Archive for May 2012

Captain America #3 Red Skull part 3 by Norris Burroughs   Leave a comment


The first three panels of page ten are so loose and crude, they barely register as Kirby, and they are inked clumsily to boot. Panel two, featuring the Skull is not as bad as one and three.  Panels four through seven are a different matter entirely. These panels definitely look like stronger Kirby drawings.





Panel four looks to me to possibly be the first inking work done on Captain America by Syd Shores.  Because Shores later inked artist Al Avison on later issues of the book, I’ve often had some difficulty telling the two apart. In particular, there is a similarity these two artists have in the rendering of faces, particularly in the structure of noses. In this case, I believe this to be Shores, because of a pen technique that I see in panel six. I’m pretty certain that it was Greg Theakston who pointed out to me the fact that Shores tended to use a good deal of what Greg called hay in his inking,  which refers to the pen hatching lines that appear at the top of panel six on this page.

The orange jacketed thug in panel seven has a distinctive skull and ear shape that I also associate with Shores and Avison.




Page eleven above also seems to be drawn by Kirby and inked by the same hand as the previous page. In particular, the way Steve Rogers’ face in panel three is rendered reminds me of Shores or Avison. Both inkers had a tendency to slightly turn up the noses of certain characters’ faces, but in my mind Avison was at that point the more accomplished inker, so I will give the attribution to Shores for now.



Page twelve above has more loose Kirby art with what looks again to be Syd Shores inking. There is some hay at the top of panel one and the faces of the gangsters in panel six are again characteristic of that inker.

In my opinion, the quality of the art in this story has deteriorated markedly from the first few pages, grown stronger again on the middle pages that Kirby has inked himself and falls off again at page twelve straight to the end.





Page thirteen is fairly mediocre, loosely drawn by Kirby and probably inked by Shores. There is a nice looming effect in panel three, which is lessened by too low orthogonal perspective lines. It is basically a throw away.

We’ll conclude this story in the next post.



Posted May 29, 2012 by norris burroughs in Uncategorized

Cap#3 Red Skull part two by Norris Burroughs   Leave a comment

Page five looks to me to be fairly loose, but nice Kirby pencils, inked by what again in my opinion appears to be  George Roussos. I say this wholly based on Greg Theakston’s identification of Roussos  appearing in the second story of this issue, The Hunchback of Hollywood. There is a certain similarity of line quality in several pages of the Red Skull story, when I compare those pages to the Hunchback artwork.


I very much like the leaping Captain America figure in the large first panel. The torque of Cap’s torso in relation to his limbs shows the young Kirby’s proficiency with dynamic anatomy. There is also the big O composition on display here, with the compositional circularity of the mass of leaping and tumbling figures.

Page six below is clearly drawn and inked by Kirby. We begin with a very tight floating Skull with a crisply rendered star-burst over newspaper headlines.

The Skull’s figure in panel three is also dynamic Kirby at his best, heralding the fantastic drilling contraption in the large fourth panel. Kirby’s deep space projection skills are far from what they will become, as he uses very little in the way of perspective or depth orientation to augment the drama of the tableau, but it still succeeds rather well.

The men in the street in panels five are nicely drawn and the astounded face of the red coated pipe smoker is crisply inked.

We follow with page seven above, and a wonderful scene of early Kirby cataclysm, as the massive drill rips through the subway station and proceeds to lay waste to scores of buildings. It’s clear that Kirby has reserved these pages for himself to both pencil and ink, and he does so lovingly. Again. the artist’s abilities are far from the height of his prodigious powers in later years, but this panel is still something seldom seen before in terms of a depiction of destruction.

Skipping a page, we finish this entry with page nine below, the upper two thirds of which  appear to me to be drawn and inked by the King.


Panel two has a nice upper back shot of Captain America leaning over the cockpit of the power drill, and the leering Red Skull in panel three is a treasure, with deft economy in the ink lines. Panels four through six are fairly fast and loose, but still look to be competent Kirby.

We will continue with next post.


Posted May 18, 2012 by norris burroughs in Uncategorized

Captain America #3 The Return of The Red Skull 1-4   Leave a comment

So now, we finally reach the eagerly awaited Captain America #3. This is when the book begins to hit its stride to a certain degree. Still, the series continues to suffer from hodge-podge inking, but this of course is what makes this exploration so compelling to me.

