The last time I did a comprehensive FF re-read I stopped with the last of the Kirby issues (or rather the first two of the four Romita issues that wrapped up the story). That brings me up to Fantastic Four #105. John Romita was as humble to take over Fantastic Four for the King in 1970 as he had been to take over Spider-Man from Steve Ditko in 1966. He didn't feel qualified in either case, as did his best to draw in their respective styles both times. Why Stan Lee didn't assign Joe Sinnott to ink I have no idea, but #103-105 were inked by John Verpoorten. 

#105 opens with the Thing, Johnny and Crystal enjoying some hot dogs from a street vendor, when suddenly the city is wracked by a series of explosions. Crystal unexpectedly collapses, and Johnny flies her back to the Baxter Building to seek Reed Richards' help. Meanwhile, Sue has been shopping and finds herself closer to the source of the mysterious explosions. She goes to the street to find Dr. Zoltan Rambow, a colleague of Reed's, pursuing an energy being.

Back at the Baxter Building, Reed has diagnosed Crystal as having an adverse reaction to the pollution she has no resistance to and says she must return to the Inhumans' Great Refuge or die. Reed has also discovered, in Crystal's DNA, what he thinks can be a cure to the thing's condition. Summoning Lockjaw, Crystal quickly says her goodbyes and departs immediately for the Great Refuge. Johhny flies off in frustration and soon comes upon his sister in conflict with the energy being. Sue cannot leave the conflict, but urges her brother to get Reed and Ben. Johnny returns to the Baxter Building only to find Reed at a critical juncture in his attempt to cure Ben.

CLIFFHANGER: Reed must choose between the life of his wife and that of his best friend.

It is widely accepted that Jack Kirby plotted most if not all of the Fantastic Four stories. I have generally come to the conclusion that if Stan Lee is credited with "script" that Jack Kirby provided the plot (or at least co-plotted). The credits for this issue list Stan Lee "story" and John Romita "illustration." #105 is one of the most densely-plotted and action-packed issues in a long time (the Sub-Mariner/Magneto conflict notwithstanding). Jack Kirby certainly didn't have anything to do with this issue. I think just because Stan Lee hadn't been regularly plotting Fantastic Four for some time doesn't mean he couldn't

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Byrne's not reproducing actual photographs... it's like he's drawing from the photographs... or something. I'm not certain how he accomplishes it. That's why I used the rather vague word "technique." Maybe Luke can explain it (if anyone can). 

I haven’t contributed much to this discussion, but I think this is what Richard is referring to.



Richard Willis said:

Jeff of Earth-J said:

Before I get into the next issue, I thought I'd mention the technique John Byrne has been using for a while now of using actual photos of New York City as backgrounds. Sometimes he embelishes them a bit (such as altering one to look like the Baxter Building), but this issues begins with several such landmarks.

I remember when Kirby was doing this on covers and interiors. I wasn't a big fan of it. 


I'm no expert on this stuff, but there's an image here of a page of original art that used the technique, from #275. I think the background is a pasted-on photographic image that's been processed in some way.

Perhaps Byrne made a photocopy of a photo and set the settings so he'd get the look and size he wanted. I don't know if it was possible to process images using computers at that point. Byrne also did something to avoid a messy interaction between the background and the edge of Wyatt's face.

On the #267 cover there's a border line around Reed and the arms. I think Byrne drew them, cut around what he'd drawn, and placed the cut-out over a photo.

I've read Kirby loved doing those collages.

Jeff of Earth-J said:

....those live reenactments of All in the Family and The Jeffersons last year bleeped out the word which was broadcast on TV in the '70s). 

I was watching all of the Norman Lear shows live when they first aired. There was no recording back then.

The first time it was uttered was (IIRC, in a courtroom scene) by Redd Foxx on Sanford and Son. A lot of people apparently thought he made it OK.

I'm playing catch-up on the discussion (right now I'm on the morning of May 7) so if anyone else made this comment.....

Regarding the hate-speech, I just realized that they had Code seals on the newsstand versions but not on the direct-to-LCS issues. Did they possibly change the wording for the newsstand editions? 

In comics shops Marvel's comics were in competition with comics from companies that didn't submit to the Code. Maybe they thought the Code Seal and the UPCs were off-putting to collectors.

The placement of the figures on the cover of #280 mimics the initial version of the cover Neal Adams drew for X-Men #56.

FF Annual #19

I haven't read this annual but I have a couple of observations.

As powerful as an Elan toddler was, anyone who invaded their planet would be toast.

The original story in FF #24 seems to have been copied by Star Trek TOS as the famous episode "Charlie X," unless another similar story was written before that.

In the '80's I worked for a small art studio where my duties included running a stat camera. I would often be given a black and white photo that needed to be pasted up in a layout. In order for the continuous tone photo to be reproduced properly by the printer I had to shoot a half tone stat that converted the tones into dot patterns. It was possible to resize the photo as needed to fit the layout. You could also shoot a stat without the half tone screen which would drop out the tonal values resulting in an image that looked something like a line drawing. Other elements could be pasted onto the stats as needed. I have always assumed Kirby and others used a similar process for their comic book pages.

