Category Archives: Ghosting

Jack Kirby’s Take At Imitating Bob Powell

Hi-School Romance #55
Hi-School Romance #55 (September 1956) “Scandalous” page 1, art by Bob Powell

A relationship starts between two high school students, Tom and Linda. Apparently Tom’s interest in Linda was not too strong because he begins seeing another girl, Ellen. Linda finds out about this and in an article for the school’s newspaper reports about her relationship with and love of Tom. When Ellen reads and finds that she has unknowingly come between the two, she breaks off with Tom. Tom confronts Linda and declares his love of Ellen. Realizing that Tom and Linda are meant for each other, Linda regrets what she has done. Tom and Linda go off to find Ellen and after a long search find her at the edge of a cliff. Distraught about breaking with Tom, Ellen has decided she cannot go on. Linda calls out to she regrets what she has done and Tom only loves her (Ellen). The couple re-unite for a happy ending.

This has got to be about the worse love story I have ever read. Histrionics rules all. It is bad enough that everyone’s emotions are overblown, they seem to switch to the complete opposite at a moments notice. The thing is I can imagine a young girl might actually enjoy reading this story. But for an adult male reading it fifty years later it is just painful. It is so bad that not even Bob Powell’s art can save it.

Hi-School Romance #55
Hi-School Romance #55 (September 1956) content page, art by Jack Kirby

It seems that the harder Jack tries to imitate another artist, the more his own personal touches disappear. Not just the expected facial features but his layouts as well. Well for the contents of HSR #55 Jack hardly tried to imitate Bob Powell at all. That explains why this shows the most Kirby traits of any of the contents that I have examined so far. It is certainly the most interesting of the introduction stories. Not only is the art rather nice but the script is pretty good as well. I suspect that Jack added his own input to the writing, the exchange in the last panel seems pure Kirby to me.

Joe Simon’s Turn At Imitating

All the Harvey content with introduction stories that I have posted on so far have been drawn by Jack Kirby with Joe Simon’s involvement limited to supplying a splash panel. But that was not the only formula used for creating Harvey content pages.

Hi-School Romance #56
Hi-School Romance #56 (October 1956) “Rage of Night” page 1, art by Bob Powell

Jean’s parents did not approve of her boyfriend Biff. Biff convinces Jean to have a party at her house. Her parents will not be home and would not permit a party that included Biff without their supervision. Jean tells Biff that he cannot come to the party. Nick was a friend who went away to college but is back in town. Biff arrives at the party despite not being invited. Trouble begins which Nick helps to stop. Jean then realizes her true feeling for Nick.

Generally when I discuss Harvey romance stories I write about Bill Draut or John Prentice. After all these two artists did a lot of work for Simon and Kirby and that in turn is the subject of this blog. The truth of the matter is that most of the Harvey romance artists are not worth writing much about anyway. However Bob Powell does not deserve the same neglect. Bob was a talented artist with, at least during his earlier career, his own unique style. Unfortunately I believe he was one of the artists whose stay at Marvel had deleterious affect. Stan Lee asked his artists to use Kirby as a model of what Marvel wanted. These were not young artists just starting their careers. Rather they, like Bob Powell, had a proven track record and their own style. In trying to please Stan, Powell and others ended up surrendering too much of their own uniqueness while not gaining sufficiently from their attempts to apply Kirby’s methods.

Hi-School Romance #56
Hi-School Romance #56 (October 1956) content page, art by Joe Simon

Often it is not easy to make attributions for the Harvey content pages. That is with the exception that it is pretty easy to see that that the artist for the feature story did not do the introduction story. This introduction has a number of layouts very similar to Kirby’s. In particular the second panel with Jean and Biff in the foreground and Nick forlornly looking on in the background. But the drawing itself just does not seem Kirby to me. Now why that is may be hard to explain. It requires you to mentally delete traits that are imitations of Bob Powell. When I do this what I am left with does not look as much as Kirby’s work then the examples I previously provided for Harvey contents. What I see, once I look past the Powell imitations, remind me of Joe Simon. In this particular case there really is no reason to expect that Joe was trying to copy Kirby since Powell was really the artist to imitate. But I suspect that Simon had so often imitated or inked Jack that he just adopted some of Jack’s mannerisms. I believe the Kirby layouts we see in this contents are all second hand via Joe Simon.

