Re: Kirby Crackle

Re: Kirby Crackle

Here’s a link to a posting from the Kirby Museum on Kirby crackle: Kirby Krackle. The post discusses Harry Mendryk’s article on Jack’s “Krackle:”

Evolution of Kirby Krackle
Posted on September 3, 2011 by Harry Mendryk

I think Harry’s article on the “Kirby Krackle” is a nice “Part One” to the story, but I think the prototypical Kirby crackle that’s become so famous — using geometric circles to depict energy and the cosmos — started to appear in the 1960s. Joe Sinnott deserves a lot of the credit for achieving the classic Kirby crackle effect because of his exceptional craftsmanship and his decision to delineate all of Jack’s black splotches as perfect circles. I bet Jack heard the buzz surrounding the Kirby/Sinnott collaboration, he looked at some of the Sinnott-inked books, and I suspect because of the remarkable effect Joe was able to achieve Jack started using the “crackle” effect more and more in all of his books.

Eventually Jack used crackle for everything: here are examples where the crackle effect is used to depict churning water and impact explosions. From Fantastic Four # 95. It’s also interesting to see how the crackle can be seen as a visual extension of the four-color process — out of the perfect rows of dots that give a comic book it’s color, Jack’s crackle seems to pour out of the panels like energy that charges the printed pages with life.

By the 1970s, crackle was an integral part of every Kirby book, and inkers like Mike Royer — who were influenced by Joe Sinnott’s inks on Jack — worked hard very hard to maintain that high level of craftsmanship on the crackle, carefully making each circle perfectly cylindrical, so there was an almost mathematical precision in the undulating streams of flowing Kirby cosmic crackle that we can see for ourselves in the universe.

Here’s a page inked by Mike Royer from 2001: A Space Odyssey # 6.

I discussed Harry’s article here:

Kirby Crackle
Posted on September 5, 2011 by Rob Steibel

In my opinion, these are the four phases in the development of Jack’s crackle:

Phase One: Kirby/Simon Studio Smolder: Jack used circular and semi-circular shapes to depict backgrounds and energy, inked in different ways by the various Simon/Kirby staff-inkers producing various prototype crackle effects.

Phase Two: Kirby Smolder-Crackle: This is a transition from the smolder of the Simon/Kirby days of the 40s/50s to Jack’s distinctive 1960s/70s crackle. Jack was inking his own work in the late 1950s and he started to make these circular pencil shapes symbolizing energy more geometric.

Phase Three: Kirby/Sinnott Non-Geometric Crackle: Sinnott begins to make these swirling circular shapes into black polka dots, but they aren’t all perfect geometric circles yet and there are no white dots to provide contrast.

Phase Four: Pure Kirby/Sinnott Crackle: Joe makes each circle geometric, and carefully inks the open circles, providing stunning contrast between blacks and whites. Jack sees this effect works wonderfully well and he starts using it more and more in the mid-1960s. Jack continued to experiment with crackle throughout his career.

Here’s a great example of Kirby/Sinnott crackle from the Silver Surfer Graphic Novel (1978), pages 112 and 113.

You can see how Sinnott’s careful delineation of each circle charges the entire piece with energy. Sinnott also did a tremendous job inking all of Jack’s speed lines on those little cosmic bursts, and Joe would carefully add shadows to many of the smaller planets in the illustration — all of this combining to create the unique Kirby crackle effect that has become so famous.