Scans of original art are from the Kirby Museum's Original Art Digital Archive.
Scans of pencil art photocopies for the Kirby Museum's Pencil Art Photocopy Archive courtesy of the Kirby Family, with thanks to TwoMorrows Publishing.
Please do not copy any images or content from this site without permission.
Thanks for the new addition. The zoom feature leads to a "page not found" message.
Guess thats what happens when I haven't posted in so long...
This high quality scan and the zoom feature are very useful to see how Rosen worked. You can see a few traces of black pencil which was the rough of the title (forget the traces of blue pencil which was Lee's work). How little Rosen needed to do his amazing work, just a few references, which probably was absolutely necessary to do the work as fast as possible.
I know it will sound like a broken record for many of you but, each time I look at Kirby's Thor inked by Colletta, I feel robbed of the King best pencilling days.
I have an Omnibus sitting on my shelves, still waiting for me to gather enough guts and go past my repulsion for random scribbling.
I just want to read Kirby's sublime work… Curse you Vinnie!
Thor #134 mention and auction again???
OK – Maybe I’m going to blaspheme here but I really believe that there is a place for an inker that brings their own distinctive style to the finished work – EVEN Kirby’s work. Comics, especially comics of the sixties, is an inherently collaborative medium. As we look back on this work we have elevated Kirby to the status of artistic genius that he deserves. However, I believe that we need to keep the work in perspective – both historical and artistic.
As a kid I loved Colletta’s work on Thor – it gave the book a Hal Foster feel that was appropriate for the subject. I loved the slick Sinnott inking on the Fantastic Four and Captain America. I also loved the Golden Age feel that Syd Shores leant to Cap. In my mind it was all about producing a product that resonated with the reader.
From what I have read and some of the people that I have spoken to, the main objective was to produce a good product that people would buy. In the mid-sixties virtually no one, including Jack, was trying to preserve the artistic integrity of a particular creator. Now it is no surprise that almost everyone was disappointed with Vince Colletta’s work on the DC Fourth World run. In my view that doesn’t have as much to do with Colletta’s craftsmanship, although that is a contributing factor, as it does with a mismatch of his style with the subject matter.
When I look at it Dick Ayers over Kirby gives the work an Ayers feel. That worked spectacularly on Sgt Fury but not so well on the FF. Wally Wood over Kirby gave the work a Wood feel, which always worked for me but not so much for people that don’t have an appreciation for Wood’s chiaroscuro style. We could go on and on.
From my point of view only Mike Royer and Dan Adkins worked to faithfully preserve Kirby’s line. By the time that Jack hired Royer, Jack was much more concerned with preserving the integrity of his vision from concept to printed page. Still, whenever I am inclined to criticize the work of Jack’s collaborators, I am reminded that Jack himself was invariably tight lipped on that subject – even when the work was clearly sudstandard.
I'd say most Kirby fans love all kinds of inking over Jack. Wood, Everett, Sinnott...lotta folks like Shores & Ayers. It is true though that some of us regret BAD inking over Kirby.
Your point is well stated and I agree with it. Yes, the more I learn about what Colletta did to Kirby's pencils, the more I yearn for "what might have been" (especially when I see the pencil xeroxes), but the harsh reality is that these people were meeting deadlines that many creators today couldn't meet at this level of quality. And for better or for worse, comics were not considered "art", but a disposable form of entertainment.
I wish we could have seen each issue of Thor have the "best" Colletta effort, that sometimes sneaks through. And I wish Ayers and "George Bell" had never been allowed within 100 miles of a Fantastic Four page, (what genius took Sinnott OFF the FF after issue #5 anyway? Can you imagine what we'd have today if he'd simply stayed on?).
I'd love to see someone with deep pockets assemble all the xerox pencils of Kirby in one collection and pay to have them ALL "what-iffed" by people like Royer and inkers with similar sensibilities. And maybe even try to reconstruct the pages without xeroxes. Kirby Remastered! Marvel and DC could use it as a way to get us to buy the same material again, the way media companies did with VHS to DVD to Remastered DVD to HD digital download. Please Marvel and DC! It would be good for your bottom line and make us all happy!
