Category Archives: The Kirby Museum

Kirby Day 2019

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Kirby at work, Thousand Oaks, CA, Sept. 1972. Photo by and (c) David Folkman.

Today, August 28, I call Kirby Day. This would have been the 102nd birthday of Jack Kirby (b. Jacob Kurtzberg, 1917-1994), as inventive and influential a comics creator as the field has ever seen, and one of the under-appreciated architects of what is now 21st century popular culture, both in the US and around the world. On this day, this unofficial holiday, why not donate to The Hero Initiative in support of veteran comics creators in need? Giving back on Kirby’s birthday is a grand tradition that deserves continuing.

Hero Initiative masthead

And, if you’re in or near New York City — not, like me, on the wrong coast — then why not join the Jack Kirby Museum & Research Center this evening on the Lower East Side, Kirby’s point of origin, for their celebratory walking tour and mixer? That sounds wonderful. It’s a free, non-ticketed event (the precise starting point and other info can be found on the Museum’s site at the above link). Kirby belongs to the world, but his roots in NYC deserve to be recognized and retraced. (How about a commemorative plaque at Kirby’s Essex Street birthplace, hmm?)

KIRBY, HYPE & HISTORY

Kirby’s name has now been coopted and rebranded as a “Disney legend,” and is at last gaining traction in entertainment media coverage, with film adaptations of his late-period auteurist works The New Gods and The Eternals looming (from Warner/DC and Marvel Studios respectively). However, his larger career story, beyond what can be harnessed to hype new adaptations, still seems unknown even to many fans of the Marvel Universe — a pop-culture franchise impossible to imagine without Kirby’s foundational work. Happily, the now-touring exhibition Marvel: Universe of Super Heroes (reviewed here on 23 April 2018) casts Kirby as, essentially, cofounder of that universe, and conversations around films like Thor: Ragnarok and the upcoming Eternals have made Kirby and his designs a frequent talking point. I have to admit, I had never expected to see this.

But to me the heart of the story remains (of course) Kirby’s own art and storytelling, and his own improbable record of unstinting creativity against long odds, in an industry that often treated creators like dirt. Thrilling to the latest news of pending screen adaptations ought to be balanced, I think, by a critical awareness that comics, as comics, do not necessarily gain from these things, and that a history of comics that is hostage to the current exploitation of corporate IP is not really history, but hype. Anyone who has published scholarship on comics creators like Kirby is probably familiar with  the odd sensation of seeing scholarly opportunities open up  precisely because of that hype — but I believe we should be wary of pop-culture presentism that repackages, but also occludes, the very history of the things we are researching. Sure, bring on the adaptations, the marketing campaigns, the DVD/Blu-ray extras and all that (I’ll be paying attention to the Eternals and New Gods films), but it’s the conversation around Kirby’s comic art as such that most interests me.

Kirby does not equal Marvel, or DC, and even his work for DC and Marvel ought to be framed in terms other than those of corporate mythology!

KIRBY STUDIES NEWS:

Man, I wish I had been able to go to France this summer. It’s been a feast of comic art exhibitions in France these last few months, and not one but two shows about Kirby have taken place in the Normandy region, coinciding with the 75th anniversary of the Allied invasion of Normandy and subsequent liberation of France. In France, Kirby’s name seems indelibly linked with his part in the liberation as well as his Marvel work, so this seems to have been perfect timing. One of these exhibitions closed just this past weekend, and the other (sigh) closes on September 29. I so wanted to give my passport another workout this summer, but, alas, could not.

