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.
It's always a joy to see a historical cover like this one with such high quality and high resolution scan. Since I couldn't go to the Lucerno exhibit of Kirby art, this is the closer I'll get to a Silver Age cover by Kirby. At least till IDW release an Artist's edition of that age, something very difficult to do given the situation between the Kirby Estate and Marvel. But I don't lose the hope...
Sam Rosen is the letterer.
I don't find Everett's inks particularly good on this piece, especially on hands and Thor's righ arm.
This was the very tail end of Kirby's Silver Age Marvel run, and not only had his art/storytelling been increasingly dispirited since about '68, but (and this is obviously connected) the whole publishing/editorial level had turned outright insulting to readers' intelligence and taste. I feel this is reflected in several aspects of this cover, despite the fact Kirby was and will always be the King.
This is one of Jack's BEST covers. From a composition standpoint it stacks up with any of his earlier Marvel work. it's dramatic and packed with energy! From an inking POV, this is one fabulous job by Everett. I think you guys need to go stare at more Colletta before you're allowed to come back and look at this magnificent cover.
I fully agree, Glen, well said! :-)
BTW, Sam Rosen is the letterer.
Thanks Ferran, updated to Sammy. Interesting how the lettered of the cover is different than the interior. The GCD lists Artie for cover and interiors...
Rosen and Artie got assignments with no continuity. Since I'm gathering stuff by them to recreate their lettering, I even found splashes by Simek with the title lettered by Rosen. The only consistence I found was that all the splashes by Ditko for short horror stories were done by Simek, don't ask me why. Another consistence is that Rosen lettered all the "next issue" titles included in the letter section for some months, no matter who lettered the interior art of the issue.
I posted many of the Ditko's splashes in my blog:
This is a couple of samples of Tales to Astonish where Rosen drawed the title in a comic lettered by Simek:
When I have some time I'll locate credited title pages by Rosen so you can campare them to those samples, so you can see the likeness. Since Rosen and Simek lettered mostly of the Marvel titles at that age, I suppose that they worked always with extreme deadlines and they lettered whatever was available no matter if it was interior art or a cover or an ad or whatever. I suppose that in extreme cases, they'd help each other to finish the books.
An easy way to recognize Rosen's work is to focus on which kind of strokes he makes. Rosen use to make them with different width, while Simek uses strokes with the same width in any direction.
In the case of this cover, if you pay attention to the lettering not outlined in the caption, you'll see that vertical strokes are wider than the horizontal ones. You can get this effect with beveled markers/pens or using a plain marker inclined 45º over the paper. Since I don't know if in the 60s existed beveled markers, I'd be inclined to think that Rosen used an average marker in awkward positions with the hand.
Another clue to guess that this Thor cover was lettered by Rosen is to focus on the "s" character. Rosen use to draw the middle bar almost horizontal while Simek draws them in diagonal.
>Buff< It's hard and frustrating to explain with my limited english vocabulary. Not that my spanish or catalan vocabulary is much more wider, either...
This a comparation to show my point that these splashes were an uncredited collaboration between Rosen and Simek.
Focus on the "S" of the credited splash by Rosen. They are very similar, and in a style trademark by Rosen:
Thanks Ferran for the analysis, it is helpful and a good way of determining who did what. I will however be grateful for any of your letterer credits in the future since you have the experience.
Thanks for sharing the info. Letters are rarely acknowledeged, but I wrote a little about the talents of Artie Simek and Sam Rosen on my blog recently. I thought you might enjoy reading it.
Well, guys, I'm sure you don't really want to get me started on Colletta, do you?
I find this cover weak.
Marie Severin might as well be credited with the pencils on this cover. Reminds me of those awful looking covers Kirby did in the mid-'70s based on layouts from the front office.
Those '70s Marvel covers are interesting in that I think Kirby was doing some of his greatest art at the time, but the covers he did while shackled to a layout by another artist are painful to look at.
LOOKING at two different covers, Patrick!
Marie was a good artist herself, but if she ever drew anything this spectacular it would have been the absolute highlight of her career.
