Archive for September 2012

Captain America #5 Ringmaster part 2 by Norris Burroughs   Leave a comment

Page five above continues the story with a nice head and torso shot of Cap and Bucky. Seemingly, it is Kirby’s drawing, which is strongly embellished by Avison and Shores, followed by a shot of our heroes trotting that has some nice dynamics. The remainder of the page is unremarkable, with the possible exception of some amusing very Avison-like drawings of Steve and Bucky peeling potatoes.

Skipping page six, we move on to a very strong Kirby-driven page seven that commences with a shot of Betty Ross walking down a foreboding city street, followed by Cap and Bucky. In panel two, Betty looks up at a row of skyscrapers to observe a daring robbery in progress. This page has a slightly different inking style over strong Kirby pencils, and looks to me like neither Avison nor Shores. There is something very smooth and liquid in the ink lines here.

The slug-fest in panel four is particularly wonderful, as Captain America’s shield bashes the blue-jacketed thug into the upper reaches of panel space, while the figures of Betty and Bucky act as counterpoints to emphasize the action. The pile-up in the final panel is also quite neat, although not inked quite as crisply. The complexity of foreshortening in Cap’s body is remarkable.

The first four panels of page eight above have similar inking qualities to those of page seven. The musculature of the strongman who is slugging Cap in panel one is a trifle over the top, but Cap’s spayed figure is strong, and the strongman’s back is well rendered in panel two. In panel three, the fleeing criminal in the brown suit is remarkably well drawn. The angle of his protruding head and squared and rotated shoulders counterbalances his springing bent legs, giving particular dynamism to the pose, and also further propelling the running strongman holding Betty Ross. This is obviously Kirby lovingly giving a good deal of attention to these drawings.

Avison and Shores finish Kirby in the two final panels.


Page nine is mostly Avison and Shores, with the latter clearly inking the head of the Ringmaster in panel three, evidenced by the profusion of crosshatched hay in the right of the panel. Still the poses, particularly the approaching elephants in the final panel are pure Kirby. We will conclude the story in the next post.


Posted September 28, 2012 by norris burroughs in Uncategorized

Captain America #5-Ringmaster part-1 by Norris Burroughs   Leave a comment

Welcome to the first post where I am able to use actual scans. I must say that it’s a joy to see the pages as they appeared back in the day, as they say. So here we go, it’s a brand new day.

In Captain America #5, we first encounter The Ringmaster of Death, a character that would appear in one form or another throughout various Kirby driven comics for the next several decades. Nearly all of Kirby’s splash panels are magnificent, and this one is unique in its property of evoking a carnival of nightmare and lunacy. This page is almost certainly inked by Kirby, with the exception of the small inset panel that actually begins the story in earnest. This comic continues the practice started in the previous issue of employing Al Avison as Kirby’s primary finisher.

Page two above starts off with some very Avison-like panels, particularly the faces in panels one, and those of the Ringmaster as well. On first examination, it would appear that most of the artwork here is initiated by Kirby roughs or partial pencil-work followed by tighter Avison pencils and or inking, and primary inking by Syd Shores and possibly Al Gabrielle. Most of Kirby’s tighter pencils seem to be in the figures of Captain America, Bucky, and Steve Rogers and Bucky out of costume. We also see more of Kirby’s embellishment on close-ups of villain’s faces and and in the structure elaborate technical equipment. As Avison and Shores later both worked extensively as Captain America’s pencilers, I am much more familiar with their work than that of Al Gabrielle or George Klein.

Notice if you will the bit of symbolism that Kirby employs in panel five, showing the Ringmaster and his whip juxtaposed with a blue ball bearing a star, an object that very much resembles Captain America. the tip of the whip hovering over the ball gives the illusion of the hero already defeated.

The running figures in the first panel of page three above don’t have much Kirby in them, beyond a loose structural breakdown, but the figures of Captain America in panels three and four are strong, particularly Cap’s back shot in four. The anatomy of the back, especially of the rear leg muscles is something that Kirby excels at. Notice also panel seven, where Kirby uses the shape of the cages to give Bucky and the midget some motion by the use of perspective.