I owe most of what I know about these exhibitions to social media posts and, especially, a review essay by comics scholar Jean-Paul Gabilliet (Of Comics and Men) for the International Journal of Comic Art. This thoughtful and detailed essay, by one of the leading historians of the American comic book, is happily available online, pending its publication in a future issue of IJOCA; I recommend it highly:

http://ijoca.blogspot.com/2019/08/about-four-comic-art-exhibits-in-france.html

One of the exhibitions, co-curated by French Kirby biographer Jean Depelley, focused squarely on Kirby’s wartime experience. Titled La guerre de Jack Kirby, l’inventeur des super-héros modernes [The war of Jack Kirby, the inventor of modern superheroes], it reportedly consisted of reproductions of comic book art and photographs, with emphasis on Kirby’s time as a combat infantryman in Nazi-occupied France. This fairly small exhibition ran from June 4 through August 24 at Les 7 lieux, a media library and cultural center in the city of Bayeux (famed in not only military history but also, of course, the history of sequential art).

At the same time, roughly 60 miles away, a very large exhibition titled Jack Kirby: la galaxie des super-héros ran (and is still running, through Sept. 29, having been extended) at Le Musée Thomas Henry, a fine-arts museum in Cherbourg, the famed Normandy port city. Co-curated by Musée curator Louise Hallet and comic art dealer Bernard Mahé, this exhibition is part of the Biennale du 9e art, a biennial event that centers on a big exhibition focused on a major creator. La galaxie reportedly includes more than 200 pieces of original comic art, about three-fourths of which are by Kirby, the other one-fourth being works by, as Gabilliet says, Kirby’s precursors (e.g. Hal Foster; Alex Raymond) and followers (e.g. Steranko; John Buscema). This sounds frankly like an overwhelming feast for the eye and the mind. Dig a couple of borrowed photos:

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Jack Kirby: la galaxie des super héros at Le Musée Thomas Henry. Photo: actua.fr, 28 July 2019.

Curator Louise Hallet (and Darkseid) at Le Musée Thomas Henry

Curator Louise Hallet and Darkseid, Le Musée Thomas Henry. Photo: Ouest-France, 22 May 2019.

La galaxie appears to have been one of the very largest Kirby exhibitions ever, comparable in scope to The House that Jack Built (co-curated by Paul Gravett and Dan Nadel for Lucerne’s Fumetto festival in 2010). Gabilliet writes thoughtfully of the exhibition’s pleasures and limitations, in terms that reminded me of the challenges I faced when curating Comic Book Apocalypse for the CSUN Art Galleries (2015). But, ah, just to see the complete “Even Gods Must Die” (New Gods, 1984 series, #6), on view at La galaxie — man, what I wouldn’t have done for that experience. I dearly regret missing these shows, just as I regret missing Mostri, uomini, dei [Monsters, Men, Gods], the Kirby exhibition at Bologna’s BilBOLBul comics festival last fall.

Right now, Gabilliet’s conclusion is ringing in my head:

[C]omic art exhibiting seems increasingly open to a plurality of conceptual and aesthetic possibilities that by far transcend the arguably increasingly humdrum pattern of “career retrospectives,” notwithstanding the genuine satisfaction one is perfectly free to experience while beholding wall-to-wall displays of original comic art drawn by a given creator. While many museums and galleries still regard comic art as “easily accessible” art that will likely attract paying visitors—a legitimate expectation by all means, unfortunately—the full museographic potential of comic art is yet to be tapped. The more imaginative curators will prove, the more alive we will all become to the versatility of our favorite art form.

Yet to be tapped. Absolutely. But things are happening. This puts me in mind of, one, Kim Munson’s forthcoming academic anthology, Comic Art in Museums (UP of Mississippi, 2020), in which I believe I will have a couple of pieces; two, the pending Comic-Con Museum in San Diego; and three, the pending Lucas Museum of Narrative Art in Los Angeles (currently advertising for a comic art curator). It would be reasonable to expect major Kirby-themed exhibitions from either or both of those places.

TWO OTHER NEWS ITEMS:

ONE. Speaking of Kirby’s wartime experience, acclaimed artist and Kirby expert James Romberger has a Kirby-themed biographical comic about to drop: For Real #1, promised from Uncivilized Books this November, which will reportedly contain:

“The Oven,” a short comics story that is a fictionalized amalgam of two little-discussed and largely undocumented parts of Kirby’s life: a harrowing encounter with Nazis in World War 2 and his treatment for cancer many years later, a story that touches on themes of PTSD, graphic medicine, courage and empathy; and “The Real Thing,” an accompanying essay by James that clarifies aspects of the story and contextualizes them with the reality of Kirby’s experiences.