Luke Blanchard said:

I'm no expert on this stuff, but there's an image here of a page of original art that used the technique, from #275. I think the background is a pasted-on photographic image that's been processed in some way.

Perhaps Byrne made a photocopy of a photo and set the settings so he'd get the look and size he wanted. I don't know if it was possible to process images using computers at that point. Byrne also did something to avoid a messy interaction between the background and the edge of Wyatt's face.

On the #267 cover there's a border line around Reed and the arms. I think Byrne drew them, cut around what he'd drawn, and placed the cut-out over a photo.

I've read Kirby loved doing those collages.

"I've read Kirby loved doing those collages."

He did. They didn't produce well in black & white and on that poor newsprint paper stock, though. One appeared in Kamandi, in color, but still on cheap paper. Toward the end of his career, one or two of them appeared in color on glossy paper in Captain Victory. I have a colr poster of one of his unpublished collages, and several have appeared over the years in The Jack Kirby Collector

"There's an image here of a page of original art that used the technique"

Good example. Thanks, Luke!

"Did they possibly change the wording for the newsstand editions?"

"Maybe they thought the Code Seal and the UPCs were off-putting to collectors."

Yeah, that's the case. None of the direct market version had the CCA code or UPC symbol.

"As powerful as an Elan toddler was, anyone who invaded their planet would be toast."

That aspect of FF Annual #19 was not ignored. Here is an excerpt of a two-page description of the Skrull invasion: "The peace-loving Elan do not even have the concept of militaristic action within their ancient culture. Although they posess extraordinary power, the adult Elan are tooo refined to consider using it against another living being, even in self-defense."

#291:

"Lost time is never found again."

Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) - Poor Richard's Almanac

She-Hulk reenacts the cover of Action Comics #1 both on the cover and inside as well.

The previous two-parter has led directly into the next two-parter as Sue, Johnny, She-Hulk and Nick Fury find themselves in 1936. After a brief pursuit by the police, the four find themselves back in the present day. Johnny splits off from the rest to check in on Alicia, but while he's in her studio, he time-shifts back to 1936. Meanwhile, the time-shift occurred for the others as Nick Fury attempted to drive his car through the holographic wall at SHIELD HQ which suddenly became a real brick wall. Fury is knocked unconscious, Sue goes off in search of a doctor while She-Hulk tries to lie low.

Sue begins to reminisce about Reed, who, as far as she knows, was killed at the end of last issue. Her memory reveals that she was a young girl of 12 years old when she first met Reed, at her aunt's boarding house, when he was a college freshman (which reduces the age gap between them considerably, to a mere six or seven years). Meanwhile, She-Hulk discovers that she is still in contact with the SHIELD space station. From SHIELD's POV, they are still in the present and so is Manhattan. 

Then a man appears in the alley, running away from a car in pursuit. She smashes the car and the passengers disperse. The man being chased is "Licorice" Calhoun, a musician in "Sweet" Tommy conners' jazz band. He sometimes has prophetic dreams, and Mr. Cleveland, the owner of the Flamingo Club, wanted to take advantage of them. Cleveland ordered Calhoun to "dream" his horse to be the winner in his next race, which probably isn't how his powers work in the first place. When the stable burns down overnight and the filly is killed, Cleveland seeks revenge on Calhoun, whom he blames. 

She-Hulk returns to the site of the car crash to find Fury awake and using modern technology to listen to the BBC, which is airing a story about Hitler. Perhaps disoriented from being knocked unconscious, Fury leaves to kill Hitler just as Sue returns from an unsuccessful trip to find a doctor.

#292:

"He hath wakened from the dream of life."

-Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792-1822) - "Adonais"

Using the same technique with which they glided down from orbit in #279, Sue forms her force field into a "ship" shape powered by Johnny flame for thrust and they trace Fury to Nazi Germany homing in on his belt transceiver. (All of their powers seem to be operating at an as-yet-unexplained boosted level.)  they have taken Calhoun with them so none of his actions can affect the timestream (because he likely died that day save for She-Hulk's intervention). It's too bad Reed is not there to explain how they have created a parallel timestream per the Grandfather Paradox

Meanwhile, Fury has made it all the way to Hitler himself before he is taken down. When Sue, Johnny and Jen finally find him he is being tortured. Sue explains to him why he can't kill Hitler (to the best of her ability), then he turns around and kills him anyway!

As soon as he does, they all wake up in the SHIELD ESPer lab, and Reed is there with them! He explains that his plan was predicated on Annihilus catching up to him while they were both in the distortion area between universes. If Annie had come into contact with him on the Negative Zone side, the resultant explosion would have killed them both. But in the distortion area,both of their atomic structures were in flux. The resultant explosion killed Annihilus (presumably), but only destroyed Reed's space suit. He was expelled into the positive matter universe where he used his powers to stay alive until he could be rescued. 

Also in the ESPer lab is "Licorice" Calhoun (given name: Joseph). In our reality, he is 83 years old and has been in a coma since he was run over by a car in 1936. When he began to awaken from his coma, the ESPers tracked him to a charity ward. As he drifted in and out of consciousness, his powers tried to refine the world as he last saw it, and Sue,Johnny, Jen and Nick got caught up in his fantasy. In other words, they were caught in someone else's dream (and that's why theit [power levels were enhanced). 

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