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Wonderful inking by Royer. He almost always does a superb job of capturing the spirit of the facial expressions in a way faithful to the pencils.
Although the teaming of Kirby/Simon, and Kirby/Sinnott are lauded (and rightfully so), I feel that Royer deserves credit for delivering a purer Kirby experience.
Most of what people think of as Simon inking Kirby is Kirby inking his own pencils. There are only two brief periods where Simon did much inking on Kirby's pencils. When the two men first began working together prior to Timely, and after the war before they built up a substantial staff. Two places to find Simon inking Kirby would be Blue Bolt, and Stuntman. On Stuntman Kirby inked almost all of the stunning splash pages and double splash pages. My impression is Simon did as much penciling as he did inking.
Joe Sinnott is a technical marvel. I like almost everything about his beautiful line work, except the way he inked Kirby's faces.
Pat, I would rather blame Sinnott for redawing/retouching Kirby's faces before the inking stage.
It's true that Joe "embellished" Jack's pencils quite a bit but I'll forgive that sin because the work just looked so damn good. A great example of two artists on the same page so to speak. Joe has said that later in the run he started changing less and less of Jack's pencils and IMHO the later FF's look much more Royeresque.
Many people point to Kirby as Marvel's house style, but it really isn't the case. It's correct Joe said in several interviews he came to feel it was a mistake to "Raymondize" Kirby's faces, and he began inking them in a more faithful way. Stan Lee often had John Romita retouch, or redraw faces drawn by Kirby in the '60s.
What's interesting is by the time Kirby returned to Marvel in the '70s his way of drawing characters he had created (unlike Superman) was not on the model which had moved closer to the look of Romita or Sinnott. As a result it wasn't unusual to see Kirby's faces retouched by John Romita, and Joe Sinnott. This is really evident in the face of Galactus all through the graphic novel.
Sinnott was definitely the right inker for Jack's sixties F.F. work, just as Giacoia was the right inker for his sixties Captain America work and Colletta was (sometimes) the right inker for his sixties Thor work (although obviously many people believe Stan should have found someone other than Vinnie for that job). Royer, however, was the right inker for Jack's more individualistic seventies work. Mike's inks were grittier and more flexible than Sinnott's slick linework and when Kirby returned to Marvel in the mid-seventies it was pretty obvious that he and Sinnott were no longer as effective a match as Kirby and Royer.
Certainly but absolutly not the "right" inker, especially when you describe inkers like Sinnott or Giacoia the same way.
Well, Vinnie certainly had his detractors, but he had his supporters, too -- as evidenced by the fact that sales on THOR dropped when he was temporarily taken off the book. People can debate about the relative artistic merit of his work 'til the end of time, and I'm not saying it was great, but it WAS commercially successful and it helped to give the series a distinctive look, just as the inking of Sinnott and Giacoia did with the Kirby titles they were associated with. So that must have counted for something at the time.
John is correct as far as how many people who were there at the time felt and feel. The most common way people look at old comics is as a nostalgia item. It's kind of like enjoying looking at the old ads for B-B guns, Saturday morning cartoons, and old baseball cards; much of the enjoyment is a sensation of comfort and looking back at old times. Everyone enjoys things like that to some degree.
For me Kirby transcends the nostalgia. Not only that but not having experienced the '60s Marvel era first hand I have no connection to it. As a result the whole idea of "the bullpen" the MMMS, and "Jolly Jack" means nothing to me.
I like Kirby and his artwork never looks better than when it looks most like the way Kirby penciled it. I feel the same way about Ditko, Hal Foster, and Joe Kubert. If Colletta had inked all of Spider-Man I expect fans from that era would say Colletta was "right for Spider-Man." It's kind of how the tree outside your bedroom window looks right. If there never was a tree there, that would look right to.
Hate most of the work he did on Kirby. I won't go into the reasons- we all know why. But one thing I will say is that although it appears Mr. Coletta didn't give a shit about the work he was doing (he as much told Jack so) I do like the effect he got when inking Thor. The light line and scratchy effect worked to a certain extent on this strip. And ONLY this strip. If only Mr. Coletta had given a crap about the art he was producing he might have refined this technique into something special that really worked well in the confines of Thor's world. Ah, but that's water under the bridge.
