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The Mighty Thor, Issue 137, Page 1

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Miscellaneous

Just some filtering to hopefully make the underlying pencil marks pop.
patrick ford's picture
Posted by: patrick ford | September 20, 2011

Love Jack's border

Love Jack's border note.
"Thor is visiting with Sif's family located in a Nordic Levittown called Gunder-Holm. Sif is athletic and skilled in the military arts. She hefts a javelin ready for action. Thor admires her grace."
The use of "Levittown" as an adjective is typical of Kirby.
http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=levittown

Lockjaw's picture
Posted by: Lockjaw | May 30, 2013

Love that Kirby note as well.

It shows that Kirby wasn't just introducing a female counterpart but was really thinking about who she is. The Levittown reference clearly indicates she is from a different social strata as the Princely Thor.
'Levittown' is a term for the new tract homes the American lower-middle class and middle class began living in, in post-WWII America. He was setting up a relationship between the prince of the realm and a girl 'from the other side of the tracks.'

Very cool, with interesting possibilites, that Stan threw out the window. .

If Stan had retained just that single bit of info on her---it would have been more than we got from reading another 50 issues of Thor. Not get a SINGLE BIT of background info on Sif that i call recall ever reading between 1966 and 1971.

Lockjaw's picture
Posted by: Lockjaw | May 29, 2013

Love that Kirby note as well.

Double post.

drdroom's picture
Posted by: drdroom | May 29, 2013

On a bright note,

That is one of the least offensive VC ink jobs I've seen.

drdroom's picture
Posted by: drdroom | May 29, 2013

But back to tragedy,

a systematic analysis of Kirby's Thor notes ought to be done by someone. There was a page I studied a long time ago, can't remember what it was, but the notes were full of class nuance, with Balder coming off an over-privileged ponce, and the bad guy, possibly Ulik, expressing a bit of underclass rage. Needless to say, Stan's dialog flushed all that away, in favor of repetitive hero/villain blah-blah..

Lockjaw's picture
Posted by: Lockjaw | May 30, 2013

A real nice guy.

Catch the 'move the lousy spacing' note Stan wrote of the lower left border.
Jack, at his peak, turns in probably the full 21 pages of Thor 137 with a fully fleshed out epic story---introducing Ulik, Orikal, Sif, the troll war, Gerridour AND the beginning of the "Tragedy of Hogun' storyline that began that same issue in Tales of Asgard and Stan feels compelled to write 'lousy' on the margin for the staff, 'fix-it' artist and inker to read.

'Fix design spacing on leg' 'make design more even on leg' wouldn't do---throw in the word 'lousy' for effect.

drdroom's picture
Posted by: drdroom | May 30, 2013

Are you sure

...that note is about the leg? I would guess maybe something to do with the credit box.

Lockjaw's picture
Posted by: Lockjaw | May 30, 2013

Perhaps you are right, but

Using the zoom I can see where the credits box was slightly smaller, but in the same place. I don't see any 'lousy spacing' since Jack's indications for word balloons and credit boxes were never meant to be exact--only a rough guide and they weren't moved in any meaningful way from his original position.

I still don't see the need to use the word lousy to refer to any art or even the credit placement. It shows exasperation on Stan's part to phrase it that way. How do get this awesome artwork in your hands and then pick on some aspect being 'lousy'---I don't get it.

If you are right---how about, "space the credit box better."

drdroom's picture
Posted by: drdroom | May 30, 2013

It wouldn't have been in respect of Jack's work

but of the initial inked lettering job. It looks like a section of lettering was whited out & redone, maybe due to "lousy spacing"?

Rand HOPPE's picture
Posted by: Rand HOPPE | May 30, 2013

Credit box

Yeah, I thought it was about the credit box, too.

Rand HOPPE's picture
Posted by: Rand HOPPE | May 30, 2013

Legs

But after opening the original scan and mucking about in photoshop, I do see some leg adjustments. there are 2 notes about the legs...!

Rand HOPPE's picture
Posted by: Rand HOPPE | May 30, 2013

Miscellaneous

See the miscellaneous tab above...

drdroom's picture
Posted by: drdroom | May 30, 2013

Those leg adjustments, though,

look like adjusting proportions, ankle a little thinner, inner thigh a little thicker (and hubba-hubba, by the way). I can't see Stan calling that "spacing" and anyone knowing what that meant.

