Jumbo Comics Addendum, Kirby Or Not?

Jumbo Comics #1 (September 1938)

Stan Taylor mentioned this gag cartoon that he believed was by Jack Kirby. I have to admit I do not share his opinion, but I thought I would include an image so everyone can see it. Identifying early work by Jack Kirby can be particularly troublesome and opinions can be expected to differ.

6 thoughts on “Jumbo Comics Addendum, Kirby Or Not?

  1. Stan Taylor

    Hi Harry,

    Thanks for printing this. I agree that on first blush, it doesn’t grab one as being by Kirby. But in the Kirby Unleashed portfolio,it prints 2 gags from the early ’30s. The themes are similar in that it’s a late night meeting between a young boy and a crook, or a policeman and crook. Note the use of contrast lighting by way of the flashlite-using shading but no holding lines. Compare the open valices with burglary tools. Little things like the freehand frame around the picture over the safe. The design of the combination lock, the mask and dot eyes on several of the crooks. Even little things like the boy’s spectacles reminds me of Abdul Jones.

    I can’t make a great case, but when I first saw the Jumbo gag, something said Jack Kirby to me.

    Stan Taylor

  2. Harry Post author


    You make a pretty good case, but I wish I would see a little more Kirby in the actual drawing of the figures. I usually can see Kirby’s style in other work that he did at this time. I’m still not convinced but I see where you are coming from.


  3. Scott Casper

    I’ve not seen any of Kirby’s ’30s cartoon work, but I unless his style was radically different back then, I can’t see that crook being a Kirby figure. He’s just standing way too bunched up and motionless. A Kirby figure with both his feet planted together??


  4. Mike Cagle

    It’s hard to say, isn’t it? Kirby was copying other artists’ styles at that time. And, everything in the picture is a common cartoon visual cliche. It doesn’t look like Kirby to me, except … the sketched figure in the painting sort of has the blockiness of many of Kirby’s later figures (it looks a bit like the rough figures he would do when he did layouts for other artists) … and there is one thing this image has which is a Kirby characteristic: someone is holding a cylindrical object, and the front of the object is shown as a circle instead of an ellipse as it “should” be (since the flashlight isn’t seen directly head-on). The awkward “edge” of the light’s front is something I’ve seen in many Kirby images. But these are such small things compared to the overall non-Kirbyishness of it …

  5. Stan Taylor

    Hi Mike,

    Another small detail that Kirby was using at the time was the “sweat” flying from the turning face. But I do agree these are all small details. And if I’m correct, this cartoon might be from 1934 or so, long before Kirby developed a figural style.


  6. nick caputo

    My initial instincts say it’s not Kirby. Even the very early Kirby art I’ve seen has little touches that point to his style, however crude it might be. Still, when the posibility comes from a Kirby scholar of your calibre, I listen!

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