Sunday, January 17, 2021

Little Seen 60's Superhero art by Jack Kirby and Marie Severin


I recently created a post collecting all the Spider-Man art by Jack Kirby I could find. (It can be seen here.) Then, thanks to Stéphane Beaumort and Franz Hens, I discovered more! The new-to-me art can be found in the September 1966 issue of Esquire.

I found a beat up (cheap) copy of the magazine, with good pages on the inside, then scanned (and retouched) away! The superhero themed articles start with the double page spread seen below. Click on any image in to enlarge. Note: you need to "right click" on the image to open it actual size in a tab or window. It's much more readable.

There is a large Jack Kirby signature right below Spider-Man. But, I don't think Kirby drew him! This is all speculation on my part, but it's not exactly Kirby's style, and the layout of the characters would be very strong without Spidey in it. Did Kirby leave him out and someone else from Marvel crammed him in?

The most telling thing is that there is a thin "white" gap in the black line art between Spidey and the rest of the characters. This is what you would see if Spider-Man had been drawn separately, cut out, and pasted on the art. Here's a close up--

Edit: Artist Terry Beatty has informed me that he has seen the original Kirby art for this spread. It did not have Spider-Man in it. So, Spidey was added later, probably through the use of stats. Thanks, Terry!

On the following two pages, is the Spider-Man art that Kirby did most likely draw. As you can see from the first image, Kirby often added or omitted details from Spider-Man's costume. In this version, Spidey has no spider emblem on his back, but he does have webs running down the side of his legs. Both elements are "off model." Oddly enough enough, he appears correct on the next page.

I haven't yet commented on the article itself. It's an interesting read that talks about how America's university students have embraced Marvel Comics. It was great publicity in 1966, but some of the students say rather dumb things. Here's the first student quote (he misspelled three, easy words), "Marvel Comics have a wholesome, clean cut molecular arrangement. I have come accross [sic] many conformations and spatial arrangements in my day but Marvel is one of the most stablist [sic] compounds known. Show me a comic book that delivers some taste and I will show you a Marvel Comic. The minds of the Marvel writers and artist must be truely [sic] recessed. Marvel has soul. We're with you Spidey." Hmm, I just noticed he says, "writers and artist." Just one artist?

This issue also contained a few articles illustrated by the-not-talked-about-enough Marie Severin. The below pages highlight students and teachers from different universities. 

This looks like Joe Biden to me. Perhaps he could use it on his letterhead.

And finally, unrelated to superheroes, here's an handy chart to show you how to be rejected during a military draft.

As though I needed a reason to wear silk underwear.


Pj Perez said...

Great find! This is fascinating for a few reasons:
1. Esquire being billed as "A Magazine for Men." VERRRRY different from its current incarnation, which definitely skews differently, maybe even slightly more "female" targeted.
2. You have to wonder why Kirby would leave Spidey out of a two-page spread featuring Marvel's heavy hitters. Obviously, someone fixed it, but still a notable omission from the start.

Kerry Callen said...

You noticed that too, huh.

Doug Hazlewood said...

Had never seen that before! Thanks for posting it!

Kerry Callen said...

You're welcome.