You can tell you are losing your ground in a debate when you are starting to use your contradictor arguments.
Are we evaluating the commercial value of Kirby inked by Colletta from the point of view of an editor?
I couldn't care less and I don't believe any of you come here for this reason.
Does commercial value always match with artistic merit?
Should we declare Van Gogh an artistic failure because he didn't sell any painting during his lifetime?
Whatever supposed commercial success Vinnie might have achieved (and this is something quite open to debate) is totally out of topic in regards to what this website has to offer: a wonderful opportunity to appreciate and study Jack Kirby and his inkers' artistic merits.
Commercial value is a common argument raised relentlessy by Colletta's proponents, mostly, to derail any unfavorable discussion focused on Vinnie's merits as an inker. It's a «burn the bridge» strategy, it's irrelevant but, more than anything, it's a bit disappointing, coming from one of the very persons who used to argue against it not so long ago.
I avoid Vinnie's inks like Cholera.
I'm not trying to say that the commercial value of Colletta's inking (such as it was) made it inherently good; I'm just making an observation that the stylistic touches Colletta brought to the table probably helped the sales of the Thor comic in the sixties, as did the work of the other inkers we mentioned for the titles they worked on. And that was just about Vinnie's only contribution. Believe me, I'm in no way saying that I think Colletta was anywhere near as good an inker as Sinnott or Giacoia; I'm just saying that he was reasonably popular with both hardcore fans and the general readership at that time. The reality is that most of us liked Vinnie's inking when we were kids -- probably a lot more than we like his inking now, as adults. The perceptions and tastes of both individual and collective audiences always evolve over time, which is why some things that were popular and successful at one time are no longer popular and successful today, and why some things that were previously unpopular or unsuccessful are now very popular or successful. As you point out, Van Gogh's work is a perfect example, since his paintings are now amongst the most valuable of all. I think Mike Royer's inking on Kirby is another great example of that, as it generally gets a lot more respect now than it did back in the seventies. People are finally maturing enough to recognize how superior Mike's work really was compared to almost all other Kirby inkers. But it takes time, because, let's face it, most people are basically shallow and undiscerning in their tastes, and it's an uphill battle trying to get them to look beyond the most basic surface qualities in any type of art, including comics.
Stan Lee said when John Romita took over Spider-Man they got a whole bunch of letters complaining about the change, but Lee didn't print any of them. Instead Lee praised Romita on the letters page and on the news page, and in short order Spider-Man was selling better than ever.
That may have been because people liked the ARCHIE style white bread Lee/Romita Spider-Man better than the brooding Ditko version; or it may simply have been because the early issues had been building in sales already, Marvel was getting better distribution based on the sales of the Ditko issues, and the Romita issues simply followed the same sales track Ditko established.
People as diverse in opinion as Jim Shooter and Mark Evanier have both pointed out the one thing in the '60s and '70s which could be counted on to generate negative letters was a change in the artistic creative team. When Marvel replaced Barry Smith with John Buscema on CONAN people complained, when Royer replaced Colletta people complained, when Romita replaced Ditko people complained.
My complaint with Colletta is his style is completely at odds with Kirby's style. Colletta actually had a very good technique when he wasn't in a huge rush, and it's a technique more in line with someone like Stan Drake or Ken Ernst than something like a woodcut. It's like having Neal Adams ink Kirby, just a bad fit.
Why do so many people think Colletta was "right" for Thor? Why do they almost always start talking about the "woodcut like" look Colletta's inks (which look nothing like woodcuts) bring to the table? I assume it's because Colletta inked Thor for a long time, and people got comfortable with it, and it was Lee who sold the "woodcut" idea. It's pretty remarkable when you see what an effective salesman Lee is. The Marvel Method is almost always reported about in magazines and books in exactly the way Lee describes it, Lee came up with the method out of the goodness of his heart, as a favor to "his artists." Colletta is "right for Thor." and his inks give the book a "woodcut like" look.
"It's pretty remarkable when you see what an effective salesman Lee is." That says it all, True Believer!
