Category Archives: 2007/01

Early Jack Kirby, Chapter 7, Marvel Mystery

Marvel Mystery #12
Marvel Mystery Comics #12 (October 1940)

October (cover date) was a relatively slow time for Jack Kirby. The only full comic story that Jack drew was for Blue Bolt. As we saw Jack had been doing all the penciling for Blue Bolt starting with issue #4. The October story for Blue Bolt was issue #5, the first comic that had a Simon and Kirby credit line. Also to come out in October was Famous Funnies #75. However the art for Lightin’ and the Lone Rider may actually have been done sometime earlier. Even if it was done at the same time as Blue Bolt #5, it is only two pages.

The only other work Jack produced for October was the cover for Marvel Mystery #12. This was Kirby’s fifth comic book cover. Some of his earlier covers (Champions #9, Red Raven #1 and Daring Mystery #6) contain a certain awkward quality. But with Marvel Mystery #12 Jack has arrived to a cover style which he would use quite successfully later with Captain America. The hero for this cover, the Angel, is one of the backup features for this title. Judging from the covers it is not clear how much of a backup the Angel really was originally meant to be. The Angel had appeared on four of the previous eleven covers. Kirby’s Angel cover would be that hero’s last for the title with future Marvel Mystery covers exclusively by either the Human Torch, the Sub-Mariner, or most frequently both of them.

Unfortunately Jack Kirby would never draw an Angel story. Judging from this cover I suspect that if he had it would have been an interesting read. As was typical in Simon and Kirby covers, the hero arrives just at the critical time. He plows through his diminutive green advisories, shoving one of them in the face in a manner similar to that used for the cover of Champion Comics #10 (see Early Jack Kirby, Chapter 5). The Angel does not use the gun on his most immediate foes. Instead the hero reserves it for saving the beautiful victim, as the blurb says “could the Angel be in time”? Exactly what is going to happen to the woman is not completely clear. A first glance it looks like nothing more then that a mask will be placed on her. On closer look the mask has a strap with a sort of bolt attached. This suggests that the mask will be more then just worn, her face will be forced into the mask. Will this result in some sort of transformation? We may not know what will happen, but the lady seems to have some sort of idea as she squirms away trying to avoid her fate. The victim is unable to move very far as she is being held tightly by two gigantic hands. The hands might seem to belong to a statue, but the color and glint of the eyes, as well as the open mouth, convinces me that this is some monstrous being in league with the little green men. This cover effectively does what it is meant to do, perk the interest of the perspective buyer. The cover is not meant to provide all the answers, but unfortunately the Angel feature inside is a completely different story so questions about exactly what is going on can never be cleared.

Wonderworld Comics #15
Wonderworld Comics #15 (July 1940) by Joe Simon

The cover has some props that would be stock features for many Simon and Kirby covers. The vessel with an open fire in the lower right goes back to some of the covers that Joe Simon did for Fox Comics such as Wonderworld #15 (see above). The chains hanging from the wall can be traced back to Silver Streak Comics #2 one of Joe’s first cover work. The barred window would be used repeatedly in the future. The descending staircase leading into the room would also often show up again.

Marvel Mystery #13
Marvel Mystery #13 (November 1940) The Vision, page 1

For November Jack Kirby penciled a new feature, the Vision. This feature would appear as one of the backup stories in Marvel Mystery. Up to now this was one of the few successful features launched with Jack’s involvement. Jack had be penciling Blue Bolt but that had been started by Joe Simon alone. The Red Raven, a feature started while Joe was editor at Timely, was not only short lived but also assigned to another artist. Jack was involved with Marvel Boy who premiered in Daring Mystery #6, but that hero would only reappear one further time in 1943. The only other ongoing comic feature that Jack started was the Solar Legion for Crash Comics see Early Jack Kirby, Chapter 3. the Solar Legion did last five issues, with the first three stories done by Jack. The Vision would be longer lasting and Jack would be involved in it throughout his stay at Timely.

