01 July 2011

Peeking in on Kirby and Lee

HiLoBrow just published Rob Steibel’s analysis of an original page from Fantastic Four, #63, that preserves handwritten notes and revisions by Jack Kirby and Stan Lee.

I was especially interested by Steibel’s comments on changes made after Kirby had drawn the page, Lee had scripted the dialogue, Sam Rosen had lettered the balloons and captions, and Joe Sinnott had inked the art. The page came back to Lee as editor-in-chief, and he ordered further changes in house.

About one panel Steibel writes:
look closely at the word balloon in the top left corner — you can see all the dialogue has been covered in white-out, and replaced with the text written in the small circle right above the change. Those notes are in Stan Lee’s handwriting. This is obviously a change made at the very end of the process.
Lee must have rethought that bit of dialogue, though it’s not clear why.

There’s a more subtle change in another panel: Lee asked for more space between two word balloons coming from the same character. As Steibel suggests, “Lee may have felt there was too much blank space above the character Blastaar, and this revision made the image more balanced.” I think Lee also wanted more space to symbolize a gap in time between the speeches in the two balloons; that gap offers Blastaar the opening to do his blasting.

Lee also had an in-house artist fix how Blastaar shot explosions from his fingertips. Steibel notes:
Lee writes in the margins in the second circle, “More speed lines,” which you can clearly see were added to the image because they are fairly shaky, once again, much different than Sinnott’s impeccable line-work.
This documentary record bears out Lee’s recent testimony about how he worked with Kirby, which in turn is consistent with his past statements. He cultivated the image of a blowhard, but he was an honest blowhard.

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