Category Archives: Responses

Tony Puryear Praises Hand of Fire

Mr. Miracle panel by Tony Puryear

Tony Puryearscreenwriter, designer, comics artist, and author of the graphic SF novel Concrete Park, now being serialized in Dark Horse Presents—has posted a glowing and very encouraging review of Hand of Fire to his blog.

I’m thrilled that Tony has found so much to admire in my book. Here is an excerpt:

… Hatfield takes us deep into the artist’s process and struggle in prose that’s always involving and rich. Hatfield knows his way around the semio-jargon, but makes it accessible to non-academics; you’ll feel smarter for having read this book.

As an artist, one thing I appreciated in particular was Hatfield’s explication of Kirby’s actual drawing…. Hatfield is sensitive to the way an artist’s style is an act of performance, but also the ways in which the marks that make that style create a rhetoric, a vocabulary of signs and references. In this book, Kirby becomes literally the textbook example of an artist whose very strokes, squiggles and yes, dots carry worlds of meaning. Hatfield is alert to the development of Kirby’s style, and his writing on the artists who influenced him, Foster, Caniff, Hogarth, is the best I’ve seen on this little-explored part of the Kirby story.

… When they teach Kirby in the schools, and they will, this book will be a vital part of the curriculum and I recommend it very highly.

I’m glad Hand of Fire has made such a strong impression on such an accomplished artist. Thanks, Tony, for this high praise!

Review in Image [&] Narrative

Image & Narrative

Wow again. Hand of Fire‘s first academic review!

I’m overjoyed that the leading scholar Jan Baetens (of KU Leuven in Belgium) has reviewed Hand of Fire at the e-journal Image [&] Narrative, and that he has such perceptive and encouraging things to say! A fascinating and affirming response.

Some extracts from his review:

[T]he reading of this book has been, from the very first till the very last line, a wow experience that it is a pleasure (no, a duty) to share with all those interested in the field, a field which  Hatfield’s investigation broadens significantly, beyond the incrowd of comics or even popular culture.

[A] landmark publication…. offers fascinating analyses to all those interested in gaining a better understanding of comics as storytelling… [and] fundamental contributions to all emerging and ongoing discussions on the semiotics of comics (and visual culture in general).

I’m so glad that the book’s larger theoretical potential is being recognized!

Kirby Dynamics covers Hand of Fire!

2001 #1, page 14, panel 4 (original artwork), courtesy of Rob Steibel

Rob Steibel, at his Kirby Museum blog, Kirby Dynamics, has posted a very kind entry about my recent interview with Tom Spurgeon, as well as about Hand of Fire itself. Thanks, Rob, for the encouraging words, and for the shout-out!

Rob follows this with a terrific series of posts building on the concept of the technological sublime as discussed in my book, with a focus on Kirby’s original pencils, and then the finished Kirby/Royer artwork, for page 14 of Kirby’s comic book 2001: A Space Odyssey #1 (Dec 1976)—a real beauty. Nice to see!

Responses are coming in

Benjamin Woo, a super-sharp scholar of comics and culture at Simon Fraser University, has posted a review of Hand of Fire to his site, It’s very encouraging. Woo calls the book “smart and sharp and learned, but acces­si­ble to the inter­ested layper­son and shot through with gen­uine love for the material.” Nice to hear!

Also, Gary Picariello’s review for Yahoo! calls Hand of Fire “enjoyable and thoughtful reading” that “makes the reader think.” I particularly appreciate his description of the book as “critical thinking at its best.”

Meanwhile, Rob Steibel, over at his Kirby Dynamics blog, has nicely sounded the trumpets! Thank you, Rob.

Reader response has started to appear on, of course, with the usual mixed results (heh). Nothing like contrasting doses of ego-boosting affirmation and skull-rattling provocation all at once!