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February 13, 2014


Bart Beaty

I think that you definitely approached this one the right way.

I taught Essential FF volume 1 on one occasion and it was just an absolute disaster. The next time I went with just the Galactus Trilogy, and it was only marginally better. Then I gave up and switched to Batman...

I find teaching Kirby is similar to teaching Citizen Kane in Film Studies. So much of what made Kane brilliant has become so standard in filmmaking that it looks completely unremarkable to the eyes of a twenty year old. To understand the impact of Kirby the students would need to be thoroughly immersed in the superhero aesthetics that predated his work. Similarly, I find that today's students can't understand how The Simpsons was radical in its tone, since it has always been on the air while they've been alive - as an afterschool show. Radical transitions only make sense when you are immersed in the old paradigm.


I think my class benefited from coming to Kirby just a couple weeks after looking at Siegel/Shuster, Kane/Finger/Robinson, and Marston/Peter--not a thorough immersion, but enough of one to get a sense of what Lee and Kirby were contributing. They didn't have to stand in for a whole genre and we could look at what made them revolutionary in their time.

It also helped that I overprepared for negative reactions. I spent a lot of time prepping on production methods because I figured that the students or I wouldn't have much to say about the content (happily, this turned out not to be the case). Definitely benefited from following a well-blazed trail on this one--I could avoid all the clearly marked pitfalls.

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