Frank Fosco's picture
Posted by: Frank Fosco | May 30, 2013

A hand for Rand

Hey, Rand--good to see you have a more active hand here on WiK and your contributions are most welcome. Thanks.

Rand HOPPE's picture
Posted by: Rand HOPPE | May 30, 2013

Fun

You're welcome, Frank. I'm having fun. Wish I could add new files, but that really is a whole bunch of work. Thankfully, the new museum site will be easier, thanks, of course to Tom's hard work setting it up.

Frank Fosco's picture
Posted by: Frank Fosco | May 31, 2013

Move up-lousy spacing

It is the credit box Stan is referring to. It's like he's telling Sam you have all this room why cram all the lettering down low like that--move it up and give it room to breath.

Frank Fosco's picture
Posted by: Frank Fosco | May 31, 2013

Move up-lousy spacing

It is the credit box Stan is referring to. And that is Stan's writing in blue pencil for the letterer. Stan is making note of his "lousy spacing to Sam and telling Sam to move it up. So Stan is talking about the lousy spacing "he" made.

I didn't know my first comment posted--but after closer observation I think this latter comment to be more correct about "lousy spacing"

drdroom's picture
Posted by: drdroom | May 31, 2013

There you go

Mystery solved-- ordinary self-deprecating shop talk from Mr. Lee. Nice observation on the blue pencil.

patrick ford's picture
Posted by: patrick ford | May 31, 2013

That credit box really needs

That credit box really needs fixing. Know what I mean?

drdroom's picture
Posted by: drdroom | May 31, 2013

Are you suggesting

that there should really only be one name in the upper section?

Rand HOPPE's picture
Posted by: Rand HOPPE | May 31, 2013

Hand

So what do you think about the note re: Sif's hand?

drdroom's picture
Posted by: drdroom | May 31, 2013

Can anyone read

the crossed-out note at center left?

patrick ford's picture
Posted by: patrick ford | May 31, 2013

Can Anyone Read

I can't make out the first word (make?). The rest says: " new left leg as wide as her right."

patrick ford's picture
Posted by: patrick ford | May 31, 2013

Make it is.

Looking again and the first word is "make." So the note reads:

"Make new left leg as wide as her right."

drdroom's picture
Posted by: drdroom | May 31, 2013

New left leg?

What happened to the old left leg? Was it sacrificed for this troublesome credit box? Also, the notes talk about moving the weapons to make room for the twaddle, but I'm thinking Vince found a better solution of not inking them at all. THAT is how a pro does it.

patrick ford's picture
Posted by: patrick ford | May 31, 2013

annoying Pop-Up ads.

The inking was done after the lettering, so I'm sure Colletta was thrilled he didn't have to cut that particular corner. Lee did it for him.

Krackles's picture
Posted by: Krackles | May 31, 2013

On the Loose!

Sorry guys, you got it wrong.
Lee was obviously making a comment on Colletta's lousy inking job!

Arf, arf, arf!

wonder6789's picture
Posted by: wonder6789 | May 31, 2013

Is this What If Kirby or What If Pavlov?

Coletta's work is actually nice here - maybe even perfect.
(...awaiting crucifixion any minute...)

drdroom's picture
Posted by: drdroom | May 31, 2013

I already praised the inking

...faintly.

Krackles's picture
Posted by: Krackles | June 1, 2013

What if Cholera

Perfect for trash, indeed.
This sample being already Colletta at his best or, rather, inflicting the least damage ever to Kirby's pencils.
Even a hack like Vinnie must have felt compelled to show something from time to time.

Frank Fosco's picture
Posted by: Frank Fosco | May 31, 2013

Sore thumb

"Sol-is this hand okay?"

That hand comes off a little weak, especially the thumb that Stan circled. Guess Stan was wondering if it needed to be fixed or let it go. It is fixed in the printed version and actually for the better.

Frank Fosco's picture
Posted by: Frank Fosco | May 31, 2013

Just noticed...

