Saturday, November 24, 2012

Redrawn Faces in MSH #14?

It is well-known that when Jack Kirby came over to DC in the early 1970s and started working on Jimmy Olsen as well as other titles, that Superman and Jimmy Olsen's faces were redrawn by DC staff artists like Al Plastino and Murphy Anderson. But it appears that this practice actually started at Marvel.

I've already talked about the bizarre one-off Amazing Spiderman story that appeared in Marvel Super-Heroes #14. At least according to a note Stan appended to that story, Johnny Romita was ill and so Ross Andru was pressed into service to fill in for the Jazzy one for a single issue. But Romita apparently recovered and met the deadline, so the story was shelved.

There were a couple of oddities about this story. First, although Andre's longtime inking partner, Mike Esposito, was already inking ASM under the nom de plume of Mickey Demeo, he was not given this assignment; instead the tale was inked by Bill Everett. And second, it looks very much like Romita redrew the faces of Gwen and Mary Jane here:
A friend of mine named Jeff pointed this out to me in an email. As I noted in response to him, what clinches it for me is that while MJ and Gwen both look reasonably normal, Harry doesn't look like himself at all; he looks more like the Sandman. This also gives us a clue that the story must have been drawn well before the publication date of May 1968, as Romita had changed Gwen's hairstyle by then to make it longer. She looks more like she did in 1967:
By 1968 her hair was much longer and straighter:


Comicsfan said...

That "sickbed" panel certainly seems to have been tinkered with in some ways. But instead of Romita's work, I see a lot of Steve Ditko in Gwen's face. And in a creepy sort of way, that looks like Norman Osborn in the background! :)

Spider-Man was a very hot and rising property at the time, if memory serves, so I suppose it's understandable that Marvel would take a little extra care with the images of the book's characters--something I don't recall seeing done with characters from other titles, to any extent. I was even a little stunned to see Peter's face "Romita-ized" in appearances in other books.

Anonymous said...

Tales of Suspense #76, the 1st Batroc, looks to have been retouched by Romita. Look at Cap's face.

- KD

Kirk House said...

Ten years ago, I curated an exhibit of Dick Ayers's art. Dick told me that once he had turned in an inking assignment just as Jack Kirby had penciled it. Stan Lee said, "If I wanted somebody to TRACE this stuff, I'd have gotten some kid off the street. You know Kirby just does these heads... I need you to make the thing come alive." Dick said, "In that case, I think I should be getting more money."
In that situation, apparently, Kirby was concentrating on faces and maybe skimping on some of the rest. But I suspect that we should all be giving the inkers rather more credit than we tend to... which is not at all a criticism of the pencilers.

Al Bigley said...

I wouldn't see this MSH tale until it was reprinted years later in the first Marvel SPIDER-MAN "Treasury Edition," and, even at that point, it looked odd...I loved it, then and now, but it's weird to think that, even 12 years in, fans had only seen Spidey drawn by --maybe --6 artists at the time?

And that's a GOOD thing, as it established a "right" way for the character to be depicted, and something to "play against" when an odd new artist takes a shot at the character..! Today? You get 19 different artistic takes on Spidey per MONTH!

A recent KIRBY COLLECTOR wrote about the many changes by JRSR to Kirby's art, right before Jack left for DC. Stan thought some figures and faces were getting a bit weak and wobbly then...

Al Bigley

Dandy Forsdyke said...

The practice may have started at DC anyway. I know Kurt Schaffenberger was asked to re-draw Lois and Lana heads on some Curt Swan Superman stories. I also remember a LSH cameo in a panel of a Lois Lane story redrawn (or cut and pasted the old fashioned way) by John Forte. It's just a way of keeping the characters as recognisable as they do in their own titles.