It is incredible. I expect it from fans, but what gets me is I see Lee's "history," as described in his lectures and ORIGINS books, repeated almost word for word in books which are supposed to be scholarly. I think the Marvel Method business annoys me more than anything. It's dead obvious why it came about. Lee was paid a salary as editor, and collected a page rate for his writing. Could he have at least split the writers page rate if he insisted on writing the balloons if he was so big hearted? Kirby, Ditko, and Wood complained about it bitterly, and yet time and again Lee's "I did it out of concern for the "artists..." story is repeated.
Keep the "Colletta/Woodcuts" thing in mind. It becomes comical as you go along reading different things to see this mentioned over and over again.
It's ironic, too, that Marvel wouldn't even exist today if Kirby hadn't returned to them in the late fifties and made such a huge effort to creatively revamp the company -- which, of course, Stan has always taken the credit for. But if Kirby hadn't come back, it's a fairly safe bet that Stan would have dropped out of comics altogether and pursued a career as an advertising-copy writer, so he still would have been doing essentially the same thing, which was using his talent as a bullshitter to the fullest degree possible!
I do think Lee was by far the most important factor in Marvel's success. His voice and promotional tools were Marvel. On the other hand there is no doubt in my mind he never would have had the chance to apply his voice and promotional abilities if Kirby had not sought work at Atlas in 1958. I think the Lee/Romita Spider-Man proves beyond all doubt Lee was Marvel. It was their best selling book, and it was night and day different from work by Ditko or Kirby.
Drew Friedman: My dad (Bruce Jay Freidman) actually worked at Magazine Management, which was the company that owned Marvel Comics in the fifties and sixties, so he knew Stan Lee pretty well. He knew him before the superhero revival in the early sixties, when Stan Lee had one office, one secretary and that was it. The story was that Martin Goodman who ran the company was trying to phase him out because the comics weren't selling too well.
Larry Lieber: It was just an alcove, with one window, and Stan was doing all the corrections himself; he had no assistants. Later I think Flo [Steinberg, secretary] and Sol Brodsky [production manager] came in.
Jack Kirby: They were moving out the furniture.
Dick Ayers: Things started to get really bad in 1958. One day when I went in Stan looked at me and said, "Gee whiz, my uncle goes by and he doesn't even say hello to me." He meant Martin Goodman. And he proceeds to tell me, "You know, it's like a sinking ship and we're the rats, and we've got to get off." When I told Stan I was going to work for the post office, he said, "Before you do that let me send you something that you"ll ink."
"I do think Lee was by far the most important factor in Marvel's success." Totally wrong. As I said, if Kirby hadn't returned to Marvel in the late fifties, the company would have CEASED TO EXIST -- period, amen.
"I think the Lee/Romita Spider-Man proves beyond all doubt Lee was Marvel." Wrong again. It proves that the work of John Romita was different from the work of Kirby and Ditko and superior to the work of all other plotter/artists at Marvel EXCEPT Kirby and Ditko.
What did Stan Lee do in comics that was of any significance after Kirby left him in 1970? NOTHING -- period, amen.
...had never returned to Marvel at all? He could have either found an acceptable way to resolve his differences with Jack Schiff and continued on at DC, or he could have moved on to other work at other companies. Either way, he would have still done magnificent comics, still been the greatest, most creative talent the industry has ever known -- and he also wouldn't have had to carry the twin monkeys of Stan Lee and Marvel Comics on his back for the rest of his life, because they both would have been gone.
In my dreams Kirby would never have worked for Marvel. He would have gone and worked for Charlton. The page rates were not as good, but he would have been paid for writing, and may well have ended up transforming Charlton. There were lots of very fine artists working for Charlton including the great Sam Glanzman.
I applaud you for pointing out the reality of the situation here, unfortunately it's against the accepted dogma here (As you can see by the response you got). Many people seem to want to be Kirby's BFF and choose to ignore realities. Commercial success is important in the history of a business where there was a time when they did not have two nickels to rub together. I've had a similar argument on a few threads. Stan has taken too much credit, of that there can be no argument; but now the pendulum has gone the other way and deny him ANY credit, by creating a history that never was. Many here forget that Jack was not as popular back then as he has become and many fans voiced their dislike of his work. THERE WOULD HAVE BEEN NO MARVEL FOR JACK TO COME BACK TO WITHOUT STAN. Lightning was caught in a bottle between Kirby/Ditko and Lee. Stan wound up running a much, much larger company and stopped writing for Marvel, but that does not seem to matter to his detractors. I remember the 635 offices of the very early 70's and they were puny and hectic.