...in the printed version the credit box is moved up and off the margin border. That note--"move up-lousy spacing" may be to the production department to copy, cut and paste on a stat. On the printed version the word "save" is moved up next to, "none" and the sentences horizontally have more space between them.

I'll scan the credit box and see if Tom will link it.

Frank Fosco's picture
Posted by: Frank Fosco | May 31, 2013

Kinda strange...

...that none of these fixes are on the actual board. The fixes were obviously done on a stat and the printed page copied from that stat.

patrick ford's picture
Posted by: patrick ford | May 31, 2013

A.M. Radio

The "voice-over" commercial break in the lower right corner fills a space where Kirby had penciled in some additional arms which Sif is practicing with.
"And don't forget Farmer John's all beef franks are on sale on aisle nine."
Shut-Up, Shut-Up, Shut-Up!!!!

Frank Fosco's picture
Posted by: Frank Fosco | May 31, 2013

re: Is this What If Kirby or What If Pavlov?

I'm with you on that, wonder6789. I like Vinne's inks on this.

Frank Fosco's picture
Posted by: Frank Fosco | May 31, 2013

re: Can Anyone Read

"make new left leg as wide as you must"--??

Frank Fosco's picture
Posted by: Frank Fosco | May 31, 2013

re: Make it is.

"Make new left leg as wide as her right."
Yeah--that's what it says, Patrick.

When Stan did the dialogue, captions in blue pencil I'm amazed that the letters were able to decipher Lee's chicken scratch.

But I imagine they were accustomed to his writing and knew what they were looking at.

drdroom's picture
Posted by: drdroom | May 31, 2013

How much more natural

and revealing of Thor's warrior character it would be if Thor were simply impressed with her javelin handling as Kirby suggests, than for him to be internally spouting Lee's ridiculous sixth-graders-idea-of-love-poetry Snow White "fairest of them all" sludge. I get that Kirby was an eccentric primitive writer with a lot of weird flats and sharps, but there were ideas and in his writing, where Stan had nothing but corn.

patrick ford's picture
Posted by: patrick ford | May 31, 2013

Compared to what?

I agree, except for the notion there is something any more primitive about Kirby's writing than there is any comic book writing. The really odd thing is Kirby is most often being compared to Lee. Somehow there is an idea Lee was better educated than Kirby, had more experience as a writer, had a better understanding of grammar, or others aspects of writing craft, wrote in a more natural or realistic style. None of that is true.
So when I see the common complaints saying Kirby's writing is awkward/clumsy; I say, "Compared to what?"
And then when people backpedal and say, "Well, no Stan's writing wasn't any more realistic than Kirby's. It's just that Kirby's was so weird it 'broke the suspension of belief.' "
Then I have to say, "You mean breaks the suspension of belief, more than a writer who is constantly peppering his text with advertisements? Breaking into the middle of a song to blare, 'Ain't this the wildest true believer?' Or plugging the next issue of Iron Man in the middle of a Thor story?"
So much of this stuff I think people have been saying for so long they haven't stopped to think about how little sense it makes.

drdroom's picture
Posted by: drdroom | May 31, 2013

Well,

...a lot of what you're answering is not my position. Kirby's writing is different from other writing, including comic writing, in ways that have to do with an odd, untutored freshness, and a completely idiosyncratic emphasis. His voice in the seventies and after is easily distinguishable from any other author. He has faults, and they are very different from Stan's faults. I just think his virtues soar far above Stan's virtues.

patrick ford's picture
Posted by: patrick ford | May 31, 2013

He could be described as

He could be described as untutored I suppose, but no more so than someone like Alan Moore who came from a similar background. People like Lee had no more training than Kirby, and arguably less.
The incredibly common assertion that Kirby used strange bold face emphasis has never made even the slightest bit of sense to me. Who would know which word in a sentence the author wants stressed, better than the author.
I always like to say Kirby's writing is "square fingered," because it has the exact same qualities as his artwork. Why wouldn't it? It's the same man, he had the same amount of training as a writer as he did as an artist. He was writing his own stories in the '30s and kept on doing it into the mid-'80s.