For Real cover by Romberger

James Romberger’s anthology series For Real will begin with a comic and an essay about Kirby. In shops Nov. 6, 2019.

This comic book, Romberger says, is “the first issue of what will be a continuing anthology title” that he will edit, to be published by Uncivilized Books.

Romberger will be speaking about this project at the New York Comics & Picture-story Symposium next Tuesday, September 3, at 7pm at Parsons School of Design, University Center, 63 Fifth Avenue, Room UL 105. This event is free and open to the public.

I’m excited about this project, which promises to complement some other recent biographical projects: Tom Scioli’s graphic bio of Kirby (in progress), Scioli and Jean Depelley’s collaboration on “Private Kirby Adventures” (as seen in The Jack Kirby Collector #64, 2014), and Depelley and Marc Azéma’s 2017 documentary film La guerre de Kirby. Romberger is a superb artist, with a great feel for period and place and an abiding interest in Kirby.

TWO. On an academic and theoretical front, Kirby’s work figures in the recently released bilingual (French and English) anthology Abstraction and Comics/Bande dessinée et abstraction, a two-volume slipcased beauty edited by Aarnoud Rommens with the collaboration of Benoît Crucifix, Björn-Olav Dozo, Erwin Dejasse, and Pablo Turnes.

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Abstraction and Comics | Bande dessinée et abstraction. La Cinquième Couche/Presses universitaires de Liège, collection ACME, 201

Abstraction and Comics is a project of the ACME research group at the University of Liège in Belgium, and jointly published by La Cinquième Couche and the University Presses of Liège. It totals nearly 900 pages, and includes essays and comics by more than fifty contributors (among them my esteemed colleagues Jan Baetens, Hugo Frey, Gene Kannenberg, Jr., Martha Kuhlman, Pascal Lefèvre, Gert Meesters, and Barbara Postema). Two essays will be of special interest to Kirby scholars and fans: “Jack Kirby: In-between the Abstract and the Psychedelic,” by Spanish scholar Roberto Bartual (author of Jack Kirby: Una Odisea Psicodélica); and “The Kirby ‘Krackle’: A Graphic Lexicon for Cosmic Superheroes,” by Argentinean scholar Amadeo Gandolfo.

There’s a ton to take in and think about in this pair of books. Recommended emphatically! My own research on collage in comics (including Kirby’s) will draw quite a bit from these pages.

It’s great to see Kirby studies flourishing internationally, and so many exhibitions and projects taking up his work. By Halloween I’ll have another such project to announce.

HAPPY KIRBY DAY! Indeed, #K i r b y I s E t e r n a l.

PS. My thanks to the great Paul Gravett for providing me updated and corrected information about the Cherbourg exhibition!

CSUN Celebrates Kirby’s 100th

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Kirby lives.

This coming Monday, August 28, is Jack Kirby’s birthday—I call that Kirby Day. What’s more, this particular August the 28th would have been Kirby’s 100th birthday, his centenary. To think of what Kirby lived through, from his boyhood on New York’s Lower East Side in the 1920s, to his passing in 1994, fills me with awe, and his work continues to fill me with a sort of tongue-tied gratitude for its never-ending richness. I try to observe Kirby Day on this blog every year, but on this 100th anniversary it seems especially urgent.

Monday the 28th also happens to be the first weekday of the new (Fall 2017) semester at my school, California State University, Northridge. That these two events—one the centennial of an artist vital to comics, visual culture, and my own life, and the other the perhaps-routine but still always exciting start of a new school term—should coincide seems a bit crazy, but too wonderful an opportunity to pass up. So CSUN, and particularly the Comics@CSUN initiative that I head, will be commemorating Kirby’s 100th in two ways:

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First, I have curated an exhibit of Kirby works from the 1940s to the 1980s, called Jack Kirby @ 100. This exhibit consists mainly of comic books, photographs, and art prints, and will be up in the Oviatt Library’s Music & Media wing from August 25 (that was today) through October 1. From The Boy Commandos  and Young Love to Captain Victory and The Hunger Dogs, this show gives a small but vivid window onto Kirby’s comic book career.

