Tom Kraft's picture
Posted by: Tom Kraft | August 27, 2011

Reed's neck

Notice how Reed's neck was originally supposed to be streched.

Anonymous's picture
Posted by: Anonymous (not verified) | August 27, 2011

Too "Plastic Man" if

Too "Plastic Man" if stretched, I imagine.

Rand HOPPE's picture
Posted by: Rand HOPPE | September 14, 2011


There are all kinds of pencils there that indicate Reed was stretching all over the place. Like maybe the flare gun wasn't originally there, and his arm was looping around, making the shape of something...? I agree that it looks like his arm was supposed to be on Thing's shoulder. And why does the pencil under the "The" in "The Thing" end in what looks like an "S" or "J"? Hmm.

Frank Fosco's picture
Posted by: Frank Fosco | August 27, 2011

When you consider what Jack

When you consider what Jack was doing in the 1950s with Fighting American, Boys Ranch and Bullseye, and then Green Arrow and Challengers of the Unknown, this and the first couple of issues of Fantastic Four was a drop in artistic quality. He could of used the Simon and Kirby studios at this time on inking chores.

The Thing's right shoulder looks funky--almost as if that was met to be Reed's hand and arm placed there--all buddy's like.

Krackles's picture
Posted by: Krackles | August 28, 2011

Sinking inking of a King

Being introduced to Jack's art with issues 48 to 51 (during the same afternoon!), it has been quite a shock to discover his earlier FF work.
I found it quite disappointing and I couldn't believe it was really the same artist at all.
Of course I quickly warmed up to his early stuff and blamed his inkers (I had yet to discover Colletta).

Later, I learnt Jack had to produce them as quickly as possible, sometimes only doing layouts for others but, looking at some pencils he did for the first few issues of Hulk, really, everything was there already.

He knew how to speed up work without hurting the quality of his pencils.
Sure, they were simpler, less powerful, but they had some beautiful quality to them, quite elegant and detailed with nuances that were not so well captured by Ayers.

Except for the dark Colletta period, and before Joe Sinnott take on inking chores, it's a shame these early Kirby's pencils didn't recieve a better treatment as his later work from the 70s.

Frank Fosco's picture
Posted by: Frank Fosco | August 28, 2011

Get it done--NOW!

Jack was working at a break neck speed to churn this stuff out. That ad is all over the place--almost an after thought.

I'm bettin' someone else drew the Torch there.

Krackles's picture
Posted by: Krackles | August 28, 2011

Ad nauseam

I'd also bet Kirby didn't have much passion for producing ads.
it was all about telling stories for him, even his covers wasn't that impressive compared to interiors.

Frank Fosco's picture
Posted by: Frank Fosco | August 28, 2011


I liked most his covers.

Krackles's picture
Posted by: Krackles | August 28, 2011

On recovering

Me too but I prefer what's inside.
Can't say the same about many comics nowaday, unfortunately.

patrick ford's picture
Posted by: patrick ford | August 30, 2011

There are a couple of factors

There are a couple of factors in play on Kirby's early FF work. First he was working at an insane pace, often close to 100 pages a month of writing and drawing. Few people seem to have noticed but prior to the 60's Kirby usually did no more than 40-45 pages a month. In the 50's he often did fewer than 30 pages a month, although he was doing a lot of inking in the 50's. So, Kirby's early 60's Marvel art is really rushed, the quality took a quantum leap around 1966 when he cut back to around 60 pages a month. You can see too that inkers had an easier time with Kirby's more detailed pencils.
The other factor is that in my opinion Dick Ayers was maybe the worst inker to touch Kirby's pencils during the 60's at Marvel. It's total oil and water, I actually prefer Colletta, and I don't like Colletta one bit.
Compare some of the early pages inked by Sol Brodsky, and you'll see Brodsky was not only better at capturing Kirby's essence, but blow up the pages and you'll see Brodsky had a far smoother, and more controlled ink line.
Take a look at an Ayers page zoomified, and his crude looking ink line is almost shocking.

Frank Fosco's picture
Posted by: Frank Fosco | August 30, 2011

Those are historic and good

Those are historic and good observations, Patrick. Jack was tearing it up to build the house of Marvel.

