One of my biggest treats from the 2008 New York Comic Con was being able to pick up a copy of The Jack Kirby Collector #50, titled “Kirby Five-Oh”. TwoMorrows wanted to make something special for their fiftieth issue of their flagship title and they have succeeded. The Jack Kirby Collector has been an oversized magazine for some time but this one is thick as well. And it ain’t just fluff! There are page after page of just fantastic Kirby art including a great color section. The 50 theme rules with chapters such as the 50 greatest Kirby covers, the 50 greatest Kirby stories and the 50 greatest Kirby creations (I do not have the issue in front of me as I write this so I am probably forgetting some). I would highly recommend the purchase of this volume but I suspect most of my readers regularly pick up The Jack Kirby Collector anyway.
In the past I have occasional given help to The Jack Kirby Collector as well as to their other great publication, Roy Thomas’ Alter Ego. For the Kirby Five-Oh I was able to provide more then I have ever been able before. I hope my readers will be indulging as I take pride in my contribution which, although only a small part of that issue, was large compared to my previous efforts. I was able to do this because of a project I once did. Back in 1998 I decided to restore the line art for all the published covers that Kirby or Simon drew during their partnership. It was a pretty bold decision since that meant a lot of covers and only a small fraction of which were available to me at the time I started. I wanted to restore the line art because color printers then were expensive and not very good while black and white laser printers were available and could do an excellent job. I certainly could not afford to chemically bleach the covers, the standard technique for that type of restoration in those days. I had some experience with Photoshop and decided to see what I could devise to digitally bleach cover scans. I did come up with a process that worked reasonably well but still required a lot of work of clean up (digital bleaching can never do quite as good a job as the chemical version). Between tracking down comics or scans of the covers, and all the work in Photoshop, it was not until about 2003 that I completed my project. My research since then has shown I made a few mistakes but it is still an undertaking that I am very proud of. Because of copyrights issues, publication of my efforts was never a realistic consideration nor could I legally sell copies of the volumes I did hand make. Some of my restorations appeared in the latest reprint of Joe Simon and Jim Simon’s “The Comic Book Makers”. However all but one (Captain America #7) were much reduced images. John Morrow, who knew about my project, asked if I could supply some images for his chapter on the 50 best Kirby covers. The result was that all the covers in that particular chapter of Kirby Five-Oh from Captain America #1 up to Foxhole, and Race to the Moon as well, are all my restorations from my project. My restoration for Star Spangled #9 shows up later in the magazine and they did a clever alteration of my Adventure #84 for the volume’s introduction. The images for the 50 best Kirby covers are presented four to a page but since the Jack Kirby Collector is an oversized publication that is a pretty good size. It is really great to see some of my restorations actually in print.
In the comments Ger suggested that I provide a link the Yahoo group where I discussed more fully my techniques for restoring comic scans. I do not discuss such things here as there really is not much interest in such esoteric knowledge. The group is Digitizing Comics but it is a very dormant group. Membership is required but since I am the moderator that will be no problem. Those interested in trying my methods would need a scanner and Photoshop. My posts can be found in the Archives and I would happily answer any questions there.