Not Kirby, Adventure #98

Adventure #98
Adventure #98 (October 1945) by Gil Kane?

Recently Tom Morehouse disagreed with my posting that the cover for KO Komics #1 was not done by Kirby. In his comment Tom also added:

Another example of an unfinished Kirby cover left behind and completed by another is Adventure Comics #98. There Kirby drew the “caveman” (who looks a lot like Brooklyn of the BC) and large animal heads but the rest of the cover was done by another (Gil Kane perhaps?).

Adventure #98
Adventure #98 (October 1945) by Gil Kane?

The Jack Kirby Checklist also attributes the caveman to Jack, but does not mention the animal heads. It is hard to say much about these animal heads, at least with any conviction. Jack was even less accurate with his anatomy of animals then he was with people. Still his animals seem to have a real presence. These heads just do not seem to capture that sort of Kirby “life”. But I suppose I would be willing to accept Jack as the artist for the animals if I could agree with attribution of the caveman. I have little doubt that the origin of the running figure was Jack. I just think it was swiped from Kirby and not some unfinished piece by him. The figure looks like it was originally pretty complete. Then why did the inker (who based on other work appears to be the same artist as the penciler) ignore Jacks penciling to provide the botched version of the left hand. Look at the caveman’s ear, it is normal in overall size but has a very fat edge. That type of fat ear is typical of this artist. On the other hand Kirby would not draw fat ears but when viewed from behind like this figure would make excessively large ears (see cover to Adventure #88 below). But even if you are willing place the blame for these faults on a bad inker that would not explain the lower right arm. Here once again we find an artist that has broken the form in a way that Kirby never seemed to do. These sort of errors are more easily explained as a less talented artist doing a swipe from a Kirby figure.

Adventure #88
Adventure #88 (October 1943) by Jack Kirby

I believe Tom is correct in suggesting Gil Kane’s involvement. Normally I would find it hard to accept that such a poor artist (who also did work on other Adventure covers and Sandman stories) was the same as the incredibly talented Gil Kane. But I have heard it said a number of times that Gil started as a rather bad artist and at one point decided to improve himself with rather spectacular results. I have also read interviews where Gil said that he originally worked for S&K and later did some of their features while they were off in the military. So I suspect this really was done by Gil.

Whatever the history of this piece, the finished cover is truly bizarre. What were the bad guys doing hanging onto the animal heads? Why was the caveman wearing a hat? Even more, why was does he seem to take the center stage as the hero, while Sandman and Sandy cower in the lower corner? I usual do not like a cover that does not “tell” a clear story. But this one is such a collection of weird combinations that it has become the comic book equivalent of surrealism. I may not understand what is happening but it still captures my interest. In its goofiness it has become a masterpiece.

6 thoughts on “Not Kirby, Adventure #98

  1. David Morris

    I don’t know if this is an appropriate place to post this, but I was shocked to notice last weekend that Gil Kane swiped Kirby as a mature artist as well. The last two panels of page 30 of DC Comics Presents Annual #3 are “very reminiscent” of panels three and four of page 8 of Thor #142.

  2. Harry Post author


    Nothing wrong about posting that information here. Although my blog centers on the Simon and Kirby studio what happened later to any of the artists that work for that studio is of interest. Unfortunately my access to post-golden age is limited so I am unable to post images of your example. However shock is not an emotion I feel when finding swipes. I consider this part and parcel of being an (comic book) artist.


  3. nick caputo

    I am in agreement about Gil Kane’s involvement on this cover. Although it is very crude, I do see some of his figure work in the Sandman and Sandy. I can’t be 100% sure of the rest of the cover, although I agree with you that Kirby probably had nothing to do with the animal heads and the caveman figure could very well be a swipe.

    Nick Caputo

  4. Tom Morehouse

    Re; The backlog of material S & K left behind when they went to war.
    Let me start by saying I agree with your comments regarding the ear of the caveman. It might be due to a less than talented artist swiping from Kirby but it may also be due to the fact that this was among the last of the Adventure covers done before Kirby’s return (#100) so it’s entirely possible that this wasn’t used before because it wasn’t complete. My feeling is that this started out as the splash page (or maybe cover) to a Boy Commandos “caveman” story which eventually saw print in Detective Comics but was left unfinished because S & K decided to go with another approach. As to the figure’s left arm, Jack, as talented as he was, would sometimes draw anatomy that would drive an orthopedist mad. A fact which Joe Simon noted when he was producing “corrected” Captain America recreations a few years back (one of which hangs proudly on my wall). You state repeatedly that by “this time” (meaning 1945) Jack wasn’t drawing this way or that. The problem with that argument is that these items (The Guardian sketch used for K.O. #1 and the caveman used on Adventure #98) were drawn 3 years earlier and in a hurry, as the team was frantically trying to supply DC with enough raw material to keep money coming to their families in their absence, which could very well account for the slght discrepancies you point out. I’m in not suggesting that either of these was a complete drawing but rather ones which jack started but never completed allowing these other artists to “flesh them out” adding whatever variations they felt were “needed”. As for the animal heads on Adventure #98, well, Kirby never could draw animals (except horses). You only need look at the cover of the Davy Crockett Western Tales comic to see that. If you can produce the original of either of the drawings we’re discussing I might consider the possibility of a swipe but as you point out the SS 50 was on the stands at the same time as K.O. #1 and try as I may I’ve never been able to find a BC image that could have been copied for Adventure #98. In my book that makes a swipe less likely than a partially completed drawing which someone else finished later.

  5. Harry Post author


    My argument has not been that there could not be left over art work, rather that these particular covers are swipes and not unfinished work by Jack. The only way to determine this is be examining the art itself, the original art is almost certainly long gone.

    I have repeatedly said that Jack’s anatomy was not accurate. The problem with Ad #100 caveman arm is the form is broken. The same problem exists in KO #1. By form I mean the basic underlying shape. I have never seen a drawing by Jack where he broke the form like shown on these covers.

    As for not finding the source of the swipe you seem to have looked for just BC material. But although the caveman’s face resembles Brooklyn that does not mean the source of the swipe is BC. In fact there may not be a single source. Nor does the swipe have to be from a published source.

    So I still disagree with you. The art shows that Ad #100 and KO #1 are swipes not leftover Kirby drawings.


  6. Tom Morehouse

    Hi harry,
    So we agree to disagree, that’s fine. One final thought, however, for you to consider; If these were swipes, why, especially on the Adventure cover, are the “swiped” figures so large? If I was swiping a figure for use on a cover story about Sandman & Sandy I don’t know why I would make the caveman so prominent. Unless it was already drawn that size and I was merely inking over the existing pencils. If that’s the case then I still say Jack drew it and not the artist who finished the cover. Also, with K.O. Komics, it’s painfully obvious two diffrent people worked on this figure, Jack, who drew the Guardian and the other who drew (badly I might add) the cape, wings, punchtrail, skyline, ankles, etc., all of which could be done without altering the original, again adding support to the idea of the drawing already existing (and having been drawn by Kirby).

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