In an earlier blog, I discussed the influence that Wallace Wood as an inker might have had on Kirby’s artwork. I suggested that Wood’s powerful style could have caused Kirby to rethink his approach to drawing and influence him in subtle ways that might have been more harmonious to the pairing. While it is interesting to speculate on these matters, it is certainly a revelation to study the different qualities of various inkers on Kirby’s pencils through his career.
Kirby inked his own pencils frequently early on, and throughout his career.
He generally preferred to use a brush, and his line quality varied from a precise fine stroke to bolder swatches of black. Here in the 1953 unpublished cover of “Strange World of Your Dreams,” we can see that Kirby was arguably his own best inker.
When he began working for Marvel, Kirby’s page output was too great to spare the time for his personal inking touch. As a result, we have a wide variety of stylistic interpretations of Kirby’s line by other inkers over time. Fortunately, we also have many samples of his pencils, so we can determine who was more or less faithful in their rendering and who weakened or perhaps in some cases reinforced the King’s artistic intention.