On this past Monday’s Labor Day edition of “The Freak Power Ticket” (Sept. 7), producer / host Ted Coe interviewed California State University, Northridge (CSUN) Professor Charles Hatfield, a scholar and exhibition curator well versed in the Pop Art influence of Jack Kirby, the illustrator who co-created most of the foundational characters of the so-called “Marvel Universe” — Captain America, Iron Man, The Hulk, Mighty Thor, The X-Men, The Avengers, Fantastic Four, Black Panther, Silver Surfer, and many more.
Jack “King” Kirby’s innovative visual style later lead to a memorable comic-book adaptation of the Stanley Kubrick film 2001: A Space Odyssey, and a number of other star-spanning science-fiction and fantasy tales. He has been called “the William Blake of comics.”
An edited podcast of Coe’s conversation with Hatfield (and snippets of related music and other audio selections) is available online below (streaming or download).
Hatfield is curator of the largest public display of Kirby’s art, Comic Book Apocalypse: The Graphic World of Jack Kirby, which recently opened at the CSUN’s Main Art Gallery. Kirby’s artistic career spanned more than fifty years, but the exhibit focuses primarily on its latter half. While the exhibition runs through October 10th, there’ll also be a CSUN panel discussion about Kirby on Saturday, September 26th.
The panel will feature comments by Hatfield and four other special guests:
- Doug Harvey, former longtime art critic for the LA Weekly, curator, and artist. He will offer a fine-arts perspective on Kirby.
- Steve Roden, “a wonderful all-around LA artist: painter, sound artist, maker of installations, and cool things,” says Hatfield. “Big Kirby fan. Lover of Jack’s collages particularly.”
- Scott Bukatman of Stanford University: a cultural theorist, film critic, another lover of the Kirby Kollages. Bukatman is author of Matters of Gravity, The Poetics of Slumberland, the BFI Film Classics book on Blade Runner, and the forthcoming Hellboy’s World.
- Ben Saunders, a colleague of Hatfield, who calls him “a scholar of everything from Renaissance literature to rock ‘n’ roll to comics, and founder of the University of Oregon’s Comics & Cartoon Studies minor–the US’s first liberal arts undergrad degree program in comics studies.”
Harvey and Bukatman are both contributors to the forthcoming exhibition catalog, while Saunders is co-editor with Professor Hatfield.
Charles Hatfield is a CSUN Professor of English who specializes in popular culture, media studies, word / image studies, children’s culture—and comic books. He has published widely in comics studies, teaches the popular CSUN elective class Comics & Graphic Novels, and is curator of the Comic Book Apocalypse exhibition.
“The Freak Power Ticket” airs on Mondays during the summer from 11am-1pm PDT.