Second, this Monday the 28th—Kirby Day, the centennial edition!—I will be moderating a panel discussion with two great, Kirby-inspired comics creators who have taken Kirby’s influence in their own unexpected and original directions: Mark Badger and Tony Puryear. The panel will take place in the Oviatt Library’s Jack & Florence Ferman Presentation Room from 3:00 to 5:00 p.m., and will be followed by a visit to the exhibit (upstairs).

Both the exhibit and the panel discussion are FREE and open to the public—readers, please feel free to drop in! For more info, see the Comics@CSUN Events page, or just visit the CSUN homepage. And please help spread the word via social media, with the hashtags #KirbyAt100 and #ComicsAtCSUN. Thanks!

It’s been a challenge to do these things while also preparing new courses for a new semester—but there’s no way I could let this centennial pass without officially observing it at CSUN! Thanks to the University and all my colleagues and sponsors who helped make this happen, and to the Jack Kirby Museum & Research Center for their unstinting support! (Check out the Museum’s own schedule of Kirby centennial events this weekend, at its popup museum in NYC’s One Art Space.)

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PS. Don’t forget to support Jillian Kirby’s annual charity drive, Kirby 4 Heroes, which raises funds for the Hero Initiative, a nonprofit that supports veteran comics creators in need! Each year the drive has been raising more and more money—let’s make Kirby’s centenary a record-breaking year! This is a project Jack Kirby would have been behind 100 percent.

Kirby lives.

The CCI Kirby Museum Booth, plus What I’m Doing at CCI

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I’d like to crow about what I’m doing at Comic-Con International: San Diego this weekend, but more importantly, I want to talk about the Jack Kirby Museum & Research Center.

The Kirby Museum is the epicenter of grassroots Kirbydom, a champion of comics and Kirby scholarship, and an incredible repository of images and history. It’s also the work of a great and generous team.

They will be at Comic-Con International: San Diego this weekend, of course, telling the world about Jack Kirby and his art. Showing his art, in fact, and inviting everyone to share in the project of Kirby studies. All convention long, the Museum will be displaying 2100 images from Kirby’s original art—a stunning exhibition of Kirbyana. What’s more, their booth will play host to artists and commentators like Mark Badger, Ray Wyman, and the great Kirby collaborator Mike Royer—all part of a concerted celebration of Jack’s centenary.

As if Comic-Con’s exciting slate of Kirby centennial and Will Eisner centennial events weren’t enough, the Kirby Museum team will make its booth the very HQ of Kirby studies right on the exhibit hall floor! That’s Booth #5520, in the Gold and Silver Pavilion, just across, as usual, from the TwoMorrows booth (where of course there will also be a wealth of Kirbyana, including issues of The Jack Kirby Collector and the new Kirby100 book, courtesy of the great John Morrow and co.). You really should visit that Pavilion.

Signing and selling: Thanks to the Kirby Museum’s generosity, I get to spend some time signing and selling my Kirby studies books at the Museum’s booth. Copies of the Eisner-winning Hand of Fire (2011) and the Comic Book Apocalypse exhibition catalog (2015) will be available, and a cut of the proceeds will go to the Kirby Museum! Look for me on:

  • Thursday, July 20, 3:30-6:00pm
  • Friday, July 21, 3:00-4:00pm
  • Saturday, July 22, 2:00-5:00pm

I look forward to talking with anyone and everyone with an interest in the King!


