Blast-Off #1 (October 1965) “Lunar Goliaths” pencils by Jack Kirby inks by Al Williamson
In the comments to my recent post on the Year of the Robot comic scholar Stan Taylor pointed out another robot story “Lunar Goliaths”. As he indicated although it was published in Blast-Off in 1965 it probably was originally intended for Race For The Moon #4 which, if it had not been cancelled, should have been published with a cover date of January 1959. As with the other robot stories that I covered in my previous post, the robot in “Lunar Goliaths” is oversized and although has an broadly human shape is mechanical enough that it would not possible me mistaken for a man. Like two of the previous stories the robot achieves consciousness (in this case when struck by a meteor) but is destroyed by the end of the story.
Blast-Off #1 (October 1965) “Space Court” art by Al Williamson
Joe Simon’s collection still includes much of the original art for Race For The Moon and Blast-Off. Joe has all of Kirby’s contribution to Blast-Off #1 (“Lunar Goliaths” and “The Great Moon Mystery”) as well as most of Al Williamson’s “Space Court”. Despite that fact that the art has not been trimmed, none of the Kirby pages show the Comic Code approval stamp. I suspect that Joe was going to send the pages for approval back in 1958 but did not bother once the title was cancelled. In 1965 Simon probably did not pay much attention and just mistakenly believed the art had already been approved. However all the pages Joe has for “Space Court” had received the Comic Code approval stamp on March 8, 1958. This not only shows that the story was originally meant for Race For The Moon, but was actually approved earlier then some of the art that was published in Race For The Moon #3 which have a March 28, 1958 stamp.
Al Williamson not only provide two stories that were eventually published in Blast-Off #1, the Jack Kirby Checklist also credits him with inking the art that Jack penciled in that same issue. I have not carefully studied Al’s inking techniques but it does seem to me that inking of the Kirby art was much more restrained then that done on the Williamson story. However I am confident that the difference in inking technique was not due to someone else actually inking the Kirby art. The Kirby inker used the back of the art to either test or prepare his brush. He left brush marks that trace a curved path. This brush work only occupies a portion of the paper but it seems the inker also occasionally rotate the paper 90 degrees so that in the end the brushings would form a rough oval shape. This exact type of brush marks are found on the back of Williamson’s “Space Court” as well. Although I have seen other inkers leave brushings on the back of art pages, I have never seen any others remotely resembling Al’s unique marks.
Blast-Off #1 (October 1965) “Space Court” color guide
Simon’s collection also includes some color guides for Blast-Off. As can be seen by comparing the two scans, the printer followed the guide pretty carefully. I asked Joe if he had done the coloring. Joe replied that although he might do color guides for a cover he would never have done one for a story.