The Vision is an odd sort of superhero. He was initially brought forth as a scientific attempt to reach the supernatural world. Once this was done, the Vision was then able to appear and disappear from smoke of any kind. This power is reminiscent of the Flame, a Fox hero that could teleport using any fire as a portal. Not only was Joe Simon previously an editor at Fox but he did several covers of the Flame (see Wonderworld #15 above). Although normally residing in another dimension, the Vision also had a secret mortal identity.

It is I Aarkus in material shape. Only those approaching death can see me in my true form as the Vision!

This despite the fact that his “unmaterial shape” had been seen by others who were not facing his retribution. However if you are willing to accept some logical inconsistencies the Vision stories are rather good. As with the cover for Marvel Mystery #12, Simon and Kirby has fully arrived at a story telling style that would shortly bring them fame with Captain America.

Marvel Mystery #13
Marvel Mystery #13 (November 1940) The Vision, page 8

We have seen that Marvel Boy had some features that would later be the used for Captain America; parts of the costume and the fight against spies. One would think that the Vision was so different from Captain America that we would find little in common. But there are a couple of ideas related to the hero’s origin that were carried over from the Vision to Cap. In both witnesses are gathered to observe an experiment being held in a separate lab. Also common is that the experiment is disrupted at a critical time; by criminal thugs in the Vision and by a gun carrying spy in Captain America.

I wish I could present further Vision features. Although short in length they have lots of interest both in their stories and as showcases for Jack Kirby’s development during a critical time in his career. Marvel has been publishing Marvel Mystery Comics reprint volumes. But if they keep to their pattern of four issues per volume it will not be until the fifth volume before any will include Vision stories. I do have scans of two other Vision stories but they both are from the end of Simon and Kirby’s stay at Timely. This is not the correct point to discuss them. I will not be including Captain America in this serial post of Early Jack Kirby, that is a topic that requires much preparation and will have to be subject of a future serial post. So I have decided that perhaps the best thing would be to write the two other Vision stories as Featured Stories after I finish up this Early Jack Kirby serial post. So stay tuned.

Early Jack Kirby, Chapter 6, Daring Mystery #6

After Red Raven Comics #1 (August 1940) Joe Simon and Jack Kirby would do work for Daring Mystery Comics #6 (September 1940). Previously Joe had done some stories for this title, but now he would be its editor. This Timely title did not have anywhere near the success of Marvel Mystery Comics. Although declared a monthly, in fact Daring Mystery suffered a rather sporadic publication schedule.

Recently Marvel has been publishing reprint volumes of some of its golden age titles. This has been much appreciated as the original comics are rare and rather expensive. Volumes for Marvel Mystery, All Winners, Captain America, the Human Torch and Sub-Mariner have already appeared. I understand a reprint volume of USA Comics will also soon come out. However I doubt that Daring Mystery is ever likely to receive this reprint treatment. The issues are filled with features that would last only a few issues, sometimes even a single one, and then disappear.

Daring Mystery #6
Daring Mystery #6 (September 1940)

But the obscurity of Daring Mystery’s heroes is not the only reason I doubt it will get reprinted. As I see it another problem with Daring Mystery is the cover for issue #6. I really cannot think of another golden age cover that today is likely to provoke more of a negative reaction then this one. The image of a white woman at the mercy of some African American thugs brings to mind the rise of the KKK in the silent movie “Birth of a Nation”. It is true that when America entered the war there would be similar covers involving stereotyped Japanese or German soldiers. But at least then a war can be used to explain such derogatory works.