Hi-School Romance #56
Hi-School Romance #56 (October 1956) “Rage of Night” panel 7 of page 3, art by Bob Powell

But not all the layouts look like Kirby’s. The last panel in particular would be unusual for Jack, or Joe for that matter. Jean is shown in a close profile with her chin and the back of her head cut off by the panel border. Despite Biff being behind Jean he is still brought forward. The pair of heads take up almost all of the panel. I do not think I have ever seen Jack or Joe do anything like this. But a search through the rest of Powell’s story shows that it was clearly swiped from panel 7 of page 3. Now we have already seen a Kirby swipe in a Harvey introduction story, still this sort of thing is more characteristic of Joe.

Kirby Imitating John Prentice Again

I got more of a response from my query about whether to continue posting on Kirby’s “ghosting” then I expected. Let me be frank, these are probably the poorest examples of Kirby art that you are likely to find. Because Kirby was imitating another artist he would give up much of what we admire about his artistry. At the same time Jack just was not very successful at adopting the other artist’s style. The shortness of the pieces and their marginal nature does not help much either. Although they are not great works of art, I still find them fascinating. It is interesting to see what Jack would keep, what he would let go, and what he would try to adapt.

Anyway my game plan is to do a couple posts each of Kirby imitating two other artists. Also an example which I believe is Joe Simon doing the ghosting. Then perhaps a more casual examination of some other content pages.

True Bride-To-Be #20
True Bride-To-Be #20 (October 1956) “Homecoming” page 1, pencils and inks by John Prentice

Newlyweds start their life in a small town. Originally the wife as a city girl and she finds life in a small town difficult. She struggles as best she can but the feeling of isolation takes its toll. Just as she decides to return to her family in the city things make a turn for the better. People, including her husband, begin to realize how difficult it has been for her and start to provide support.

A very different splash by John Prentice then the last one I reviewed (First Love #70). But still a real nice design and a great segue into the story. Once again Prentice leaves out a normal panel boarder. But this time he also leaves out some of the background as well, in particular the walls. Not all of it is eliminated, we can still see a view of the outside through the open door. Not much there, just a picket fence, a small house and some trees. (And this time picket fence does not refer to an inking technique). Just this simple view is all what we need to place the story in some small town. The man carrying the woman over the threshold is pretty much completes the visual introduction.

True Bride-To-Be #20
True Bride-To-Be #20 (October 1956) Contents page, pencils by Jack Kirby and Joe Simon

This content pages follows the most common pattern, a splash panel (in this case not much bigger then the rest of the panels) and a short introduction for the feature story.

The splash panel is a close copy of from the third panel of the first page. Well in this case close means without much change in the posture. That hardly means that it is a good enough copy to really look like a Prentice. Still the woman is closer to John’s version then found in the introduction story. The splash does not provide much to go on but it does not look like Kirby’s work. The inking does not look like Jack’s either but it could be by Joe Simon. Because of that and in view of previous examples of contents, I am going to attribute the splash to Joe.

The introduction is once more a prelude to the feature story. Showing how the couple met and fell in love. Yeah it really is superfluous but at least it does not spoil the story much.

Ignore superficial traits such as eyebrows we can see some typical Kirby poses and layouts. Also some typical Kirby rendition of architecture. Jack even uses a similar architectural drawing style for penciling the interiors. I feel confident that this is Kirby “ghosting” for Prentice. But it is another not so good imitation. This time Jack does the best job on the man’s eyes. Eyebrows are not so well copied but at least they are closer to art by Prentice then they are to that by Bill Draut. The woman still has Jack’s preference for a triangular face with widely separated eyes. Not at all the longer, more oval face and closer eyes that Prentice preferred.

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.

Jack Kirby Swiping From Bill Draut

First Love #68
First Love #68 (September 1956) “Forbidden To Love Him”, page 1, pencils and inks by Bill Draut

A young lady meets a man at a dance and quickly falls in love. Early in the relationship the man tells the woman that he is an Indian. The lady is surprised and then ashamed at her response. She loves him and wants to marry him. On her return home she finds her parents waiting. They have heard from neighbors that her date was an Indian and they insists she stop seeing him. Of course she refuses and the conflict at home continues. The man gives a speech at a bond rally before the entire town. It is revealed that he is a war hero. He gives an impassioned speech about the importance of foreigners in the history of America and the true meaning of freedom. The town is ashamed about their treatment of the man and the couple wed with everyone’s approval.