Biographical and Autobiographical Comics: Besides reveling in Kirbyana this weekend, I have the honor of moderating a panel on nonfiction comics with four great cartoonists: Box Brown (Andre the Giant; Tetris), Sarah Glidden (Rolling Blackouts; How to Understand Israel in 60 Days or Less), Sonny Liew (The Art of Charlie Chan Hock Chye; The Shadow Hero) and Mimi Pond (The Customer Is Always Wrong; Over Easy). We’ll be discussing the slippery relationship between fiction and nonfiction, with reference to their wonderful books. That’s Biographical and Autobiographical Comics, on Friday morning, July 21, from 10:00 to 11:00 am, in Room 28DE. You couldn’t ask for a stronger set of creators in one panel!

Join the Kirby and Eisner Celebrations at Comic-Con 2017!

CCI Surfer and Toucan

With apologies to Rick Geary, Jack Kirby, and Joe Sinnott!

Wow. This is a year to be at Comic-Con International: San Diego. It’s the centenary of Jack Kirby (1917-1994) and the centenary of Will Eisner (1917-2005), two comics greats who improbably crossed paths early on and improbably kept innovating and nudging comics forward throughout their long careers. The two men eventually developed very different reputations in comics studies, but both were seminal, inspiring, and frankly astounding narrative artists who carried comics a long way. Both left their mark on Comic-Con too, becoming household saints of that great convention. Both are honored yearly for that. But this year is something special, as Comic-Con is observing the centennial of both men with a special series of panels and events throughout the weekend. See below for a full listing of those CCI events that appear to be Kirby and/or Eisner-related (clicking on an event’s title should take you to its official place in the online CCI schedule).

I will be lucky enough to take in part of the weekend. Though I won’t be able to attend all of the events listed below (who could?), I will be at several, and man am I grateful for that! Both Eisner and Kirby have meant a lot to me as a comics reader and scholar, and I’m sure that this is going to be one long nostalgiathon!

NOTE: I have the good fortune to spend part of the Con signing and selling books at the Jack Kirby Museum & Research Center’s booth (#5520), as detailed in this separate post. The Booth is going to be amazing, so come check it out!

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Eisner and Kirby, 1982. Photo by Alan Light.

 

Kirby and Eisner Shop Talk

(The following blurbs come direct from the CCI program, with minimal editing:)

Jack Kirby’s Consciousness, Roger Zelazny’s Lord of Light, Barry Ira Geller, and the Real Argo

Thursday, July 20 • 10:00am – 11:00am • Room 5AB

Finally, the fascinating truth about the real CIA Argo mission! Hear how Jack Kirby and Barry Ira Geller’s script and production designs for Lord of Light made the actual Argo mission successful, as recently testified to by the “Sons of the Iranian Revolution.” The Kirby/Geller work, though not mentioned in the Oscar-winning film, rests in the International Spy Museum forever. Discover the unbelievable awareness and consciousness of Jack Kirby as remembered by Barry Ira Geller, one of the last people to have creatively partnered with Jack. Kirby was the Rembrandt of comic art, the Einstein of superhero visions, and the creator of the modern romance genre. Hear Mike Royer, arguably the best Silver Age inker–certainly Jack Kirby’s favorite–give the real story behind the inking of these fantastic series!

Spotlight on Mike Royer

Thursday, July 20 • 11:30am – 12:30pm • Room 4

As part of this year’s gala Jack Kirby Centennial, here’s an hour-long chat with Jack’s favorite inker of his work, the man who worked with him on the Fourth World comics, Kamandi, The Demon, and many others. But Mike Royer was so much more than just Jack Kirby’s inker. He worked with Russ Manning on the Tarzan comic books and newspaper strip and again with Russ on the Star Wars newspaper strip. He drew for Creepy, Eerie, and Vampirella and worked on the ’60s Marvel superhero cartoons and for Gold Key Comics and had a multi-decade career working for Disney on things as un-Kirbylike as Winnie the Pooh. Come hear him be interviewed by his friend and colleague, Mark Evanier.