Ayers was very heavy handed and his line was crude. Every so often he did some decent work. Around 1964 and 66 when Ayers line weight got lighter and it didn't look like he was inking with a grease pencil it was like night and day from his earlier 60s work. Sgt. Fury 13, "Fighting Side-by-Side With...Captain America and Bucky!" and Tales of Suspense 83, Captain America, "Enter...The Tumbler!" This was Ayers getting it right.

Krackles's picture
Posted by: Krackles | August 31, 2011

Hit the road Jack

100% agree about Ayers.

Not that he was a bad artist on his own, many inkers didn't know what to do with Kirby's simpler BUT complete pencils.

Kirby's art took a quantum leap around 1965 because he cut back on his workload after he refused to do anymore layouts for other artists and when top notch inkers like Giacoia and Sinnott jumped onboard.
With Marvel comics selling better and better, inkers of this caliber polishing his pencils, Kirby really hit the ground running and boy, that was something to behold!

Those were the days…

patrick ford's picture
Posted by: patrick ford | August 31, 2011

One thing that might give the

One thing that might give the impression Kirby went through life pumping out 80 pages a month is the all time monthly high total of 142 published pages in Sept. 1947. That figure is the result of a publishing quirk. Kirby drew pages, he didn't control when they were published. If you look at all of 1947 you'll find two months where he had no pages published, and a couple of others with only a handful. So for the year he's right at the same 45 pages a month (no small thing) level he maintained at DC before the war.
So the Marvel early era was a super human effort. Kirby said it was "backbreaking" and it built some pretty big drawing muscles, because when Kirby dropped that weighted bat the 60 pages a month he did after that felt like a light load.
I think Stone got it right in the early days. He used his own thick-to-thicker-to-thin line weights, but he put them on top of the lines that were there, he wasn't redrawing things.

nick caputo's picture
Posted by: nick caputo | September 1, 2011

This ad was likely

This ad was likely inked/corrected by Sol Brodsky. It's possible the Human Torch figure is all Brodsky, but I suspect not, since I don't see a lot of pencils underneath. There is also a different Sue face pencilled in. Quite a lot of work for a small ad; it's obvious that Stan was concerned about presenting the characters in a certain way.

I always liked Ayers' inking over Kirby, especially on the monster stories and the early Marvel hero line. Ayers added a thickness of line and a consistency that was a distinctive part of the early period. Chic Stone followed, and his inking seemed to compliment Kirby perfectly. Of course, Joe Sinnott followed, bringing a pristine quality to Kirby's work.

Tom Kraft's picture
Posted by: Tom Kraft | September 1, 2011

Sol Brodsky

Thanks Nick for you input. I did a comparison with FF 3 that came out around this time, inked by Brodsky. The style does look more consistent than Ayers. Do we all agree to change the credit from Ayers to Brodsky?

Krackles's picture
Posted by: Krackles | September 1, 2011

Sole inker

Brodsky it is.
Not as crude as Ayers.

Frank Fosco's picture
Posted by: Frank Fosco | September 1, 2011

Sol solved

Agreed, Sol Brodsky.

Krackles's picture
Posted by: Krackles | September 1, 2011

Sol sold for me!

Hey, I like your subject title!

patrick ford's picture
Posted by: patrick ford | September 1, 2011

It absolutely is not Ayers.

It absolutely is not Ayers. It's possible early ad and pin-up pieces like this are often reworked character sheets Kirby created to sell Marvel on his creations. Kirby created characters and presented them as pitch-pages through-out his entire career. Recently Jim Shooter claimed to have held Kirby's Spiderman presentation drawing in his hands. It wasn't the five page story seen by Ditko, but rather a presentation drawing, much like the character sheet for The Boomerang seen in TJKC #13.

John S.'s picture
Posted by: John S. | September 1, 2011

Wallopin' Websnappers!

I like that theory, Patrick! A reworked presentation drawing that pre-dated F.F. #1!! And if Shooter was truthin' instead of lyin' about that Spidey piece, Stan and Marvel would have a whole lotta egg on their faces!!!

