Thanks to Greg Theakston and Rand Hoppe for posting the footage of Jack drawing Dr. Doom on YouTube. I hope this finally debunks the myth that Jack always started at the top of the page in the top-left hand corner and illustrated the image almost like a computer printer or an etch-a-sketch going mechanically from left-to-right ending the illustration in the bottom right-hand corner.
I’ve heard this myth passed around many times as an example of Jack having some kind of abnormal savant-like approach to art, but as you can see here, Jack drew like pretty much everybody else, he started with a sketch, and fleshed out the image
Of course, it wouldn’t surprise me if later in life Jack did use the mechanical left-to-right method to save time or because of potential health issues that changed the way he composed images – and he was right-handed so naturally he probably worked left-to-right – but based on all the scraped-on graphite you see on the backs of virtually every Kirby original I’ve examined, I’ve speculated for several years now that Kirby actually moved the page around on the drawing board quite a bit, and that is why you see so much graphite residue scraped on the back of his original artwork. As you can see in the video, that’s what he’s doing.
For example, just choosing a random page from Tom Kraft’s whatifkirby.com website, here is the back of Devil Dinosaur # 4, page 1. You can see a lot of pencil graphite on the back of the art which suggests to me the artboard wasn’t taped to the drawing table, but was loose so Jack could move it around to fill in the details as he does in the video, resulting in all the scraped-on graphite rsidue you can see below. Also, the front of this page is a splash (a single image with a title), I’ve seen much more graphite on interior pages with several panels.
The video is low-quality but here are a few screen-caps.
I hope this video also shatters the myth that Jack was cranking this stuff out in no-time. It took Jack almost 20 + minutes just to do a face and a mask with no background detail. Jack was fast, but it still took him a solid 8 – 10 hours to draw 3 pages, and although prolific compared to many modern artists who only do a page a day, you can still see Jack had to invest substantial time at the drawing board creating an image that he was satisfied with.
I think I’ve seen the uninked-pencils for this image before, but I’m not certain. I couldn’t find a high quality scan of the version inked by Greg Theakston, but here is a pretty good scan of a commission piece by Mike Royer. Funny, I did a Google search for “Kirby Dr. Doom scar” and came up with this image. The source? My old Kirby Dynamics blogspot site.