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Captain America, Issue 101, Page 6

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Pencil Photocopy

Pencils
Erik Larsen's picture
Posted by: Erik Larsen | February 18, 2014

Pencils to ink is like comparing night to day.

This page took a beating.

Anonymous's picture
Posted by: Anonymous (not verified) | February 18, 2014

Pencils to ink

Assuredly so but if U look at D Bruce Berry or Mike Royer's work the others are far behind in the pack...The two mentioned did a FAR BETTER JOB than ANYONE ON EARTH; IMHO

starquack's picture
Posted by: starquack | February 18, 2014

Shores vs. others

I'm sorry but I just can't work up the hate for Shores. His main fault was to do too much, to add too much detail. But I imagine he was doing what he thought was his job. He probably figured Jack was too rushed to put in all that detail and was leaving it up to him. I'm sure Shores had no idea that decades later, we Kirby purists (and yes, I am one of them) would persecute those who didn't see the genius of Jack's approach. I don't see quite as much reinvention and outright omission by Shores as I do with Colletta, or feel as much "Why the heck was this guy pulled away from his preschool crayon class to ink this" as I do with George "Bell" Roussos. Those two are by far the worst offenders. I would have preferred these inked by Sinnott or Royer, yes. But I actually appreciate having this alternate vision of Kirby. I like the Syd Shores "golden age shine". It seems right for Cap. I just don't like when he changes the faces so much.

Mike T's picture
Posted by: Mike T | March 16, 2014

Eye of the Beholder

I am a bit of a fan of Syd Shores, and I'm definitely in confused disagreement with the haters. I'll concede that Shores' hand, like mine, tended to shake a bit, and you can see this when you zoom in. But a bit of a shake isn't necessarily evil, and IMO adds a human element to the look and feel. Further, art is generally not to be looked at with a microscope. Ever been to an art museum?

If you back off a bit on the zoom, Shores' inking jumps off the page. He adds a great deal of finesse to Kirby's loose pencils. Shakiness aside, the blacks, shading, and outlines are top notch for that era IMO. I don't know if it's the quality of the copying of Jack's pencils on these (photocopies vs. stats?), but they don't look nearly as tight as, for example, those on the Galactus Trilogy. So when you compare Syd's "embellishment" with the original pencils, to my eye he added quite a bit while taking away nothing. I don't claim to be an expert, but it could be that Jack knew who the inker would likely be and turned in looser pencils compared to some of his other Silver Age output.

Let's be honest: Mr. Shores didn't simply trace over the lines like some, and his end-product didn't look flat (like some holy grail inker who shall remain nameless). Rather, he labored over the art, remaining true to the pencils while adding touches of detail and depth, making the art more realistic and less cartoony. From what I've seen so far, I'd much rather look at the high res scans of Syd's inks than what seems to be photocopies of Jack's naked pencils anyday.

(But are they photocopies? I didn't know we had that technology back then. Maybe they are stats of loose pencils?)

I will say this: It's unfortunate that the printing of the day couldn't keep up with Syd's fine lines. Those early CA books by Jack and Syd tended to look blotchy. The same can be said of Ayers', Coletta's, or Sinnott's books too, though. That's why it's so wonderful that Tom and the art owners have made the original art available to us! Now we can see with much more clarity what the artists actually did.

Hats off to you folks!!!

Krackles's picture
Posted by: Krackles | March 17, 2014

Eye for Eye

Indeed, you sound quite confused Mr T. probably just as much as Shores having to ink Kirby's pencils.

You said:
"… remaining true to the pencils while adding touches of detail and depth, making the art more realistic and less cartoony".

Thus, you pretty much summed up everything that Shores and yourself got wrong.
More is less and many of us want to see Kirby's art… not Shores'.

Shores put all his efforts in wrestling with Kirby's pencils and nobody's going to win a fight against such a stylist.
He didn't get Kirby and it shows awfully, the end result is just a mess of two styles clashing hopelessly against each other. No excuse, it was his responsibility to understand how to handle the job.
Piling up loads of lines to bury Kirby's style as deeply as possible wasn't the correct way to approach it.

That's why Lee took him off the book.

You wrote that poor printing didn't give justice to Shores finess?
Another thing you both didn't seem to get right.

Should I remind you that every artists had to work under such conditions? As a matter of fact, great professional artists like Caniff, Robbins, Toth, Kubert, Colan, Thorne, Infantino,… and, of course, Kirby himself, developed an idiosyncratic signature and worked around such constraints. They learnt their craft and came up with works that could survive any poor printing that you threw at them.