Not to excuse it, but those were different times. As uncomfortable as the DM #6 cover may make us feel today, we cannot just ignore it. History is meant to help us understand our past, not to remake it in the image of our present day. African Americans were conspicuous for the absence in comics books of those days. I suspect that in casting them as villains, Joe and Jack were just looking for a way to make their cover stand out on the racks. Whatever their intentions were, they would not repeat it. I can think of only one case where an African American was used as a villain by Simon and Kirby. Captain America #9 introduces the Black Talon. The Black Talon got his hand from an African American criminal who was executed. Pretty tame stuff compared to the cover for DM #6.

But apart from the racial overtones, what can be said about the Daring Mystery #6 cover? We have the hero swinging by a rope simultaneously kicking one thug in the face and pulling the hair of another. It would seem that Jack was trying to make this cover as exciting as possible. This was done early in the history of the comic book industry and both Jack and Joe were still learning. To me this was not that great a cover. I guess much of my feeling is due to the kicking and hair pulling. This is not the type of fighting one would expect from a hero, especially during the golden age. Like the racial reference, this would not be repeated in future Simon and Kirby covers.

Daring Mystery #6
Daring Mystery #6 (September 1940) “Introducing Marvel Boy” page 1 by Joe Simon

Both Joe and Jack were involved in the drawing of two of the interior stories for DM #6, “Introducing Marvel Boy” and “The Fiery Mask”. An interesting pattern is shown by both cases. Joe would do the starting pages of the story and then Jack would do the rest. For Marvel Boy Joe did pages 1 to 3 while Jack did 4 to 10. With the Fiery Mask Joe did 1 to 4 and Jack pages 5 to 10. My interpretation is that as editor Joe wanted to establish the look of the story. Joe had been working with Jack on Blue Bolt so I am sure he was comfortable sharing the drawing with Jack and Knew that the final would look fine. Joe did not use This drawing arrangement with any of the other artist in DM #6.

Daring Mystery #6
Daring Mystery #6 (September 1940) “Introducing Marvel Boy” page 8

Most of the stories we have seen by Kirby outside of syndication have been science fiction. Now Jack was back to doing something from the superhero genre, and doing a nice job of it as well. Marvel Boy fights an assortment of spies. We are not told what government his foes work for but they all seem to have German accents, say “Heil” while saluting, and one exclaims “Himmel” when attached. To keep things interesting, Kirby keeps changing the view point and makes a lot of use of exaggerated perspective.

Inking on the Marvel Boy story is different on the pages penciled by Joe as compared to those done by Jack. It is tempting to assume that the inking for a page was done by the same artist that did the drawing. But Joe was an editor at Timely and there were other artists available to do inking. The use of various hands in the inking of the same art page was a common practice in the future but it may also be occurring at this early stage.

Marvel Boy had costume features (“skull cap” mask, boots) and a story (fighting spies) that foreshadow a future character, Captain America. Neither Joe or Jack would do any further work on Marvel Boy. Years later there would be one further Marvel Boy feature in USA Comics #7 (February 1943) after which he would disappear completely, like so many other Daring Mystery heroes. In the 50’s a character with the same name would have a short run, but that hero only shares the name with Simon and Kirby’s creation.

Daring Mystery #6 (September 1940) “The Fiery Mask” page 5

The Fiery Mask first appeared in Daring Mystery Comics #1 (January 1940) is one of Simon’s earliest published comic book work. Although Joe did other work for some of the early issues of Daring Mystery, they did not include the Fiery Mask. Both the GCD and Atlas Tales indicates that the character did reappear in DM #5 (June 1940) but was done by another artist, George Kapitan. I have not seen the contents of this issue and so cannot add my own opinion. While Joe was editor at Timely the Fiery Mask would make two further appearances, here in DM #6 (September 1940) and also in Human Torch #2 (Fall 1940). It is not clear which was done first. DM #6 runs an advertisement for Red Raven Comics #1, not its replacement Human Torch #2. The cover for Marvel Mystery #13 (December 1940) includes a reference to HT #2 comic. Both facts suggest that DM #6 came before HT #2. The Fiery Mask story in HM #2 was drawn entirely by Simon and it is quite possible that it was actually created earlier just not published right away.