drdroom's picture
Posted by: drdroom | June 1, 2013

Doesn't matter

...whether Kirby or Lee or Moore or William Shakespeare were actually tutored or untutored. Its whether the WRITING feels untutored. Kirby is the only one of that group who does. My point of comparison, before you ask, is the entire continuum of everything I've ever read in my life from cereal boxes to Moby Dick. On that continuum I place Kirby's writing generally in the untutored region. This is not a bad thing, at least, not in my book. The "odd emphasis" assertion may be "incredibly common" because everyone else is a thoughtless fool, or, alternatively, it might just be a reasonable thing to think. You seem to be misinterpreting it though: as an accusation that Kirby was placing stresses at random, and didn't know what he wanted. On the contrary, I agree with you (I think most students of Kirby would) that Kirby stressed what he wanted to stress, and that those choices were elements of a distinctive, outsider-ish style, the style you describe as "square-fingered," which I think is apt. After all, if you agree that he has a literary style, distinct from Stan and other comic writers, well, that style must be composed of something, right?

patrick ford's picture
Posted by: patrick ford | June 1, 2013

The Comic Book Fan Wisdom

By incredibly common, I mean within a small group of super hero comic book fans. Most of the things said about Kirby's writing falls into line with a whole bunch of other things super hero fans "know" because they have heard them in the past. I don't think for one second a large group of super hero fans all saying the same things mean those things are correct. More likely the opposite. There are large groups of people devoted to religion or politics who all have the same talking points, and I sure don't think those talking points are accurate.
My observation is most all of the current conventional "wisdom" concerning Kirby's writing was fomented back in the '70s by employees of Marvel. A lot of it can be traced straight back to Stan Lee and Jim Shooter. So, you have a whole bunch of Marvel insiders with their Kirby talking points. You have fans who are devoted to Marvel, and as time passes more and more fans of Marvel all begin saying the same exact things. It's like they have a little handbook.
You didn't hear people complaining about Kirby's writing in the '40s and '50s. It was only after Stan Lee convinced his legions of Titanic True Believers that Kirby was a "penciler" that you began seeing the standard Kirby talking points.

patrick ford's picture
Posted by: patrick ford | June 1, 2013

!!!!!!!!!!

Just as an example here is Shooter on Kirby.

"He used exclamation points in bunches, sometimes a dozen at a time at the end of a sentence!!!!!!!!!!! He misspelled some things -- like everybody else -- and occasionally misused a word. He used tons of bold words."

See the comment about exclamation points? Well the idea Kirby ever ended a sentence with a dozen exclamation points is a gross exaggeration. And yet I've seen Marvel fans repeat that just as often as they repeat the claim Kirby used "weird" bold face choices. Now the idea there are a set of rules for which words in his script an author wants his actors (because that's what the characters are) to stress is flatly ridiculous. There are no rules. There is no discussion.
The exclamation point thing is different, because you can go look at Kirby's pencils, and he never ended a sentence with anything close to a dozen exclamation points. Further, Kirby's use of exclamation points was tied directly to the long time use of the exclamation point in comics being in essence a stand-in for the period. The original idea was a period might get lost in the printing process. Kirby and other writers did not use exclamation points because they were foaming at the mouth hyper.
I do think Kirby was more conscious of his text and the way he wanted his actors to read it than most cartoonists. Kirby admired actors, and as a kid had dreams of being an actor. He went beyond what most writers did because it isn't just words alone which have meaning, it is also the way the words are spoken. Kirby larded his text with bold face stressed words, "scare quotes" to indicate irony or satiric intent, exclamation points, and other punctuation. Kirby made frequent use of ellipsis in order to indicate a pause in his dialogue. It's all pretty sophisticated if you ask me. He's not only writing the dialogue, he's using every tool at his disposal to indicate how it is supposed to be read.

patrick ford's picture
Posted by: patrick ford | June 1, 2013

Incredibly Common

One more point as to the incredibly common (among Marvel fans) ideas surrounding Kirby's writing.
The number one idea is that Kirby was a horrible writer. Not just someone who was not as good as Roy Thomas or Stan Lee, but literally the worst writer of all time.
The fact is it incredibly common to see super hero fans describe Kirby text is by far the worst in the history of the form, does not make me think for one second I ought to think there must be something to their claim because it is incredibly common.