In short, comic art pretty much owns its distinctive visuals to the printing conditions under which artists had to work.
If you don't get it… Don't cry over "fine lines loss"… under this context blotchy art is just blotchy art unless you expected your art to entertain the next century.

You believe that Shores worked on looser than usual pencils?
Wrong pick again… He did ink Kirby at the peak of his game when the King's art soared.
If you don't trust me, try the Jack Kirby Collector, you'll find dozens of pencils reproductions for you to enjoy or just ask Joe Sinnott what he thinks of Kirby's pencils during this period.

You said the end product didn't look flat like the work of inkers who "simply traced over the lines" like photocopy machines?

I'll confess that I have the highest respect for mere photocopy machines. Thanks to them I can appreciate Kirby's art in its purest form and, with the knowledge of how Kirby's pencils looked like, I grew even more admiration for the inkers who understood how to serve the King.

I should add that I certainly don't hate Shores' work but rather his inks on Kirby because I think it's a total mismatch despite all the efforts he put in. The guy is obviously trying hard to make the work its own and that's where he falls short on providing what was expected from him.

Lastly, given what you expressed I discovered the reason of your confusion… that's Shores you like, not Kirby.

Lyle Tucker's picture
Posted by: Lyle Tucker (not verified) | March 17, 2014

You know, some of you guys

I posted a coupla posts here in the past but the tone is too much the usual smug voices of Kirby Kultists who pretty much are intolerant schmucks. Mr. T (who is not me, although I am a Mr. Tucker) - I agree with you - Shores gave The King's work a very interesting and viable sensibility. Don't let the narrow, infantile viewpoints of these folks dissuade you - your viewpoint and taste are fine - this assertion that there's a narrow "correct" way to've inked Jack is crap. Those pricks don't own a "correct" appreciation of Jack - he was far greater than that. You and I loved The King, and are mature enough to understand other's visions did indeed often add to his vision rather than diminishing it. -- Lyle Tucker

Anonymous's picture
Posted by: Anonymous (not verified) | March 17, 2014

Hear! Hear!

Thanks for that breath of fresh air Lyle.

Krackles's picture
Posted by: Krackles | March 17, 2014

Tuck n Talk

Kirby's vision should have remained its own and I blame the penciler/inker process for that but It's up to you to start whatifwhoever if you prefer to avoid Kirby Kultists.

Great post about intolerance, very instructive.

Mike T's picture
Posted by: Mike T | March 17, 2014

What fun!

I'm gonna hafta stir up some more shite now, methinks. Gimmie a coupla more Guinness, an' shake my shamrocks, baby!

Ok Mr. Krackle, so if an inker who adds some of his own style to the Kirby Kollective is evil, why do you list Sinnott, and OH MY Wallace Wood as 2 of your favorite inkers? Both changed the look, right?

Krackles's picture
Posted by: Krackles | March 17, 2014

Look on Hook

I complained about Sinnott a fair share and, frankly, Wood is on a class of its own that's why I put it on my list after a lot of hesitations.

Both of them had something that Shores lacked; their inking looked modern and energetic.
Sinnott was slick and not too overpowering; Wood added his sense of light and shadow while retaining most of Kirby's dynamism.

Shores snuffed all life from Kirby's pencils and looked old fashioned to put it mildly.

Mike T's picture
Posted by: Mike T | March 17, 2014

Purist Preferences Pointed Toward Pugilism? Possibly Not.

Well, if you've complained about Sinnott and had hesitations about Wood, then you sir are most certainly a Kirby purist! (I imagine we're all Kirby Kultists--if you go by the common interpretation of the term.)

I surmise, then, that if an inker takes a straightedge or corrects Jack's drawings because Jack didn't bother to make sure that his perspective lines all coincided in the same vanishing point, to you it's blasphemy and an infringement upon the King's genius. To me it's an improvement.

I see the pencil to ink relationship as a communication process, not a holy command. And most certainly, I wouldn't want to bog Jack down by asking him to sweat over such details. Ditto for lighting and shading (which applies to Mr. Shores). That stuff can be left for the specialists, who are better suited for such things anyway. Kirby would get into fleshing out the details more extensively sometimes, sometimes not so much. I think it's presumptious to say that he wouldn't have wanted those enhancements added to his work where he didn't already pencil them in, or that they don't belong.

