Marvel Comics lovers assemble! California State University, Northridge’s Delmar T. Oviatt Library staff have flexed their own artistic superpowers this fall by busting out Jack Kirby @ 100: A Centennial Exhibit in the library’s Music and Media wing. The exhibit honors Marvel Comics art creator Jack Kirby, who would have turned 100 this year on Aug. 28, and runs through Oct. 1. The Music and Media wing is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily and on weekends.
The exhibition is a part of Comics@CSUN — an initiative started in 2015 by English and comics professor Charles Hatfield as a response to the surge in interest in comic studies and teaching across campus. Hatfield, who founded the course English 333: Comics and Graphic Novels in 2005, said he wanted to bring comics culture to the campus, and Comics@CSUN, a partnership among faculty from several departments, is the result.
The new exhibit in the Oviatt Library is Hatfield’s second Kirby tribute. In 2015, he curated the tremendously popular Comic Book Apocalypse: The Graphic World of Jack Kirby at the CSUN Art Galleries.
“The door was opened to do this exhibit because of the success from the first one,” Hatfield said. “I spent most of the month of August preparing for [this year’s] exhibit.” In it, Hatfield introduced Kirby works that are not well known to the general public, such as his romance comics from the 1940s.
“I was able to gather a lot of pre-1955 work [before comics self-censorship laws came into effect, also known as pre-Code] from Kirby,” he said. “We have two pre-Code romance comics that have not been featured yet. One is a very early issue of Young Romance. We also have two stories from Kirby’s personal collection of The Boy Commandos.
“We have historic Kirby works from the ’40s and ’50s,” Hatfield continued. “Some of the work is from when we had the exhibit two years ago, but several are different. It’s not often you get to read comics from the 1930s or ’40s in their original condition.”
The Kirby exhibition gives students, staff, faculty and members of the community a chance to learn more about comics culture and have a better understanding of how comics came to be, Hatfield said.
“I wanted CSUN to be in the center of the comics studies movement, and to encourage the study of Jack Kirby and other creators,” Hatfield said. “I want to show people the versatility and energy Kirby had as an artist, and hope the CSUN community can learn from that.”
Hatfield launched the event with a panel with comics creators Mark Badger and Tony Puryear on Aug. 28 — the first Monday of the fall semester and Kirby’s birthday.
“They are both great comic artists and steeped in the works of Kirby,” he said of Badger and Puryear. “I wanted to showcase two unique creators who took a left-field, very personal approach to producing comic work.”
Jack Kirby @ 100 is sponsored by the Oviatt Library, Department of English, College of Humanities, English Alumni Association, Comics@CSUN Initiative, and the Jack Kirby Museum & Research Center.
Comics@CSUN aims to organize two comic-related events on campus every year, Hatfield said. A conference is planned for Spring 2018 at the University Student Union.
For more information about the exhibit, please click here. To learn more about the Comics@CSUN Initiative, contact Charles.Hatfield@CSUN.edu.