Awesome Kirby/Sinnott cover for FF # 60 (Mar 1967).
4 pages of artwork from Jack’s story. Remember, I mentioned Greg Theakson published a very blurry Lee “plot” where Lee told Jack to have Doc Doom want the Surfer’s board? Notice that “plot” covered 3 entire issues of story, and for all we know that element of the story may have been Jack’s idea. Lame scans again for this issue, but beggars can’t be choosers, and obviously you all can buy a nice used copy of the Essentials books to see this stuff in glorious black and white. Just make sure you buy the books used — help out some small eBay business, I think Disney-Marvel has enough money.
4 pages from FF # 59 (Feb 1967). Sorry about the poor scans, this is a ghetto operation. 🙂
Obviously I wish I could give you really HQ scans so you could really appreciate the quality of this artwork, but this is the best I have in my files, and my guess is many of you have these books on your shelves anyway. Hopefully the quality of the scans will improve as we go along. If anyone has betters scans of this stuff, please consider sending them in so I can share them here.
Here’s a better scan of the spalsh I found online:
4 pages from FF # 58 (Jan 1967). This book is totally packed with classic Kirby action. Every panel explodes off the page.
4 pages from FF # 57 (Dec 1966). Not very good scans in my files — such was the nature of exchanging comics scans back in 2005-or-so when I got the bulk of my Kirby scans from other collectors — but this still should give you a nice taste of the terrific art in this classic story.
Greg Theakson has Lee’s “plot” for this story in his Jack Magic Volume 2. It’s literally one sentence that says something like “Doc Doom wants to take Silver Surfer’s board” which meant that other than that detail, Jack probably had to come up with every single other story element in that book. Can anyone out there imagine working with an artist and not making it crystal clear in the credits that the artist came up with 99% of the story? Plus Jack may have told Lee that was his plan for FF # 57 and that Lee typewritten “plot” was just part of the editorial process — a one page piece of paper that discussed what Jack was doing that month. Maybe Greg will let me post that synopsis here. The image in his book is really hazy, I can barely read it. Can’t imagine what happened there — not sure if there was an error in publication or Greg might have used a really low resolution scan.
I know a lot of you think I’m way too harsh on Stan Lee, but I can’t help but seriously question that guy’s integrity. Stan’s compromise to start using “Produced by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby” in no way shape or form suggests the real division of labor in the Kirby/Lee relationship. Jack Kirby wrote and illustrated this story. Lee added the text based on Jack’s illustrated story and Jack’s margin notes. If Lee did tell Jack to have Doc Doom want Silver Surfer’s surfboard? That ain’t a plot — that’s an editor handing out a job assignment. If I told Charles Chaplin to do a story about a tramp running around with a dog, should A Dog’s Life say “Produced by Rob Steibel and Charles Chaplin?” Gimmie a @#$%ing break.
Here’s a gag I did on the subject — the credits for the Chaplin film if Lee had been able to get his greedy paws on it:
If at the end of his life Jack hadn’t finally cracked and started to speak out about the authorship subject, even with the evidence in the margin notes, comics scholars and fans might still wrongly assume FF # 57 was a Stan Lee story.
WAP! Spectacular Kirby action panel.
4 pages from FF # 56 (Nov 1966).
This was the oldest published FF book I owned as a kid that wasn’t a reprint, so I have really fond memories of this issue. I just loved the art in this story — it looked so much better than the art in the MGC reprints in terms of the wealth of details you could see. My copy was all beat to hell, which is how I got it at a reasonable price, and I’m sure I abused it even more marveling at the art many times over. Owning something like this book was like having a little treasure as a 14-year-old because I knew how valuable books like that were in mint condition. Unlike modern collectors, I had no interest in owning a comic as an asset, I just wanted to read the things, or more specifically look at the great artwork.
4 pages from FF # 55 (Oct 1966). Another Kirby classic. I’m sure many of you saw this story for the first time in one of Stan Lee’s “Origins” books. Like you, I assumed Lee wrote this story, but now we know he had nothing to do with it other than maybe telling Jack to bring back Silver Surfer. Clearly this is a great example of a pure Kirby action story, with Jack’s editor Lee adding text to Jack’s imagery. Remarkable attention to detail in page 18 panel 1 — phenomenal job by Jack and Joe.
4 pages from FF # 54 (Sep 1966). The scans in my files for this book aren’t that great, but you can still see just from these examples, there is some remarkable artwork in this story.
Four pages from FF # 53 (Aug 1966).
FF 52, page 4, panel 1. Sinnott inks every detail from the dirt on the ground to the mountain in the background. Note the variety of the umbrellas, architecture and costumes. Wonderful line variety to suggest different textures. Images like this had to require extra time on Joe Sinnott’s part, and although he didn’t get paid any extra for that extra work, clearly Joe’s sense of artistic integrity and his passion for quality craftsmanship inspired him to ink every penciled line Jack laid down to the best of his ability.
The cover from FF # 52 (Jul 1966). Again, look at the technical precision of Sinnott’s inks on the Kirby tech in the background of this cover. Wonderful.
In the last handful of FF books, Jack had already created the Inhumans, then Galactus and Silver Surfer, next Wyatt Wingfoot and now… Black Panther. New characters were just pouring out of Jack’s imagination at this point. Here are a few pages from that book, scans from the original published book. Click on the artwork to zoom in and you can see the little details in the art.
FF # 51 (Jun 1966). Many people consider this the best single issue out of Kirby’s entire FF run. It is a pretty remarkable little story. Classic Kirby contraptions; sub-space/the negative zone; a bad guy undergoing a life changing psychological transformation, and making the ultimate sacrifice. Plus you have the great character interactions — the fight between Reed and Ben, Sue almost losing her husband while she stands by helplessly, somehow Jack even manages to squeeze in the Torch at college meeting Wyatt Wingfoot for the first time (a character I’m sure Stan Lee would claim to have created alone if you asked him because he decided to invent the first native American superhero). We even have a great Kirby collage thrown in.
One thing is for sure, after the Galactus Trilogy to come up with such a simple 20-page comic book masterpiece — you gotta be impressed with that Kirby guy. At this point he was in his mid-40s and there’s no doubt that he was at the top of his game — in 1966 Jack Kirby had to be unarguably by far the best writer/artist in comics (although as we’ve discussed at length here, Stan Lee refused to acknowledge Jack’s story contributions by giving Jack a writer credit on the books, or a writer paycheck).
Sinnott once again does a tremendous job on this story — Look at that page 9 splash for example, every single line is inked to perfection. One of the reasons Jack’s machinery in FF — his depiction of technology (what many call Kirby Tech) — is so remarkable is because of Joe’s technical precision embellishing Jacks technical contraptions. The best engineer or technical illustrator could not have done a better job. And Joe’s level of quality is just as high every single issue of this series (and to this day, Joe still maintains the highest level of craftsmanship).
Here’s just a few iconic pages from this story. These scans are from the published book.