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Superman's Pal, Jimmy Olsen, Issue 135, Page 21

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ken bastard's picture
Posted by: ken bastard | December 22, 2012

Ugh

I feel bad for this page. So butchered. I love those 3/4 from behind shots that Jack did like in P. 3.

Mark Evanier's picture
Posted by: Mark Evanier (not verified) | December 23, 2012

This Page

This is from the issue that Jack accidentally drew the wrong size. The paper for the black-and-white magazines (like SPIRIT WORLD) was cut to allow for an image area of 11" by 15". The paper for the regular color comics was cut to allow for an image area of 10" by 15". Jack was working on both kinds of books at this time and so had a stack of each size. Without realizing it, he drew all or most of this issue 11" by 15."

When I pointed it out to him, he blushed, handed me an eraser and told me to go in and erase an inch on each page. This sometimes meant erasing all the lettering and putting it back in. In a few cases, I traced figures off, erased them, then traced them roughly back onto the artwork in different places and then had Jack tighten his pencils on them.

On some pages, I took more off one side than another so as you can see if you look at that issue, when Jack did two panels on a tier, they aren't exactly the same width as was his usual custom.

On this story, the Superman (and a few Olsen) redraws were done before Colletta inked. Usually, Colletta left those uninked and then Murphy Anderson would ink those heads. In this case, someone corrected the pencils. I believe Al Plastino did some of the redraws and then Murphy did the rest.

John S.'s picture
Posted by: John S. | December 23, 2012

My Opinion

Anderson should have inked this entire series, with no involvement from Colletta (or Plastino, or anyone else). Look at the cover to issue 145, which is straight Kirby/Anderson. From that one illustration alone, Murphy showed he was better on Kirby than Vince was, and the modifications he made to the Superman-family characters would have satisfied DC's commercial requirements. So, aesthetically speaking, that would have been the best overall solution. Logistically, however, I suppose it would have been nearly impossible, since Colletta had already contracted to ink all of Kirby's work and Anderson was busy inking Curt Swan's pencils on SUPERMAN and ACTION COMICS -- which probably would have paid a higher rate and been more important to DC than a relatively low-selling title like JIMMY OLSEN. But it's too bad it didn't happen, because the mish-mash of conflicting art styles that we got on this series is a real eye-sore.

patrick ford's picture
Posted by: patrick ford | December 24, 2012

Right for Olsen

I like Anderson's pencils and his inking on his own pencils, but he's up there with Neal Adams and Wally Wood as a heavy handed inker on other peoples pencils.
When Royer took over Jack's Fourth World books it was a major thing in my eyes. I was loving this guy Kirby when all of a sudden what I thought was great took a quantum leap.
Fascinating anecdote from Mark on the size of the penciled pages. To bad they weren't photocopied at their original size.

John S.'s picture
Posted by: John S. | December 24, 2012

Titles

Normally I'd agree that Royer would have been the best choice, by far, on a Fourth World book, but I never viewed JIMMY OLSEN as a pure Fourth World title. It's sort of a gateway book between the DC Universe (which, of course, didn't have that label attached to it at that time) and the "Kirbyverse" of the Fourth World titles. As such, I think Anderson would have been a more appropriate inker, since he could have melded the two styles and helped provide a visual bridge between the two worlds -- contributing better inking than Colletta AND pleasing Infantino and the DC executives by keeping the Superman characters on-model.
BTW, what's up with that story title in the sidebar, Tom? The correct title should be "Evil Factory!"

patrick ford's picture
Posted by: patrick ford | December 24, 2012

On the face of it

I've always thought the idea DC had a "house style" for Superman is demonstrable nonsense. One of the best possible examples is back in the early '60s you had the Swan/Klein Superman under the same cover as the Wayne Boring Superman. Later you have the Swan Anderson Superman in an era where the Neal Adams Superman was popping up on covers all over the place. And then there are other "official" Superman artists like Plastino whose work looks nothing like Shuster, Boring, Swan, Sekowsky, or Adams. We have enough pencil photocopies examples of Kirby's Superman to see Kirby's Superman looked as much like Swan's as Swan's looked like Adams'. Then there is the fact Kirby redesigned the Superman emblem which wasn't okay, yet when Alex Ross used the exact same design decades later many people thought it was genius on the part of Ross.
What it really boils down to is something Jon Cooke (COMIC BOOK ARTIST) wrote in his 365 Fourth World Blog, "Resentment of Kirby is a cottage industry in comics." There are just a lot of people whose egos couldn't deal with his talent. In the case of Superman DC wanted Kirby's input on the character, Kirby did not want to be involved and said so back in 1971 in an interview with Tim Skelly. DC assigned Kirby to Olsen because it was the worst selling of the Superman family titles (not DC's worst selling title it was probably still outselling most of the titles Marvel published). Once Kirby was involved suddenly DC got cold feet, or saw it as an opportunity to assert control. BTW, what Anderson and Plastino did to Kirby's Superman and Olsen faces was not the greatest indignity on that count Kirby encountered. Back in the '60s Stan Lee was having John Romita redraw the faces of characters created by Kirby on a fairly regular basis, and it was even worse in the late '70s.

John S.'s picture
Posted by: John S. | December 24, 2012

Re: On the face of it

You make some great arguments, as always, Patrick. I don't mean to sound like a DC apologist, but from their point of view, there were certain styles they felt were selling comics, so it's understandable that they would want to preserve some sort of collective look on the Superman books -- particularly in terms of costumes. Who knows, maybe Jack's stuff was just TOO different -- especially his redesign of the 's' emblem. Alex Ross obviously didn't think so, but Infantino must have. Interestingly, Royer has mentioned on more than one occassion that when he modified Jack's stuff for the OLSEN issues he inked, DC never complained about the art; so maybe they SHOULD have had Mike inking it~! It's all past history now, though, and no amount of speculation can change what's already been done.