Daring Mystery #6
Daring Mystery #6 (September 1940) “The Fiery Mask” page 9

As mentioned above, Joe did the first 4 pages of the Fiery Mask story in DM #6 and then handed the story over to Jack. Jack did an excellent job drawing it. Part of the story involves a child delivered by a demon to a couple to raise. Jack’s transformation of an apparently peacefully sleeping baby in one panel into a malevolent infant in the next is just marvelous. The fight scene between the Fiery Mask and demons from hell is quite exciting.

Daring Mystery #6
Daring Mystery #6 (September 1940) “The Fiery Mask” page 10

As with the Marvel Boy story the inking appears to be different on the pages drawn by Jack as compared to those penciled by Joe. As previously discussed this could be due to the inker being the same as the penciler. But care must be taken because Joe may have had other artists available and multiple hands may be involved. However there is an exception to the general rule that the inking is the same on the pages drawn by Jack. On page 10 panels 4 to 6 appear to be inked differently. The penciling was still clearly done by Jack but the inking looks to me like it was done by Joe.

Kirby would do further work for Daring Mystery Comics. However because of the erratic publication schedule for this comic DM #7 would not be released until April 1941 and DM #8 would come out in January 1942. It would be best to discuss what Jack did for those comics later in a more appropriate place.

Kirby on the Web

I was checking out some of my favorite science blogs when in Paleoblog I came across a post titled “Origin of Homo mermanus”. Palaeoblog subtitle is “Evolution, extinction, fossilization”. But don’t let that fool you, Palaeoblog is not just informative but it is also a lot of fun. Serious posts on science news are often accompanied with images from comic books. In fact Dr. Michael Ryan will even post on comic art even without the science. Unless you are a stout anti-evolutionist you might want to check it out.

Well I did not have to be a scientist to know that Paleoblog was just having a little fun with the Homo mermanus post. Hey I know enough about human evolution to say there are no mermaids! But the part that struck me, and the reason for my own posting, was the image of two comic book panels. Actually one of the panels in particular. Just a man holding a skull and a another looking on. Nothing special except even with that I immediately recognized it as the work of Jack Kirby. Because my main interest is the Simon and Kirby period I was not sure what comic book the panels were taken from.

Well the Paleoblog post did not give either the artist or the source (shame on you Dr. Ryan!). But he did provide a link to another blog where he got it from, Atomic Surgery. Well I have to admit I was not at all familiar with this blog, but with a subtitle like “Scrambling the molecules of science and pop culture” it is a blog that I am going to start looking at.

Anyway the post in Atomic Surgery was even more interesting. It not only confirmed that the art was by Jack Kirby but that the source was the Fantastic Four. Better yet it provides 4 pages of the original art and of the corresponding comic book pages. I should have guess that it had to do with an origin story for the Sub-Mariner. It does not say, but a quick check of the Kirby Museum Catalogue Raisonne indicates that it must by from “Sub-Mariner Versus the Human Race” in the first FF Annual. (The Catalogue is free but you should be a member of the Kirby Museum anyway!)

I got a kick out of seeing Jack Kirby in unexpected places in the Internet. But I also liked the fact that even with just the one small piece of art you still could detect Jack’s hand at work.

Mea Culpa on Early Kirby

In a recent post of mine, Early Jack Kirby, Chapter 5, Timely and the Red Raven I used a one to two week lead time (the time between when a strip is created and when it actually is published) as part of a calculation of when Jack Kirby started at Timely. Well one of the great things about blogs is that someone may add a comment when I make a mistake. In this case Kirby scholar Stan Taylor questioned my short lead time.

I could not remember where I got the 1 to 2 weak lead time so I could not refer back to my source. So I reached out to Allan Holtz who has the Srippers Guide Blog. Allan is very knowledgeable about syndication strips and his blog is a treasure full of great information.