I've worked in this industry for 20 years and I am really floored by some of the purely negative comments I've read here. I think this is a great site, I love looking at larger sized, uncolored work, yet too many of these comments leave me cold. Marie was one of the sweetest people I'd ever met, who was one helluva talent, draw, ink, color. I am wondering how many of the people criticizing the small pool of talent that worked their asses off in those days of little to no money with overnight deadlines have ever had to create work like this on a daily basis. How many pages a day have any of you inked to meet a last minute deadline -- and done so 5 days a week (at least) 50-52 weeks a year. Don't like VInce Colletta's work -- I don't care -- just once put yourself in his shoes -- X pages a day, Xx5 a week to make a deadline. The difference between an amateur and a pro? Doing it. Getting those 40, 50, 60 pages a month drawn or inked. Knock Marie the way some of you have? You know how long she was in the business -- longer than any of you -- because she produced work, day in and day out. Work done at the last minute, complete work done to make deadline. This industry is not about the 'stars' taking their time to make a page look great -- it's about getting the work in on deadline, to make a printing schedule, to sell the books to pay the rent - to pay the printing bill so next months books can be printed. And before any of you say you weren't insulting anyone -- reread your posts. Again, you don't like a particular inker, artist, writer; you want to kid about Kirby's penchant for getting hands switched (Which was joked about in the day too) fine. Just be aware of what these people had to do -- because there was no one else and those who produced got the work.
Thanks for getting this out of your system Xavier but I would be dishonest if I didn't say I've heard the very same arguments over and over. Unfortunately, you didn't get it much better as you miss one point.
Are we really discussing about art on its own merit or the work ethic of the artist who produced it?
Because, reading your comment, I don't think we are discussing about the same thing.
Positive and negative criticisms are both sides of the same coin.
You can't stand ART criticisms?
Show me how wrong I am but don't lecture me while dragging the discussion elsewhere.
I didn't work in the comic industry but I'm fairly aware of it for an outsider and, more important, I supported it with the money I spent. Money, I earn, maybe with just as much hard work as you.
I love the people who worked so hard to produce great artwork way above what was requested from them.
I can't say the same about all ARTWORK that has been done by some people and I definitely despise the way this industry treated almost all of them.
Unfortunately, I can't do much more than buying the production of the artists I appreciate and, when I give an honest appreciation of their work, whether positive or negative, I pay respect to the men.
Putting it simply : I love each and every pencil lines Kirby put on paper unless it was inked by Vince Colletta.
C'mon M Xavier, who can take you seriously when your favorite Kirby inkier is Syd Shores. What is it you do in the comic biz?
And yeah--I work in the business too and state my opinions. I'm one of the guys that likes Colletta on Thor and have defended him quite often. Making an observation about Jack drawing two left feet or the wrong hand on an arm is an obvious thing to make a comment about. Why is there offense taken in that? I think Stan would have given "No Prizes" for noticing something like that.
I understand and right there with you on the living these pros had to make back then. A time when they took deadlines seriously and busted their butts to make them. And today we got some of today's artist who have the gall to call them hacks. I really don't work in comics at the capacity these greats did and I sympathize with how hard they had to work. As you say, the ones that produce got the work. Which may be why my body of work isn't all that much for as long as I been doing this on and off.
You can see my work here. Go 'head and critique away.
I'll finish this with saying something about this cover...I would have prefer Vince Colletta inks on it.
Hey Frankie, it's cool to look at your artwork from your brand new website!
Why thank you, Krackles. Coming from you does my heart glad.
Looking at this thing using the ZOOM feature makes me think Kirby's involvement was minimal.
Everett didn't erase the pencils real throughly and what remains of them looks different from Kirby's direct bold approach to penciling, the pencils seem to have a very sketchy look.
Also see all the small pencil figures under the paste over "INFERNO." Those small figures don't look typical of Kirby. The arms, head, and pelvis of the giant don't remind me of Kirby, and the busted up buildings don't look like Kirby's design style either.
My guess is Kirby was given a layout by either Romita or Marie Severin. That was the norm at the time for covers. When the cover came in I think much of it was redrawn (also typical for covers at this time). Aside from the giant's torso I'm not sure much Kirby survived whatever revisions this cover went through.
