Bullseye #2 (October 1954), pencils and inks by Jack Kirby
As I discussed in the previous chapter, the previous modus operandi for Simon and Kirby was to make much use of Kirby in the initial issues of a new title and then make more frequent use of other artists for later issues. However in general the Mainline titles deviated from that pattern. The first issue of Bullseye could be viewed as a somewhat scaled down version of the original MO in that Kirby drew the first chapter and provided layouts for the other two. Unlike the first issue, Bullseye #2 was not a long story divided into chapters but instead provided three independent stories each done by a different artist. One of the surprises here was that Kirby did not do the lead story.
Bullseye #2 (October 1954) “Trial By Fire”, art by an unidentified artist
Simon and Kirby used a lot of different artists during this period. This was probably due to the combination of supply (comics had begun to crash resulting in a number of artists looking for work) and demand (there was a need to replace the normally prolific Kirby who was preoccupied with business matters). With such a large selection of artists to choose from, I am surprised that Joe and Jack picked this one to do the lead story “Trial By Fire”. It is not that he is a poor artist (he actually did a pretty good job on this story) but I just cannot help feel that someone else (John Prentice or Bob McCarty) could have produce a superior story. As the reader may have gathered, I have not been able to identify the artist although further research should rectify that situation. The splash may have been laid out by Jack Kirby although without seeing other work by the artist it is hard to be sure.
Bullseye #2 (October 1954) “Trial By Fire” page 6, art by an unidentified artist
While it is possible that Kirby laid out the splash, it is clear that the rest of the story was not based on Kirby layouts. I am not saying that there is anything wrong with the fight scene on page 6, but it definitely was not drawn the way Jack would have done it.
Bullseye #2 (October 1954) “Union Jack”, pencils by Jack Kirby
The splash page is a typical Kirby fanfare. What a great splash panel. Back to back, Union Jack and Bullseye take on the world, or at least the room. Bullseye even seems to be enjoying himself. The story panels are also by Jack and he use of tall narrow panels is unusual for him. The inking looks a lot like the work of John Prentice, but that would be surprising as John was not the artist for the rest of the story.
Bullseye #2 (October 1954) “Union Jack” page 2, pencils and inks by Bob McCarty
For the remainder of the story, pencil honors went to Bob McCarty. For a short period Bob had become a Simon and Kirby regular and with good reason. This story is a good example of what McCarty was capable of. His handling of action was very unlike Kirby’s, but is by no means a criticism. I am a great admirer of McCarty and this story is arguably the best piece from Bullseye by an artist other than Jack.
McCarty typically made much use of a pen in his inking but without abandoning the brush. “Union Jack” shows less of the pen work than usual but I still believe it was inked by Bob. I am not, however, convinced that Bob inked the splash page as well. McCarty never signed his work for Simon and Kirby but some of his pieces for Foxhole were provided credits.
Bullseye #2 (October 1954) “Grand Prize”, pencils and inks by Jack Kirby
Humor almost always plays a part in Simon and Kirby creations but generally not so dominate a factor as found in “Grand Prize”. It is a marvelous little story with lots of purposely goofy characters and other visual humor. All the more enjoyable because Kirby supplies the inking himself. I suspect it was this emphasis on humor that explains why it was not used as the lead story, a spot normally taken by Kirby.
While page 6 of “Trial by Fire” features the work of an unidentified artist, it looks like Kirby may have touched up or redrawn a few figures, particularly the two Native Americans in the first panel on the left and the big face in the second panel. Their figures have more of a Kirby look than the figures on the rest of the page. The inking here looks a bit like Mike Esposito; did he do any work for Simon and Kirby?
With the exception of Jack’s pencils, Simon and Kirby did not assign inkers. That was up to the artist, most of whom looked like they inked it themselves.
On looking through it ast week, I got the impression we might be looking at one of Jack Katz’s early contributions (which he mentions in his recent interview with Jim Amash in Alter Ego, without naming the titles alas).
I have recently borrowed for scanning 7 pages of the original art for “Trial by Fire” including page 6. After a careful examination I can confidently say that there was no reworking or alterations done on any of these pages. And as I wrote earlier they do not look at all like Kirby layouts. Therefore I suspect the resemblence, which I fully admit, is due to influence.
Atlas Tales (such a great resource) has some examples of Katz’s work from the same time period as “Trail by Fire”. That work is very distinctive and nothing like the Bullseye story. Therefore I doubt very much that he was the artist in question. Besides the interview suggests that he worked for Simon and Kirby and Atlas during different periods and since he was working for Atlas in 1954 was probably not working for S&K when Bullseye was being made.
It is a fascinating interview but one that raises many questions that I have not yet resolved to my satisfaction. Most importantly is when did he work for Joe and Jack. There is a suggestion in the interview that this might have been while S&K were doing the crime titles, that is 1947/1948. Unfortunately Katz did not sign his work there.