Allan’s response was that that daily strips are typically done 4 to 6 weeks ahead and Sundays 8 to 12. He added that these lead times hold every since the 20’s and 30’s. His qualification on these times was that if the strip was produced by contract lead times may be even longer.

I plan to make a corrections to some of my posts, but not tonight. I want to do some scanning for my next post as well to have more time to think things over.

So my thanks to both Stan Taylor for pointing out my error and Allan Holtz for giving me more reliable data.

The Comicscope and Captain America

I previously posted on the part that the Comicscope played in the early copying of Captain Freedom from Captain America. But in that post I was still left with a question about how the owner’s of Comicsope got an image of Captain America before the release of his first issue. In the light of new information I will be reviewing the entire issue again but for those interested in what I had to say originally here is a link to my previous post.

Wonderworld Comics #13
Wonderworld Comics #13 (May 1940)

The Comicscope was the creation of Victor Fox and Bob Farell, or at least they filed for the patent. If you are interested it how the Comicscope actually worked please see another post that I wrote, there is no reason to repeat that here. Victor Fox was the owner of Fox Comics and Bob Farell has been described by Joe Simon as Victor’s right hand man. However the Comicsope business was separate from Fox Comics. If I read the patent correctly, Victor handed off the rights to the Comicsope to Bob. Still as they were involved with both enterprises, it is not surprising that there was a special relationship between Fox Comics and the Comicsope. Early advertisements for the Comicsope that appeared in Fox Comics were actually promotions for those comics. Kids who wanted to get a Comicsope had to send in not just money, but also coupons clipped from five different Fox Comic titles. This promotional aspect of Comicscope ads disappeared in later issues of Fox Comics. Joe Simon has said that Comicsope received free advertisements in the Fox Comics. Note that in the ad shown above image projected on the wall is of Samson, one of Fox Comics characters. This makes sense since the whole purpose of the Comicsope was to project comic images and what better image to show then that of a Fox Comic hero.

Daring Mystery Comics #7
Daring Mystery Comics #7 (April 1941)

As I said the Comicsope was really not part of Fox Comics so it is not surprising that they might want to advertise it in the comic books of other publishers. One was Martin Goodman’s publishing company which today is referred to as Timely. But is understandable that Timely might object to a advertisement that included an image of another company’s hero, in this case Samson. So the ad was reworked to include Timely heroes. In the advertisement above you can see Captain America has been placed on the side of the Comicscope. This was done rather crudely with parts of previously images still showing. The image of Samson being projected was also replaced. It is a little hard to make out in the scan of the entire page above, but as you can see in the close-up below the new projection is of the Human Torch and the Sub-Mariner.

Daring Mystery Comics #7
Daring Mystery Comics #7 (April 1941) close-up

The Comicscope ad that I show above is the new information I mentioned at the beginning of this post. It is from the inside front cover of Daring Mystery Comics #7 (April 1941). Daring Mystery was one of Timely’s less successful titles. It was supposed to be a monthly publication, but in fact its schedule was rather sporadic. The previous issue (#6) was cover dated September 1940. So although the ad was actually published after the release of Captain America Comics #1 (March 1941) work on it may have begun much earlier.

There are good reasons to believe that this Comicscope ad was done earlier then indicated by its cover date. The version of Cap portrayed is that used for the first issue, notice the triangular shield and “skull cap” headpiece. These features were changed for all subsequent Captain America Comics, including that for issue #2 that also was cover dated April. The projection of the Human Torch and Sub-Mariner includes Toro. Toro was introduced in Human Torch Comics #2 (Fall 1940).

Speed Comics #13
Speed Comics #13 (May 1941)

Farell would also go to Irving Manheimer to have his Comicscope advertisement placed. Irving Manheimer was president of Publisher Distributing. Although Manheimer’s business mainly dealt with distribution he also published a few comic book titles, including Speed Comics. The Comicscope advertisement would appear in Speed Comics #13 (May 1941). Once again the ad was altered, returning Samson as the projected image replacing Timely’s Human Torch and Sub-Mariner.

