Krackles's picture
Posted by: Krackles | April 6, 2013

My Kingdom for an inker!

Gasp! 1967, Kirby at the peak of his craft… pencils ruined by Colletta.

Tom Kraft's picture
Posted by: Tom Kraft | April 6, 2013


As sure as the sun rises, posting a Colletta inked Kirby page will bring a comment from Krackles :)

Krackles's picture
Posted by: Krackles | April 6, 2013

Expected without expectations!

I sure would rather post a drooling comment for a beautiful Thor page inked by Sinnott, Giacoia or Royer or whoever else!

drdroom's picture
Posted by: drdroom | April 6, 2013

When he's right, he's right

....and a negative view on Colletta-over-Kirby is right, conservatively speaking, 99.7% of the time. The mind boggles at how good these pencils must have looked and how mind-blowing a Sinnott version would have been. I'm trying to think of an historical corollary to the Vinnie massacre of Kirby's work. It's as if Stan Lee had rewritten Henry IV, Merry Wives of Windsor, and the first half of Hamlet.

Joe Madajewski's picture
Posted by: Joe Madajewski (not verified) | April 7, 2013


Royer or Berry are/were THE BEST inkers; the others; NO THANKX!!!


Joe Madajewski's picture
Posted by: Joe Madajewski (not verified) | April 7, 2013

ONE of the THOR pages shown

ONE of the THOR pages shown here recently was (re) inked by ROYER; NOT a production page; the original was done by someone was THOR 14x I believe



PLEASE inform the uninformed ;-)

Hans Kosenkranius's picture
Posted by: Hans Kosenkranius | April 7, 2013


how poorly these Marvel Silver Age artists were compensated I'm just glad we have ANY Kirby pages to see at all today...whether they're inked by Sinnott, Colletta, or anybody else. I remember reading a note written by Joe Sinnott to Jack Kirby back in 1988 joking about how he received $5 per page for inking FF #5.

Comics was not a high status profession back in the 1960's, even less so for an inker I would imagine. I don't know if that's changed today but I once spoke with Chris Rule's grandson who told me his grandad was often embarrassed telling others he worked in comics. I'm sure some guys had more pride in their work than others but it's easy to see how some probably saw this as only a job, a low status poorly paying one at that. When the pay is substandard and piecemeal, the mentality that often prevails is that quantity supercedes quality, and getting the job done is more important than whether it's your best work.

Kirby's work ethic and pride in his craft certainly defied all convention. He seemed innately driven to do well.

That's why I often cut Jack's inkers some slack. It would be impossible for all of them to have Jack's unbounded intrinsic motivation. But I often marvel at how good ALL his inkers performed(even Vinnie Colletta) given how little extrinsic reward was available to them.

drdroom's picture
Posted by: drdroom | April 7, 2013

True, BUT...

I'm an artist, I've worked for lousy wages or no wages many a time, and I give it my best anyway because I revere the work. People who don't feel that way are simply less noble than those who do. A so-called craftsman faced with peak Kirby pencils who deliberately hacks out the job is a coarse and unenlightened individual. The sympathy card is wasted on me!

Joe Madajewski's picture
Posted by: Joe Madajewski (not verified) | April 8, 2013


I NEVER thought about what they guys were being paid at the time; especially when comics were printed on sh*t paper and cost $.10 a piece
I assume the inkers were of LOW esteem/pay as well

I just personally ENJOY D Bruce Berry and Mike Royer out of the bunch that have done Kirby pencils

Had I the money I'd have ORIGINAL bristol boards here on display and preserved

I also enjoyed the NUKLO series the Avengers(Rick 'swash' Buckler?) (and Defenders?)had years back AND of course Herb Trimpe with the HULK's pencils for so long

As far as paper is concerned YEARS ago I stumbled onto a ENTIRELY DIFFERENT forum and they mentioned 'vapor phase deacidification' paper that were to be IDEAL to place inside high acid paper like comics to make them last vs a treatment like the Constitution; glass and gas...

thestikman's picture
Posted by: thestikman | April 8, 2013

that face

Oddly Sub-mariner's face doesn't resemble Kirby's typical rendition of the character, or Bill Everett's version, that appears inside, but Gene Colan's version. Zoomed in I see pencil lines that indicate a head not only placed differently, but constructed differently as well.

