I can’t draw to save my life. But I can look at the work of Jack Kirby all day. And while there are countless digital compilations of so much of his seminal work at DC and Marvel, there’s something about holding physical collections of King Kirby’s great art that is something special.
The folks at IDW know this, and for years have been releasing outstanding large-scale volumes of original Kirby art and stories. Slightly smaller than their award-winning artist editions is their book Jack Kirby Pencils and Inks: Artisan Edition.
This sturdy hardcover features the first issues of three of Kirby’s seminal works for DC – The Demon, Kamandi and OMAC. Each issue is presented in their entirety. The left hand page features Kirby’s original pencils, while the right features the work lettered and inked by longtime Kirby collaborator Mike Royer.
Seeing those pages side by side is an education in the construction of comic book art, and demonstrates that a) as an artist, Jack Kirby always knew exactly how he wanted his work to appear, and b) that Mike Royer was a sympathetic inker who worked to follow Kirby’s lead and direction rather than impose his own sensibilities.
For fans of Jack Kirby, there are some amazing pieces of work contained within this edition. Seeing the original splash page from Kamandi #1, with the Statue of Liberty nearly underwater remains a riveting scene, nearly 50 years after it was committed to paper by pencils and ink.
There are other IDW titles that celebrate the work of Jack Kirby; they’re the oversized Artist’s Editions, and we’ll be looking at some of those titles as our #Kirby100 feature continues over the summer. Those are more expensive than Jack Kirby Pencils and Ink: Artisan Edition, and take up significant shelf space. For those interested in an introduction to Kirby’s line work and collaborative process with Mike Royer, this edition is highly recommended. It acts as a appetizer rather than a full course, but it’s well worth tasting.