And speaking of history, my understanding was that Kirby asked to be involved with Superman, to the point of wanting to edit the entire line of Superman titles, but it was decided to have him just try out with writing and pencilling on JIMMY OLSEN, in order to see how well it worked out. Is the 1971 Tim Skelly interview you mentioned available anywhere online?

patrick ford's picture
Posted by: patrick ford | December 24, 2012

Superman

There are two or three stories on Superman and Kirby. The one told by Infantino is Kirby wanted to take over Superman, and Infantino had to talk him out of it.
All I can say about that is, Infantino said a lot of things.
http://www.twomorrows.com/comicbookartist/articles/01infantino.html
In the interview linked above see Infantino claim Kirby wanted to put Deadman in the Forever People to juice the book up:

CBA: Do you remember Deadman guest-starring in Forever People? Did you ask Jack to put him in the book?
Carmine: I don't think I did. Maybe he tried to juice up the book on his own. I didn't ask him to.

That's just absurd. As is Infantino telling Gary Groth Kirby wanted to take over the whole Superman line. Of course Infantnio also remembers he let Kirby "try" Olsen for a "couple" of issues.
http://www.tcj.com/the-carmine-infantino-interview/7/

GROTH: One thing that was said was that DC assigned Kirby to draw Jimmy Olsen. But in Kirby’s interview [Journal #134], he told me that he requested to draw Jimmy Olsen…

INFANTINO: That’s true.

GROTH: That is true?

INFANTINO: Yes, that’s true. Yeah, he requested it. I didn’t offer it, he requested it. In fact, he wanted the whole Superman line to do.

GROTH: Is that right?

INFANTINO: Yeah, and I said, “Well, we’ll try you on Jimmy Olsen, and if it works, you’ve got it. Let’s see what happens.” And strangely… well, his version didn’t sell. The artwork was not great on Jimmy Olsen before he did it. But it was selling. Go figure. I don’t know how you figure these things. So, I gave him how many issues to do? A couple, right?

Kirby's version of events isn't completely accurate either, but it has a basis of logic to it. Kirby says Infantino wanted him to take over Superman, Kirby did not want the title, but agreed to take over DC's worst selling book. Since there is no way Olsen was DC's worst selling book I would assume it was DC's worst selling Superman title. Since Superman and Action were still outselling Spider-Man by a very healthy margin in 1971 (and indeed until 1976) it makes no sense Infantino would dump Curt Swan who was DC's highest paid artist (along with Adams and Kubert) and replace him with Kirby.
My speculation is this. Very likely Infantino asked Kirby if he had any ideas for Superman, and could he co-star Superman in the launch of the Fourth World books. The very first story Kirby turned into DC was Forever People #1 which featured Superman. Apparently Infantino liked the Kirby Superman featured in that story, not the drawings, but the personality Kirby's Superman displayed. Morgan Edge and Kent and Olsen at Galaxy Broadcasting are no where in FP #1, and Olsen is still wearing his "cub-reporter" sweater and bow-tie. At was at this point I think Infantino asked Kirby to take over a Superman title, because Forever People #1 was put on ice for a couple of months while Kirby worked up the first two issues of Olsen, and in those issues you do see the kind of hip Olsen in his jump suit, Edge is around, and Kent and Olsen are now TV reporters.
The Tim Skelly interview quote is bottom right corner:
http://www.tcj.com/wp-content/gallery/issue-27/1003062987-i00017.jpg

John S.'s picture
Posted by: John S. | December 24, 2012

Re: Superman

Thanks for the links and your well-reasoned comments. I'd read the Infantino interviews, but the Kirby interview with Skelly is one I had never seen before. Carmine's assertion that it was Kirby's idea to put Deadman into FOREVER PEOPLE is totally laughable. I doubt if Kirby had even HEARD of Deadman prior to that! If he had, why would he need Mark and Steve to do research and prepare a synopsis for the Deadman storyline? Everyone knows Kirby rarely even read his OWN books upon publication, let alone someone else's, and he generally hated working on other people's characters. And of course, Infantino was the co-creator of Deadman, so how much more obvious could it be that it was Infantino's suggestion to put him into FOREVER PEOPLE?

The Superman question, though, I'm not so sure about. Your theory makes a lot of sense, considering the production timeline on those early issues, but I'm pretty certain Mark Evanier mentioned that Jack did indeed ask (or at least make the suggestion) to take over editing the entire Superman line, and then was somewhat dismayed when Infantino gave him the compromise solution of writing and drawing JIMMY OLSEN, which was not at all what he had in mind. Maybe if Mark is reading these comments, he could clarify that point.

The funny thing is, I don't think having Kirby on the Olsen book made a bit of difference to the sales either way. Carmine always said the sales went down when Kirby took over, and Jack always said the sales went up; but if you look at the Statements of Ownership from the actual comics, it seems as if the sales stayed about the same!

patrick ford's picture
Posted by: patrick ford | December 24, 2012

POV

Here's a pretty comprehensive answer from Mark Evanier:
http://www.povonline.com/jackfaq/JackFaq5.htm
That's several years old, but I don't think Mark has changed his account much if at all.

John S.'s picture
Posted by: John S. | December 24, 2012

Re: POV

Interesting. Perhaps I'm misremembering then. (I'm not as young as I used to be.) Maybe it was Infantino's answer I was thinking of! (But if I ever come across a contradictory story from M.E., I'm gonna post it here!)

Krackles's picture
Posted by: Krackles | January 14, 2013

Vince Colletta's Apokolips Now!

The Horror… The Horror!

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