The drawing on this page appears to be done predominantly by Avison and inked by Shores.

On page four above, we see much of the same thing again, as Kirby gives us several dynamic elongated poses of Cap in action, such as the right hook that fells the two thugs in panel two, and also the roundhouse  shield blow that the hero delivers in panel three. I’m also appreciating Kirby’s use of circular panels in the page’s layout.

to be continued.

Posted September 23, 2012 by norris burroughs in Uncategorized

Captain America #4 Conclusion by Norris Burroughs   Leave a comment

Not having much incentive to do much work on the remainder of Captain America #4, I’m pretty much just going to focus on a few choice pages, before moving on to issue #5. First off, we have the full page from the Ivan the Terrible story, which I believe is inked quickly but lovingly by Kirby. There is a profusion of delicate brushwork in this panel that you probably do not see here because of the poor reproduction.

Looking at the new soft cover Masterworks edition, it is abundantly clear how much detail is missing from the version that I scanned, and my heart is just not in using much more of the hardcover edition’s art to identify artists and inkers.

The next sample that I am displaying below is page eight from the story called The Fake Money Fiends, which looks to me like a very nice example of Avison inked by Shores. Nearly everything on this page, from the poses, to the faces screams Avison’s drawing style. I would draw particular attention to panel five, in which Steve Rogers shoves a fellow into a pickle barrel. In the following panel, the face of the green-coated counterfeiter is classic Avison as well.


Next, we have a splash panel below inked partially by Kirby from the Horror Hospital story, but if you look at the hatching in the sky, you will see a pretty good indication of the presence of another inker, which is probably George Klein.


Finally, I bid farewell to this issue with a wonderful simian Kirby creature on page eleven of the same story. This is the blueprint for a number of monsters that Kirby and his imitators will adapt over the following decades. It is a wonderfully constructed page that leads the eye just to where the artist wishes it to go.


Posted September 10, 2012 by norris burroughs in Uncategorized

Captain America #4 Unholy legion part 2 by Norris Burroughs   Leave a comment

As Michael Vassalo has recently revised the inking credits for the first four issues of Captain America, and Marvel Masterworks has just released vastly improved reproductions of these stories, I will just briefly go over the remainder of issue #4, with some comments based on those new observations and those of my own. Since I have already ruined the binding of my hardcover edition, I will continue working with the inferior versions of issue #4, rather than defile yet another book. From Issue #5 and onward, I will be working with actual scans.

I’m continuing with page 8 above, which also appears to be Avison drawing, but again the drawing and compositions are tight and I feel that Kirby is providing a bit more than bare bones for the finishers. The composition in panel three is particularly effective, as is the anatomy and structure of the pileup in panel four. Mike Vasallo is attributing the inks to Syd Shores, I believe because of the profusion of ink lines that resemble hay, such as in the right upper edge of panel six.

Moving forward to page eleven above, these again look like fairly strong Kirby drawings finished by Avison. The anatomy of the human back is particularly challenging, and Kirby early on developed a signature pose of a rear-positioned figure leaping up and forward, with rear leg extended, a version of which appears in the first and third panels. Even the panoramic composition in panel five, with the semicircular door shape in the background appears too challenging for Avison’s skills at this point in time. Compare if you will Avison’s crudely executed structure and perspective of buildings in the previously noted Rozzo the Rebel story from my last post, if you need to see what I am referring to.



Page thirteen above,  again gives us some decent Kirby layouts in the first panel showing the Nazi escaping in his mini-sub, Cap and Bucky in panel three running alongside the building’s perspective, and a wonderful slew of hideous creatures bursting forth from borders of panel five.

We finish up with page fourteen and a classic Kirby melee, finished by Avison and Shores. Again, although simple, the use of cross beams and the placement of figures on the floor plane says Kirby very loudly to me. In my mind, the specific juxtaposition of overlapping figures is a very clear indication of the superior artistic mind that Kirby possessed.


Posted September 9, 2012 by norris burroughs in Uncategorized