Monthly Archives: May 2010

Our Fighting Forces # 155

In 1943, Kirby fought in the Fifth Division, Third Army, commanded by General George S. Patton. As a combat Infantryman, Jack served in the Metz Campaign and earned two battle stars. Here are some powerful examples from Our Fighting Forces # 155 (1975) that capture the ferocity of warfare Jack witnessed firsthand. Inks by D. Bruce Berry. The first image is a scan of the original artwork (pgs. 2 – 3).

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Page 9, panel 2.

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Page 11, panel 2.

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Page 11, panel 3.

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Page 13, panel 1.

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Page 13, panel 2.

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Page 14, panel 1.

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Page 14, panel 2.

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Page 14, panel 3.

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Page 15, panel 3.

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Page 16, panel 1.

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Resort Romeo

I’ve been gathering a lot of new scans from Kirby fans, so I finally have some great examples of Simon/Kirby interiors. Here is some of the artwork to Young Romance # 85 (Dec 1956), a 6-page story called “Resort Romeo,” with pencils by Jack Kirby and inks by Joe Simon.
I’ll select what I think are some of the stronger individual panels that also give you the gist of the story. Here is the splash. Beautiful blond hanging out poolside. Probably what a lot of people are doing this Memorial Day weekend in the states.

Rita is getting over a bad relationship. As good-looking as she is, I don’t foresee her being single for long (pg. 2, panel 5).

Not surprisingly, it doesn’t take long for an attractive guy to approach. Plus Kirby and Simon only have 6 pages to find Rita a love-connection, so things happen fast (pg. 2, panel 6).
Page 3, panel 2. Girl meets boy.

Page 3, panel 3 – 4. Girl loses boy, or at least he inexplicably wanders off.
Bad news for Rita, it turns out the good looking guy has a flaw (page 4, panel 6).

Page 5, panel 1. Kirby shows he can draw pretty girls with the best of them.

Page 5, panel 2. A little sexual tension between these two, perhaps?
Rita and her Romeo don’t take long to get together again (pg. 5, panel 6). Looks like he’s checking her out with his fingers — something only a blind guy is going to get away with in a 50s romance comic book.

Page 6, panel 4.

Page 6, panel 5.

The End (pg. 6, panel 7).

Not a brilliant story by any stretch of the imagination — for example, how this blind guy is able to get around so easily is beyond me — but some gorgeous artwork from Kirby and Simon at the peak of their powers working in the romance genre during the mid-1950s.

Thanks to several members of the Kirby-l Discussion Forum for answering my question: Was Joe Simon the inker on this story? Kirby historian Stan Taylor thinks the inks might be by Kirby, while Kirby biographer Greg Theakston, and the author of the Kirby Kinetics Weblog Norris Burroughs think the inks are by Joe Simon.

Looking at examples of Kirby romance artwork on Harry Mendryk’s Simon and Kirby Weblog that list Kirby as the inker, I have to say I agree with Stan Taylor that these might be Kirby inks, especially page 3, panel 2, and page 5, panel 1. But I’m guessing because I haven’t seen a lot of Kirby/Simon artwork. Plus maybe this is another inker entirely or a mixture of inkers.

Simon/Kirby Historian Harry Mendryk has done extensive research on Simon and Kirby artwork. Harry put together a checklist of what he describes as Kirby’s austere inking (a style Jack adopted in the late 50′s) which is available on his Simon/Kirby Weblog at the Jack Kirby Museum website. Here is Harry’s comment on who inked Resort Romeo: For me, inking attributions take a little time
, time which is hard for me to spare right now. But I did take out my copy to have a quick look. Often it is easier to say who did not ink something than it is who did. My conclusion is I still do not think Resort Romeo was inked by Kirby.

One thing is for sure, I’m grateful that this weblog is giving me an excuse to look at so much great Kirby artwork, and my thanks to everyone who has sent me Kirby scans, answered my questions, and offered me feedback on the website.

Mighty Odin Himself

With all the hype surrounding the upcoming Thor flick, I’m sure I’ll be posting a lot of examples from Jack’s work on that title. Here is a terrific splash of Odin from Thor # 158 (1968), pg. 18, inks by Vince Colletta. Below that is a scan of the original art.
Tony Hopkins is playing Odin in the film scheduled for release next year. I wonder if he will wear giant headgear like Kirby’s character, and sport the long pointy mustache.
Taking a really close look at the original artwork, you can see that Odin’s armor is a slightly different color than the rest of the image — cream-colored as opposed to white. It looks like Colletta used white-out like paint to achieve the metallic sheen you see here on the arm and bottom of the glove.

Jack’s margin notes at the top of the page: “My eyes have seen mighty Odin himself.”

Fantastic Four # 14, page 12

One of the things I want to do on this website is examine some of Jack’s original artwork. I’m going to go into my files and pull up the first HQ page that comes up. This is from Fantastic Four # 14, page 12 (1963). Notice at the top, sides, and at the bottom of the page, you can see margin notes: pencil-written text outside the artwork. A lot of the notes were cut off of the artboard during production so many are incomplete.