Cartoon Art Museum Workshop: Mastering the Art of Jack Kirby

Thursday, July 20 • 2:00-3:00pm • Room 2

Ever wondered how the legendary Jack Kirby created his signature style? Now you can learn the tricks of his trade and those he collaborated with to draw Captain America, the Fantastic Four, and the X-Men among many other iconic characters. Celebrate Jack Kirby’s 100th birthday with Kirby fan and cartoonist Mark Badger (Batman, Just Draw) leading this workshop, with guidance from the Jack Kirby Museum. Supplies provided by Sakura.

Why Will Eisner Still Matters at 100

Thursday, July 20 • 3:00-4:00pm • Room 9

Born 100 years ago, Will Eisner not only recognized the future potential of comics at an early age but also worked his whole life to help achieve those goals. But how could Will Eisner still be relevant to us today? Join Paul Levitz (former president of DC Comics, author of Will Eisner: Champion of the Graphic Novel, educator, comics historian), Jackie Estrada (administrator, Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards), Paul Dini (Harley Quinn co-creator, writer, producer), Maggie Thompson (writer, editor, comics historian), and maybe a surprise special guest to discover why.

Graphic Novel Creator Richard Kyle’s Legacy

Thursday, July 20 • 8:30-9:30pm • Room 8

Richard Kyle published the first graphic novel, Beyond Time and Again by George Metzger, as well as Graphic Story World and Argosy magazines. Mr. Kyle’s publishing work and the future of graphic novels will be discussed by a panel of experts: Mike Royer (artist, writer, Jack Kirby’s inker), Denis Kitchen (artist, writer, publisher, creator of Kitchen Sink Press), Ron Turner(writer, publisher, founder of Last Gasp), Jamie Coville (writer, comics historian), Phil Yeh(cartoonist, publisher of Uncle Jam), Greg Koudoulian (early SDCC film program contributor), David G. Brown (cartoonist, winner of the 2009 NAACP Image Award), and Maggie Thompson(writer, comics historian, co-editor of the Comics Buyer’s Guide).

Will Eisner: Portrait of a Sequential Artist

Thursday, July 20 • 9:00-10:30pm • Room 9

This feature-length documentary about Will Eisner premiered at New York’s Tribeca Film Festival. The film includes interviews with Stan Lee, Jules Feiffer, Jack Kirby, Art Spiegelman, Frank Miller, Kurt Vonnegut, Michael Chabon, Gil Kane, and many other famous writers and cartoonists who knew and worked with Will Eisner. The showing will be introduced by Danny Fingeroth (comics historian, Spider-Man group editor) with a brand-new videotape introduction from the film’s director/producer Andrew D. Cooke and writer/producer Jon B. Cooke.

Spotlight on John Morrow

Friday, July 21 • 11:00am – 12:00pm • Room 4

Comic-Con special guest John Morrow (publisher at TwoMorrows) presents a sequential image, stereophonic, multimedia extravaganza: “Jack Kirby: Yesterday, Today, and TwoMorrows!” Join John on a comics history road trip that explores how Kirby’s career was inexplicably intertwined with John’s own life, long before he published Jack Kirby Collector #1 in 1994, and continues to permeate TwoMorrows Publishing today. You’ll see rare Kirby artwork, video and audio of Jack himself, rare photos, and the debut of John’s new book, KIRBY100, an all-star celebration of Jack’s 100th birthday! The video presentation will be followed by a Q&A session with details of other new TwoMorrows titles, including their Reed Crandall biography and GROOVY, which documents how flower power affected comics and pop culture.

Comic Arts Conference #6: Comics Auteurs: Kirby and Eisner at 100

Friday, July 21 • 11:30am – 1:00pm • Room 26AB

2017 marks the 100th anniversary of the births of comics masters Jack Kirby and Will Eisner, whose contributions to comic books and graphic novels cannot be overstated. Marc Greenberg (Golden Gate University School of Law) discusses how copyright law partially helped the Jack Kirby and Jerry Siegel estates get a second bite at the apple in renegotiating publishing deals. Kim Munson (From Panels to Frames: Comic Art in Museums) looks at how recent art shows contribute to the constant rediscovery and reevaluation of Eisner and Kirby’s work. Jennifer Willms (University of Koblenz-Landau) delves into the Eisner’s comic compendium of Jewish American history and the immigrant experience.