After a poster here had the temerity to insult Marie Severin I have generally stopped reading these comments and just look at the art. After all, those who cannot or never have -- insult everyone else.
You've really stopped reading the comments? Then why do you keep responding to the comments by telling us that you've stopped reading the comments? And I notice that you like to keep playing that same card about having worked in the industry, but when Frank Fosco asked you what comics you had ever worked on, you had no answer. SO TELL US, O GREAT MASTER, WHAT COMICS HAVE YOU EVER WRITTEN OR DRAWN?
I generally agree with Pat but, this time, he slightly got carried away.
Despite the success Romita and Lee enjoyed on Spider-man, storywise, their run was a far cry from the creativity at work in Kirby or Ditko comics.
Stan was without a doubt instrumental in Marvel's success as a smart editor and marketing juggernaut.
As a writer, without the likes of giant storytellers like Ditko or Kirby, he was rather common.
When I say the Lee/Romita Spider-Man was Marvel's best selling title, that's all I mean. Personally sales success means absolutely nothing to me as an indication of quality. In no way do I think the Lee/Romita Spider-Man was anything more than an average super hero comic book.
I also feel Lee was an exceptionally poor editor, and writer. I credit him for creating a voice as a writer, and as a promotor which connected with fans. This doesn't impress me any more than the fact that Donald Trump and the Kardashians are popular with large numbers of people. Hostess Twinkies and Wonder Bread were very popular at one time as well.
To me Lee was the brand, and he sold the brand.
Hmm, I more or less understood your comment but the clarification is welcome.
30 years a freelance photographer - 20 of those freelancing for DC Comics. Before that 10 years in production where I got to know illustrators and I got to know people at Marvel -- professionals who worked their asses off and do not deserve to be insulted by you. So, pray tell, arbiter of talent - what have you done overnight to make a deadline? What have you done to get repeat work? To make a career out of the business? To make a living in the industry? To quote your wizened words - O GREAT MASTER, WHAT COMICS HAVE YOU EVER WRITTEN OR DRAWN?
Everyone is entitled to express an opinion as long as one accepts contradiction.
I buy, read comics and give my opnion.
...I never said it was imperative that someone work in the comics industry to have a valid opinion on comics. Regardless of what you may believe, there are many people who can make valid comments on any field of endeavor without having worked in that field.
And for your information, I wasn't insulting Patrick; I was simply disagreeing with a couple of his points. As he well knows, I have great respect for his opinions and it was never my intention to insult him.
Pat, with the benefit of a nostalgic haze, I've made a discovery. If you think about it, it's obvious why Vinnie's inks were right for Thor. Vinnie was to the pencils what Lee was to the story. Kirby handed over a finished product and they each butchered their respective charge; they gutted, dumbed down and emasculated Jack's work. Now when you match up Colletta's inking with Kirby's writing, like we got at the beginning of the Fourth World books, of course it stands out like the sore thumb it is. Stan was the filter, the mastermind who reduced our expectations by turning Kirby stories into kid stuff; Vinnie's chicken scratch suits the archaic Norse god kind of story no matter how much of it takes place in space. (I dunno, makes sense to a kid.)
Excuse me, while I hiss and cry!
Mike, I think it's more strictly the fact that people got used to it over a period of time. Stan Lee said when John Romita replaced Ditko on Spider-Man there were a rash of letters complaining. Lee ignored the letters and praised Romita on the letter's page, after awhile people began liking Romita on Spider-Man. My thought is if Colletta had inked the FF and Sinnott had inked Thor people would say Colletta was "right" for the FF. THe rational would be something like this.
"Vinnie added an Earthiness that Kirby's super science fiction needed to keep it grounded. If Sinnott had inked the FF his slick metallic finish would have only reinforced what Kirby was already doing. Colletta added an important grubby element which humanized the work."
Sinnott would be right for Thor because.
"Joe brought a modern look to work which if inked by Colletta would have looked like an antique, something like musty old woodcuts."
What it really means is.
"I read Thor and the FF for six years and Colletta on Thor and Sinnott on the FF were something I was used to seeing."