I had a similar idea YEARS ago. Have Kirby re-draw ALL his 1st issues and those deemed 'worthy' and have Berry or Royer ink them all. Call its some type masterworks edition. MY opinion...as desirable as having an FF #1 is; I PREFER what Jacks pencils were LATER in his career. IN FF #1 they looked anorexic for lack of a better term. The look and feel of FF later...well words can't describe... Imagine what FF #1 would look like if the Jack Kirby of FF #48 were drawing so to speak!!! Just like our other author; I'd be MORE than willing to buy (that) akin to VHS to DVD to Blu ray and the eventually to 4K blu ray (whatever they might call it) and then finally 8k marketing...you keep buying the same thing over and over...as I do now ;-)
It's not true that comics are an inherently collaborative medium.
It's things like Marvel and DC comic books which are generally collaborative. Most other forms of comics tend not to be collaborative and if I were to compile a list of my all time favorite comics I'd probably list a few hundred works created by one cartoonist before I came up with anything collaborative.
The only exception which comes to mind would be Kirby when paired with inkers and letteres.
It isn't that jack couldn't have inked his own work or even supervised the process (as happened later on at DC). I would love to hear Mark Evanier weigh in on this subject but it is my understanding that Jack wasn't really very interested in that part of the process. Jack was primarily a storyteller. I seem to remember the transcript of a panel discussion where Jack indicated that once the story was told, going back over it to manage the production details was less important to him than moving on to the next story.
It isn't the couldn't manage those details. I seem to recall Mark Evanier telling a story that Jack had a vision of closing out his own regular work on the Fourth World series and turning the regular art chores over to others. I believe that he had Steve Ditko in mind for one title.
From what I have read (and I am not a person that ever met Jack) Kirby embraced the collaborative aspect of producing comics in a manner that few creators of his stature ever did. We was never a Barry Windsor-Smith or Frank Miller, who desire to oversee every aspect of their creation. Now I have great appreciation for the work of Windsor-Smith and Miller and I greatly respect the fact that Kirby could have managed the entire process if he so chose. It's just that what interested Jack the most, and contributed to his prodigious output, was the next story.
I believe the story was that Jack wanted to start his own branch of DC comics in California. He proposed having different artists on the 4th World books that he would write and edit, not draw. This was the discussion before starting the 4th world not after or during. DC gave the green light for the 4th world books but insisted that Jack draw the books too.
Sure. Just imagine if we could re-master the work that suffered from poor production. It is a testimony to the power of the storytelling that the Fantastic Four became such a fan favorite. Through the sixties it was my youthful and uninformed opinion that Jack's style matured and improved between 1961 and 1965 when the level of detail in the illustration and the complexity of the storytelling began to soar.
Yet a review of the historical information yields a completely different story. In the early sixties Jack was a one man production machine producing up to 10 pages per day of story, finished pencils, layouts, house ads, covers and concept art. Yes the art suffered from a lack of attention to detail that should have been attended to in the production process. There was no Joe Simon to spot the blacks or adjust a perspective or add a horizon to a panel. We need to remember that Stan was the Art Director. While Stan brought a unique sixth sense for what would sell, he was not the guy to personally lead the process of delivering a refined collaborative production.
Later as Jack "slowed down" to a pace of four pages daily we see the level of detail and vision that we recall as the peak of Kirby's career. It is still my opinion that Jack could have produced in this style at this level of refinement much earlier. If we look at the Sky Masters work, especially as inked by Wally Wood, we get an idea of what the early Kirby work at Marvel might have been. It is probably an impossibility to get any of the mainstream publishers to go along but what a fantasy to take the stats of the early Fourth World run all inked by Mike Royer.
Jack's COTU pages, The Harvey Alarming Tales work, his Yellow Claw stories-- all far better than the early Marvel stuff. Even the unpublished Starman Zero pencils from the late '40s (which he probably put extra effort into as he was hoping for a prestigious syndicated strip) are approaching his prime drawing work.
Unfortunately, Kirby didn't acquire a thermal copier until what, 69?
Prior to that, Marvel used to send pencils reproduction (with much higher reproduction quality than mere photocopies) but we don't know how many pencils page have been reproduced and how many have survived.
We can assume that a good share of it is lost.
As for remastering, that's more or less what Tom is doing when he commissions inkers like Royer or Adkins to ink a new page from a pencils reproduction but, again, without the pencils, forget it.