Will Eisner: Mentor, Partner, Friend

Friday, July 21 • 12:30-1:30pm • Room 8

Comic-Con special guest Denis Kitchen looks back on his 35-year relationship with Will Eisner, from the unlikely friendship that formed between a scruffy underground comix publisher and a buttoned-down businessman to the creative and publishing partnership that brought The Spirit to a new generation and helped give birth to the graphic novel.

Jack Kirby: Friends and Family

Friday, July 21 • 1:30-2:30pm • Room 8

If Jack Kirby were as immortal as his work, he’d be 100 years old next month . . . and he’s still here in spirit and impact. Today a group of his family members and closest friends will talk about the man they knew, the man whose genius revolutionized the comic book industry again and again, and they’ll even tell you what he liked on his pizza. Your moderator is former Kirby assistant Mark Evanier (author, Kirby: King of Comics).

The Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards

Friday, July 21 • 8:00-10:30pm • Indigo Ballroom, Hilton San Diego Bayfront

The 29th annual Eisner Awards (the “Oscars” of the comics industry) honor comics creators and works in 30 categories… Other prestigious awards to be given out include the Russ Manning Promising Newcomer Award, the Bob Clampett Humanitarian Award, the Will Eisner Spirit of Comics Retailer Award, and the Bill Finger Award for Excellence in Comics Writing.

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This is a great comic!

This is the 13th year for presentation of the Bill Finger Award… The 2017 recipients are William Messner-Loebs (Superman, the Flash, Aquaman, Mr. Monster, Hawkman, Green Arrow, Wonder Woman, Dr. Fate, Jonny Quest, Spider-Man,Thor, Journey) and… Jack Kirby! …The awards will be presented by Mark Evanier. 

Comics Greats on Will Eisner’s The Spirit

Saturday, July 22 • 11:00am – 12:00pm • Room 4

Originally a syndicated Sunday newspaper comic insert, Will Eisner’s The Spirit is still acclaimed for its great artwork, imaginative splash pages, unforgettable characters, and attention-grabbing storytelling. Hear Danny Fingeroth (Spider-Man group editor, comics historian), Denis Kitchen (publisher, writer, comix cartoonist), Jeff Smith (cartoonist, Bone,RASL), Joe Staton (cartoonist, Dick Tracy) and, on videotape, Jules Feiffer (Pulitzer Prize and Oscar-winning cartoonist and screenwriter) talk about the impact of The Spirit on their own careers. Hear about their favorite Spirit adventures and learn why Will Eisner’s original Spiritstories are still in print today with new comics appearing monthly.

Jack Kirby’s 100th Birthday Celebration with IDW!

Saturday, July 22 • 1:00-2:00pm • Room 25ABC

Featuring an impressive library of more than 1,300 pages of Kirby original DC and Marvel artwork — the largest showing ever! IDW president Greg Goldstein hosts this stellar birthday tribute with a groundbreaking slide show, featuring art from eight different Artist’s Editions plus some surprises. The panel features superstar creators Walter Simonson and Kevin Eastman, who will share their Kirby remembrances and influences, along with senior editor Scott Dunbier and creative director at IDW PDX Dirk Wood. Everyone who attends will receive a “birthday” gift! One lucky fan will go home with an Artist’s Edition!

The Centennial of the King of Comics, Jack Kirby

Saturday, July 22 • 2:00-3:00pm • Room 29AB

 Illustrator and comic book historian Arlen Schumer (The Silver Age of Comic Book Art) marks the centennial of Kirby’s birth with a multimedia retrospective about how a first-American generation son of European Jewish immigrants growing up in the Lower East Side of New York City named Ya’akov Kurtzberg became acknowledged by both professionals and fans alike as the single greatest artist and storyteller in the history of comic books, Jack “King” Kirby.

