superheroes, with authority. Hand of Fire is the single most important scholarly book on superhero comics hands down. It is one of the best books I have read on comics period. It surpasses his Alternative Comics, which is no mean feat.
This is a scholarly work but accessible to all.
Hatfield pursues Kirby's authenticity as an auteur in comics by exploring Kirby's fascination with the mix of technology and magic, something that is always signature Kirby.Read more ›
If published comics scholarship is ever going to have any really serious relevance at the university or cultural level, I think this book will be a first step in that direction. Kirby was such a pivotal figure in the comics industry, there has to be a book like this on the book shelves; imagine a literary theorist studying the history of literature with no books on the writings of William Shakespeare in their library? Thanks to Charles, I think now comics historians have a book with some serious analysis of Kirby's work that they can use as a first step if they want to simply reflect on Jack's work for themselves, or Charles's book can help springboard future comics scholars into their own analysis of Jack's work.
I'm not sure what the future of comics scholarship is going to be, but I do think that if, say, 100 years from now you have students writing about Jack Kirby and his work, Charles' book is going to have to be a part of their bibliography. If you are a Kirby fan, this book must be a part of your collection; if you are a comics fan or new to the comics medium, prepare to learn a lot about arguably the most important comics artist of all time.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Jack Kirby was one of the greatest creators of American comic book super-hero mythology. Sadly, the period of his career from the 1970's onwards seemed to be littered with failed... Read morePublished 8 months ago by A.Luther
I bought this book....and love it's analysis of Kirby's art. I was lucky enough to meet him a few times and I also own a few pages of his artwork. Read morePublished 11 months ago by Tom Burkert
make no mistake, this is academic discourse, but with a fan's understanding and sense of wonder. I have limited patience for academic writing but this was actually cool.Published 19 months ago by Amazon Customer
Hand of Fire begins with a joyless but geeky semiotic analysis of Kirby's style. If you can make it through that section, you will be treated to a sadly abbreviated discussion of... Read morePublished 22 months ago by Kristofer S. Michaud
Though I have not read Kirby's work as voraciously as some, I've always been a fan of his art – it evokes raw power and a ferocity seldom seen in comics. Read morePublished on March 19, 2014 by Alexis Fajardo
Hatfield can write a flowery sentence. In fact, he typically writes three with the same content, but instead of picking the one sentence that says it best and deleting the rest,... Read morePublished on January 29, 2014 by Chris Roden
This book gives a serious and scholarly look at Kirby's work . It makes Evanier's book ,which was also good ,seem "Fan Boy"!Published on March 19, 2013 by Reed Richards
The first genuine scholarly work to examine the art of Jack "King" Kirby, Hand of Fire is exhaustively researched and remarkably even-handed. Read morePublished on September 15, 2012 by C. Michael Hall