Review | Jack Kirby’s Fantastic Four Artist’s Edition

Last updated on February 9th, 2017 at 08:09 am

Jack Kirby’s Fantastic Four. World-shattering events, cosmic calamities, and Kirby Krackle—does it get any better?

Jack Kirby is the most important creator in the history of comics, and the Fantastic Four is one of his greatest achievements. First published in 1961, the adventures of Mr. Fantastic, the Human Torch, the Invisible Girl and the ever-loving Thing introduced a bold new era in comics. Kirby’s dynamic storytelling, coupled with Stan Lee’s poignant writing style, were unlike anything comic book readers had seen before—it literally ushered in THE MARVEL AGE OF COMICS!

Now, with the cooperation of the Jack Kirby Estate and under license from Marvel Comics, IDW is proud to present the first Jack Kirby Fantastic Four Artist’s Edition! Including Fantastic Four Annual #6, the 48-page groundbreaking story that featured the birth of Franklin Richards! Also presenting issues #82 and #83, guest starring the Inhumans–plus more stories and and a beautiful gallery section of some of Kirby’s most incredible pages, all scanned from the original art!

As with all original artist’s gallery editions this is a collection of classic comic material and I’ll be reviewing the book and not the story. For a complete list of all current and announced editions, with review links, please visit our Index.

After you open the book to the first page of art, the realization that what you hold is a masterpiece of modern graphic storytelling in its original form overwhelms and takes hold of you, completely. Every silver age fan must own this book. Bask in these images and prepare to immediately spend $100.

Alright, I guess we can proceed with our normal AE review format. Four complete issues, 71, 82-84 and Annual 6, from Jack Kirby and Joe Sinnott’s run of Fantastic Four; yes, complete, with all pages scanned from original art. That doesn’t happen often. And those scans are clear, without any issues. The gallery section of covers, splashes and additional pages is wonderful, but fills me with a sense of loss that those issues’ other pages aren’t readily available for another Artist’s Edition.

For me the lure of original Kirby art is getting to see those faces and hands when he did a close up. Expressive, immersive, superb. Man of man, those Sinnott inks!

It’s remarkable how well these pages have aged; there are a few yellowed but most are off white to light tan. The page margins are covered in notes, but because they were trimmed when printed we lose out on what appears to be half or more, especially on the sides. Blacks are deep and some pages show gradients while most don’t. A few paste up corrections.

Cristescu’s design is clean and without much colour. There is a chapter divider at the end of each issue and an issue “announcement” page before, so we get quite a few places for design to come through. These wonderfully employ panel enlargements of varying sizes, each well placed. The chapter openers use a blue grey for the banner, and the cover and title page mix that brown and brick red. The blue grey seems at odds with the brown and brick red.

Production is the usual excellent IDW standard. Sewn binding of thick matte paper stock. I frequently found the binding a little too tight, where pages couldn’t be smoothed out. The book comes shrinkwrapped in a cardboard case with a small colour sticker showing cover and UPC. The cardboard case is back to the old three tab design.

Jack Kirby Fantastic Four Artist Ed HC – $135.00

Retail Price: $150.00
You Save: $15.00

Scott VanderPloeg Written by:

Editor-In-Chief. Scott works in I.T. but lives to eat and read. His other ramblings can be found at eBabble. Art collection at Comic Art Fans. Joe Shuster Awards Harry Kremer coordinator.

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  1. Robert
    January 30, 2017

    Of all the Artist’s Editions that have come out, and there have been some incredible ones, this one has me really searching the budget in desperation to find some spare cash for purchase.

  2. mel taylor
    January 30, 2017

    Jack Kirby doesn’t really have a place in comic book history. Jack Kirby sort of IS comic book history. Folks interested in that history might also want to check out the Abrams Comicarts edition of the Art of the Simon and Kirby Studio from just a few years ago at a very reasonable $69 CDN, available at most Chapters. I would love to see a more affordable version of these books, like you Robert. How about printing them on cheap pulp paper?

  3. January 30, 2017

    I couldn’t be more excited about this AE.It truly reminds me why I fell in love with comics in the first place.It is page after page of magic! And the good news is there is an other on the way! No idea what stories are in it ,but more Kirby/Sinnott is just what the Doctor ordered!

  4. January 31, 2017

    That’s interesting news about a second volume. Can you please share a link to it?

  5. February 5, 2017

    I was simply overwhelmed when I opened this book and saw the pages. I went weak at the knees. It’s easy to forget how rare Kirby’s talent was in comparison to many of the later artists who became fan favorites. Kirby and Sinnott produced the greatest run of American comics ever. Almost every panel is a tutorial on storytelling and composition, let alone penciling and inking (and yeah, the scripts are okay too!). And then you remind yourself that Kirby was pumping these pages out 4 a day! And the consistency never suffers. One of the first things going through my head was imagining working in the bullpen back in the ’60s and having Sinnott drop off an issue of these finished pages a month. Did it ever become routine not to have your jaw hit the floor? Kirby of this period is the only artist who makes me want to give up drawing because, what’s the point? He’s the only artist to make me forget every other artist, no matter how good. And here’s the kicker: Yeah, it was a job, he had to pay the rent, but Kirby drew these pages for US! He had US in mind every time he picked up a pencil. “Scotty’s gonna love this!” “This’ll knock Rob’s socks off!” “Wait’ll Dennis feasts his baby blues on this!” Thanks, Jack! You always rocked it, socked it, and sent it First Class Mail! This AE will make a True Believer out of any skeptic!

Make It Good.