The Annual Jack Kirby Tribute Panel

Sunday, July 23 • 10:00-11:15am • Room 4

Continuing the celebration of the Kirby Centennial, this is the annual panel about Comic-Con’s first superstar guest, the man they call “The King of Comics,” Jack Kirby. Jack left us in 1994, but his influence on comics, film, and this convention has never been greater. Discussing the man and his work this year are Jim Chadwick (editor at DC Comics), Paul Levitz (former president at DC Comics), Mike Royer (Kirby’s favorite inker), attorney Paul S. Levine, and several highly surprising surprise guests. Naturally, it’s moderated by former Kirby assistant Mark Evanier.

Will Eisner at 100: The Real World of Publishing Comics

Sunday, July 23 • 2:45-3:45pm • Room 5AB

Andrea Colvin (Lion Forge), Gina Gagliano (First Second), Kurt Hassler (Yen Press), Heidi MacDonald (The Beat), and Filip Sablik (BOOM! Studios) talk about the challenges and opportunities of selling graphic novels into traditional book markets. Moderated by John Shableski (Will Eisner Studios and Udon Entertainment).

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With apologies to Rick Geary and Will Eisner!

Just Draw! Mark Badger Brings Kirby Studies and More to SVCC  

Going to the Silicon Valley Comic Con this weekend? Look out for Kirby stuff, Kirby studies, and ace cartoonist Mark Badger!


Tomorrow through Sunday, March 18-20, Mark, wearer of many hats–artist, teacher, Comic Book Apocalypse essayist, and Kirby expert among them–will be appearing at the inaugural SVCC at the San Jose Convention Center, where he’ll be doing a lot of great things:

  • Manning a booth on behalf of the Kirby Museum (that would be booth AA2 H) in collaboration with underground comix artist Bruce Simon. They’ll be selling the Four Faces of Evil poster for the Museum, plus Museum T-shirts and sundries, plus examples of their own work–and copies of our Comic Book Apocalypse catalog, as a Museum fundraiser!
  • Co-presenting, with Bruce Simon and puppeteer, writer, and longtime Kirby associate Steve Sherman, the Kirby panel A Graphic Apocalypse, on Sunday at 2:00pm. (You can consult the SVCC schedule here.)
  • Presenting his own interactive workshop, Just Draw, a session on “drawing, mindfulness, comics, and storytelling,” on Friday night from 8 to 9pm. This is based on Mark’s new publication, Just Draw, which he describes as a manual for “stressed out” artists who want to stop worrying and “get their work done.”

Did I mention Mark’s own work? How about his amazing, multipart Abstract Kirby project? How about his now complete Kirby-inspired opus, William Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, collected for the first time anywhere, just in time for SVCC? Great stuff.



If you don’t know Mark’s comics, you’re missing out on some wonderful cartooning. I learned to recognize his work back in 1988, when his pencils, inks, and colors on a Martian Manhunter miniseries (scripted by J.M. DeMatteis) hipped me to his distinctive style: swooping, slashing, and bold, abstracted into modernistic pattern and pure vectors of force, taking lessons from Kirby and Picasso alike and wreaking havoc with superhero conventions. I followed him to later projects such as Batman: Run, Riddler, Run (1992, scripted by Gerard Jones) and Animal Rights Comics (1996, scripted by Joyce Brabner). His resume since then has been strange and awesome.

Mark is not only a terrific comics artist, but also a teacher and activist. His current projects, such as Just Draw, pull these threads together. His “Daily Kirby” exercises (a 3-year-long series of devotional studies to the King) have to be seen to be believed. Read more about Mark’s career here, and if you’re going to SVCC, look up Mark and tell him I said hello and thanks! Mark’s been one of the voices reminding me of just how important it is to keep up the dialogue between critics and artists–and his own recent work amounts to an amazing creative and critical encounter with Kirby’s work.