When this page first surfaced I also speculated that Stan may have (in part) rejected this entrie book because Jack was doing Lee satire. I wrote about this art a bit more here. Unpublished Fantastic Four Pencils
I don’t think a single person agreed with me when I made that suggestion years ago on the old Kirby-l (but now that I think about it, I don’t think those guys agreed with anything I ever said), and I admit I might be wrong. But in light of the rejected Hulk pages, don’t you think we might be establishing a pattern here?
Is it possible Jack is once again introducing a Stan Lee caricature into a story? This “archaeologist” character looks a lot lot like the Big-Shot character in the rejected Hulk pages, only he isn’t wearing his toupee. Is the concept of the “Mega Man” a dig at megalomaniac Stan “The Man” Lee? Is the concept of the character who is two-faced Jack’s way of taking a shot at Stan Lee’s phony persona? Does that stature symbolize the way Lee treated Jack, promising him credit and royalties on one hand, and giving him nothing with the other, pretending all the while to be someone he is not — the writer and creator of all Jack’s 60s Marvel stories? Notice both faces are equally ugly and twisted — distorted, creepy. And if Lee had warned Jack before, “Do not make fun of me in my comic books, or else…” how do you think Lee would have reacted seeing this Lee satire? How dare Jack try to slip something like that past his Leader again!
Of course Lee may have rejected this book because he caught wind of Jack leaving Marvel and this was Lee’s way of teaching Jack a lesson. The idea that Lee couldn’t dialogue this book is a joke; he actually just added dialogue to it a few years ago. There was nothing wrong with Jack’s story — there was something wrong with Lee’s relationship with Jack. I also noticed it almost looks like someone tried to chop that bald character out of the story on the actual original art. Most of the action still got published in that cannibalized issue. It literally looks like someone took scissors, eliminated the bald guy, and the rest of the story was acceptable.
Am I wrong? Am I barking up the wrong tree?
Am I like on of those nuts who thinks he see’s Jesus’ face in a cornflake?
Maybe. But it wouldn’t at all surprise me if it turned out a few times Jack introduced a Stan Lee caricature into his stories, and it would appear the Leader was none too happy about it.
It calls to mind another anecdote. I don’t have the source handy, but Jack and Lee were doing a radio interview, and Jack was excited his characters and books were selling well, and Jack expressed his joy. And Lee literally pulled him back and told him they need to act like they were still struggling. They were just small fries. Stan had to put a spin on everything — PT Barnum shtick.
Even if that rejected FF page is not Lee satire, I’m voting yes that in this rejected Hulk panel, these are not just 2 random, inconsequential characters passing each other on the streets of NYC. I strongly suspect on that rare rejected Kirby page — Jack is doing Stan Lee satire. And even if you disagree, you gotta admit… this image does a tremendous job of capturing the Kirby/Lee relationship. And artists have been known to do that on purpose. Maybe I’ll put on my Stan Lee cap and add dialogue to this panel tomorrow…