KO #1 (October 1945)
I apologize for using an unrestored image for the cover of KO #1. The art for the cover is so poor I am unwilling to spend the time to restore it. Add to that the fact that the cover was not actually done by Jack Kirby. The most obvious sign that this was not done by Jack are the lower legs and ankles, particularly his left one. The outline is so sinuous that the form is broken. Jack was not accurate in his anatomy but he would not damage the structure like this artist has. Another feature not seen in works by Jack is the stiff arm swing, it is just too awkward. One final point although perhaps it is not as convincing as the other evidence. Jack had done only two covers using an oversized figure, at this point in his career Jack had stopped using that device.
I was going to work tonight on a couple more “Not Kirby” posts. But somehow it just does not seem appropriate the day after Jack’s birthday. So I have decided to continue with progressive proofs of covers. As I said yesterday progressive proofs provide prints of the individual colors which I scan separately and combine using Photoshop. I believe this provides the most accurate idea of what the cover looked like when it was first published. No retouching or color adjustments are required. Joe Simon only had progressive proofs for five covers left. Not surprisingly they were all for Mainline Comics, the short lived comic publishing company that Joe and Jack started.
In Love #1 (September 1954) by Jack Kirby and John Prentice
I have posted a smaller image of this cover proof before although I did not mention then that it was based on progressive proofs. In Love was the romance title for Mainline. Jack did the foreground figures and John Prentice drew the background ones. This is a unique example of two S&K artists working on the same cover. I wish that the original art was still around. Perhaps it could provide evidence as to why this was done by two artists.
Foxhole #4 (April 1955) by Jack Kirby
Joe Simon has told me that they (the S&K shop) did not do the color guides for the comics, that was the responsibility of the publisher. Once Joe was pointing out the artists in a photograph of the S&K studio. Joe said that one of the artists, whose name I forget, was the colorist. At the time I though Joe was contradicting himself. But later Joe described the financial deal that he had for producing comics for Prize. S&K had to cover all costs for producing the comics. When a certain percentage of the printed comics were shipped, S&K would get some money back and then share the profits from the actual sales. But I believe that when the deal was made making the color guides was not part of the work that S&K would have to do. But it would not make sense for the colorist to work elsewhere, in fact Prize may not have had their own artist bullpen. So the colorist would work in the S&K studio but be paid by the publisher Prize.
However Mainline Comics were S&K’s own company and so all work in creating the comics were their responsibility. So they oversaw, if they were not actually involved, in making the color guides. It seems to me that some of the Mainline cover color work is very different from work done for Prize. In fact some of them are in my opinion the best color work ever done for Simon and Kirby comics. The cover for Foxhole #4 is certainly one of these great color jobs. In fact it would not be anywhere near as dramatic without the colors.
Police Trap #2 (November 1954) by Jack Kirby
The first two Police Trap covers show the interior of a police station. Even though they were swipes from some paintings, they are just great Kirby covers.
In Love #4 (March 1955) by Bill Draut
Jack Kirby did not draw most of the work in the Mainline comics despite the fact that during this period he stop drawing anything for the Prize romances. Joe Simon is said to have handled most of the business aspects of the S&K shop but I suspect running their own publishing company required more business effort which even Jack had to help with. But there were other fine artists to help such as Bill Draut who did this cover. Actually yesterday when I wrote that Jack Kirby did the cover for In Love #3 that was not technically correct. The insert of the book cover was done by Draut.
In Love #3 (January 1955) by Jack Kirby
I was not planning to do a post tonight but then I remembered it is Jack Kirby’s birthday so I could not let that date go by without something. The cover I have here is for In Love #3 (January 1955). It is special for me because I have the original art signed by both Jack Kirby and Joe Simon. But I also think it is appropriate because it shows a comic book artist, although a rather idealized one. This image is based on what are called progressive proofs. Before a comic is published the cover printer may provide the publisher with progressive proofs. These proofs include pages of the individual colors (cyan, magenta, yellow and black) as well as pages showing how the printing stages would look. If I remember correctly yellow is printed first, magenta second, cyan third and the black completes it. Printed colors change with age. But with progressive proofs it is possible to scan the individual colors and then combine them together. What results is perhaps the most accurate idea of what the cover originally looked like. I did absolutely no touch-ups on this cover whatsoever.
