Kirby Inkers, Marvin Stein

I have written about Kirby inking Kirby, but what about Jack’s other inkers? Scholars of the Silver Age have it comparatively easy, many of Jack’s inkers are actually given credit. This provides a head start even in those cases where no inking credits are given. But in the Simon and Kirby years no inking credits were ever provided. Fortunately most S&K studio artists inked their own work. Therefore examining the work by the studio artists can give insight into what to look for in order to determine if they also were Kirby’s inkers.

I am going to start with Marvin Stein. What I am going to say about Marvin is pretty preliminary. I really have not studied Stein as an artist as much as I have other who had worked for Simon and Kirby. This is probably because I have mixed feelings about Marvin’s art. On the positive side Stein was often good at depicting action. However some of his drawing seems a bit crude.

Marvin Stein starts showing up in Simon and Kirby productions in 1951. Not long after his appearance there seems to have been a change in the production of Headline and Justice Traps the Guilty, two crime titles that S&K had created. Well actually Headline had existed before S&K but was not a more general anthology, it was S&K who converted the title to crime. The postal statement for Headline #46 (March 1951) lists Nevin Fiddler as the editor. About that time the artists for both crime titles changed and Jack Kirby work would no longer appear. Marvin Stein would become a prominent part in the new Prize crime issues. Stein did almost all the covers and usually the first story. It was not that unusual for Stein to provide a second story as well.

Headline #51 (Jan 1952) art by Marvin Stein

There is a photograph that indicates that Marvin worked at the Simon and Kirby studio at one time. Certainly he was greatly influenced by Jack Kirby, particularly in the portrayal of action. But Stein did not pick up any of the typical S&K studio inking. Missing from Marvin’s own work are things like picket fence brush work, abstract arch shadows or shoulder blots (see the inking glossary). Stein did occasionally use something like drop strings.

Justice Traps the Guilty #88
Justice Traps The Guilty #88 (August 1957) “The Spoilers” page 7, art by Marvin Stein

The above image is a typical page of Stein pencils and inking. Marvin’s brushwork tended to be rather blunt. This can be very apparent when the faces are of a smaller size, as for instance in panels 1, 2 and 4. A blunt brush work can even be seen in closer faces as in the criminal in panel 4. Stein often would use very broad cloth folds that seem slightly bent at about the middle of their length as seen on the man in the foreground in the first panel. Cloth folds often have ends that stop abruptly at a right angle (as in the first panel) or a slight angle (there are a couple examples on the man in the second panel). Form and shingle lines are often quite robust. Although not apparent in the image above, Marvin would sometimes make long and simple eyebrows. These eyebrows can resemble those by Bill Draut.

Justice Traps the Guilty #91
Justice Traps the Guilty #91 (February 1958) “Power Failure” page 4 panel 5, art by Marvin Stein

Occasionally Marvin would like to depict faces with a sort of negative highlight, as in the image above. This is done with diagonal brush work and like so much of Stein’s inking in a rather crude manner.

Young Romance #93
Young Romance #93 (April 1958) “Jealousy”, pencils by Jack Kirby, inks by Marvin Stein

Among Jack Kirby’s late Prize romance art is one story, “Jealousy”, where the spotting for the facial features is rather blunt. The facial inking looks so much like Marvin Stein’s that I am certain he was Jack’s inker. Note the final panel where the man’s right eyebrow is extended into a crease above the nose. This is a characteristic often seen in Stein’s own art, for instance panel 3 from the Justice Traps the Guilty #88 page I showed earlier. Surprisingly the spotting other then for the faces in this story seems more carefully done then is typical for Stein.

This blunt treatment of facial features does not seem to occur in inking for any other of Kirby’s work for Prize. But otherwise similar spotting can be found in the inking of a number of Kirby stories. Could it be that Marvin Stein used greater care when inking for Kirby then he did on his own work? Depending on the answer to that question, Stein could have been a frequent inker of Kirby or a rare one.

Showcase #6
Showcase #6 (February 1957) “The Secrets of the Sorcerer’s Box”, page 6, panel 3, pencils by Jack Kirby, inks by Marvin Stein (from DC Archive edition)

When I wrote the DC chapter to “Jack Kirby Austere Inking” I was hampered by my limited access to the work. I am still not ready for a more thorough evaluation of Jack’s DC period but I have gone back over it with Marvin Stein fresh in my mind. Previous I attributed the inking to the initial Challengers of the Unknown stories to Jack. With my latest review I find a number of examples of inking that look like Stein’s work. Take a look at the face in the panel image I provide above, it has Stein’s blunt brushwork style. Also note that a couple of the cloth folds have the slightly off right angle ends that Stein prefers. There is still inking in the first two Showcase issues that look like Kirby’s brush. The red giant in “Dragon Seed” from Showcase #6 seem much better done then I have every seen Stein do. Also the second page from Showcase #7 with its scenes of the Challenger members doing various daring deeds. The problem is that Stein’s blunt brushwork is rather similar to Jack’s Austere style. I now suspect that most of the inking for Showcase #6 and 7 was actually done by Stein with Kirby doing the more difficult parts and perhaps touching up Marvin’s work as well.

Challengers of the Unknown #3
Challengers of the Unknown #3 (August 1958) “The Menace of the Invincible Challenger”, page 10, panel 2, pencils by Jack Kirby, inks by Marvin Stein (from DC Archive edition)

Marvin Stein did some of the inking for later Challenger stories also. The image above from COTU #3 has the same shadow highlights we saw before from Stein’s crime work. But these later inking differ from Showcase #6 and #7 in that Jack Kirby does not seem to have taken a hand in any of the spotting.

I have added a checklist for Marvin Stein, which like all my checklists are works in progress. However a checklist of Stein’s inking Kirby will have to wait, at least until I have reviewed some of the other Kirby inkers.