Thursday, June 12, 2014

Inking and coloring unpublished Jack Kirby cover art - Part 2

-click to enlarge-

I finally found a few minutes to get back to a personal project that was both a joy and a challenge.
A month or so ago I posted this explaining how I came across this unpublished Jack Kirby cover from the proposed FOXHOLE #1 (1954). To see the original post click here

It was a joy in that it was art from comics legend Jack Kirby. I mean, what comic fan wouldn't want to be associated with the "King"?

It was a challenge for several reasons. One reason, the art as I received it from the website was only 72 dpi and not particularly large in size. I would have preferred 300 dpi and then I could reduce as needed without losing details. Having to enlarge 72 dpi  to ink doesn't make it easier.

Another challenge was that Kirby pencil layout was relatively rough, that is, not excessively detailed in any way, and rather vague in certain spots. Without the benefit of being able to ask Mr. Kirby what he originally intended for these unclear areas necessitated  some creative interpretation, as well as attempted trans-time warp psychic thought exchange. Yet, try as I might, I just couldn't read Jack Kirby's mind, after all. 

What I wanted to achieve was to be as true to Kirby's lines as possible, to bring forth that which he originally envisioned as best as I could, without changing anything, as much as I might feel like it.

I finished inking it several weeks ago and put it aside until I felt like returning to add color. I had intended to add flourish lines and details to the inks, but I determined that the simple bold lines would suffice, as I didn't want to risk f@*#ing it up accidentally by adding too much. As I looked at the inked page I noticed one thing: the left side of the image seemed to be missing something.
inked page before alterations

This was a depiction of a beach landing, yet the only craft visible was the lone landing craft (with ship behind it). Where were the other ships? These guys couldn't accomplish much success  alone. So after looking at a similar Kirby cover done about 10 years after this one, I saw what I needed to do.
SGT. FURY #3, 1963 - cover by Jack Kirby (inked by Steve Ditko)

Like Kirby did in this SGT. FURY cover, I needed to add at least a couple of battleships to that empty sea. Also, I re-checked Kirby's pencils and noticed I had omitted  a couple of shots of the strafing gunfire beyond the prone soldiers legs. So, I added that in as well. Now, it was ready to color.

I feel it turned out pretty good. I'm pleased with it, for what it is.
Here again is the original Jack Kirby rough pencil cover art, and my subsequent inks and then colors on top of it.

Click images to enlarge.

Jack Kirby unpublished cover art for Foxhole #1, 1954.

My inks over Jack Kirby

Inked and colored


A closer look at some details:

Inked page before alterations - This area needed something...

With added battleships, and added gunfire, the scene became more balanced design-wise.

Kirby's main character - his face says, "What am I doing here?!"

Kirby soldier #2 - "Look out! Get down!"

Kirby soldier #3 - too late, the enemy shelling has done it's dirty work, and this soldier has made the ultimate sacrifice.

This "Day At The Beach" is no fun at all - dead soldiers cover the shoreline.


  1. What an amazing job you did, Michael. I'm sure Jack would have been happy with what you did with his kept the integrity of the original piece, plus added some improvements. Thanks for the tremendous effort you put into bringing this cover to life, and giving us "new" Kirby art.

    1. Thank you, Pappy! I very much appreciate the compliments!