The 249th meeting of the NY Comics & Picture-story Symposium will be held on Tuesday,  Sept. 3, 2019 at 7pm at Parsons School of Design, University Center, 63 Fifth Avenue, room UL 105 (lower level). Free and open to the public.

James Romberger’s FOR REAL

James Romberger will discuss For Real #1, his new comic book from Uncivilized Books which contains “The Oven,” a short story that melds two battles fought in different eras by the great cartoonist Jack Kirby and touches on themes of PTSD, graphic medicine, courage and empathy; and “The Real Thing,” an accompanying essay by James that elaborates on those issues in relation to Kirby’s biography.

Jack Kirby was the most prolific American comic book creator of the 20th century. He produced Captain America and countless other iconic heroes in the “Golden Age of Comics” in the 1940s and 1950s and with his partner Joe Simon, initiated romance comics; he generated the concepts and characters of Marvel Comics for editor/copywriter Stan Lee in the 1960s; and he was the auteur of his masterpiece, the multi-title “4th World” New Gods series for DC Comics in the 1970s. In the 1980s he initiated comics’ “direct market” system with his independent title Captain Victory. The top-grossing blockbuster films of today are largely inspired by his efforts. But he is also known for making personal statements in the latter part of his long career, making comics that reflect his experiences growing up in the impoverished Lower East Side of NYC and as a footsoldier in WW2.

“The Oven” is a fictionalized amalgam of two little-discussed and largely undocumented parts of Kirby’s life, a harrowing encounter with Nazis and his treatment for cancer; but this is not meant to only appeal to Kirby’s fans; rather, it resonates with many areas of current and relevant interest to readers, critics and scholars of the comics art form. The accompanying essay clarifies aspects of the story and contextualizes them with the reality of Kirby’s experiences. The title For Real is the first issue of what will be a continuing anthology title, to be edited by Romberger and published regularly by Uncivilized Books.

James Romberger’s pastel drawings are in many private and public collections including those of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Harvard Business School and the Library of Congress. He was the co-director with Marguerite Van Cook of the seminal 1980s East Village installation gallery Ground Zero. He is the Eisner-nominated cartoonist of Post York and co-author of the graphic novels 7 Miles a Second, The Late Child and Other Animals, Bronx Kill and Aaron and Ahmed. He has written about comics, film and art for Publisher’s WeeklyComics JournalThe Beat, LAABStudy Group Magazine and Hooded Utilitarian. His most recent book is the critical study Steranko: The Self-Created Man. He teaches art at Parsons and Marywood University. 

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