drdroom's picture
Posted by: drdroom | June 1, 2013

I can understand

your annoyance with all of these Shooterist Marvel acolytes, but honestly, I think they lost that argument long ago, and they are not hanging out on this forum either. Every year that passes makes Kirby's greatness more clear. The discussion to have now, in my view, is about the nature of Kirby's artistry, not as a Marvel comicbook writer in the '70s, but fundamentally as a great American storyteller of the 20th Century. His strangeness, or ( as Harold Bloom might say) the uncanny originalness of his work, is an important element of that. Michael Chabon, speaking of OMAC and Devil Dinosaur, commented "There is nothing stranger than strange Kirby."
And there is this from Jonathan Lethem:
"Kirby hadn’t been inactive in the interlude between his classic 1960s work for Marvel and his mid-1970s return. He’d been in exile at DC, Marvel’s older, more august and squarer rival. In his DC work and the return to Marvel, where he unveiled two new venues, The Eternals and 2001, Kirby gradually turned into an autistic primitivist genius, disdained as incompetent by much of his audience, but revered by a cult of aficionados in the manner of an ‘outsider artist’. As his work spun off into abstraction, his human bodies becoming more and more machine-like, his machines more and more molecular and atomic (when they didn’t resemble vast sculptures of mouse-gnawed cheese), Kirby became great/awful, a kind of disastrous genius uncontainable in the form he himself had innovated. It’s as though Picasso had, after 1950, become Adolf Wölfli, or John Ford had ended up as John Cassavetes. Or if Robert Crumb had turned into his obsessive mad-genius brother, Charles Crumb."
I'm not quoting Lethem here because I agree word for word, but more to demonstrate that viewing Kirby as outside-the-norm is not necessarily an indication of a thoughtless fanboy herd mentality.

patrick ford's picture
Posted by: patrick ford | June 1, 2013

Weird like Lynch

Certainly weird is a word which could be used to describe a great deal of creative work I enjoy. I certainly don't appreciate Kirby being labeled with a "mad-genius" tag as it's not remotely accurate, and playing into a common narrative which depicts Kirby as an idiot savant.
A more accurate way of looking at Kirby's late period artistic development is to see it as sophisticated as opposed to "primitive." Primitive implies either work which is being generated by people who are part of so called "Primitive cultures" or the the work of so called "naive" artists as radically diverse as Bill Traylor, Henri Rousseau, Grandma Moses, or Andre Bauchant.
Some of these artists might be described as "naive" I suppose, it's something very difficult to judge. For example Grandma Moses began painting late in life, but her artistic influences were hardly naive. Her artistic background was grounded in needlepoint embroidery where her work had a highly sophisticated technique. It was only because of her age that she had to put down the needle. It's more than a little presumptuous to judge her oil technique as naive when measured against her artistic background.
It's true a lot (really a lot) of comics fans see Kirby later work (both art and story) as anywhere from degraded to outright embarrassing. On the other hand my wife said something awhile back which impressed me. She doesn't follow comics and has no interest in Kirby, but one afternoon I had a book open which displayed the cover of Silver Star #1, and she remarked off-hand, "Wow, that is really slick. Look at how streamlined those forms are." She's very interested in Deco and Moderne styles; things like fabric, housewares, furniture.
It mainly comes down to the perception by many comics fans that Kirby did things by instinct, that he did not employ an intellectual process, that he was a drawing machine, that his later work does not represent a natural progression but a strict deterioration of ability. This attitude is opposed to the idea that Kirby's creative restlessness meant his style (like a Picasso) was always evolving based on his growing experience, level of craft, and deep well of influences.
I would agree health issues impacted Kirby work after around 1984. The work from the early '80s is often very strong, and on those occasions where it isn't at it's best are almost certainly due to some of the very rough deadlines placed on a man of his age.
And even the very last pages for the second Super Powers stories have tremendous charm in their raw penciled state. Kirby was able to achieve this working under a tight monthly deadline, and while dealing with a bad hand, a tremor which meant he had to steady his hand on a ruler and draw slowly. The results were still often striking.
http://www.whatifkirby.com/sites/default/files/comicpages/SuperPowers_06...