JADowdell's picture
Posted by: JADowdell | April 8, 2013


Is there any way to find out if a photo-stat of Kirby's pencils exist? I would LOVE to see Jack's original work! Any chance the Kirby Museum has his version of this cover?'s picture
Posted by: | April 8, 2013

Best Kirby Inker

Chic Stone. Classic. That bold holding line, that lovely coloring-book-style clarity. Gorgeous. But this is an excellently Colletta-inked piece. What a strong cover, though I do wish Jack had allowed for at least a slight bulge for BYRRAH - poor guy looks like he's got a va-jay-jay. Kirby never drew a bulge in his life, almost to the extent (as in this picture) of it being a phobia. I would love to own this piece.

drdroom's picture
Posted by: drdroom | April 9, 2013


It's true and it's hilarious given the general phallic thrust of the entire corpus. It's as though actual genitalia would have seemed inadequate, even vulnerable, in Jack's cosmic ejaculative ballet.'s picture
Posted by: | April 9, 2013

No ending a fight by being

No ending a fight by being kicked in the nuts, by gum!

patrick ford's picture
Posted by: patrick ford | April 9, 2013

Lucky for me I've never seen

Lucky for me I've never seen this before. My hope is to never see it again. The worst inking I've ever seen.

Krackles's picture
Posted by: Krackles | April 9, 2013

Worth the Worst?

Unfortunately, I've seen even worse than this.

starquack's picture
Posted by: starquack | April 9, 2013

Not that bad

Okay, I'm probably going to get flamed and called an idiot for this, but I honestly don't see what's so bad about this page. No, I am not a huge fan of Colletta's inks on Kirby. Yes, I've read the articles in the Jack Kirby Collector which highlight how shortcuts were taken and parts of Jack's art left out. I highly disapprove of that. But as far as this piece right here, I think a fair job was done to Kirby's pencils. It is not a "hack" job by any stretch. Sub-Mariner's toes look a little weird, but Jack often left details out himself. While I prefer Sinnott or Royer, the Coletta approach gives the work a mythic feel, which especially works for Thor (when details aren't left out and when it isn't rushed).
Now, let the tomatoes fly!!!'s picture
Posted by: | April 9, 2013

It's all a matter of taste,

It's all a matter of taste, and one's definition of what an inker is supposed to do. Does an inker submerge his own artistic sensibilities or does he add them? Since we're talking Kirby there are many who say *no one* can add to his vision, they only dilute it if they do so. I don't subscribe to that kind of thinking, but I certainly can't say it's "wrong." Even though I'm not much of a fan of Everett's or Berry's inking of Kirby, I'm glad we have some. I think having had only one or two inkers having ever inked Kirby over the length of his career would've been boring. His style was strong enough to withstand almost any inker out there (with the exception, perhaps, of Roussos). I personally enjoy the texture Colletta gave Kirby's work. I think this cover is solid as hell. I can understand, however, the viewpoint of those who disagree.

starquack's picture
Posted by: starquack | April 9, 2013


Amen to the Roussos comment! Those FF and Avengers issues almost make me cry. I would love to see those entire issues "Remastered" in the What If Kirby tradition.'s picture
Posted by: | April 10, 2013

Total agreement - they are

Total agreement - they are the worst examples to my mind of bad Kirby inking - it would be wonderful to see them done justice (and even though I disagree with how most people here view Colletta's work on these pieces, I do understand their desire to see them re-done with their favored inkers).

patrick ford's picture
Posted by: patrick ford | April 9, 2013

There are times when Colletta

There are times when Colletta did decent job inking Kirby. This is so awful because Colletta is making an attempt to translate Kirby's anatomy. It's a complete fail. The Sub-Mariner figure is absolutely hideous. The right leg takes the cake, but not one part of it works. The right forearm is almost as bad. The whole thing reminds me of a peron that has had 50 plastic surgeries and ends up looking like a monstrosity.
I never really bought the idea Kirby's style is so strong it stands up to anything. Ditko has a strong style. Did his pencils stand up to Colletta?

