Of Kings and Inkers

What can be said about Jack Kirby that hasn’t already been said? Probably nothing. Certainly not by me. I never met the man.

However…I have been a fan for almost fifty years and have marvelled at the many different seasons of his staggering creative output!

Much has been said about him singlehandedly saving the industry numerous times. Much has been said about creating different genres as the business model was in it’s death throughs. Horror, War, Science Fiction, Romance, Detective , Westerns, you name it!  And much has been said about his many inkers and who was the one who really set his artwork on fire!

Early in his career Simon and Kirby was the number one name in comics! It’s very hard to tell who actually did what because they both penciled and inked from what I’ve read as they produced the myriad volume of issues. They started out when Superman was about a year old. Captain America was their first hit! Selling over a million copies!

When the Marvel Age hit with Fantastic Four #1 in November of 1961, the awareness of inkers starting to come into play. Early on it was George Bell, Chic Stone and Vince Colletta. But with issue number 44 Joe Sinnott took over as regular inker and never looked back.

Joe Sinnott did ink Fantastic Four #5 and was supposed to be the inker starting with that issue. Previous commitments didn’t allow Joe to stay on the book other than a few pages in #6 and then not to return until issue #44 with the introduction to the Inhumans Saga and what is I would argue the best fifty issue run in the history of comic books.

I know that not everyone agrees that Sinnott was Kirby’s best inker, but few will argue that he was the best inker Jack had on the Fantastic Four.

Tales Of Suspense 94
This past week I came to a conclusion that I have never realized before. That there was a series that Jack and Joe worked on for eight months that was every bit as good as the artwork in the Fantastic Four’s heyday.

Jack and Joe teamed up on issues #91-98 of Tales of Suspense. And in that last year of the title, there were truly a number of firsts that happened at the end of that titles run before both Captain America and Iron Man headed off into their own books.

Cap shared the book with Iron Man, which had Gene Colan handling the art chores and he was being inked by Frank Giacoia who was doing a masterful job on Gene ‘s pencils.

In these eight issues not only did we get some of the best Kirby/Sinnott artwork but also Colan/Giacoia as well! Plus we had the first appearance of Modok. The first appearance of Whiplash. The first appearance of Jasper Sitwell and the first appearance of the Black Panther outside of the Fantastic Four.

Modok first appearance
That is a lot of firsts for eight issues that can be overlooked by many a collector.

I recently came across a great documentary on Jack Kirby that was loaded with art and anecdotes and will leave you with the link to that here.

As I was writing this I remembered from the same period the great Jack and Joe team up on the Origin of the Inhumans from the back pages of the Mighty Thor as well. Truly a great period, this Silver Age of Comics!

So check it out ! Go get your hands on this great eight issue run and see what I’m talking about.

And continued Happy Collecting!

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Dennis De Pues
Dennis is an admitted "Son of the Silver Age", having grown up with the influences of Silver Age greats: Kirby, Colan, Romita and Buscema.Three decades later, he is the creator of Crash!! and Galloway Park. More is definitely on the way.
Articles: 260

6 Comments

  1. Great post Dennis and you’re so right about that Kirby documentary. I bought that terrible FF movie just to get that documentary and threw out the wretched film. The first line of the documentary cemented it for me: “Jack Kirby doesn’t really have a place in comic book history. Jack Kirby is comic book history.” Never said better.

  2. That line hit me the same way.That isn’t to disparage any of the great artists of the same era but Jack was so unique to his approach and an imagination that in many ways was pre cognitive. Truly an amazing talent!

  3. While there have indeed been great artists besides Kirby, I can’t think of many of them who weathered the storms of the comic business for so many decades and got consistently better decade after decade, from the Golden Age heroes to the romance and horror of the 50s through the birth of the great Marvel Universe and beyond. I can also think of very few such talents who were so royally screwed over.
    He deserved so much better.

  4. True enough, but it’s always good to remember the time in regards to history and not with the benefit of hindsight. Not to justify it ,by any means, but to keep it in the perspective of history. It was also way past time that it was finally resolved .It sure would have been nice to have Jack and Roz see it though.

  5. Great post Dennis
    Check out this post for more support of Kirby Genius Spider-man: The Case For Kirby – by Stan Taylor, 2003
    Thanks for your musings Dennis

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