Mark Greene's picture
Posted by: Mark Greene (not verified) | September 3, 2011


Sorry to break the rhythm here but I going to go against the tide and suggest that Kirby's style shifted around 1966 and his inkers were working with a different kind of drawing style. I like Ayers work on Kirby and I believe he was tracking what Kirby was producing. The figures were smaller and less dynamic in that period and rarely did they fill the frame. I have seen Ayers later inks on Gene Colan and others and his style does them justice. Count this as a vote for Dick Ayers as one of the greats. And as a guy who brought his own look and feel to Kirby and others. Much like Chic Stone did.

Dave's picture
Posted by: Dave (not verified) | September 3, 2011

It's the Inking

I'm pretty sure it was in an issue of the Kirby Collector where an early original page of the FF was reproduced that had a panel redrawn for publishing. The owner of the page managed to get the "new" panel off and the pencilled panel was still intact. It showed the Thing from the shoulders up in front of some typical Kirby buildings. This was the early FF where the Thing was still pretty "blobby," but the pencilled version bore much more resemblance to the mid-60s "craggy" Thing in terms of detail, as did the buildings. If only Kirby had had a Xerox machine in the early 60s!

patrick ford's picture
Posted by: patrick ford | September 4, 2011

Dave, Marvel was providing

Dave, Marvel was providing Kirby with copies of his pencils made on the Magazine Management stat machine. It's a real pity that so few of these stats survived, because the quality of reproduction is far better than what you see with photocopies. There is a complete early Thor story which was reproduced in TJKC, and it's very easy to see the art from that period was less detailed than what Kirby produced after he was able to cut back on the number of pages he was doing each month. In the early 60's Marvel paid horrible page rates, about half of what DC was paying, and Kirby was driven by financial necessity to produce as many as 100 pages a month. The fact he was not paid for plotting the stories didn't ease matters any.
The FF page you mention is in TJKC #33 on page 25. It's page 3 from FF #15, and you can see the tremendous liberties Ayers took with Kirby's pencils.
My observation is most people who like Ayers inks on Kirby experienced the books right off the newsstand back in the day, and have an affection for Ayers art and the era.

Frank Fosco's picture
Posted by: Frank Fosco | September 4, 2011

re: Ayers

My criticism of Ayers may have been a bit harsh. You do make good points there Mark about the smaller panels and lot more panels per page at that time. When Jacks work load got lighter he was able to put more into his pencils, I would say starting around as early as 1965. I was first exposed to the Sinnott inks on Jack before seeing Ayers inks on the earlier issues of FF. My judgement may have been in light of that. It appeared to be a drop in quality to me when making those comparisons. But to separate the times Ayers worked with what he got and did decent/good work. I wouldn't go as far as one of the "greats", but he was better than I gave him credit for.

Oh, and just to add fuel to this fire...I think I may actually like Dick Ayers more than Chic Stone--it's a toss up.

John S.'s picture
Posted by: John S. | September 4, 2011


I'm gonna give Ayers a "positive" vote, for sure. I thought his inking on Kirby's superhero, war, monster and western stories from the early sixties was stellar. He was definitely the right inker for Jack's pencils during that period, just as Sinnott was the right inker for Jack's F.F. pencils in the latter half of the sixties and Royer was the right inker for Jack's solo work in the seventies.

Krackles's picture
Posted by: Krackles | September 4, 2011

Bottleneck inks

I simply don't like Ayers inks on Kirby's pencils.
It was a mismatch and, personally, I have no nostalgia whatsover for it as I suspect it's the case for many of you guys.

Sure, he had his moments here and there but, way too often, his lines were crude and emasculated Kirby's powerful art, especially on the FF and the monsters stories.
Western and war comics were a better fit for his moody style but he definitely didn't enhance Kirby's pencils. Ayers was very heavy handed at best, he greatly benefitted from Kirby's abilities while strangling Jack's lines to make the art his.The result had nothing to do with the superb quality of the pencils Kirby provided while working under the same shitty conditions. The rare samples that survived from that period (Hulk) proved how subtle and elegant Kirby's pencils were, despite being simpler and trimmed down for speed.
One can also compare to other inkers from the same period, Ditko, for example, whose style was as different to Jack's as can be, produced interesting work.

Around 1965, Kirby got tired of only getting half the regular pencils page rate from the layouts he was producing for other artists when he believed (and rightfully) he was doing all the hard work on the plots and breakdowns-In short, the most important part of storytelling. Mark evanier said that Kirby felt he deserved some compensation as plotter or at least full rate but only got false promises from M*.