I’ve seen hundreds of Kirby originals online from the late 1960s with Kirby margin notes, but I’m no handwriting expert so not 100% sure these are Kirby notes because they are so small; at an angle; and the style seems to shift between cursive and all-caps (Jack’s later margin notes are bigger, in all capital letters and written horizontally).

These might be early examples of Kirby margin notes, written hastily to give Lee some additional ideas and clarify Jack’s plot, but as I look at them closely, I wonder if they were written by Stan Lee — possibly when Jack first presented him with the art: Stan added notes to himself, or as he looked at Jack’s original artwork for the first time, he made some quick annotations for future reference.

Let’s go ahead and zoom into the artwork. Panel 1: a great example of early FF. By now, Jack had really established the look of the characters. Notice how you can still see Jack’s pencils for the Human Torch underneath Dick Ayers’s inks.
Maybe it was a cold winter day in NYC so the torch has his flame on, trying to keep his friends warm.

Panel 2. The Thing looks hilarious in his own little piece of the flying fantasti-car. The torch is still on fire even in the vehicle — guess the machine is flame-proof.
Nice work by both Jack and Dick giving you a modern New York skyline with an economy of linework. I love the shape of the building in the middle — it looks like an orange juice container.
Panel 3. The Thing lands in a parking lot, and gets yelled at. I’ll try and translate the tiny margin notes on the left side of the page. I think they say:

(1) “No airplanes!” (2) “Not plane” (3) “Car with wings.”

My guess is these were notes written by Stan Lee on Jack’s penciled artwork. When Jack dropped off a story in the early 1960s, he probably took a few minutes to go through the artwork with Lee. For something like this panel, Jack had a specific gag in mind, so in order to remember Jack’s idea, Lee may have made these quick notes while he and Jack flipped through the pile of finished artwork.
Panel 4. Take a close look at the Thing here.


Notice if you zoom into the Thing’s body, you can see dark, solid pencil-shading representing his rocky body, but Dick Ayers chooses to use parallel lines instead. We can see that Jack’s version of the Thing was more blocky and sharp-edged as opposed to the softer, rounder look Ayers gave the character.

Panel 5. Not sure what those margin notes say. I have no idea what that third word is.

“I can’t (?) you.” Maybe “I can’t lose you.”

Panel 6 and 7. Nice melodramatic spotlight on both characters in the first panel.
Let’s zoom into the margin notes.
My translation: “But if anything happens to you I’ll be alone — nobody to protect me.”

A closer look at the last panel. Beautiful delineation by Ayers here.
Notice the subtlety of Ayers’s inking on the eyes, and Jack’s pencils beneath the inks. It’s too bad Marvel doesn’t reprint material like this, shot from the original artwork — you really can see the symbiosis of penciler and inker at work here.

Thanks to Kirby Biographer Mark Evanier for answering my question: Were the margin notes on this page written by Kirby? Here is Mark’s response: No, they’re Stan Lee notes to someone else in the office…probably Sol Brodsky.

21st Century Archives

An item released in 1994 called the 21st Century Archives: Jack Kirby Comic Art Tribute Collector Cards. There were 50 cards in the set. Nice portrait of Jack looking like a movie star, and a few examples of the cards.

Avengers # 156 cover

The character walking through the wall in yesterday’s post reminded me of the Vision in one of my favorite Kirby covers from the 1970s. Avengers # 156 (1977). A scan of the original art is below it. Notice the box for the UPC barcode (with Jack’s signature inside) is smaller than in the published version, so there is a little bit of extra artwork at the bottom. Also the “Dr. Doom” blurb bottom-center is gone — maybe originally a paste-up that was removed by the owner of the artwork. But looking at the published cover closely, it looks like an extra inch was added at the bottom of the art, so maybe there is a stat somewhere that has the entire published image, including the blurb.

Here’s an image of Jack’s Vision almost 40 years earlier, from Marvel Mystery Comics #13 (Nov. 1940). Ironic that the only reason Kirby revisited the character was because he was assigned to do the 70s Avengers covers.

Chamber of Darkness # 5

Marvel cranked out all sorts of monster comics in the 1970s featuring 60s Kirby reprints, but here is an example of an all-new story from June of 1970. Cover is by Kirby and Bill Everett. I wonder if Jack wrote the “Tales to Blast Your Brain!” caption.


Pages 1, 3, and 6 from the story with inks credited to John Verpoorten, but I wonder if Everett worked on this. One of the rare examples from Kirby’s first stint at Marvel where Lee allowed Jack a “Writer” credit.

It looks like the figure in silhouette from panel 3 of this page was also used on the splash page. Since the image would have been cut off half-way up the legs, maybe that explains the odd, curving peg-legs on the character in the splash.
The plane crash at the beginning of the story reminds me of the TV series Lost which recently aired it’s final episode. Also the bald-headed character in panel two above looks a little like the character Locke from that show.

1937

A few examples of Jack’s earliest comic book work, from a pamphlet called “The Romance of Money,” published in 1937. Looks like Jack had to do some homework for this material — maybe he consulted an encyclopedia at a local library.