Kirby Imitating John Prentice

First Love #70
First Love #70 (November 1956) “Paid In Full” page 1, pencils and inks by John Prentice

It is a dark and stormy night that we find our heroine. Alone and unsure as to what to do or where to go, she still is determine not return home. Looking out from a bridge (no mention of suicide but you got to wonder if that was the suggestion) a policeman confronts her. Rather then taking her in (as a vagrant?) he takes her to a boarding house run by an elderly lady. With the help of the cop and the landlady, our heroine begins a new life. A romance begins with the policeman. The lady is unsure about revealing her past to her love. However the cop has such high standards that she decides to keep it a secret. What this secret actual consists of is finally revealed when her brother suddenly appears. The brother is a criminal and is on the lam from the law. It was the discovery of that fact that originally led our heroine to leave home. The lady finally reveals her past to the policeman, but not about the actual presence of her brother. He is outraged because she is not the good person he thought she was. He breaks off there relationship. Later he has second thoughts and goes to her home. The brother pulls a gun but the lady prevents its use. A fight ensues between the criminal and the cop, which of course the cop wins. Afterwards the cop expresses his regrets and asks forgiveness, which the lady gives.

As usual, Prentice did an outstanding job on the art for this story. Particularly nice is his handling of the start of the story. The woman is alone, at the mercy of her inhospitable environment. A good visual presentation of her inner turmoil and despair as describe by the writer. The splash panel starts it off just right by rejecting a normal panel border and instead providing an rough edge to the art. John had a more realistic approach then most comic book artists. As seen in this example, John did not depend on that naturalism alone. He had a good sense of design and story telling as well.

First Love #70
First Love #70 (November 1956) Content page, art by Jack Kirby and Joe Simon

The content page for FL #70 follows the same sort of pattern I posted about for FL #68 and FL #69. That is Jack Kirby providing a short story introduction to the comic’s feature story. As before Kirby is purposely imitating the feature artist. For FL #70 the introduction story is quite short, only three panels. Therefore there is less to go on for the correct attribution. Forearmed with previous examples of Kirby “ghosting” we know to ignore some superficial traits such as the eyebrows. So even with what little we have it looks like Jack was the actual penciler.

The Prentice imitation really does not come off that well. Actually the previous Draut imitations were not that close either. Draut’s very stylized eyebrows stand out in his art. Do a good imitation of the eyebrows and other inaccuracies get unnoticed. Prentice, on the other hand, did not have any single outstanding trait. All of his style’s traits must be mastered in order to make a good pseudo-Prentice. Jack succeeds most in the brother in panel 3, and to a lesser extend the father in panel 2. Kirby completely misses with the woman. This best seen in panel 3. Prentice’s females have a sophisticated beauty. This is due in part to the eyes being closer together and the face being longer and more oval. Jack’s version still has the more widely separated eyes and triangular face that he favors. Surprisingly all the eyebrows are closer to Bill Draut’s art then they are to Prentice’s manner.

Not all failure to provide a good imitation of Prentice can be laid on Jack. It seems to me that the inker has to take some of the “credit”. In FL #68 and #69 there was not enough of the inking for me to be certain who did it, although it clearly was not Draut. In FL #70 there is more then enough spotting to say that Jack did not do this inking. I am not certain, but some of it looks like Joe Simon’s work. Perhaps someday I should do an analysis of Simon’s spotting techniques. (I can see my readership dropping to even greater depths).

Before I leave the topic of the introductory story I would like to add a short comment on its use. Frankly in this case I think this was a really bad idea. A lot of the impact of the actual feature story rests on not providing the reason for the lady’s plight for most of the story. This effect is completely destroyed by the introduction which provides the explanation. This not only ruins the start of the story but makes story’s explanation repetitious.

First Love #70
First Love #70 (November 1956) “Paid In Full”, panel 3 of page 4, pencils and inks by John Prentice

The splash panel of the contents page was clearly not done by Jack. At a glance it would seem to have been done by John Prentice. Since previously we have seen Simon do close copies from the story art I went looking to see if that were true here as well. Sure enough the woman is from panel 3 of page 4. In this case the copy is so close that I really cannot see any distinctive Simon traits. There is a significant deviation in the exaggeration done in the lady’s eyebrows, but that cannot be considered characteristic of Simon. Because this sort of copying was previously Joe’s modus operandi for the First Love content page, I am going to attribute this swiping to him as well. Besides some of the inking looks like Joe’s.

2 thoughts on “Kirby Imitating John Prentice

  1. nick caputo

    I love the “Paid in Full” splash by John Prentice. Very moody and dramatic.

    Nick Caputo

  2. Harry Post author


    Yes indeed. It is interesting to compare Prentice’s splash with the one Joe Simon did. Even though Joe’s is based on a close copy of John’s art Joe’s splash is not as effective. Even when comparing the backgrouds Prentice’s is much moodier.


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