The story of “Forbidden To Love Him” is based in Oklahoma and the chief character is an Indian. Nevertheless it is hard not to a consider this story a more universal condemnation of the racial or ethnic intolerance in much of America during the 50’s. It is a topic that Simon and Kirby had touched on in “Different” (Young Romance #30, February 1951). But their version was much more circumvent and not nearly as bold as this story. “Forbidden To Love Him” may have been a little heavy handed but it effectively highlighted the hypocrisy involved.

First Love #68
First Love #68 (September 1956) contents page, pencils by Jack Kirby, inks by Jack Kirby?

As with FL #69 we have a contents page with an introductory story that at a casual glance could appear to be the work of Bill Draut. In FL #69 the story was a sort of prequel to the feature story. Here in FL #68 it is more like the comic equivalent of a movie trailer. We have less to work with in determining the correct attribution because in four panels all we have are the couple with limited background. Still once you ignore the Draut style eyebrows Kirby characteristics keep popping out. The poses for panels 3 and 4 look particularly like Kirby’s and not the way Draut would have done it. I am discounting Joe Simon’s as the penciller because FL #69 provided examples of both Joe and Jack copying Draut. The art in FL #68 contents page matches Kirby’s version of Draut then it does Simon’s.

First Love #68
First Love #68 (September 1956) “Forbidden To Love Him”, page 5 panel 1, pencils and inks by Bill Draut

The last panel of the introduction story is more complicated and provides more clues as to Kirby’s involvement. In places Jack seems to forget that he is supposed to be imitating Draut and some faces look like pure Kirby. What is particularly surprising about this panel is that it is a swipe from one that Bill did in the story. Bill’s original depicted the crowd’s shame as the man revealed his wartime heroism. Jack has converted the scene to town’s anger about the coming marriage. But there is no mistaking the derivation because the lady’s father and mother have the same positions. The bride-to-be herself was left out by Jack because it would not have been appropriate for her to share the town’s anger. It is interesting to compare Bill and Jack’s approach to the crowd. Bill provides more people and arranges them to regularly diminish in size as we go from front to back. Jack draws fewer individuals and we are less aware of the size of the crowd because we cannot see the back. By doing this Kirby is able to provide clearer representation of the emotions for the people he does shows. In the comments to FL #69 Stan Taylor correctly remarked how the architecture looked like Kirby’s. This panel in FL #68 does not provide as many buildings but it still is interesting to compare Jack’s method to how Bill handle’s architecture.

Bill Draut And His Imitator, Jack Kirby

First Love #69
First Love #69 (October 1956) “Remember, I’m Your Girl”, page 1, pencils and inks by Bill Draut

With the period having 1956 cover dates Kirby was pretty much the only artist working on the Prize romance titles (Young Romance, Young Love and Young Brides). During this time Bill Draut and John Prentice who had previously been doing work for those titles began to appear regularly in the Harvey romance books instead. “Remember, I’m Your Girl” is typical of the work Draut did for Harvey. Bill still had an distinct style particularly characterized by simple but prominent eyebrows.

This a story about a man (Joe), his sister (Annie), and a former friend (Phil). Joe is now a successful politician and his sister is enjoying the financial fruits of that success. There is an approaching election and his position is being threatened by Phil, a rival candidate. Years before all three were good friends so Joe asks Annie to reconnect with Phil in order to find some weakness. His sister refuses but runs into Phil by accident and a romance develops. Joe wins the election but the sister continues her romance. When Joe confronts Annie to choose between her previous financial rewards or the rival, she chooses Phil.

First Love #69
First Love #69 (October 1956) contents page, pencils by Jack Kirby and Joe Simon, inks by Joe Simon?

Joe Simon was probably working for Harvey as an editor at this time. I generally do not consider works such as “Remember, I’m Your Girl” as Simon and Kirby productions. The format and length match Harvey romance stories from well before Joe’s time as Harvey editor. However something unusual happened in FL #68 and FL #69. Generally Harvey romances has a content page with at most a portion of the splash for each story. In FL #68 and #69 the content pages had a short original art that served as an introduction to the featured story.

For First Love #69 the feature story was Bill Draut’s “Remember, I’m Your Girl”. The same characters that appear in the feature story are presented here. The text makes it clear that the trio are shown in the earlier days while they were all still friends. A casual glance at the introduction story could result in attributing it to Bill as well. What particularly stands out are the simple but prominent eyebrows, which as I said was a Draut trait. A close examination reveals that the faces are not quite like Draut would do them, particularly in the story panels. There is not much to go but the spot inking does not look like Draut’s either. But I do not think it is just the case of some other artist inking Draut’s pencils. The layouts in the introduction story are not quite like Bill’s.