patrick ford's picture
Posted by: patrick ford | April 9, 2013

You know looking at this, and

You know looking at this, and how carried away Colletta seems to have gotten in this instance, I'm wondering if maybe Colletta wasn't inking Gene Colan's Sub Mariner at the time and was told to try and capture something of the look seen on the interior story. Of course everyone agrees Colletta inking Colan was absolutely great...right?'s picture
Posted by: | April 9, 2013

I only have problems with the

I only have problems with the right leg, with both feet, and to a much smaller degree, the left hand. The right leg does indeed look as if Jack didn't draw it - as if someone of lesser ability had to guess at what should've been and did a bad job of it. Both feet are hideous, no question. I have no problem with the musculature of the arms. After the '50s Jack rarely bothered with realistic anatomy and I find everything above Namor's waist to be dramatic enough to work (in fact, *everything* in the drawing above Namor's waist works for me). Without seeing the pencils it's hard to know for sure exactly where to pin "the blame," but I have to assume if Jack had drawn the right leg in correctly, Colletta wouldn't have messed it up to the degree it is. (And I think the assumption that Stan would have wanted the cover to mirror more the interior style to be a reasonable one)

drdroom's picture
Posted by: drdroom | April 10, 2013

See, now,

...right there is where we differ, Lyle! MY assumptions are A. Jack's pencils in this period were drum-tight and virtually flawless, and B. if any part of a Colletta job is NOT screwed up, that was probably one of his assistants...;)'s picture
Posted by: | April 10, 2013

I agree about the drum-tight

I agree about the drum-tight pencils, as the clarity of the rest of the page attests to, which is why the right leg is so problematic. There would be no reason to screw the leg up that badly (and, no, I don't subscribe to the attitude of,
Well, that's Colletta!") Having given the rest of this page so much attention it makes no sense that he'd toss that leg to the dogs. Colletta was an artist of ability - his '50s romance work is gorgeous. And since it's impossible to know what work was performed by assistants and what work wasn't, it's silly to speculate in that area, but actually, the reverse of your supposition is pretty much what explains the leg away to me -- at that point it's likely a less-talented assistant came in and finished off the leg (literally and figuratively). However, to my eyes, the rest of the page is magnificent and can carry the piece, bad leg and feet and all.

patrick ford's picture
Posted by: patrick ford | April 10, 2013

Oil and Water, Gilding a Lilly, Lipstick on a Pig, Square Peg Ro

The reason why the right leg looks so bad is the same reason the rest of the artwork looks bad. Colletta is trying to apply his conception of realistic anatomy and rendering (and he's no Adams) over top of a drawing which is completely at odds with what Colletta is trying to impose on it. Kirby's drawings conform in a consistent way to their own logic. The viewer can accept the drawing as "right" because it isn't intended as realistic. It's a cartoon style closer to Basil Wolverton or Roy Crane, even big foot stuff as opposed to Stan Drake or Neal Adams.

drdroom's picture
Posted by: drdroom | April 10, 2013

Mr. Ford correct. If we find the pencils we will see how the leg makes perfect visual, rhythmic, cartoon sense.'s picture
Posted by: | April 10, 2013

I agree with your premise,

I agree with your premise, that the two styles should not be compatible, but as with John Severin's inks over Herb Trimpe's HULK, I find it works nonetheless.

Tom Kraft's picture
Posted by: Tom Kraft | April 10, 2013

No pencils

There are very few pencils from the 60s Marvel work. It is strictly those pages that Stan or whomever thought Kirby might need for reference for the next story. Looking through the checklist and the actual copies, I see few if any covers from that time. Kirby didn't get the copy machine until about 1971.

patrick ford's picture
Posted by: patrick ford | April 10, 2013


Tom it's almost too painful to think about, but I think Kirby had stats for the interiors of almost all his Marvel work at one time. Supposedly very few made the move from New York to California.
I hold out hope that Marie Severin or Larry Lieber may have stats by Kirby they saved. There is the complete Thor story which Ayers had stats of and it was for a story inked by Stone, so maybe.

