Hand of Fire (about the book)


An engrossing page-turner to be read and re-read… Hand of Fire is radiant with the “Kirby Krackle” of energy and enthusiasm, a fitting tribute to a unique creative genius.


Jack Kirby (1917-1994) is one of the premier storytellers and visual stylists, for some readers the premier artist, in American comic book history.

For more than forty years, Kirby worked steadily at comics, in particular the comic book—that roughly half-tabloid-sized, newsstand-ready magazine which for many readers still represents the kernel identity of American comic art. Kirby entered the comic book field when it was newborn, and excelled in it. With his dynamic, eccentric style, he left a deep and unmistakable handprint on both the medium and the industry that grew up around it.

Over those forty-plus years of almost uninterrupted artistic output, Kirby—his work, his style, his name—became part of the very atmosphere breathed by comic book creators and fans. That’s why “Kirbyesque” has become a familiar adjective, and why so many artists continue to work in his shadow.

Charles Hatfield’s Hand of Fire: The Comics Art of Jack Kirby is an Eisner Award-winning book about what Kirby did and why it matters. In particular, it focuses on Kirby’s artistic peak in the 1960s and ’70s. A critical exploration of cartooning, of superheroes, science fiction, and the technological sublime, Hand of Fire is the first academic monograph in English about Kirby’s work. In essence, it’s a book about why Kirby blew off the top of so many readers’ heads, and why he still does. Scholar Ian Gordon calls it “the single most important scholarly book on superhero comics hands down.”

Hand of Fire is part of the University Press of Mississippi’s “Great Comics Artists” series. It’s available in softcover, hardcover, and Ebook formats, including Kindle and Nook.

Hand of Fire by Charles Hatfield, cover image by Geoff GroganDecember 2011

312 pages, 29 illustrations (21 B&W, 8 color)

978-1-61703-178-6 Paper $25.00
978-1-61703-177-9 Printed casebinding $65.00
978-1-61703-179-3 Ebook $25.00

To order:

Order HAND OF FIRE (in print or Ebook format) direct from the publisher …. Order HAND OF FIRE (in print or Kindle format) from Amazon …. Order HAND OF FIRE (in print or Nook format) from Barnes & Noble

PS. See the author’s ongoing journal at kirbystudies.org for news, teasers, and new writing about Kirby—and feel free to leave your comments and questions there! Also, hear what Charles Hatfield has to say about the book here:


One thought on “Hand of Fire (about the book)

  1. Richard Kolkman says:

    Mr Hatfield I wish I had your email
    Anyway, please re-read “We All Live In Happyland” (TJKC 57) I am writing something for John that reveals (perhaps proves) John Kennedy death (and ancient Egypt) is pivotal foundation inspiration for New Gods. The more I look the more I find – perhaps “conclusive”
    Evanier’s little eyebrows should shoot up (He only looked at FF 25-26 It’s much broader than that)

    I LOVED Hand of Fire (Read it twice 2012 and 2019)
    Your friend Richard Kolkman

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