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Hand of Fire: The Comics Art of Jack Kirby (Great Comics Artists) Paperback – 11 Dec 2011


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Hand of Fire: The Comics Art of Jack Kirby (Great Comics Artists) + Stan Lee & Jack Kirby: The Wonder Years (Jack Kirby Collector / Presents)
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Product details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: University Press of Mississippi (11 Dec. 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 161703178X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1617031786
  • Product Dimensions: 22.8 x 15.3 x 2.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 808,343 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

About the Author

Charles Hatfield is associate professor of English at California State University.

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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Greywolf TOP 1000 REVIEWER on 15 Mar. 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
OK, this is not quite the book I'd expected. I was misled by the subtitle, 'The Comics Art of Jack Kirby,' and the fact that it's published by the University of Mississippi Press, into assuming it would be a scholarly analysis of Kirby's art. It isn't, or at least most of it isn't. Instead, it focuses on Kirby as a storyteller whose medium happened to be what scholars call sequential art but the rest of us call comic books. This is an approach that would surely have delighted Kirby himself, who always played down his talent as an artist and preferred to think of himself as a guy who told stories.
Given that Charles Hatfield is a professor of English, I'd been a bit concerned that the book was going to be weighed down with the sort of terminology that renders academic publications unreadable to us humbler mortals. I needn't have worried. OK, he does fling in the odd reference to semiotics, but he actually takes the time to explain what the hell semiotics is and why it matters. Bravo!
What we have then is a study of Kirby's role in the greater scheme of comic books, more especially the superhero comics that were his trademark and where his most notable work was done. It is this work on which the book mainly focuses, particularly his work at Marvel in the 1960s when he produced his legendary, long and hugely influential runs on The Fantastic Four and The Mighty Thor, and his early 70s magnum opus, The Fourth World saga, produced for Marvel's great rival, DC Comics.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Runmentionable on 26 Sept. 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is quite simply the finest book written to date about a mainstream American comics creator. In the depth and breadth of its analysis, its lightly-worn erudition, its innovative ideas and its readability, it provides the tribute its subject (who, for those arriving late, is - among many other superlatives - the most influential artist ever to work in his medium) so obviously deserves.

The review by Greywolf is an excellent overview of what the book covers, so I won't waste your time reiterating his observations. However, his comment that the book isn't an analysis of Kirby's art is a bit wide of the mark. The very first chapter introduces the notion of Kirby's narrative art (which, to hideously over-simplify, develops the idea that every single mark Kirby made on a page advanced the narrative, though there's a lot more to it than that), while a later chapter on "the technological sublime" takes a fascinating look at Kirby's unique and under-valued (outside comics circles, anyway) science fiction art. One of Hatfield's many interesting ideas is that Kirby's influence now extends far beyond comics to any popular art form characterised by hyperbolic responses to imminent threat (i.e. pretty much everything on TV and at the movies these days). Nowadays, Kirby is like a vast underground river, irrigating not just comics but all media - which is why he's a hugely important cultural figure even if you've never heard of him, or even if you don't get his art. Hatfield's achievement is to link this convincingly not just to Kirby's character/series concepts, or his story-telling technique, but to every single aspect of his art.

This book isn't for everyone, though for everyone who digs Kirby, it's a must.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Mr. Alan E. Stevens on 14 April 2013
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A scholarly work on the art of Jack Kirby, the man without whom it is a safe bet to say modern comics would be a pale shadow of what they are,and without whom , the Fantastic Four, Thor, Captain America,the Silver Surfer and The Avengers, amongst others, would not be the box-office successes that they are. Kirby never received the accolades he deserved during his lifetime and died having received very little of the rewards from what is now a multi-million dollar industry based on his (with a little help for Stan Lee) creative genius. ***essential reading for any comics fan***
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By sarah sier on 18 Jan. 2013
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I bought this as a Christmas present for my partner and he was thrilled with it! He is a huge Jack Kirby fan and is thoroughly enjoying reading it. He's not a big reader but hasn't put it down since he started it.
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