I believe I’ve heard several comics scholars say over the years Kirby worked about 3 months ahead of schedule, so that means he probably would have illustrated Fantastic Four # 1 over an approximately 2 week period in May of 1961?
If anyone out there knows for sure if that was how long between the illustration phase and publication please on Jack’s 60s Marvel books let me know. Dick Ayers records would probably be one of the best ways to check this out. If no one has ever discussed this with him in the past, maybe I’ll email him and ask if he has that type of information for his FF run with Jack.
Years ago, I read that Marvel had a pretty extensive file put together in the 1980s in case Jack decided to sue. I wonder if that file still exists and I wonder if they would have documents such as the records for when art was completed or records of when art that was mailed in was received? I’m pretty sure it’s been discussed before, but it would be interesting to compare what was happening in the world in a particular month to what Jack ended up putting in his comics.
Here’s a link to wikipedia’s entry for “May 1961” where you can see some of the things that were going on in that month that Jack might have been watching on television in his dungeon as he took about 2 weeks to illustrate the first issue of Fantastic Four # 1. Clearly space travel was a big news topic at that time.
Here are a couple news items related to space travel:
May 5, 1961 (Friday)
Mercury program: At 9:34 am, Alan Shepard became the first American in space as Mercury-Redstone 3 lifted off from Cape Canaveral. Shepard’s rocket reached an altitude of 115 miles without achieving orbit, and was recovered 19 minutes later by the aircraft carrier USS Lake Champlain.
NASA issued a proposal document to use Scout rockets to launch small satellites that would evaluate the worldwide Mercury Tracking Network in preparation for manned orbital missions.
May 9. 1961 (Tuesday)
The second launch of the sounding rocket RM-89 Blue Scout I took place at Cape Canaveral, but the 72 foot tall missile wobbled and veered off course. Ground control destroyed the errant vehicle.
May 19, 1961 (Friday)
Venera program: Venera 1 became the first man-made object to make a “fly-by” of another planet by passing Venus. The Soviet launched probe had lost contact with Earth a month earlier, however, and did not send back any data.
May 25, 1961 (Thursday)
Apollo program: Addressing a joint session of the Congress, American President John F. Kennedy declared “I believe this nation should commit itself, to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the Moon and returning him safely to the earth.”  Congress responded with increased funding for the program, and Apollo 11 landed on the Moon, with 164 days left in the 1960s, on July 20, 1969.