drdroom's picture
Posted by: drdroom | June 2, 2013

I think the gist

of this debate (meaning the debate with me, rather than the debate with other common narratives re: idiot savant, mad genius and what not) lies in your comment here: "A more accurate way of looking at Kirby's late period artistic development is to see it as sophisticated as opposed to "primitive."
"Primitive" is such a problematic term (I only used it in reference to his writing,along with "eccentric", and I'm not even happy with those) that I would have to agree-- if we're talking about the whole comic, "sophisticated" is more accurate. But it's not VERY accurate. "Sophisticated" has its own problems, and it implies a kind of deliberate theoretical framework that Kirby never gave any indication of being concerned with. He didn't even make thumbnails. He wrote the story page by page as he drew it. He started out with one idea and ended on something else completely. He was an artist well-built for ridiculous deadlines. To the end of his days he insisted that his aim was to make exciting, commercially successful entertainments. And yet, his work became increasingly abstract, personal, ambitious, alienating, brutal, surreal and delirious. To call him a primitive artist doesn't give anywhere near enough credit to his unparalleled skill --indeed, sophistication-- especially in composition, but also in figuration. But read the text pages he occasionally wrote to expound on the Fourth World or Devil Dinosaur. It is very disorienting to try to discern a point in them. They are disorganized and full of incredibly clunky phrasings. They are still more interesting than Stan's Soapbox, but sophisticated is NOT the word.

patrick ford's picture
Posted by: patrick ford | June 2, 2013

It's sophisticated

Yeah, I don't even come close to agreeing about his text pages. I've read them and don't see a thing wrong with them. It certainly never crossed my mind they were disorganized. Structure is one of Kirby's strong-suits as a writer. The opening essay in Devil Dinosaur is pretty great in my opinion.
We obviously aren't going to be finding common ground on this, and I have no interest in trying to change anyone's mind. I'm just giving my observations.
The thing is Kirby was analytical. There is ample evidence of it in his work and in his interview comments. Now you are basically correct about Kirby's somewhat "in the moment" creative process, but in my opinion Kirby falls into a category very much like a jazz-man playing live music. When Thelonius Monk recorded or played live he went into a piece backed up with an accumulation of technique, taste, theory, influences, which provided a strong foundation for the music he played live. On the other hand he had only a general plan (chords) of exactly where the music of the moment was going.
A man working under the type of deadlines Kirby was used to, was pretty much drawing live. He didn't have time to fiddle around, but in no way was his work not informed. An intellectual underpinning was the bedrock of his work.
It's very much the same thing as the story of Picasso making a quick 30 second sketch and asking what was viewed as a high price for it. When he was told, "That only took you 30 seconds." Picasso replied, "It took me 30 seconds and a lifetime."

Here are just a few quotes from Kirby:

"I found myself intellectualizing. I was trying to get at the guy, who was trying to get at me.
I began to remember people from my own background, and I began to subtly realize they were important, and that I wasn't ashamed of them. I was no longer afraid of myself, and I began to see them as I should have seen them from the beginning
This was a long way from Long Island. I was still trying to get to Brooklyn. I heard they had a tree there, and the tree was different."

Cartoonist Jack Katz: "Then I said to him, "inking is problem solving." He said, "No drawing and inking are decision making. The problem-solving, you do that in your head, but when you put down a line, you've made a decision."

"Well, I don't know. I'm usually in a room about this size, but I feel I see a lot because I analyze a lot. I see the same things you do but maybe I get more time to analyze it whereas you might not. So I sit and think and it's as simple as that. If you can sit and think for 20 years, you can come up with quite a bit."

John S.'s picture
Posted by: John S. | June 2, 2013

Flapology

If I can just interject for a minute here, guys, I'd like to add my two cents to your discussion. In order to fully appreciate Kirby's work, you have to be able to understand it, at least partially, on an INTUITIVE level. Why? Because Jack communicated as much in terms of broad, overarching concepts -- or subtle, subtextual concepts -- as he did in terms of specific, prosaic details. So, unlike some other writers' work, it demands something of the reader. Not everything is spelled out for you like it is in a grade-school primer -- or most other comic books. You need to have the intelligence and the facility to absorb it as a whole, rather than focusing strictly on its individual elements. The people who are capable of doing the former usually end up loving Kirby's stuff, while the dullards who are capable of doing only the latter usually end up becoming Kirby haters.

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