As a response, he stopped giving away work for free, cut his workload to focus on doing full pencils for a full page rate and then, Kirby blossomed!

Luckily, Ayers wasn't the regular inker anymore or else we might not have noticed!

patrick ford's picture
Posted by: patrick ford | September 4, 2011

Office Stats

Speaking of the stat machine copies Marvel was providing to Kirby and the other artists, it would be nice if someone like Rand or Tom could make a few contacts to see if there are possibly more around, and to make sure that if there are they aren't thrown away.
The Thor story stats came by way of Dick Ayers (even though Chic Stone inked the story), recently Marie Severin made available some stats she had of a Ditko Spider-Man story. It would seem that people around the office helped themselves to the copies once they were no longer needed. It's quite possible people like Ayers and Severin might have more copies, and it would be unfortunate if they were tossed out at some point in the future.

Krackles's picture
Posted by: Krackles | September 4, 2011

Stats for stats

More than unfortunate, it would be a distressfull disgrace!
Some may turn out in eBay one of these days as I bought two photocopies Kirby did of his New Gods pages.

The quality of these thermal copies is mediocre, just like your old regular photocopy, and are fading away already. They won't last many more decades but it's better than nothing.
Reportedly, Kirby kept hundreds of them stacked in his drawers and I take it that John Morrow scanned them already?

The stats that Marvel provided to their pencillers (to help with consistency, I suppose) is another thing, pretty neat, more like a black & white photography and much closer to the real thing.
You can "feel" the pencils.

Do someone have an idea how many how those stats are already identified?

I'm sure Tom is actively working on it since it would be such a treat to have the pencils stage and being able to compare with the finished original art on Wik.

patrick ford's picture
Posted by: patrick ford | September 4, 2011


My understanding is the stats were made because there were no scripts, and Kirby (and the other artists) needed something to keep track of what had happened in the previous issues.
My fear is that with many of the old timers passing away over the past few years people going through their estates might not value something which looked like an old photocopy.
Since many of the people working for Marvel were fans of Kirby I think it's at least possible there were stats taken home or fished out of the trash by people like Ayers and Severin.

Tom Kraft's picture
Posted by: Tom Kraft | September 4, 2011

Re: Stats

From what I've seen Kirby kept a lot of the stats he received from Marvel as reference. Dick Ayers did find the pencil stats to the entire Journey into Mystery 101 tucked away in his files. I own about 10 such stats and about 40 photocopies I won in ebay auctions by Jeremy Kirby and Greg Theakston. Jeremy mentioned he had stats and photocopies from Roz. The Kirby Museum also has many photocopies and some stats and John Marrow has archived hundreds of photocopies/stats funded by his Silver Star project. These are listed in the Jack Kirby Collector Golden Checklist.

But there seems to be many more floating around. I've corresponded with a couple collectors who somehow have some of the photocopies and stats – so they keep popping up. Like the Original Art Archive, I've started an archive of scans of the photocopies. Rand at the Kirby Museum is archiving everything he has so the hope would be to have them online like this What if Kirby site has original art for study and enjoyment.

I've slowly started adding some of the photocopies as a tab with some of the gallery art and I hope to add more. But the future plan is to have them large zoom size, side by side with the original art.

Tom Kraft's picture
Posted by: Tom Kraft | September 4, 2011

Re: Stats of stats

I am working on it and so is the Kirby Museum and John Marrow. I bought several New Gods photocopies on ebay from Greg Theakson. I would love to get high resolution 600 dpi color scans of your pages. It is extremely important to get archival scans of these photocopies. As you said Krackles, they are fading rapidly. I'm at most of the big cons so I hope collectors will come forward and have their photocopies scanned.

Stats are in better shape of course, none the less they should be scanned and archived too. Just wish technology was where it is today back in the early 90s before they were all at Kirby's home and we could have archived them then before they when all over the place.

Krackles's picture
Posted by: Krackles | September 4, 2011

Grandson of origin!