Page one is a beauty, with a nicely drawn Kirby splash, predominantly inked by him.  The folds in the Skull’s clothing are particularly nice, as well as the detail in the texture of the stone wall and floor flags and iron chain.The Skull’s shadow on the floor is also pure Kirby.

There is something in the shadow of Cap’s nose that suggests Avison to me. but it is probably too soon for an appearance from him.

This is a wonderful circular composition, with the viewer’s eye literally entering the panel along with Cap and Bucky, moving to the figure of the Red Skull and up the hanging Cap and Bucky’s figures and back around again. The archway also assists the circular movement of the reader’s eye. As with all examples of Kirby lavishing his attention on the splash page and giving short shrift to the remainder of the story, the contrast is jarring.

Page two above seems to be Kirby rough pencils, which I would guess are inked by George Roussos. Greg Theakston claims that Roussos makes his first appearance as an inker in the second story of this issue, but if I compare selected samples, much of the embellishment on this page also looks to be by him as well. There is something in the profiles of the two officers in panel six that look like faces in the later Hunchback of Hollywood story.  At any rate, there doesn’t seem to be any Simon or Kirby inking on page two.

Page three below looks like very loose but dynamic Kirby pencils finished by Joe Simon.

The back shots of the striking major in panel three and the same figure in the next sequence as he falls is beautifully done. These are classic Kirby figure arrangements that juxtapose the counter-moves of each combatant.

Note the color separation imposed by the colorist, awkwardly breaking up the single panel into segments. the bottom half of the page is considerably weaker in comparison to the top.

Page four below is also quite nice, although considerably looser. the Cap and Bucky figures in panel two are not strong, possibly because they are Joe Simon’s pencil work.

The fight scenes that begin in panel four are much better. Cap’s head over toss in panel five is quite nice Kirby pencils, as are the following panels of Bucky’s kicking sequence. Inks look like Simon, which can be easily contrasted to what appears to be Roussos. We will see more of what I believe to be his inking on the next page in the next post.


Posted May 7, 2012 by norris burroughs in Uncategorized

Captain America #2 Wax Statue pg 7-11   Leave a comment

Well, I’m back at this thrilling blog after several months of computer woes, ready to pick up where I left off, towards the end of Captain America #2 and The Wax Statue story. As you may or may not recall, this story featured art by Reed Crandall, and there is still some degree of uncertainty as to whether he was inking as well as penciling over Kirby rough layouts. As we resume with page seven, there clearly seems to be no Crandall present here. It looks to me like fairly tight Kirby pencils with extensive Kirby inking in panels one through three and sub-par finishes in panels four and five.
Page nine is fairly unremarkable, with Kirby rough pencils probably finished by Joe Simon and again inked without much enthusiasm by Simon and perhaps a lesser hand. There does look like what appears to be an Al Avison face on the sergeant in panel one, but the reproduction is too poor for a clear identification.
Page ten is a rare beauty and a stand out, which I’m fairly confident is both drawn and inked by Reed Crandall. There are some exquisitely etched lines all throughout the page, most notably in the hand in panel two, in the drape of the clothes in panels three and four and in all of the faces. The mask hanging in the final panel is a dead giveaway as a Crandall standby. The POV angle looking down at the wonderful skull of the lab coated villain is a thing of gruesome beauty as well.
This page leaps out at you like no other in this book because of its obvious technical superiority and feels completely incongruous in comparison to most of the book. I would dearly love to see the original art or even a decent scan of the actual comic page, but alas, I have no such scans until issue five.
The last page featured here is a pretty nice penciling job by Kirby and it looks as if he shared the inking with Simon and possibly another less articulate hand. The last panel is remarkable for its nifty caricatures of James Cagney and Humphrey Bogart. Kirby is clearly having some fun here with this sort of thing.
This will be the last post on Captain America #2, as there’s not much noteworthy in the final pages of this story. I’ll move on to issue three in the next post and we’ll get into some classic Skullduggery.

Posted May 1, 2012 by norris burroughs in Uncategorized