"The Mysterious Mr. Vince," Tales of the Unexpected # 21, January 1958.
The above Tales of the Unexpected page and selected panels are all from Kirby-inked stories he produced at DC months before his return to Martin Goodman's company. These examples reference concrete details in Kirby's brushwork which will be noticeable in the images to follow.
(for an analysis of Kirby's earlier inking I refer you to Harry Mendryk's blog: https://kirbymuseum.org/blogs/simonandkirby/archives/824 )
|Battle # 67, December 1959|
|Journey into Mystery # 56, January 1960|
|Battle # 68, February 1960|
Here is an instance where Kirby inked an interior story page. While Don Heck drew the rest of this seven page thriller from Journey into Mystery # 58, May 1960, Lee had Kirby illustrate the splash page, likely replacing Heck's original version, which may have been deemed too tame. Kirby was, after all, king of the monsters! The technique here constitutes minimal details, so I wouldn't be surprised if Kirby rushed this out while dropping off work to Lee in the office (and it still packs a punch!).
|Tales to Astonish # 20, June 1961|
I originally credited Dick Ayers with the inking on this cover, but there are a number of Kirby tropes that made me reconsider, specifically his handling of clothing folds, wheel squiggle (foreground) and brushstrokes on the water.
The Incredible Hulk # 1, May 1962. Image from the Grand Comics Database.
|Journey into Mystery # 81, June 1962|
|Strange Tales Annual # 1 features Kirby inks, which makes complete sense when a rejected cover was discovered several years ago. The original cover was inked by Dick Ayers, one of Kirby's primary delineators on the monster stories and early Marvel superheroes. Ayers' thick, solid inking was perfect for the genre and some of his work was retained on Kirby's version (the Shadow-Thing vignette, noticeable on the brickwork) Lee apparently wanted the monsters to threaten humans, which Kirby included in the published version. A replacement would likely be rushed out in the office, so it makes sense that Kirby, instead of Ayers, inked the cover.|
|Rawhide Kid # 31, December 1962|
Another cover that screams "Kirby" to me. The lack of detail; only basic strokes to denote clothing folds; the simple hands and blocky inking on the Rawhide Kid's clothes, along with the way the buttons are drawn - bigger and closer together - add up to a simple but attractive cover.
Rawhide Kid # 33, April 1963
I long believed Rawhide Kid # 33 to be an Ayers inked cover but upon closer examination, particularly the folds on clothing and the clipped strokes on hats and lack of definition, made me reassess this to be Kirby inking.
|Fantastic Four # 11, February 1963|
Tales of Suspense # 38, February 1963
This cover has all the earmarks of Kirby inking. Notice the simple lines on the background figures, the folds of clothing and the slashing technique. This looks nothing like Ayers' work, nor the other inkers of the period. While it is true that Ayers followed Kirby's line closely in a few instances, it was highly unusual and Ayers' thickness of line is hard to completely miss.
|Tales to Astonish # 40, February 1963|
Kirby had a unusual way of inking machinery, using 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|
|Tales of Suspense # 41, May 1963|
|Strange Tales # 112, September 1963|
|Sgt. Fury # 3, September 1963. Kirby or Ditko inks?|
I'm still on the fence with this cover. On the Grand Comicbook Database the possibility of Steve Ditko inking this cover was brought up, and while I was initially skeptical, I clearly see him as a possibility. There are instances where Ditko literally traced Kirby's pencils, such as the "Giant-Man" story in Tales to Astonish # 50. The lack of definition in the hands and the outfits looks like typical Kirby inking, but there's something about Fury's face that has a touch of Ditko.
This is the only Kirby inked romance cover I've discovered thus far. The face and hair of the woman in the foreground has a distinctive Kirby touch. Is this Kirby's last "unknown" inked cover of the period? Stay tuned!