Just added a new post to my blog, this one spotlighting the often-maligned JOHNNY STORM, THE HUMAN TORCH series.  The first 5 covers (so far), lovingly restored, in all their 4-color glory.
 

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10 more extensive restorations of Jack Kirby covers!! These are probably among his most-forgotten, as far as "Marvel" fans go.

THE HUMAN TORCH

http://professorhswaybackmachine.blogspot.com/2011/10/human-torch.html

I have really enjoyed these restorations. I hold a special spot for the Torch series in Strange Tales. Marvel was still in its infancy at this point, and to read these stories, it can be hard to say where Marvel would eventually go. Perhaps because of that, these stories may not stand up to the test of time. They just don't fit in.

But they were just so much fun.

I agree.  There's really 3 periods for the series:  Jack Kirby, Dick Ayers, and Bob Powell.  Kirby did the most imaginative stories.  Ayers did the funniest ones.  Powell... well, sadly it's easy to see why the strip was replaced.

One of my favorites was the 1st team-up of Paste-Pot Pete and The Wizard.  Pete breaks Wiz out of jail to form a partnership, then finds he's treated like a hired lackey by the raving egomaniac.  It also cracks me up that Ernie Hart wrote much funnier dialogue than Stan Lee!

Kirby fared better without Lee than Lee without Kirby, in my mind. By the time the Thing was added was a permanent co-star*, it was over.

* - Of course, that goes to show how much Marvel was in its infancy, thinking the teenage Torch would be the breakout star of the FF over the angst-y Thing.

Hadn't thought about it before, but with the "corrected" credits in my own index for this series, Kirby & Lee only worked together twice-- the SPIDER-MAN crossover in the ANNUAL, and the story with the bogus CAPTAIN AMERICA.

The latest restoration...

STRANGE TALES #111  /  August 1963  /  Jack Kirby & Dick Ayers

Another one where I decided it would be easiest to remove the entire background and "just" clean up what was left.  Good thing.  The left-edge building had endless damage to repair, while the lower-right building edge had to be "filled in".  Once I got all that done, I copied the grays to a separate layer and removed ALL the color before lightening them up.

In addition, the logo green had to be adjusted on a separate layer, and quite a lot of airbrush had to be used on the rd and yellow areas.

Other than that (hah!) the colors on this came up REAL nice with less effort than usual.

http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-EeIBFalwxKc/Uo6gEJm2qpI/AAAAAAAAPrw/KW65G...

Also, for no damn reason, since I had a new sky background, I decided to do an alternate "Ralph Bakshi" tribute version while I was at it.

http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-q7u57POthk8/Uo6hU6tUKbI/AAAAAAAAPsI/98jbr...

The latest restoration...

STRANGE TALES #112  /  September 1963  /  art by JACK KIRBY

Considering how DARK the scan was, this was surprisingly, a relative quickie.  After hitting "levels", the resulting colors required only minor lightening up.  After that, it was copy-and-paste to fill in the left edge and repair minor damage around the other 3 edges.  WOW!  This was the debut of The Eel.

http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-dxuttop60xM/UpAvFPYOXKI/AAAAAAAAPsw/lY2mc...

The latest restoration...

STRANGE TALES ANNUAL #2  /  [September 1963]  /  art by Jack Kirby & Sol Brodsky

I'd started a restoration on this several years ago, but had been unable to find a decent-sized one.  The other day I went looking again and found a nice selection at the Heritage Auction site.  I had to COMBINE 2 different scans to get the most detail, as I didn't want to lose anything along the right or bottom edges.  These areas required EXTENSIVE "copy-and-paste" and "airbrush" repair work to "fill in" what otherwise would have been lost.  I think it was worth the effort!

In addition, the yellow areas all needed to be airbrushed, while the green and DARK BLUE areas needed to be cranked UP in "color balance".  The detail on Spider-Man's dark areas had gone COMPLETELY black before I adjusted it!

Now-- FINALLY there's a decent image of this!!  One of the earliest major "team-ups" of the Marvel Age!

http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-3b-pOFgurNo/UpQd6vDd0lI/AAAAAAAAPtk/brwpp...

The latest restoration...

STRANGE TALES #113  /  October 1963  /  Jack Kirby & Don Heck

This one was so off-rotation, I wound up having to do extensive copy-and-paste-into on 3 edges (left, right and bottom).  In addition, I used airbrush for the entire red area at the top.  Further, the dark blues, dark greens and the yellow in the text box had to be cranked up in "color balance" on separate layers.

I continue to be surprised at how good some of these are coming up, considering the really MISERABLE, dark scans I've seen online.

http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-gSAh92QilBM/Upa__t6VvOI/AAAAAAAAPuQ/AKADO...

The latest restoration...

STRANGE TALES #114  /  November 1963  /  art by Jack Kirby & Dick Ayers

Once again, there was so much dirt on this, plus the inside showing through, I started out by removing the entire background and replacing it with a new one.  There were countless specks of dirt, discolorations and drops-outs, and this required a lot of airbrush and copy-and-paste-into (the latter where color patterns were involved).  Then I had to fill in both the left and right edges. Finally, the dark green in the logo, the skin tones, and 2 different shades of blue had to be adjusted on separate layers.

MUCH better!!!

http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-v5QOMEzGnrw/Up3cB2h8PYI/AAAAAAAAPvI/h-UWl...

The latest restoration...

STRANGE TALES #115  /  December 1963  /  Jack Kirby & Steve Ditko

The biggest problem here was the excessive dirt down the left-edge of the cover.  I had to clean up the "glass" in that area on a separate layer from the rest of the glass, so as not to blank out the pale blue.

Further, the left, bottom & right edges all needed extensive "fill in" with copy-and-paste. The worst part had to be the lower-left corner.

Beyond that there were creases, damage, drop-outs, specks, dirt, you name it.  "The usual".  I fixed this with copy-and-paste (where there was color dot patterns) and airbrush (where there was flat colors, or white areas).

Finally at the end fo copied the DARK BLUE ceiling onto a separate layer and cranked up the blue, so it wouldn't look almost BLACK.  I also added WHITE to The Sandman's eyes & teeth where there had been NONE.  Call it fixing a 50-year-old slip-up.

MUCH better!!!

http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-oj_htF8_nVs/UqKitC19I-I/AAAAAAAAPvw/bxZqq...

The latest restoration...

STRANGE TALES #116  /  January 1964  /  Jack Kirby & George Roussos

I did a lot of copy-and-paste work on the sky background, but fortunately didn't have to REPLACE it as on several of therse recent ones. While I was at it, I also had to fix ALL 4 edges (top, left, right & bottom). I used airbrush to clean up the red areas of the lettering, as well as the color-plate registration problems on the figure of Alicia. I also added white to her eyes and teeth.

Finally, I adjusted the dark greens, dark blues & dark orange on separate layers.  MUCH better!

Still, nothing can help the REALLY LOUSY inking...  (Alicia & The Puppet Master, especially, are genuine nightmares.)

Before:
http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-pLyetBjjrsI/UqP2yWtJ8hI/AAAAAAAAPwg/Rge50...

After:
http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-YILGSSfNCcA/UrMqrZpi93I/AAAAAAAAP3U/I0jxi...

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