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2020.09.03

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The original Frédéric Coché quote to which I refer, in French, is: “ Si on lit de la poésie comme un roman policier, on trouvera forcément la poésie décevante...”

See: http://www.fremok.org/site.php?type=P&id=141

I found the point that Tucker and Matt converged to with regards to the nature of available criticism on Jack Kirby's comics work pretty interesting. Specifically, the idea that, despite Kirby's renown, there is still a dearth of criticism that addresses his art directly and closely instead of attending to issues that spiral out of "the Kirby story" (creator-for-hire exploitation, disparity between brand ubiquity and artist recognition, concepts being read as pieces of subsequent supe-opera continuity instead of facets of the expression of their creator etc.).

Having said that, I think that Charles Hatfield's 2012 "Hand of Fire" book from University Press of Mississippi is one (lone) example of writing that fits the bill of what Matt was calling for, albeit not published within the sphere where it could hit a large audience or be printed with lavish "art book" production values. It includes close readings of examples of Kirby's art across time, addressing both its graphic and narrative qualities, as well as a discussion of Kirby's concepts and contributions to some of the genres he worked in. It's by no means exhaustive but I think it makes a good contribution to filling in the gap in thoughtful and focused analysis of Kirby that was raised as a problem in this episode.

I'm curious: have any of you guys read the Hatfield book on Kirby? If so, what'd you make of it?

I've been wanting to read that book since it came out, but not bad enough to proactively track down a copy. I remember enjoying some of what was written in TCJ's roundtable about it (and thinking some of it was also total nonsense). Hatfield is a good critic and it doesn't surprise me to hear his book is a worthwhile one. I can think of way worse people to bear the weight of being the only legitimately critical commentator on Kirby in the bookstore market. Now if only I could find a copy....

I do have a fondness for that book and its attempts to grapple with Kirby's work outside of what have become the more standard methods of engaging with him. It's also got a little more style to it than most of the university press comics books that are released, although it's not exempt from criticism on that front either. I think that it would be a great book to return to after Matt has had a chance to read it--I wish I had brought it up on the episode, but i tend to black out all academic writing about comics.

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