Winston L's picture
Posted by: Winston L | April 10, 2013

But . . . I liked Vinne Too

It didn’t matter that the anatomy was off and was exaggerated to the eyes of this eleven year old when he saw the cover back in '67. It still looked like Kirby to me back then and I liked it. It is still a 'classic' cover for these eyes, although my age and knowledge can see now what the eleven year old happily had not any concern for. Also, I had always liked Vinnie Colleta's work on Thor anyway, and so I did recognized Colleta's inks on this cover as a kid.

Hans Kosenkranius's picture
Posted by: Hans Kosenkranius | April 10, 2013

I know...

I'm blinded by nostalgia but Kirby inked by almost anybody from the '60's period usually looks pretty good to me...including at times Vinnie Colletta too. Although he certainly had some bad work. I remember once I was offered the complete JIM #117 story inked by Vinnie where Thor goes to Vietnam in exchange for a single page from JIM #83 inked by Joe Sinnott. I turned down the offer w/o much consideration because the inks on that whole issue looked horrible to me.

patrick ford's picture
Posted by: patrick ford | April 10, 2013

J.I.M. #83

Hans can you tell us anything about the original art for J.I.M. #83? The story was one which was missing at the time of the Vartanoff inventory in 1980. I've been told the complete story surfaced in the late '80s, and a percentage of it was returned to Kirby. The art is not stamped on the back and was not part of the pages Marvel returned to Kirby in 1986.Kirby gave several of the pages to friends as gifts.

patrick ford's picture
Posted by: patrick ford | April 11, 2013

sorry all around

I'm not familiar with Severin inking Trimpe, but in that instance anything Severin could do to submerge Trimpe would be okay by me. The real crime is why was Severin inking Trimpe? Severin did great work on his own for CRACKED and Warren. It's just one of those sausage factory crimes he had to seek work as an inker. Maybe Trimpe was a better writer? If you know what I mean?

drdroom's picture
Posted by: drdroom | April 11, 2013


Their Hulk run is much beloved, and Trimpe's work was much improved by Severin, as was Ayers on Sgt. Fury.

Hans Kosenkranius's picture
Posted by: Hans Kosenkranius | April 11, 2013

Re: J.I.M. #83

The JIM #83 page I owned came from a collector in Philadelphia. I don't know where he obtained it, but there were a lot of early Marvel pgs. floating around in circulation in the late 80's, many before Jack was returned his share. One private collector I knew in NJ. owned about fifty! He told me that Marvel had returned a huge share of pgs. to Dick Ayers who quickly sold them all to dealers and private collectors. Many were from stories that Dick hadn't inked at all. I can personally attest because I saw pgs. from FF# 3, #5, and JIM 109 which are stories inked by Brodsky, Sinnott, and Stone in that batch. Nevertheless, they were all returned by Marvel to Ayers.

patrick ford's picture
Posted by: patrick ford | April 11, 2013

That's very interesting.

That's very interesting. Someone should ask Ayers about that. This is the second old time Marvel creator that I've seen mentioned in relation to "missing" artwork. Some time ago Dan Best published an interview with Alan Kupperberg where Kupperberg implied Marie Severin had stolen loads of old artwork.

Kupperberg: And Marie said, “I love this company; I’m trying to protect Marvel from you. I think you are evil.” And then, a decade later, I believe that this loyal woman walked out of the back door of Marvel with half the classic original artwork in the office. Nice going. That’s really looking out for Marvel. And your fellow artists. Nice, hypocritical behavior, if it’s true."

Severin has also frequently been mentioned as the donor of the AF #15 pages.
My research points in a different direction. As I say though someone ought to ask Ayers about this.

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

I know I'm in the minority here--

But I liked the inking on this cover. I think it may be because I saw the original and it is stunning. It's twice up and beautiful in its own weird way.

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.