Captain America #7 (October 1941) “Horror Plays the Scales”
Simon and Kirby have completely mastered the double page splash with Cap #7. The important center is now occupied by the title “Horror Plays the Scales” and a ring of floating heads. Perhaps you remember me saying that floating heads and oversize figures were devices that Jack Kirby did not use often on covers but were devices that Joe Simon used for covers throughout his career. The Captain America covers did not use either floating heads or oversized figures but both devices appear in the splashes. On this splash the floating heads are obviously under torture with most trying to cover their ears. Behind them is are multicolor rings with musical notes floating about.
If the title and floating heads do not make it obvious about the nefarious use of music, the scene of the splash does. It is divided by the central design into left and right sections. On the left is a violin maestro in the thralls of playing his instrument. The musical notes that he is generating are shown flying up toward the right. The eye follows these notes into the top of the rings of the central design. The eye then follows the stream of musical notes that enters the right section of the scene. The musical notes stream then wraps around the head of a man. Now is revealed what effect the maestros music is having. The man, obviously in a trance, advances with a knife toward Bucky who is tied up on a chair. But Captain America descends from above to save the day. I have no idea where Cap leaped from. While the left section shows a music hall, the right section takes place on a city roof top.
Along the bottom of the splash is the start of the actual story. Unlike what was done in Cap #6, the story section in Cap #7 is well integrated with the rest of the splash. The background to the story panels has strips like the scales of music notation. These scales are given various colors that give them a visual connection to the color rings behind the floating heads. On the left is a musical symbol, I am afraid I am ignorant about music so I do not know what it is called. Following this symbol are a row of musical notes. The round part of the notes are actually the panels of the story.
For me this is perhaps the most interesting design of the Captain America double splashes. That is not to say that the rest are not successful, only that Simon and Kirby would experiment with other different designs.
Young Romance #52 December1952) “Soldier on the Train” by Bill Draut
Once again the original Checklist gave this as Kirby/Simon and the update as Kirby/Draut. But again it is clearly both drawn and inked by Bill Draut. Unfortunately at this point in his career Bill has stopped signing his work, but his style is quite unique and easy to spot. Bill had a distinct way of drawing woman, wide eye and simple long eyebrows.
Young Romance #51 (November 1952) “The Way They Met” by Jack Kirby
Well I guess I misnamed this series because now I want to provide a Kirby work that the Checklist missed. Even though it is a one page work it has all the signs of Kirby penciling. The inking is typical S&K studio style. Generally I am unwilling to hazard a guess, but in this case I believe the spot inking was done by Jack himself.
Young Romance #47 July1952) “A Man For My Birthday” by Bill Draut
Originally the Checklist indicated this was penciled by Kirby and inked by Simon. In the update (JKC #32) the inker was listed as Draut. Well the update is correct about the inker being Bill Draut, but he was also the penciler. In fact the entire store is done in a style so similar to other Bill Draut stories I am not at all sure why this one was singled out. I have no doubts that Draut not Kirby drew this piece.
Young Love #55 (March 1954) “Love War” by Jack Kirby
The Jack Kirby Checklist lists “The Baby Dolls” (Young Love #55) as penciled by Jack Kirby. But in fact there is no story by that name in that comic. Young Love #55 has the story “Love War” that is not listed in the Checklist. There is a “Baby Doll” story in Young Love #31 (March 1952) but it was not done by Kirby. I think we can be pretty certain that some clerical error has occurred and the wrong title was listed for YL #55.
Young Love #12 (August 1950) “Problem Clinic” by Mort Meskin
The Jack Kirby Checklist lists “Problem Clinic” (Young Love #12) as Kirby pencils and Simon inks. Not signed but clearly Mort Meskin pencils and inks. No Jack Kirby.
Mort did a lot of work for Simon and Kirby but so did Bill Draut and John Prentice as well as a host of other artists. Yet Mort has been mistaken for Jack Kirby more then any of the others.
Young Love #12 (August 1950) “Smooth Operator” by Mort Meskin
The Jack Kirby Checklist lists “Smooth Operator” (Young Love #12) as Kirby pencils and Simon inks. Once again it is signed as Mort, although it is hard to see because it is in an brown area on the lower right of the splash. And once again typical Meskin pencils and inks. I cannot see any sign of Kirby.