It is the layouts that provide a suggestion who the real artist was. In the first panel Joe is shown lighting up a cigarette. This is a typical Kirby theme and pose. In panels 2 to 4 the main speakers are placed in the front while those not speaking are placed in the background. This is a typical Kirby layout. Even the way Annie looks over Phil’s shoulder as they embrace is a typical Kirby pose. Although the artist tried to draw the characters like Bill Draut did he really could not completely adopt Bill’s more stylized pencils. Keeping in mind that he is imitating Draut, a close look at the faces suggests Kirby was the penciler.

First Love #69
First Love #69 (October 1956) “Remember, I’m Your Girl”, page 4 panel 1, pencils and inks by Bill Draut

In the past I have often warned about using some Kirby-esque features for attributing a work to Jack. Joe Simon was also familiar with Kirby’s techniques and was pretty good at mimicking most of them. If you ignore the attempt to copy Draut’s style, the number of Kirby-isms seems rather high even for Joe. But look at the drawing of Annie that appears in the bottom of the contents panel. It appears to be the done by yet another artist. A search of the actual story shows that the contents drawing was swiped the first panel of page 4. It would seem to be a reasonable deduction that Joe Simon did the contents drawing. If that is true then he was not have been responsible for the penciling of the introduction story.

The possibility of Kirby ghosting another artist was brought up recently by Bob H. in a comment to All-Star Western #99. I do not know if what Jack did for FL #69 introduction story would properly be called ghosting. It was not a case of fooling the editor, Joe was also involved in copying Draut on the content page. Nor was Draut a regular artist recognized by the reading public. Harvey romances are all unsigned and the artist used for the feature story would change. This was just a case of trying to maintain visual continuity between the contents page and the feature story. Imitating another artist was not something Jack did very often. Although his Draut was not perfect, it was good enough to fool many.

Two Early Westerns by Jack Kirby

Both Joe Simon and Jack Kirby had drawn some Western comic stories at the start of their careers. After their team up, Simon and Kirby would return to this genre but would combine it with others. Boys’ Ranch was Western plus boy gang and Bullseye added costumed hero to the mix. Simon and Kirby would even produce comics that joined the romance with the Western genre. As for pure Westerns, the only work Simon and Kirby did was some covers. After the break up of the Simon and Kirby collaboration, Jack began doing freelance work for both DC and Atlas, some of which included Westerns. I thought it might be interesting to examine some examples from early in Jack’s freelance period.

All-Star Western #99
All-Star Western #99 (February 1958) “The Ambush At Smoke Canyon” page 5 art by Jack Kirby

I am going to do this backwards and start with the later of the two stories. “The Ambush At Smoke Canyon” was published by DC with a cover date of February 1958. The six page story begins with the return of a scout’s horse to Fort Desolation without the scout himself. Realizing that something is amiss but with most of the force away on detail, Lt. Dan Foley goes out alone to try to follow the horse’s trail. Foley finds the scout pinned down by some Pawnee. Dan sneaks past the attackers and finds the scout wounded but not badly. Dan convinces the scout to sneak out and use his (Dan’s) horse to get help. Meanwhile Dan lures the Pawnee into a cave and traps them there until help arrives.

I got to say this is not that great a story. Does it seem reasonable that not only was Dan able to sneak past the Pawnee but that the scout was then able to sneak back out again? Even the method Foley uses to lure the Indians into the cave seems more contrived then ingenious. All and all a rather forgettable story.

However Jack Kirby has rescued otherwise uninspiring stories just by the visual excitement that he can add. Unfortunately that is not the case for this story. In fact a quick glance at the art might leave one unsure that it was done by Jack. I believe Kirby did the art, the two Indians of panel 5 of page 5 (see above image) look to me to be good evidence of Kirby’s pencil. There are some other examples in the story as well. But why does Kirby’s involvement seem so unobvious? One reason is a recurring problem now that Jack was freelancing. More and more in the future someone else would ink Kirby’s pencils. At times, and I think this is one of them, the inker seems to deliberately mask some of Jack’s eccentricities and make art look more like the house style. Whether the inker of this story was trying to correct Kirby or just was not talented enough, his overbearing inking has done a great disservice to the art.