What's up with Thor's right foot? Is he wearing high-heels?
Kirby's input into this cover was NOT minimal. This cover hung on the Kirby's walls for a number of years before they sold it. I think Jack LIked it quite a bit. They weren't he the habit of hanging other artist's work. You really think that you are a better judge of Jack's work than Jack was?
From what I can see, Kirby's pencils have almost been obliterated.
And since we are playing mind reading.
Whatever the reason why Kirby did choose to hang on his wall this cover, you can't pretend to know for sure yourself.
I knew some people who kept on their walls pictures against their own free will.
I'm not implying that it was the case for Kirby but I'm leaning on what Frank said.
The King had an utmost respect for Bill Everett, couldn't it be enough for him to hold on such a piece?
It hung on his wall because it was inked by Bill Everett whom Jack had a great deal of respect for. To me this cover very much looks like Jack had a lot of imput in it.
Kirby only got a few covers back from Marvel, and that wasn't until 1987 only a few years before Kirby's death.
Kirby had artwork penciled and inked by John Severin hanging on his walls when I visited his home in 1975.
I find the cover to be really weak, almost certainly based on a layout, and retouched after Kirby did his part. The head of the giant looks like it was redrawn in the inks by John Romita.
I love Kirby's work from this time period and later, in fact I think Kirby's pencils on Captain Victory were sensational.
Since you were clearly working in the Marvel bullpen when this cover was done, I guess you would know Patrick. If I have questions about the inner workings of Marvel I'll ask you, ALMOST CERTAINLY!
...were YOU working in the Marvel Bullpen when this cover was done? If not, how would you know whether or not Marie Severin did the layout for this cover? Patrick is correct in stating that Mirthful Marie did cover layouts for many Marvel artists from this time period -- including Kirby. I also happen to agree with his opinion that she probably laid this one out. It looks like one of her compositions. The problem here is that there's just not enough depth-of-field (deep-space perspective) to CLEARLY place the figures where they need to be (in relation to each other) in order for the picture to be effective. And unfortunately, Wild Bill's inks don't really help in that regard, either. Oh, and is that a building on the left? Not very well drawn, is it? Your quote: "Marie was a good artist herself, but if she ever drew anything this spectacular it would have been the absolute highlight of her career." Really? In fact, she drew MANY things that were as good as, or better than, this cover. Not that I think this is a particularly bad cover. It's just not Kirby's -- or Everett's -- or Severin's -- best.
I was not working in the Marvel bullpen. What bothers me is that some of you speak with the authority of one who was there instead of admitted that you're just guessing while pretending all the while to be a Kirby expert.
Everett wasn't known for being faithful to Kirby's pencils, but I always liked his beautiful line, and he did get the faces right. The cover just does nothing for me, but here is fantastic work from the same time period.
Evanier said in his book on Kirby (pg 155) that from 1967 on detailed cover layouts were produced in the Marvel office by either Marie Severin or John Romita, and approved by Goodman and Lee before being sent to Kirby for final penciling. He also mentions how typical it was for covers to be tightly controlled by publishers, and as we see here at What If there is ample evidence of much more tinkering with covers than interior pages. It's one reason I've said several times here covers are almost always the worst looking things on the site. Even when working from an approved layout we see instances where an editor decided to reconfigure a cover. Sometimes an arm or leg is moved, sometimes a whole figure is stated and either increased or decreased in size and then glued down on the original art. Often faces are redrawn by Severin or Romita on instructions from Lee. That's why we see a Marie Severin face on Steranko's HULK cover.
As far as I know it isn't a matter of opinion, it's a fact almost all of Kirby's covers for Marvel after 1967 were based on detailed layouts.
Glen, an X-pert is somebody who wrote on a subject he wanted to learn about.
Given this definition, all contributors on Wik are X-perts, including you.
Kirby got back only a few covers from Marvel. Among the covers returned were Thor 172-176.
Kirby cover for issue #175 was rejected and Marie Severin was credited with the published cover.
Apparently the cover returned to Kirby was Severin's cover, because as seen in this link Kirby signed the original art. The rejected Kirby cover is also at the link.