I believe it's more a case of getting the biggest bang for the Jack buck: Storytelling, visualization, layout, form, style. There are only so many hours in a person's life, and where Jack is concerned, he recognized (as do most of his fans, I think) what the most important aspects that he needed to capture in his work were, and he left the finer details to the inkers to complete (sometimes based on who the inker was expected to be). Not all did. Syd Shores was one who picked up where Kirby left off, and to me that's highly laudable.

I couldn't disagree more with you about your statement "Shores snuffed all life from Kirby's pencils." I believe he added to the end result rather than subtracted (and I can't say that about all of Jack's inkers). But because I don't want Tom to get all nervous and stuff that you and I are gonna get violent, I propose that we politely agree to disagree. Deal?

p.s. It's great to connect with someone as passionate about Kirby as you!

Erik Larsen's picture
Posted by: Erik Larsen | March 17, 2014

Sorry, no

Jack's perspective is almost always wildly off. Fixing it creates a bigger mess than you can imagine and almost nobody attempted it, Joe Sinnott included.

Shores changed faces--always for the worse--and added a layer of unwelcome mud to Kirby's art. He did indeed suck the life out of Kirby's pencils. It was stiff--it was ugly--and he didn't have the assignment for long. His replacements were a vast improvement. I'll take Frank Giacoia, Dan Adkins or George Tuska over Syd Shores any day of the week.

starquack's picture
Posted by: starquack | March 17, 2014

Tuska

Tuska? While I like some aspects of his inking, look at all those soldier's faces on Tales of Suspense Page 1. All those cloned Tuska noses look nothing like what Kirby would draw. I think Shores, while flawed, was truer.

Erik Larsen's picture
Posted by: Erik Larsen | March 17, 2014

Those weren't "inks"--

Those were finishes--I meant Tuska INKS--like on Jack's fill in issue in the midst of Steranko's run--see Captain America #112.

Mike T's picture
Posted by: Mike T | March 17, 2014

Dear Mr. L.

Yes, fixing perspective could very often be a can of worms! Sinnott has stated the he fixed a lot of Kirby over the years (don't recall him specifically mentioning perspective though), until one day he thought "Who am I to fix Jack?" He said he then stopped, but his inks still looked like Joe, the faces still looked like his in part too.

The Faces...Ahhhhhh! Reportedly just about the only time Jack ever gave an inker (Royer, wasn't it?) any feedback was when he said "Don't change the faces!" Now that I think about it, Jack's faces aren't as important to me as they are to you and Jack, because, well, for the last 3-4 decades of his career, Jack gave almost all his heroes the same exact face. Heroines too. And the villian face count fell off dramatically as well. I've had to take flak from friends as the resident Kirby loyalist over the King's drawing of the same face on multiple characters more than a few times...

So if faces are your beef, that's cool. I get it. If I were the artist I might be pissed at that myself, depending. But personally, for these CA issues, I like Syd's modifications because instead of looking at a short list of the same faces all the time, Syd added some distinctiveness to the Kirby Kollective. I'm not saying his faces were better--no way! I'm a Kirby fanatic. I'm just sayin' that the variety is appreciated, and that the artist does not deserve the derision. I read elsewhere in these pages that Evanier said that Lee told Shores to work his own style into Jack's pencils because Shores was going to take over pencils on the book, so Syd was most likely only doing what he thought the boss wanted.

Assuming you're the Erik Larsen I think you are, I hate to be in disagreement with someone of your talent and experience. (And BTW, thanks for T.W.G.C.M.!)

But you know what? I'm not some mindless boob, and I have the same right to my opinon that you do. You can't tell me that what I like is crap. You might think you can, but you can't. I actually don't give a rip who you are, I know what I know, I see what I see. You're a Syd hater, that's all. No prob. Hate all you want, but just realize that I'm gonna stick up for Syd 'til the cows come home cuz I appreciate what he did.

Life-sucking? No way, bub. It might be changed a little, but it's still Kirby! Kirby's art, his layout genius, his story-telling, his power--it's all there. In fact, I'd put Ole Syd on a par with those inkers you mentioned, or better! Mud? Well, nobody's perfect.

Here's an olive branch: Can we agree on Don Heck? When Heck inked Kirby, all the faces looked like Heck. Am I right or am I right?

Thanks for the discourse (and the art, I believe)!!!

Erik Larsen's picture
Posted by: Erik Larsen | March 18, 2014

I'll take Heck--

--over Shores any day.

