Original Art Stories: Jack Kirby: Mr Miracle's Early Days, Part II
I replied as such, “That's the problem. Kirby's 4th World material needed to be spectacular. Vinnie inks were competent at best. It did the material a great disservice. I'm sure Kirby saw it as something that needed a lot of detail. For me the series only started to 'pop' when Royer began to ink it. Still, I'd loved to have seen what Sinnott would have done on it.” And that is the biggest problem of them all.
Kirby put a lot of love and attention into the Fourth World material as it was truly his baby. He was able to write, pencil and edit the material on his own and once you see the pencilled pages (and thankfully the bulk of them were photocopied before they were inked) you can see just how much of a labour of love the project was. It matters not if love Vinnie or hate him, if his approach was one of seeing it as something that didn’t require a lot of detail or attention then; frankly, he wasn’t the inker for the job. What the work needed was an inker who’d lavish the same care and attention to detail that Kirby put into the pencils. You can see why Kirby was upset over the treatment of his work by artists such as Vinnie and Al Plastino (who re-drew the faces on his Superman figures) and also why other artists, such as Neal Adams, made very public their appreciation for the work and, in Adams case, asked to ink it in order to preserve the dynamics that Kirby had drawn.
With this in mind Tom Kraft has asked some of Kirby’s better known inkers, who are still active, to ink some of the pencils that still exist. In this case Mike Royer, who replaced Vinnie Colletta on the Fourth World material, was tapped to recreate the pencil pages from photocopies of the original pencils and ink those recreated pages for this Mr Miracle/Scott Free story. This gives us the unique opportunity to compare what Vinnie originally did and what Mike did later. To keep things in perspective it helps to note that Vinnie more than likely inked these pages under a deadline, and with the help of one or more assistants, whereas Mike wasn’t under a lot of pressure and could take time. Vinnie was also working from the original pencils, Mike recreated Kirby's pencils from photocopies of the originals. Having said that the inks that Royer has provided are very similar to other work that he did over Kirby, at the time, so it’s still a reasonable comparison.
In order we have:
The Jack Kirby pencils, as recreated by Mike Royer from existing photocopies
Vinnie Colletta’s published inks - over the original pencils
Mike Royer’s unpublished inks - over the recreated pencils
Back to you – which do you prefer, and why?