Thor Pencil Photocopies, Part I

January 6, 2013
Mangog Photocopies

Recently several beautiful and rare Kirby pencil photocopies turned up for auction. I was fortunate to acquired 16 of them from The Mighty Thor and The New Gods. Some of the best copies are from The Mighty Thor issues 156 and 157 featuring Mangog. These stories were originally published in September and October of 1968.

Back then Marvel would periodically make photocopies or stats of an issue and send them to the artist for reference. In some cases, copies were made at the beginning of the process when the pages were received by Marvel from the artist, who generally worked from home. In other cases, like these photocopies, copies were made right after they were lettered by the Marvel staff letterer, in this case Sam Rosen. Generally, fully inked copies weren't made because the inker usually worked remotely, so by the time fully inked pages were completed, the artist/penciler was already on the next issue or later.

When Jack Kirby drew an issue, he plotted the stories and put scripting notes in margin for Stan Lee to use for writing the dialog. You can see these notes in the margins of these photocopies. Kirby never saw the final dialog that, in many cases, was modified or scripted in a way he didn't intend for. So getting these copies was important so Kirby could move onto the next issue and plot with consistency.

While some artist might have trashed these reference copies, Kirby kept an extensive archive of them all, storing them in hundreds of manilla folders. Thanks to his efforts, today we can glimpse at pure Kirby pencils for enjoyment and research.

Click any photocopy thumbnail below to enlarge in a lightbox:

Thor, Issue 156, Page 2
Thor, Issue 156, Page 4
Thor, Issue 156, Page 5
Thor, Issue 157, Page 4
Thor, Issue 157, Page 5
Thor, Issue 157, Page 7
Winston L's picture
Posted by: Winston L | May 22, 2013

I think I'm going to faint

I'm speechless. These are pages from one of my most favorite Thor runs. Wow! Thank you! Thank you!

Anonymous's picture
Posted by: Anonymous (not verified) | February 11, 2013

Magog vs Mangog

Interesting that Kirby's margin notes show his intent to call the monster-villain Magog (as in the Bible), but Stan apparently chose to bastardize it to Mangog. I wonder why?

patrick ford's picture
Posted by: patrick ford | January 8, 2013

Thanks!

Thanks!!! Great thing about the copies (one of many) is you can see all of Kirby's notes (often dialogue). On the original art the pages were trimmed at the top or bottom in most cases, and on the sides.

Tom Kraft's picture
Posted by: Tom Kraft | January 8, 2013

My error!

I created the slideshow a new way and didn't give permission in the content management system for non admins to see it.

Fixed now! You should see the slideshow.

patrick ford's picture
Posted by: patrick ford | January 8, 2013

Sounds Good

Tom, That sounds very well thought out. So I take it the copies you were outbid on were copies you already have archived? No real loss then.
At the bottom of the post all I'm seeing is:
Click any photocopy thumbnail below to enlarge in a lightbox:
And I've tried looking on a couple of different browsers. Does anyone see the pages Tom is mentioning?

kirbyditko's picture
Posted by: kirbyditko | January 8, 2013

Link?

Hi Tom,

I also don't see the link to the other pages. Thanks for all your great work and the information on the photo-copied pencil pages!

Ken

Tom Kraft's picture
Posted by: Tom Kraft | January 8, 2013

Re: Link?

Patrick. Click on any of the pages at the bottom of the post. The top Mangog image will only open that image bigger while the thumbnails of the pages will open that page plus a left and right arrow to navigate through the pages. In addition there is an enlarge/expand icon that will increase the size of the page.

To date, we have scans of everything I've seen posted on ebay with the exception of the pages Jeremy auctioned which I purchased all of and added it to the archive. I keep a daily, automated search on ebay that sends me daily updates via email, so if any new pages get posted, I'll know. I don't know what Jeremy or any of the other members of the Kirby family have left and I doubt I'll ever know.

Rand and I have a working spreadsheet of all the photocopies we've scanned in archival, digital format so far plus the ones he archived from Greg and plus the ones I've purchased. Once we've completed scanning the 7,500 pages in manilla folders, we will most likely post a new list of photocopies that is complete and up to date. It will be online and updated as new copies are discovered/added. We've scanned over 2,500 photocopies last year. I'm hoping that we can complete scanning the remaining 5,000 pages this year.

patford's picture
Posted by: patford (not verified) | January 8, 2013

Link?

Tom, Maybe it's just me but I'm not seeing any of the Thor copies. I clicked on the Mangog panel, but that was just a larger version of the panel.
For archival purposes Rand ought to concentrate on any copies which turn up which to date are not part of his scan collection.

Tom Kraft's picture
Posted by: Tom Kraft | January 8, 2013

Re: All?

Patrick.

Yes I didn't win them all when they were posted on ebay, 6 or so when to other high bidders.

Unfortunately they are scattered but the bulk about 7,500 pages are together and were scanned by John Morrow. Over the past year we've started rescanning them in digital format and at a much higher resolution but this effort is ongoing. So these scans are in a common location as well as the original scans of everything John did (these are with the museum too).

The rest are scattered between the Kirby family and others. We have no control over these. They have a small amounts of pages however they are selling them on ebay. I've tried to purchase as many as my wallet can afford so they are close to the museum and shared with you guys. But ones I didn't get are now distributed to the general public. The good news, however is that Greg Theakston several years ago, allowed the museum to scan all his photocopies. These are some of the ones showing up for sale so at the very least we have a high res scan of these copies.

If the checklist doesn't mention the pages I've purchased, then yes they are newly discovered. The checklist may need to be updated at some point with other scans we've done.

My other photocopies are from Thor issue 152 and New Gods issue 11, pages 1 and 2. I will post the rest of the Thor pages soon in this post.

patrick ford's picture
Posted by: patrick ford | January 7, 2013

All?

Tom, When you say you acquired "16 of them" does that mean there were more which eluded you? It's kind of agonizing to imagine the copies being broken up and scattered? I really wish you, the Kirby Museum, and other collectors could work together to share these and try to keep at least scans in a common location.
The Kirby checklist mentions copies from Thor #156 for pages 1-5 and for issue #157 pages 1-10 and two unused pages. Is what you have something newly discovered?

kirbyditko's picture
Posted by: kirbyditko | January 7, 2013

WOW!

I can't wait to see the scans of these 16 photocopies---especially the Thor issues!

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