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The Adventures of Jack Kirby

Comic book writer and artist, Jack Kirby, is the subject of an art exhibition at the California State University, Northridge Art Galleries.

Jack Kirby is the creator of comic book superheroes such as the Fantastic Four, the X-Men, the Hulk , Thor, and Captain America.

The exhibition, titled “Comic Book Apocalypse: The Graphic World of Jack Kirby”, is one of the largest exhibits of Kirby’s work ever, and the first to be held at a university. It documents his entire career, but focuses on the second half.

“You just couldn’t keep up with Kirby,” said CSUN English Professor Charles Hatfield, curator of the exhibition, and author of Hand of Fire: The Comics Art of Jack Kirby. “He was always two steps ahead of everybody.”

“Jack Kirby was amazingly prolific,” said comic book illustrator and collector Scott Fresina. “You could fill the studio with pages of his art work, and still have enough for more, so what we have right there in the galleries is some really great stuff, but really it is the tip of the tip of the tip of the iceberg.”

“We know he did 20,000 pages,” Hatfield said, “ of which we have 100 pages of art on the wall.”

The art pieces came from about 16 collectors. Earth 2 Comics bookstore owner Carr D’Angelo is one who loaned some of the comic books from his collection.

Hatfield said one of the goals of the exhibition is for the public to see the production process.

“We built a part of the exhibition where you can compare the kind of before-and-after,” he said, “where you could see a copy of the page before it was inked, and then see what was done afterwards.”

“Jack would start at the middle or the corner, and he would draw the whole thing out as if he was tracing it,” Fresina said.

Hatfield said three pieces in the show were drawn and inked by Kirby.

“Jack can ink and he can finish it,” Hatfield said, “but he usually doesn’t, either because of his own choice, or because the people he was working for wanted him to generate more stories. So most of the things you’ll see in the exhibition are inked by other hands.”

One new large audience for comic book super heroes is women.

“It’s one of the fastest growing audiences, and partially it’s because it isn’t just the male power fantasies any more,” D’Angelo said. “There are a lot of other companies, like Image Comics, and even Marvel with Ms. Marvel, and DC Comics like Bat Girl.”

Besides being known for his superhero creations, Jack Kirby is also known for being the creator, with Joe Simon, of many romance comics, which were always popular with female audiences.

“Jack Kirby drew more pages of romance between about 1947 and 1957 than he did of any other genre he worked in combined,” Hatfield said.

“The career of Kirby is basically the history of comics,” Fresina said.


Moderator: Teresa Barrientos

Anchor: James Lindsay

Producers: Stephanie Lopez and Sara Vong

Social Media Editors: Stephanie Lopez and Sara Vong

Reporters: James Lindsay and Veronica Perez


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