|The Fantastic Four # 7, Oct 1962|
While folks like Mark Evanier believe that Kirby inked the cover to FF # 7 (and I wholeheartedly agree), I suspect that is just the tip of the iceberg, and since a blog is great for studies such as this, presented here, for the first time, is what I believe are Kirby inked covers. These examples present a fascinating glimpse into a rarely seen or appreciated aspect of Kirby's late 1950s and early 1960s artwork.
|Tales of the Unexpected # 21 Jan 1958-Kirby inking|
|Battle # 67, Dec 1959|
This is the earliest cover I've discovered that points to Kirby inking. Most of the Pre-Hero covers in this period drawn by Kirby were inked by either George Klein, Chris Rule, Dick Ayers or Steve Ditko. This cover bears none of their signature styles. The face of the soldier, the folds of clothing, the hands and the background details (including the squiggle type line Kirby uses on one of the enemies helmets), are familiar to Kirby's known inked work.
|Journey into Mystery # 56, Jan 1960|
This is the first Pre-Hero Monster cover I've attributed to Kirby inking. Everything looks as though it was inked as needed, with nothing extra added. The sharp lines to denote water are indicative of Kirby's DC inked stories. It also looks as though a few additional blocks of ice were crudely added by another hand, either Sol Brodsky or possibly even Stan Lee, who occasionaly fixed things if no one else was around.
|Battle # 68, Feb 1960|
The very next month we have another Battle cover.In some ways this cover looks a little too detailed to be Kirby inking, but other elements seem very similar to Battle # 67, including the way the face is inked. Perhaps Kirby put a little more detail into this cover, but in the final analysis I suspect this is all Kirby.
|Tales to Astonish # 20, June 1961|
This is a cover I originally thought was inked by Dick Ayers, but there are a number of distinctive Kirby tropes that made me reconsider. The line work on the folds of clothing, the squiggle on the wheel in the forground, and the brushstrokes on the water are all typical of Kirby inking.
|Love Romances # 96, Nov 1963|
Another update: This is the only Kirby inked romance cover I've discovered so far. The inking, especially trhe face and hair of the woman in the foreground, has the distinctive Kirby touch.
|The Incredible Hulk # 1, May 1962|
The Incredible Hulk # 1 has been attributed to many inkers, including George Roussos and Paul Reinman, but I'm "convinced" that Kirby actually inked this cover. The sparse quality, including the way clothing is inked on Dr. Banner, the lack of detail on the Hulk's feet and the singular way the face is inked point to Kirby. There is none of the heavy brushwork of Roussos, or the finer line of Paul Reinman. Ayers also would have had thicker brushwork , so I submit this important cover to be inked by none other than Jack Kirby.
|Journey into Mystery # 81, June 1962|
The following month features this cover, generally ascribed to Paul Reinman or George Roussos. While the background figures are so small its hard to see any distinguishing features, the robot has sharp, thick lines that are indicative of Kirby inking.
|Strange Tales Annual # 1, Summer 1962|
A new cover to a reprint compilation that features bold brush work, particularly on folds of clothing and typical lack of detail on hands.
|Rawhide Kid # 31, Dec 1962|
This is another cover that screams "Kirby" to me. The lines on the clothing, the simple hands and the blocky inking on the Rawhide Kid's clothes, along with the way the buttons are drawn, bigger and closer together, add up to a very attractive cover.
|Tales of Suspense # 36 Dec 1962|
May 1963 cover dated books feature what I believe are a total of three Kirby inked covers. Stan Lee apeared to hand out assignments in batchs, meaning on a given month you would see Reinman handed three covers, with another four asssigned to Ayers. My guess is that Stan needed those covers inked in a hurry and assigned them to Kirby, who quickly turned them in.
|Fantastc Four # 11, Feb 1963|
While the cover of FF # 11 was altered in places, likely by Al Hartley (mainly the figure of Sue), the inking is another matter. In looking this cover over some years ago I asked Dick Ayers if he inked it. He emailed me, informing me that he checked his record books and it was not one of his covers. The coloring on the cover is very dark, making it hard to pick out details, but the sparse look of the characters faces, as well as the inking on the Torch indicates Kirby input.
|Tales of Suspense # 38, Feb 1963|
|Tales to Astonish # 40, Feb 1963|
Kirby had a particular way of inking machinery, mainly hard, sharp lines. The Ant-Man figure has little detail added to his costume, and the faces and figures of the pedestrians are also slight.
|Journey into Mystery # 92, May 1963|
Here is another cover that screams Kirby to my eyes. Note the lack of detail on Loki's hands, the faces, the way the rocks and sea are inked, and even Thor's helmet, with the slight swiggle. It looks like Kirby also inked the corner box figure of Thor, which was soon changed.
|Tales of Suspense # 41, May 1963|
Iron-Man's armor has the same choppy lines that accompany Kirby's inking of machinery, and Dr. Strange's clothing again has simple folds.
|Strange Tales # 112, Sept 1963|
The characters and background elements all employ Kirby's sparse inking. The Human Torch looks fairly normal, but the lines look different enough to sugest that Kirby inked that figure as well.
|Sgt. Fury # 3, Sept 1963 Kirby or Ditko inks?|
|Cover detail to Fantasy Masterpieces # 4, Aug 1966|
This is all the Kirby inking I've discovered so far, although its possible I may have missed something. If anything else turns up, it will appear in a follow up post. Fantasy Masterpieces # 4, which was advertised as inked by Kirby, was the last time Kirby inked any of his Marvel work. It would have been interesting to have seen Kirby ink an entire story at Marvel, but he was too valuable as a penciller (and not interested) for that to have happened. Still, one can imagine a Kirby inked FF, Thor, Ant-Man or Hulk....