Tom, funny that you should mention Jack's grandson because, tonite, I just sent a payment to Jeremy for a Jack Kirby Warrior Prints set I bought on eBay.

patrick ford's picture
Posted by: patrick ford | September 14, 2011

Tom, I was looking around,

Tom, I was looking around, and ran across this page which displays some old Kirby stats, and noticed the owner mentions in the comments that he has a stack of copies someone left at his house. MIght be worth exploring?

Tom Kraft's picture
Posted by: Tom Kraft | September 14, 2011

Exploring copies

Hi Patrick, I see Krackle's comment about having pages from NG 7. I'll be seeing Krackles next month and will ask about them. But I don't see a mention of stacks of Kirby stats, am I missing it? Anyway I'm definitely interested in exploring any opportunities to scan and archive photocopies and scans of Jack's pencils.

patrick ford's picture
Posted by: patrick ford | September 14, 2011

Tom, Sorry I guess I needed a

Tom, Sorry I guess I needed a second cup of coffee, I forgot the link.
Note he comments a "well known" person left a stack of copies at his house.
He's got several galleries of copies posted there. A few which I don't recall seeing before.

John S.'s picture
Posted by: John S. | September 4, 2011

Ayers Again

I'm kind of surprised by the dim view you guys have of Ayers' work. Yes, he took some liberties with Jack's pencils (like with the Thing's rocky skin, as mentioned), but if Kirby himself was getting such a terrible page rate from Marvel at that time, just imagine how bad Ayers's rate must have been for inking! If Stan and Goodman had seen fit to pay all those guys a bit more money, maybe they wouldn't have had to cut so many corners and crank out as much work as they did just to make a living. And honestly, I think Dick's work was pretty good compared to what we were getting from George Roussos at that time. Of course, you could say that Kirby himself was cutting far fewer corners, and still putting in lots of beautiful, elegant details (such as those aforementioned rocks) in spite of the low pay; but realistically, that's why he was the King and nobody else was: because nobody else would bother putting that much work into the art for such lousy money. And if you really want to blame someone, you should probably blame Stan Lee, since he obviously never had a problem with the work Ayers was doing. In fact, I'm sure he realized he was getting the best inking he could get for the money he was paying at that time.

Krackles's picture
Posted by: Krackles | September 4, 2011

Don't want to sound like a Dick…

… because I certainly don't want to sound like if I were blaming Mr Ayers.
I'm as aware as can be of the conditions under which these guys worked.
In an earlier comment, I didn't forget to mention that I had no doubts about his craftmantship .

I respect the professional but a lot of the work he did on Kirby's pencils doesn't make it for me, plain and simple.

Sounds unfair? Maybe.
Like you said, both Kirby, Ayers, plus a bunch of other artists worked for the same lousy exploiting greeds.
Nethertheless, despite having to make a living in the same awful business, a handful ones clearly stand out amongst whom Kirby was the best.

(Sorry about the pun, I just couldn't resist)

John S.'s picture
Posted by: John S. | September 4, 2011

Thank goodness...

...the page rates have improved as much as they have over the years. What's sad, though, is that for all the money today's writers and artists make, none of them have one iota of Kirby's creative talent.

patrick ford's picture
Posted by: patrick ford | September 4, 2011

John, It doesn't look to me

John, It doesn't look to me like Ayers was cutting corners, almost the opposite it looks like he was putting too much of his own line work into the pencils. Certainly there is a stark difference between the Stone inked work, and the work inked by Ayers. It looks to me like Ayers was adding far more of his own textures to the pencils than Stone, and altering the faces, and anatomy to a greater degree.
Ayers actually doesn't come across in interviews as being a big fan of Kirby's work. He's got quite a list of complaints, and has been very upfront in interviews talking about them, and how he added a great deal to the pencils, and was encouraged to do so by Lee.
Now Colletta was a different case, he did cut corners as we know.

