The Making of “The Best of Simon and Kirby”

As reported by The Jack Kirby Comics Weblog, Diamond has stated that “The Best of Simon and Kirby” will be out this week. I cannot verify that the book will truly be in stores so soon. Further Amazon is still listing a May 12th release. But in anticipation of its not too distant release I thought I would do a small post about how the art was prepared. Everything starts with a scan.

Stuntman #1 (April 1946) “Killer in the Bigtop”, original scan

Unfortunately the original comic book pages were not that well printed to begin with, the paper invariably has yellowed with age, and the colors faded to some extent. The original scan is not a pretty thing but more importantly it is not a good representation of Simon and Kirby’s original intent.

Stuntman #1 (April 1946) “Killer in the Bigtop”, color correction

Fortunately there is Photoshop, an application by Adobe made for manipulating images of all kinds. For “The Best of Simon and Kirby” each scan was optimally adjusted using Photoshop to remove the paper’s yellow color and correct the faded colors.

While these adjustments make the page look like new, they do nothing to correct the problems caused by the original poor printing. Problems like registration, where the different colors are shifted in relationship to one another. Or incomplete printing. While these defects were in the original comic they still are detrimental to appreciating Simon and Kirby’s efforts. Photoshop does provide tools for correcting these problems as well although not without much effort.

Stuntman #1 (April 1946) “Killer in the Bigtop”, fully restored

The final result looks much more attractive then the original scans. At their heart the images still remain scans. Flaws that did not distract from the art were left. Compare the before and after and you will see that original coloring was adhered to and most importantly the line art was unaltered. What you get is pure Simon and Kirby. You cannot get better then that.

I developed the Photoshop techniques that are so briefly outlined above by myself. Apparently others have figured them out as well. Lately a small number of books have been published using restored scans. Most notably the Sunday sections in the “Terry and the Pirates” (IDW Publishing), “I Shall Destroy All the Civilized Planets” (Fantagraphic Books) and “Supermen” (Fantagraphic Books). They share with “The Best of Simon and Kirby” a desire to present the original masters and not some recreation by a modern artist. It is a goal that was generally ignored in the past but that I hope will become increasingly prevalent in the future.

6 thoughts on “The Making of “The Best of Simon and Kirby”

  1. BobH

    Well, there was one confirmed comic shop sighting on the S&K mailing list, from Nebraska of all places. As I noted, these kinds of books often have a roll-out over several weeks as they arrive in different distribution centers.

    I’m looking forward to seeing the book. I think reprints from scanned comics have a bit of a bad reputation because of some really horrid examples from the 1980s and 1990s, but it seems the technology has finally caught up to the point where, in the right hands and with good source material you can get some stellar results that really capture the feel of the originals while improving on many of their imperfections.

  2. Ger Apeldoorn

    Sorry, nt Alarming Tales but Alarming Adventures… I don’t know if Joe Simn had any involvement in that title.

  3. Harry Post author


    Nebraska? Nothing against that state but seeing how the book was published in China if anyplace got it first I would have thought it would have been the west coast.

    I must admit this has taken me by surprise. It is much earlier then I was told. But hey I’m not complaining.

  4. Patrick Ford

    I got my copy 4/15. Great book. I don’t buy the title though, the best is yet to come.

  5. Harry Post author


    The book did not show in my comic shop. What part of the country are you from?

  6. Patrick Ford

    Harry, I’m in Sarasota Florida. I sent you a private e-mail on the book as well.
    Very interesting to compare the Ma Barker from the 50’s to the “Mob” version from the 70’s thanks for including it.

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