Four pages from the second Giacoia fill-in issue.
This is the first Marvel’s Greates Comics FF reprint I remember for sure buying from the local 7-11 in the late 1970s. MGC # 76 (Mar 1978). I loved the artwork in this story.
I believe Joe Sinnott owns the original art of the page where the Thing is holding up that building. Classic example of Kirby’s great sense of slapstick humor there, then Joe’s attention to detail makes that image so special. That close-up of the Human Torch is so memorable. Maybe a little melodramatic considering you’d have to think the Torch and Crystal would get together again, but it’s a really powerful image of a young man dealing with loss — the shadows age his face a hundred years. I don’t recall ever seeing a full page image like that in a comic before or since, especially in a Marvel superhero reprint comic. This was still powerful stuff to a kid in the 70s. In my opinion, Jack’s 60s reprint-work was a hellava lot more dynamic then most (if not all) of the new comics being cranked out in 1978. I was blown away by that page 18 action sequence as well — great example of how an entire Kirby page as a whole can pack a wallop.
Since we took a break from the Kirby/Sinnott FF run yesterday, let’s step in our time machine and look at important book that we didn’t touch on — FF Annual # 5 (Nov 1967). I actually like the art in this book quite a bit. Maybe Giacoia was a little rushed on FF # 92, or maybe it’s all of the new characters and concepts in FF Annual # 5 that give us lots of eye-candy.
Since these scans are awful, here are 8 pages from the 48-page book. I included some of the pages where Sue announces she’s pregnant and the joy the characters feel. Remarkable contrast between this Annual in Novemeber 1967 and the work Jack is producing after the baby is born — this book overflows with new concepts, compositions, and new creations.
Jack’s books in this period remind me of the famous stateroom scene in the Marx Brothers A Night at the Opera, the new ideas and cast of characters are just overflowing out of the pages to the point of absurdity.
I decided to go ahead and show some pages from the next FF books in this run even though they are non-Sinnott issues to give you some idea of the contrast between Sinnott and Giacoia.
I enjoyed Frank’s work on Jack’s 70s Captain America a lot, but boy, was Sinnott a hard act to follow on FF, and because of that as a kid, and even now, I’m not a huge fan of these Giacoia fill-in issues. Frank does a workmanlike job, but the inks are pretty rugged, they lack Sinnott’s perfectionism and balance. Especially that Torch on the splash. Compare that to the Kirby/Sinnott Torch splash I posted a few days ago. Really no comparison, but I don’t want to be unfair to Frank, many acknowledge Sinnott to be the best comics inker of all time, so nobody can fill those shoes. Cover and art are by Kirby/Giacoia from FF # 93 (Dec 1969).
Re-looking at this stuff again, it’s really not that bad. I guess I’m just a huge fan of Kirby/Sinnott, so as a kid, and now, the Giacoia fill-in books were disappointing, but I give Giacoia credit for doing his best, something I don’t think we see on the Colletta Thor books.
I recall reading an article in the Jack Kirby Collector years ago where I think the author talked about how this Skrull/mob story is similar to the famous Star Trek episode “A Piece of the Action” first broadcast on January 12, 1968.
I don’t think that TJKC article is online, Rand if you are out there, maybe ask John Morrow if you can post that article on the Museum site.
Here’s a fun article that touches on FF/Star Trek:
This Skrull storyline also has elements from “Bread and Circuses” broadcast on March 15, 1968.
I’m sure this has been discussed much in the past by comics experts so although I may be wrong about this here’s why I think Jack swiped concepts from Star Trek for this Skrull plotline in the same way he swiped concepts The Prisoner with the Dr. Doom story. As I mentioned a few days ago, I think Jack may have been sending Stan Lee a message: “no new characters or new, original, innovative plots until you and Goodman give me the fair deal you promised me.”
Yeah, I do think Jack probably did enjoy the Star Trek show, and clearly Jack could use any plot from the history of fiction as a springboard to tell his own story (and he often did), but more specifically whether he was sending Lee a message or not around this time, I don’t think Jack’s heart was in the FF series any more. I think he was faced with the very real realization that he was going to lose FF (and all his Marvel creations) — so not only was he receiving 0% of the credit for writing the stories at the time… one day he would have 0% input into future stories featuring his creations; he would have 0% ownership of the properties; and because he saw Lee touring the country and spewing forth his propaganda, Jack realized the day might come where he received 0% of the credit for even creating the characters (and that did happen for a time). I think Jack poured his heart and soul into his work at Marvel in the 1960s — so that must have been a tough pill to swallow.
I suspect swiping concepts from Star Trek and riffing on them may be, psychologically, how Jack dealt with the stalemate between he and Goodman/Lee. Jack still gave 100% to the artwork in these books, but in terms of the plotlines and new creations — he was done. Unless Goodman/Lee treated him like a human being and tried to reach some kind of deal with him where he was rewarded for his 10 years of service to the company, he was putting a cork in his overflowing bottle of ideas. Maybe this method of borrowing popular TV show plotlines was Jack’s best way of still putting out a quality product while trying not to give Lee new storylines that clearly Lee intended to take 100% of the credit for writing.
I do think the late Kirby FF books are fun, I love the artwork, and there are plenty of iconic images throughout, but I don’t think we’re seeing Kirby unleashed here… this is Kirby leashed. And lets face it, despite the lunatic fringe of Kirby haters out there who will bash Jack and claim he quit on sweet ol’ Stan and gave Lee a half-hearted effort here, I’m sure many of you today give 100% to certain aspects of your job, but if you are being treated unfairly — I think most people adapt a little and try to figure out a way to still give 100% in terms of their physical work, but not 100% in terms of their soul.
And it is interesting to note that like in The Prisoner storyline where the FF are captives, the title of this story is “The Thing Enslaved.”
Since the scans are poor, here are 6 pages from FF # 91. The published book looks fantastic so this just scratches the surface. It’s freewheeling late 60s comics…
I’d call this a transitional story where the Mole Man thread is wrapped up, then you segue into the Skrull storyline which shifts into gear in the next issue. So, again, very little action in this book. Lots of standing around and chit chat, but in my opinion, nobody could draw people standing around better than Jack Kirby and Joe Sinnott. 🙂 I still absolutely love the art in these books.
Since the scans are muddy, here’s 6 pages. I think page 18 must not have been in the Marvel’s Greatest Comcis reprint I bought as a kid, so this is the first time I’m seeing that page. Cool! Gotta love seeing a Kirby/Sinnott FF page for the first time…
This is an example of an FF book where the original, published story from August 1969 is gorgeous. As a kid in the 70s buying comics, a lot of the printing was garbage — the colors tended to bleed all over the place (and even a lot of the 60s material suffers from poor printing) but for whatever reason, the original publication of FF # 89 looks perfect.
These scans are nice, but they still don’t capture how great this art looks in the published version — it’s so high quality, I’d frame and hang a page from this book on the wall if I had any wallspace. Here are 4 pages. If Marvel/Disney/Lucasfilm could package Jack’s FF run and give each page this kind of treatment, you’d have a really beautiful representation of what Jack accomplished.