You're certainly welcome to your own opinion. If we didn't all have different tastes the lines to get into that one restaurant would be incredible. Like what you want to like and I'll like what I want to like and let it go at that. I don't think anybody has ever successfully talked somebody into liking something they didn't care for.

This page is not an awful Shores page in my eyes. He's done better--he's done worse. The Skull faces on this page look less interesting to me than the pencils but at least they don't look half asleep like they do on some of his pages. I can't hate on it too much.

Mike T's picture
Posted by: Mike T | March 17, 2014

Like 'em tight?

I stand by what I wrote yesterday, that I'd rather look at Syd's inked page than the low res pencil reproduction. I word it this way because I don't believe the reproduction here is fair to what the pencils really looked like. That said, these pencils do not look nearly as tight to me as others I've seen by the King from the '60s. In fact, they look more like his '80s output.

Should Shores have considered how his work would look on the printed page of the day? Yes. We agree here. My point is that other inkers, even Sinnott, were at times guilty of putting fine lines too close together, and the printing didn't do any of this justice. Considering that the ink artists weren't paid very much, I don't hold them to perfectionistic standards.

And let's again be honest here: Not every panel Jack ever did was unique. He used a lot of the same tricks over and over. He basically had 2-3 hands that he drew, and put these on nearly everybody. How many panels did he draw that showed a forearm, hand, and pointed finger? Do we really want all of this similar material inked the exact same way every time? IMO, no. Again, consider the meager wages and be happy. Even though Syd's work could look blotchy, I forgive that aspect because as a whole, Syd gave the King a new wrinkle to be assimilated, his distinctiveness added to the Kirby Kollective.

Would Chic or Joe have done better? Sure, but it's still the King, and it doesn't look flat like some tracer inkers' work does.

Shane's picture
Posted by: Shane (not verified) | March 16, 2014

Agree and Disagree

Count me as one who doesn't like Shores' inking on Kirby. I loved him on Colan, (where
he seemed to solidify Colan's intent) and Heck (where he seemed to overcome Heck's later looseness)
And he really like his solo work. Like Alcala and Wood, he is one who usually submerges a penciller's style with his own. But with Kirby he seemed to me to be at odds with the work and lose much of Kirby's dynamism.
But then it's such a personal thing. I do NOT hate Colletta like so many - largely because there is
such unevenness from job to job in Colletta's output , ranging from terrible to great.
I think New Gods 1 and Thor 179 (for instance) are horrendous, while I think Thor 138 and Forever People 4
are very good. I'm sure others will disagree. And whereas I think Royer was great, I rarely think Berry
was any good. To me, he shows all the hall marks of being 'just a tracer', following lines without any real
desire to understand Kirby's intent and I think that approach takes the life out of the artwork. Even more so than Shores did. Not the normal Kirby admirer's preference I know. To be a total infidel, I sometimes wish the Losers had been inked by John Severin - both to get away from Berry's flattening the art and to give the strip a different feel. Not 'pure' Kirby sure, but in the Sky Masters class, where a second brilliant style is combined with Kirby's to give
a different type of brilliance.

Mike T's picture
Posted by: Mike T | March 17, 2014

John Severin

Love his inks over Kirby!!! The only ish I'm aware of is the one S.H.I.E.L.D. Know where I can find more?

dplamo's picture
Posted by: dplamo | March 17, 2014

Check out the Yellow Claw

Check out the Yellow Claw from mid-1950's.

dplamo's picture
Posted by: dplamo | March 17, 2014

Komments on Kirby Kultists

I have great affection for Syd Shores' inking on Captain America - I was eleven when these issues hit the stands and Kirby's work had great impact on me, so my memories of these stories distort my perspective. Still count me as one of the Kultists that, in retrospect would prefer to see the finished product much closer to the intent of the pencils. When you look at it, the body of work being discussed is very small - a handful of issues. I think that the emotion for those of us that are reviewing these pages emanates from the fact that this was Kirby at the peak of his creative power. Though he would return to Cap, never again can we recapture the moments from the late sixties when his work was head and shoulders above the rest of the field (sort of like Tiger Woods in 2000 - 01). Let's face it, this site is mainly visited by individuals who have a passion for Jack's work. There are few artist/creators that generate the kind of emotion that Kirby generated. (By the way this has been true for my entire life. I can remember an animated discussion with a close friend in 1970 regarding who was the more influential creator Jack Kirby or Neal Adams. A worthy discussion - but for us "kultists" the answer will always be Jack. )

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