Last Friday Scoop had an interesting article, Simon & Kirby Rarity Added to Cochran Auction. A very small image was provided for what was said to be the original art for the unpublished cover for Stuntman #4* penciled by Jack Kirby and inked and colored by Joe Simon. Now the image was very small but to me it clearly looked like a recreation, not like original comic book art.
Russ Cochran’s web page includes a better image and rather interesting documentation (Simon and Kirby – Stuntman No. 4 color comic cover art 1946). The larger image confirms that it was what I would call a recreation and not original comic book art. The original art for this image does exists and can be seen on What If Kirby.
Cochran includes documentation where Joe certifies that this was original art. But read carefully what Simon states. Joe describes how the art was created in 1946 with Joe providing the layout and lettering and Jack doing the pencils. Then Joe states:
Around 2000, while searching through a pile of art work in my possession, I discovered the artwork for the cover of Stuntman #4 that Jack Kirby and I had created in 1946. I decided to ink and color the piece.
Note Joe says he inked and colored the piece in 2000. That means the original art was still just pencils when he completed it. That is not what I would call original art. Now I have not seen the actual piece so I cannot determine if there really were Kirby pencils beneath those modern inks. It is hard to be certain from just images, but the art appears to be done on something like Strathmore paper which Joe frequently used in his recreations. Original art for Simon and Kirby during that period was all done on illustration board. Joe did recreations of comic book art over many years. He not infrequently would put a piece aside uncompleted. Sometimes he would finish it later, sometimes not. My suspicion, and it is nothing more than just a suspicion, is that Joe started a recreation of the cover and stopped while it was still just pencils. He then put it aside only to forget about it. When he came across it again he had forgotten its origin and believed it was Kirby’s original pencils. I may not be certain exactly how the art came to be created, but I am convinced that Joe really believed the story he provides.
* Simon refers to this as the Stuntman #4 cover. What If Kirby calls is the cover for Stuntman #3. Neither is the correct designation. Actually there is an in house advertisement for Stuntman #2 that provides a small image of this cover. However the art was replaced when Stuntman #2 was released. So it is actually a rejected cover for issue #2.