John S.'s picture
Posted by: John S. | September 5, 2011

You make some good

You make some good observations there, as usual, Patrick. Considering that Ayers's career in comics probably would have ended (as he himself has admitted) had he not had all that Kirby stuff to ink in the early sixties, I guess he should have been a bit more respectful of Jack in those interviews.

patrick ford's picture
Posted by: patrick ford | September 5, 2011

John, Ayers isn't what I

John, Ayers isn't what I would call disrespectful of Kirby, it just seems to me Kirby's style didn't appeal to Ayers all that much. Like many people Ayers seems to have the impression Kirby's abstractions would benefit from some tweaking here and there. Whenever I see the word "realism" brought into a discussion about Kirby I start thinking about oil and water. Do people think Kirby had in mind creating art which looked like Stan Drake, was working as hard as he could to have the art end up looking "realistic" and the end result he just couldn't pull it off?
I like all different kinds of comic book art from Drake, to Toth, and Foster, to Ditko, Kirby, and Chester Gould, but I like the individual looks of the artists, that's what I'm a fan of.

John S.'s picture
Posted by: John S. | September 5, 2011

More good points...

...I guess I never thought of it that way. I like all the individual styles, too. Variety is the spice of life -- and of comics art! It goes back to what Frank was mentioning earlier about all the photo manipulation that passes for "art" in contemporary comics: it's just dull, characterless, lifeless, boring uniformity, with no individual artistic personality...and therefore not really "art" at all.

Krackles's picture
Posted by: Krackles | September 4, 2011

After Kirby!

Sounds like a good idea for a thread in the forum.
Frank Fosco and Erik Larsen aside, who are your favorite artists right now?

I love Guy Davis's work.

John S.'s picture
Posted by: John S. | September 4, 2011

None, really.

I don't read many modern comics. There are a few artists whose stuff I admire for specific reasons.... I like John Romita Jr.'s work because he combines excellent visual storytelling with excellent visual dynamics, which is a pretty difficult feat to accomplish...and I certainly admire Alex Ross's skills as a painter...but neither one of those guys, nor anyone else in comics today, has many stories to illustrate that are worthy of their abilities as artists. The problem with modern comics isn't the art; it's the stories. They suck, plain and simple.

Frank Fosco's picture
Posted by: Frank Fosco | September 4, 2011

re: After Kirby

The one guy who has had as big an impact like Jack on me is Frank Frazetta. His style and power was as effective as Jack's. Love his work. Especially in his paintings. Even his comic work, as little as it was, was great.

Krackles's picture
Posted by: Krackles | September 4, 2011

Italian Connection…

… Come on Frank, there are artists outside the italian community!

Frazzetta is great but I was asking for modern artists.

David Mazzucchelli has recently released a great book: Asterios Polyp.
John, if you like to get involved in stories, you should give it a try and I also assure you that the BPRD stuff by Davis Arcudi and Mignola was probably the best comic serie since a long time!

Kirby would agree ;-)

John S.'s picture
Posted by: John S. | September 4, 2011

Modern Comics

Tom is probably gonna kick us off here for this, because it really is the subject for a forum discussion, as it's not a commentary that's related to this particular Kirby page. I have a great deal of respect for Mignola, since he's a writer/artist who has created something successful and worthwhile of his own, but I'm just not a fan of his particular style of work. The kind of stories (and characters) I like are not currently being done by anyone in comics and would probably not be accepted by any modern comics publisher -- which is why I now mostly just read old stuff. The last contemporary comic I read that I actually quite admired and enjoyed was Steve Rude and Gary Martin's mag, THE MOTH, from Dark Horse. But that got cancelled after about five issues, so there you go...

Frank Fosco's picture
Posted by: Frank Fosco | September 4, 2011

Old school

That's as 'bout as modern as it gets for me Krackles. Like Johnny S. I don't care too much for what's happening in comics and I don't follow what's going on these days in them. But if I were to pick "modern masters", guys like Mignola, Mazzucchelli, Simmonson, Miller, Maduriea, is the kind on stuff that's up my alley. I'm not into this photo realistic work that's going on now. You have these guys doing stuff to photos on Photoshop and tracing from photos. They've taken the fun and excitement out of comics. If I want realism I'll go see a movie. Even Erik, his stuff has old school sensibility with a twist, and I enjoy that more then all this other crude.

Frank Fosco's picture
Posted by: Frank Fosco | September 4, 2011

We should be taking this to

We should be taking this to the forums--but it will be on "recent comments" anyway.

Krackles's picture
Posted by: Krackles | September 4, 2011

Waving a thread

I'll probably open a thread in the forum because, judging by your reactions, it's obvously a matter that deserves one.

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