This time out, it’s the Challengers of the Unknown. The pencils for this drawing came into my hands years back as a photocopy. I believe the original came from a sketchbook Kirby filled for his wife Roz, which saw print (in un-inked form) as a book entitled Jack Kirby’s Heroes and Villains. It looked like it would be fun to take a crack at inking this drawing, so I did. And just recently colored it for its appearance here.
There are a number of inkers who got the opportunity to handle Kirby’s pencils over the years. I like a number of them for different reasons (though if forced to, I could name a favorite). In the case of Challengers, this strip is one of the rare instances of of Kirby being inked by Wally Wood. If you haven’t seen the pairing before, it’s kind of hard to imagine, but you’re in for a treat. Wally Wood was a great artist in his own right, and the combination of Kirby and Wood on Challengers (also on the syndicated newspaper strip Sky Masters of the Space Force) plays to both artists’ strengths. Check it out, if you get the chance.
Challengers is also significant in that it’s also possible to view the strip as a dry run for the Fantastic Four: both are teams of four who go off on a flight at great risk, somehow survive it, then in the wake of that experience, decide that it’s their calling to look into the unknown. There’s even an early Challengers story where one member develops flame powers briefly!
There’s more to come, before the end of the month.
Happy Kirby 100th!