Thursday, October 4, 2012

Double The Pleasure

If there was any Marvel artist who would seem to be the go-to artist for drawing a double-page scene, the first name that would come to mind would probably be Jack Kirby. Yet, surprisingly, before his departure from Marvel in 1970, Kirby almost exclusively chose to stick to full-page representations for dramatic impact--not that those were any less stunning. Outside of one or two odd double-page spreads that experimented more with superimposing than artistic expression, Kirby's early work at Marvel seemed to steer clear of pencilling any double-page artwork.

He did do this nice pin-up of the FF in Fantastic Four Annual #5:

And from Avengers Annual #2, artist John Buscema follows suit with his own double-pager:

(No, I'm not crazy about this depiction of Hercules, either. Hard to believe this scrawny guy went the distance with Thor.)

But there was nothing quite like finding one of these renderings as part of the comic's story itself. Look at this beautiful portrait of the Zodiac cartel in Avengers, drawn by Buscema's brother, Sal:

Double-pagers were also excellent for giving stories a dramatic opening. Here's an unexpected one from Gene Colan, showing an attack from a satellite controlled by a villain (with no small assistance from letterer Sam Rosen):

And John Byrne brings the events in Fantastic Four #200 full-circle with this depiction of Dr. Doom's return:

As for artist Neal Adams, even a split double-pager is better than none:

All of these give you a general idea of the kind of impact these kinds of spreads could have on a story, provided the artist had enough going on in them to justify the space taken. Of course, the crease in the middle of the book, which visibly separated the artwork, tended to distract from the scene, making a double-pager more of a novelty than an integral part of the story. Other than turning the pages into a fold-out, which probably would have been too expensive, there was really nothing to be done about it at the time.

In future posts, we'll turn our eye on Jack Kirby's later double-page excellence when he returned to Marvel--as well as take a look at the first impressive double-page spread he drew for a Marvel book.  (A no-prize is yours if you can guess what it depicted!)

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