Red Skull Part 1 by Norris Burroughs   3 comments

Finally we get to The Red Skull! The one we’ve all been waiting for. The splash panel is decent, but not earth shattering. The drawing of the Skull is the best part of the page and the Cap and Bucky figures are not terribly dynamic. In my opinion, there are precious few really dynamic Kirby drawings of Captain America in this first issue, and only two that really stand out for me. We’ll get to those in the next post.

This is probably Simon inking loose Kirby drawings, although I’d wager Kirby also had a hand in the Skull’s inking. Panels two and three of this page also say Kirby to me.

Page two below looks more like Kirby, with I believe copious inking by his hand as well. I immediately notice the King’s use of background elements such as the car’s interior in panel one. It is a simple compositional device, but very effective in the dramatic framing of the two characters.

In panel two the use of the bookshelf and globe to focus attention on Major Croy is also notable, and the shot in panel three of the villain climbing through the window is a beauty. Finally, the ominous shading in Major Croy’s face framed by the bookshelf in panel five is classic. Kirby again uses the wonderfully eerie floating skulls in panel eight.

Sadly, we lose most of Kirby for the next page (not included here) as well as page four seen below. There, we see Bucky’s profile in panel one rendered in that peculiar style that I first noted in page three of the Sando and Omar story. It is a strange and scratchy vaguely illustrative style that I first attributed to Joe Simon, but since then I am beginning to question that opinion. There is a clear tendency towards fairly inept linear overworking here, which I can no longer associate with either Simon or Liederman who appears  less capable. Observe as well the final panel profile of the thug with his hand extended to catch falling debris. Who the hell can this be if as I now believe it is not Simon?

I ask the reader again to return to page three in the first post of the Sando story and look at the inking of Steve and Bucky in panels two, three and eight. As I continue this exploration, I find that my opinions are modified by Jim’s V’s observations and my own new revelations.

Page five looks to again be loose Kirby drawings, finished and inked by Liederman, with more black arrows assisting continuity. Bucky’s figure in panel two looks like Kirby’s dynamics, and I also see fairly strong Kirby action in the contrapuntal positioning of the green suited thug slugging Bucky in panel five. The final panel of the Red Skull looming over Bucky could have been a thing of beauty had it not been finished so poorly.

At this point, I feel confident in stating that I see at least five distinct ink hands in issue one in general; Kirby’s fine detail and shading style, Simon’s competent journeyman hand, Liederman’s somewhat rushed and awkward rendering, and finally less often observed, a confident thick brush and pen crosshatch style as seen on page 5 of the origin story that I will call George Klein for lack of positive ID, as well as a peculiar over-rendered Illustrative touch that I’ll refer to as the illustrator.

Again, I may be completely off the wall here, but for the sake of this dialog, I must state what I observe and wait for it to be challenged. Some of my opinions have changed since this inquiry started and I’m certain they will do so again.

More to come…



Posted January 31, 2012 by norris burroughs in Uncategorized

3 responses to “Red Skull Part 1 by Norris Burroughs

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  1. Doesn’t look like you’re getting much participation, Norris. That’s disappointing.

    I disagree with the “five styles”. What you are calling the “illustrator” is, I believe, Kirby inking. Take a look at some of the more finely rendered panels in the Hurricane story in the back of CA#1 – the last panel on page 3, for example, and panel 6 on page 4. Kirby is your phantom inker, but the problem I thing we’re encountering is that he’s picking a face here, a panel there, etc. to ink, so that you might be seeing a Kirby layout, a Simon pencil job, and Kirby and Simon and Liederman inks, ALL IN THE SAME PANEL. This doesn’t submit to the standard: Penciler, Inker, Assistant application of credits and I think it’s a mistake to try to apply them.

    I think Simon penciled most of these first four pages. It might be Kirby inking the Red Skull’s face in the splash, but only some novice like Liederman could have done the hatchet job on his hand. And I don’t see anything else on the page to recommend the inking.

    Page two combines the artfully done face of Major Croy in panel 4 with the ghastly drawing & inking on the Skull in the same panel. The staging of all of this is rather mundane, with panel 5 being the best of it and saved, I think, primarily by Kirby’s moody and restrained inking.

    Page three has a few panels with Kirby inks: 2 & 8, with Simon inks on 1, 5, 6, & 7, IMHO.

    Page four: we’ll have to agree to disagree on panel 1. I think it’s terrible. Nowhere else is Bucky’s nose rendered so like a ski-jump. Compare this profile with the two shown on page 8 of the previous story. The rest of the inks on this page are boring and dull with the noted exception, as you rightly point out, of the thug in the final panel. I submit that Kirby liked that panel and inked the face.

    Page five: I think you’re right that Kirby had a hand in the pencils, but after Simon had laid it out. He tightened up some of the poses and figures, but not all that much, and I think he inked a figure here and there, most notably Bucky falling in panel 1. The rest is mostly Simon, I think. And I rather liked the inking on the Red Skull in the last panel. And I thought the pistol rather well done, too.

    Again, thanks for doing this even if we are only talking to each other.

    Peace, Jim (|:{>

  2. Yeah Jim, It would be great if we could have a counter opinion here, particularly when we disagree. I’m pretty sure that Harry Mendryk sees Joe Simon’s hand on page three in the Sando and Omar story. I’m still more inclined to see him there than Kirby, but even more inclined to see illustrator as another hand. Those etched faces don’t look facile enough for me.
    Calling Doc V and Greg T.
    Thanks again Jim, for your input, keeping this space from being a total wasteland. I’ll soldier on.

  3. I think that the two non-Cap stories in issue one are pretty definitive of Kirby inks (Hurricane) and Simon inks (Tuk). If you ever need a refresher, or a guide to who is inking what, just refer to those. Perhaps there are other hands at work on the inks in those two stories, but Tuk, especially, for marks the real beginning of the classic Simon ink style on Kirby.

    IMHO. Anybody wanna argue? Come on, put up yer dukes! Com’on, I dare ya! Anybody? Sigh…


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