Jack Kirby’s pencil drawings have a warmth, character and depth that even his greatest inkers couldn’t capture. I’ve always been curious what Kirby’s art would look like if the inking process was skipped, and his pencil art was colored directly. I thought I’d try it myself. I chose a sequence from “The Mighty Thor.” Here’s the original printed version. It’s a classic example of clearly-delineated traditional comic book art, inked by Vince Colletta, Kirby’s main artistic collaborator on Thor:
Here is a photostat of Kirby’s original pencil drawing, printed in The Jack Kirby Collector. I love the softness of the lines, and the rich tonal quality. This is from an old photostat, state-of-the-art in the sixties. One can only imagine what a high-resolution scan of the pencils would look like. Looking at Kirby’s pencil drawing, his oft-cited Alex Raymond influence becomes much more apparent:
I created a layer of flat color:
I softened the forms and added some texture:
Then I added a yellowed newsprint texture to hold everything together:
I did this exercise quickly, as a fun warm-up between issues of Transformers vs. G.I.Joe, but you can see the potential in this approach. It’s a different aesthetic for Kirby that is every bit as valid as the ways his work has traditionally been presented.
“The Mighty Thor” is property of Marvel Comics.
Transformers vs. G.I.Joe #1 will premiere in July.
Here are some thumbnails drawn in preparation for the upcoming series, Transformers vs. G.I.Joe by Tom Scioli and John Barber. Issue #0 will be available on Free Comic Book Day, May 3, 2014. You can meet Tom Scioli on Free Comic Book Day at The Beguiling in Toronto.
In July, Issue #1 of Transformers vs. G.I.Joe hits stands.
BECAUSE YOU DEMANDED IT…the long-out-of-print Godland Hardcover Celestial Edition is finally returning to stores. LET THE COSMOS TREMBLE!
GØDLAND CELESTIAL EDITION ONE HC (NEW PRINTING)
story: JOE CASEY and TOM SCIOLI
art / cover: TOM SCIOLI
JUNE 4 / 360 PAGES / FC / T / $34.99
Collects GØDLAND #1-12 plus a universe full of cosmic-powered extras!
BOOK ONE OF THE EISNER AWARD-NOMINATED CELESTIAL EDITION HARDCOVER IS BACK IN PRINT! See how the greatest cosmic superhero epic of our times began! Thrill to the adventures of Earth’s emissary to the cosmos, Commander Adam Archer! Not to mention Basil Cronus! Maxim! Friedrich Nickelhead! The mystery of Iboga! And much more! If you’ve never experienced the wonder of GØDLAND, it starts right here! THE CELESTIAL EDITION HARDCOVER IS THE MAXIMUM FORMAT TO EXPERIENCE THE GØDLAND SAGA! BIGGER IS BETTER!
Godland, as an ongoing series, has ended, but as a creator-owned series it will always be part of my life. I’ve just finished the artwork for the wraparound cover for the sixth and final trade paperback collecting the final 7 issues of the series. It starts with a pencil drawing:
If you want a textured line, rather than a smooth line, you can ink the drawing with a pencil. I did a tighter pencil drawing:
No matter how much practice I get with a brush or pen, it will never catch up with the facility and control I have with a pencil. “Inking” with a pencil feels more natural, it’s easier, and I prefer the results to inking with actual ink. If you want a line with character, pencil is the way to go. Next step is to mess around with digital color and you’re there:
These notebook sketches were an attempt to get the lay of the land. Even when you create a character, you have to draw it a bunch of times before you get really comfortable. Think about how funky The Thing looked in the first few issues of The Fantastic Four, how much his look fluctuated before it eventually gelled into the classic trademarked version. It’s that much more of a challenge to get comfortable with a character somebody else created. You have to know these things backwards and forwards, to be able to put them in all the different situations and express the range of emotions the comics form demands while having the characters be themselves, while still maintaining my individual artistic voice. That’s a lot to juggle. That means practice…lots and lots of practice.
I’ve devoured the reference IDW sent me. There’s more reference material on the way. I can’t wait. I’m studying the Masters of Transformers art. Don Perlin:
John Ridgeway, Mike Collins and Jeff Anderson:
I’m also sketching furiously while watching cartoons old and new, trying to figure out the essential elements that are common across all the iterations, so that I can recontruct them in my own particular idiom.