Speed Comics #13
Speed Comics #13 (May 1941) close-up

But the image of Captain America on the side of the illustrated Comicscope remained in the ad. While the Timely ad was in black ink only, the Speed advertisement was printed in two colors (black and magenta). Notice that the colorist, working without a color guide, made a mistake in Captain America’s uniform. Flesh color was added to the legs. Presumable the colorist mistook Cap’s shorts to indicate that he had bare legs.

Speed Comics #13
Speed Comics #13 (May 1941) Captain Freedom, page 1

Unlike Goodman, Manheimer was probably not bothered by showing other comic publisher’s heroes in the Comicsope advertisement. In fact it looks like he took advantage of the information he gained from the ad. For Speed #13 was also the issue where Captain Freedom was introduced. The correspondence between Captain America and Captain Freedom is obvious. Similar placement of red and white stripes, a circle of stars replaces a single star on the chest, and shoulder pads replace mail armor. The “skull cap” is similar particularly to the Cap in Captain America #1. And of course the rank of Captain is shared by both. Captain Freedom also has bare legs, but this is only in common with the mistaken colorist’s rendition of Captain America for the Comicsope advertisement.

Captain America Comics #1 has a cover date of March while Captain Freedom starts with a cover date of May. It took at least three months to get a comic book published; one month month or more working on the art, a month for printing and a month for distribution. That being the case Captain Freedom was created at least a month before Captain America Comics #1 hit the stands. But with knowledge gained from the Comicsope ad, Manheimer would be able to get a jump on the competition and produce his own Captain America knock-off.

Irving Manheimer would shortly sell off his comic titles to Al Harvey. Al Harvey was a good friend of both Joe Simon and Jack Kirby. In fact Harvey had asked Joe Simon to come join him and invest in his new publication company. Joe declined, he probably felt he would do better with the share of the profits from Captain America that Martin Goodman promised him. But the promise was not fulfilled and Simon and Kirby would eventually leave Timely to go to work with DC. But they also did some moonlighting, including doing some covers for Harvey’s comics. It is one of those ironies that having created the phenomenal Captain America, Joe and Jack would end up doing some of the best art for Captain Freedom, a knock-off of their own creation.

Early Jack Kirby, Chapter 5, Timely and the Red Raven

Red Raven Comics #1
Red Raven Comics #1 (August 1940)

Joe Simon’s last set of covers for Fox Comics were cover dated July 1940. Joe went on to become art editor for Timely. When Joe arrived, Timely had three superhero titles. Marvel Mystery Comics was their big seller, largely due to the Human Torch and Sub-Mariner features. The other two titles, Daring Mystery and Mystic Comics do not appear to have been as successful. Each presented a dazzling assortment of features that would last only a few issues before disappearing. Previously Joe had done some work Daring Mystery through Funnies Inc, the shop that created the art for all Timely’s comics. (see my posts on Daring Mystery #2 and Daring Mystery #3). Now Timely’s owner Martin Goodman wanted to cut out the middleman and set up his own art shop. Although an editor, Joe worked on a freelance basis.

Science Comics #5
Science Comics #5 (June 1940) by Joe Simon

Previous Timely comics had been anthologies, but Joe’s greatest success so far had been with Blue Bolt. Blue Bolt was an anthology also but was named after the key feature. Joe convinced Goodman to do the same thing with a new hero, the Red Raven. While at Fox Comics, Joe had drawn a similar flying figure called the Eagle for the cover of Science Comics #5 (June 1940). But the success of Timely’s new title would depend largely on the key feature. Joe had to make sure the Red Raven story was especially good. The story would be 17 pages long, seven pages more then any other of the features in the comic. But surprisingly the Red Raven story was drawn by an unidentified artist. Jack Kirby drew the cover for Red Raven #1 along with two of the stories, so it is clear that he was available to do work. At this point Kirby was already doing all the drawing for Blue Bolt and was clearly a much better artist then the one Joe actually used. I can understand that as editor Joe might not want to draw it himself, but why did he not turn to Jack for this?