Sometimes no matter how poor the inking, Jack’s powerful drawing would shine through. I do not know why that did not happen here. The layouts are not very interesting. There is little use of some of Kirby’s favorite techniques such as exaggerated perspective. Much of the action is from a distance, while Kirby usually favored his action up close and personal. Even the one fight scene included was handled rather poorly. I may not be able to explain why Kirby’s art in this case was one of his more forgettable efforts, but clearly freelance work did not always provide the best circumstances for Jack’s art.

Two-Gun Western #12
Two-Gun Western #12 (September 1957) art by Jack Kirby “No Man Can Outdraw Him” page 3 art by Jack Kirby

The next Kirby Western we will examine is a five page one done for Atlas with a cover date of September 1957. It tells about the arrival of a gunslinger into a small town. He is “the fastest gun in the west” and no one in the town is anywhere near his match. Therefore the Gunslinger is largely unopposed when he orders people about and takes what he wants. That is until he becomes interested in a beautiful girl.

Two-Gun Western #12 was one of the last comics published before the Atlas Implosion. Like other work for Atlas prior to this event, in “No Man Can Outdraw Him” Kirby seems to have a lot of control over the content. I can not say for sure whether he did the script, but there is something about some of the dialog that is has that slightly over the top quality that Kirby so often used.

The inking looks very different from what Jack for recent work in Yellow Claw (December 1956 and February 1957) or Astonishing #56 (December 1956). For those prior works Jack had adapted the Simon and Kirby house inking style. This style makes use of a special type of crosshatching using a brush instead of a pen. Common to the S&K house style are a set of long roughly parallel lines intersected by a series of shorter lines which I like to think of as a picket fence design. Another technique is the use of a row of tear shaped dots. Kirby used this style for the early Atlas work I mentioned but modified it by using a finer brush. However none of this is found in “No Man Can Outdraw Him”. In that story there really is no crosshatching of any kind. Instead spotting is used more sparingly so that the art has a light look to it. When larger dark areas are introduce they tend to be made by completely flooding an area with ink.

Despite the different styles used between these stories I think it would be a mistake to discount Kirby as the inker for the Two-Gun Western story. Look at the forearm of the gunslinger in the fifth panel of the image I provide above. Notice how the nearest portion is made from a couple of closely placed black strips followed by a larger area of black taking up the rest of the forearm. This same sort of technique for spotting clothing became common around the time of the Mainline titles such as Foxhole. A good example can be seen in the lower leg of the paratrooper in the cover for Warfront #28 cover dated January 1956. This concept of modifying the S&K studio inking style but dropping crosshatching and simplifying the spotting can also be seen in other Kirby works of about this period. For instance in “Town Full Of Babies” (Black Cat Mystic #60, November 1957). I have also previously remarked on this showing up in the all Kirby Prize romances that Jack did staring about November 1955 and going to December 1956). Kirby would evolve the style even further in the late Young Romance (starting about February 1958 and ending with December 1959). I believe that Kirby found the inking technique he used for Yellow Claw too time consuming. His inking therefore evolved into a quicker style. But the style was not just faster, Jack was much too good an artist to settle for that. Instead he used it to great advantage to give his art a stylized or abstract look.

Jack’s drawing seems to adjust to his new inking style, it also adopts a more stylized look. Jack’s figures often take on exaggerated but very expressive posses. Sometimes this results in some strange distortions such as the small torso of the hero in the second panel shown above. For Kirby it was always about depicting the story and giving his figures life, never about being anatomically accurate.

In short “No Man Can Outdraw Him” is a small masterpiece. It did not provide Jack Kirby’s wild imagination an outlet like he had in Yellow Claw but otherwise it shows what Kirby could do when he had control over what his work. The reverse, which is when Jack lost that control, is shown in “The Ambush At Smokey Canyon” that I started this post with. In all fairness these two are extreme examples, there was a whole lot of middle ground that Jack would occupy in later years. Still it brings to mind two “what ifs”. What if Kirby had continued to ink his own work for the Challengers of the Unknown? Wally Wood’s inking is very beautiful but I cannot help but think it would be more expressive had Kirby used his new style on it. Or what if Atlas never imploded? Kirby seem to have more freedom before the Implosion then after. Who knows what sort of masterpieces Jack might otherwise have produced for Atlas?

You can never provide real answers for such “what if” questions. All we can do is enjoy what was actually done. Unfortunately most of Jack Kirby’s pre-Implosion work for Atlas are obscure and have not been reprinted. However I have one other Kirby Western to discuss but that will have to wait for another post.