I’ve been waiting for a long time for a book like this about Jack Kirby, and Hand of Fire rewards with an engrossing page-turner to be read and re-read. Kirby fans like me will be delighted by the smart and detailed analyses of everything from his personal influences to his pencil technique. But anyone with a keen interest in the human creative process, the fruits of the American working class postwar imagination, and the life and times of a genuine pop art visionary will find inspiration here, too.

Mixing his scholarship with a lively and engaging turn of phrase and page after page of fresh insight, Charles Hatfield explores the highs and lows of “King” Kirby’s career, as well as his often turbulent relationships with collaborators like Stan Lee, and his ever-growing legacy.

Hand of Fire is radiant with the “Kirby Krackle” of energy and enthusiasm, a fitting tribute to a unique creative genius.

—Grant Morrison


With judicious intelligence and infectious enthusiasm, Charles Hatfield takes on the daunting task of understanding the titanic career and accomplishments of Jack Kirby, emphasizing the crackling excitement of what he compellingly refers to as Kirby’s “delirious graphiation.” Focusing on two of the peak periods of Jack Kirby’s long history of innovation — his years as Marvel’s founding conceptualist and the self-edited/written/drawn Fourth World saga of the 1970s — Hand of Fire explores the specificity of Kirby’s achievement without ignoring the very real commercial constraints on his practice, and demonstrates the far-reaching legacy of his prodigious output. Hatfield helps us understand how Kirby’s art works specifically as narrative drawing, and explores its profound connection to the aesthetics of the sublime. His discussion of comic art in relation to sign theory represents an exciting contribution to comics studies.

—Scott Bukatman

Author, Terminal Identity, Matters of Gravity, and the forthcoming The Poetics of Slumberland


A superb book, one of the very best books on comics I have ever read […] It will set a new standard for monographs focused on the career of a cartoonist.

—Jeet Heer

Historian; contributor to Walt & Skeezix, Krazy & Ignatz, and The Complete Little Orphan Annie; co-editor, Arguing Comics and A Comics Studies Reader


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.

—Ian Gordon

Author, Comic Strips and Consumer Culture, 1890-1945; co-editor, Comics and Ideology and Film and Comic Books


Charles Hatfield brings a keen perception and revelatory depth to the emerging field of “Kirbyology.” Hand of Fire makes the remarkable life and visionary imagination of the “King of Comics” shine more radiantly than ever.

—Paul Gravett

Author, Graphic Novels: Everything You Need to Know and Manga: 60 Years of Japanese Comics; co-author, Great British Comics; editor, 1001 Comics You Must Read Before You Die; co-founder, Escape Books

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