I visited the Gallery Show “Comic Book Apocalypse: The Graphic World of Jack Kirby at California State University, Northridge this weekend. It was my first time back on campus since I graduated with my BS degree back in 1985 and it was a great homecoming, highly recommended for any fan of Jack Kirby who can possibly make it to the Los Angeles area before the show closes on October 10th.
The Gallery is open Monday thru Saturday noon to 4pm, and Thursday noon to 8pm. The day I went they had a special reception from 4 to 7pm. I got there a bit before 3pm and it was fairly uncrowded, which gave great access to the exhibits. Around 4pm when the reception began it started to get much more crowed, not overwhelmingly so, but there were quite a few people as you can see from the picture at the top of the Blog.
All in all, in the 3 rooms devoted to the exhibit, there were over 100 pages of Jack Kirby Original art, including 17 double page spreads several larger works, and a number of photos and comics. This is billed as the largest exhibit of Kirby art to date and I have to believe it, it was quite impressive. While I won’t put pictures of everything in this Blog, I’ll try to post a representative set. Let’s start in the main room, which included the large image of Orion shown above. You should be able to click on any of the smaller images in the Blog to see larger versions.
This room had examples from the Fantastic Four, Kirby’s Fourth World, and Kirby’;s Collages, as well as several display cases containing Classic Kirby comics, photos, and a few additional pieces of art:
There were quite a few pages from Fantastic Four #45, featuring the Inhumans. The FF are my personal favorite example of Kirby’s work, so I really had a great time looking at these pages, here are 2 of my favorites:
Kirby’s version of the Inhumans remains my favorite, though they’re been redesigned for modern readers.
And an awesome double-page spread from Mister Miracle that exemplifies Kirby’s Fourth World:
When I was a kid reading Kirby’s Captain America and Black Panther off the rack in 1976-77 I have to admit that I didn’t like it one bit. It was such a departure from what I had been seeing in Cap’s own book and the Avengers that it really offended my teenage sensibilities. I came to appreciate it in later years, especially after getting more into the FF via reprints and his Fourth World stuff at DC when I started picking those up as back issues.
There were also some great example of Jack’s pre-Marvel work with Joe Simon:
As well as a page featuring of my favorite Marvel Western heroes (who pre-dates the super-heroes), the Rawhide Kid:
This was quite a surprise to me: A comic strip Jack did that was inked by none other than Wally Wood! Sky Masters of the Space Force:
The second room of the exhibit has the original art to the entire issue of Kamandi #14, loaned from the collection of Image founder Erik Larsen!
My wife read the entire issue (and she never reads comics) and really enjoyed it. She said she never thought she could feel bad for a bug before she read Klik-Klak’s final fate.
Entering the third and final room of the exhibit I was treated to a pencil piece that was my favorite from the entire exhibit. An unused Thor cover:
This room also held the complete art to Thor #155. There is a placard talking about Vince Colletta’s inking on Thor, explaining his tendency to simplify work while inking and entreating visitors to compare the inked pages to the Kamandi pages inked by Mike Royer or the FF pages inked by Joe Sinnott.
Reading the issue, my wife declared that she didn’t much care for Stan Lee’s pseudo-Shakespearian prose, much preferring Kirby’s own writing on Kamandi. Personally, I have a soft spot for Stan’s purple prose: “Where goes the God of Thunder, there must he go alone!” I love it!! But it’s certainly not everyone’s cup of tea! (NOTE: I’m a fan who loves BOTH Kirby and Lee. I don’t think you have to vilify Stan in order to sing Jack’s praises.)
We also got treated to pages from 2001: A Space Odyssey (with a definite Fourth World feel), The Eternals, Devil Dinosaur, and OMAC.
I loved the page of pencils shown here:
On my own personal walking path through the exhibit, this led to my “final wall” of the exhibit:
My personal highlights on this wall were pages from the Demon, Tales of Suspense and Captain America.
As I said at the top of this Blog, there are over 100 pages of original art and numerous other artifacts on display, I’ve only scratched the surface here, but hopefully I’ve given enough of a taste so that any Kirby fans who can reasonably make it to the San Fernando Valley north of Los Angeles before October 10th will be beating a path to this fabulous exhibit. Visit the web-page for the CSUN Art Gallery for more info and get out to the Gallery!!
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