Red Raven Comics #1
Red Raven Comics #1 (August 1940) “The Red Raven” by unidentified artist

According to Joe and Jim Simon’s book, “The Comic Book Makers”, Jack Kirby did not immediately follow Joe to Timely but continued at Fox. In the book Joe says it took three months. The last Blue Beetle strip that Jack did was published on March 9, 1940. Syndication strips are usually created only a week or so before publication. Comic books take longer to be created and the covers are dated with the removal time, not the distribution date. The result of all this is that comics will have a cover date that is five to six months after work started. This means that the first comics that Jack worked on after Fox would be cover dated August or September. I believe that Joe is right about Jack staying at Fox but perhaps it was not for a period of months but actually weeks. If when Joe started work on the Red Raven Jack was only available on a moonlight basis Joe might have reluctant to use him for the all important feature story. By the time Jack transferred to Timely it was too late to change artists.

Red Raven Comics #1
Red Raven Comics #1 (August 1940) “Mercury in the 20th Century”

The credit given for “Mercury in the 20th Century” go to the writer, Martin A. Bursten (actually spelt Burstein). This is Kirby’s earliest foray into a feature loosely based on mythological characters. The hero is of course Mercury and his adversary is Pluto. Pluto is causing havoc in the world and has taken the mortal disguise of Rudolph Hedler, leader of Prussland. America was still at peace, but Europe certainly was not. In this story Mercury uses his powers as a god to thwart Pluto war promoting activities.

Red Raven Comics #1
Red Raven Comics #1 (August 1940) “Mercury in the 20th Century” page 7

Inking on this story is different from that on Jack’s pervious comic book work. The inking used to define the form is lighter. Further spotting is not limited to form, but includes shadows and design aspects. Page 7 shown above provides good examples. Although Jack did not limit spotting to form when working for Blue Beetle or Lightn’ and the Lone Rider the way it was used in those works was different then what was done here. I believe someone other then Jack did the inking for this Mercury story.

In panel 4 from page 7 of “Mercury in the 20th Century” notice the large size of the man on our left. Similar large ears on people viewed from behind was a Kirby trait in the future during the years he and Joe worked at DC. But it also shows up occasionally at other times, the image above is perhaps the earliest example. But this trait is not as common during Jack’s period at Timely. This is because during this time Jack would not use this viewpoint as often and when he did he would not always get the ear size wrong.

Red Raven Comics #1
Red Raven Comics #1 (August 1940) “Comet Pierce”

Jack also provided a science fiction feature, Comet Pierce. In many ways this story is written and drawn very much like his previous sci-fi work. The biggest difference is before the hero was a sort of sheriff of the stars while here Comet Pierce is a rocket ship racer. Once again lots of flying rockets, monsters and of course a beautiful woman. Even the inking is similar to the earlier work in that it is largely limited to describing form. But “Comet Pierce” is even more important in that for the first time a story credit’s uses the newly acquired name of Jack Kirby. The credit is for Jack alone, not for Simon and Kirby. Yet another reminder that although Joe and Jack worked together for Blue Bolt, they were not yet truly a team.

But the Red Raven title only lasted one issue. Because of the amount of time it took to get a comic book published, three months, it it clear that Red Raven Comics was discontinued well before any idea could be made about how well it would sell. Martin Goodman may have liked the idea about having a comic title dedicated to one key hero but he may have gotten cold feet about basing a comic on a new, untried, character. Instead it was decided to start a title for the successful Human Torch and (to save money on a new mailing permit) take over the numbering from the Red Raven. The first Human Torch would therefore be issue #2 and would be cover dated as Fall 1940.