I’m absolutely thrilled to announce that we’re roughly 98% complete scanning the over 5000 pages of pencil xeroxes in the Kirby Archives! This has been a long, tedious task, as many of the images had faded pretty severely over time. We started it back in 2003, and by summer, we should have rounded up and catalogued the last of the straggler images, and the task will finally be complete.
For those not familiar with what we’re doing, Jack Kirby xeroxed most of his pencil art, prior to inking, from the early 1970s-on, in case anything ever got lost in the mail on the way to the inker, or his publisher. Jack had xeroxes of some of his 1960s pencils in his files as well, and we’ve been scanning and archiving them for several years. There’s a level of urgency to it, because xerox machines of that era weren’t like today’s; they used technology much like the old Thermal Fax machines, with that greasy-feeling gray paper, and the copies are suseptible to fading when exposed to light over long periods. So this amazing record of Kirby’s pre-inked art was slowly fading away.
We’ve done basic tonal adjustments on each 11″ x 17″ scan, to restore the images to a viewable level, and these images are available for viewing to members of the Jack Kirby Museum & Research Center (www.kirbymuseum.org), so consider joining. As for the pencil images we print in the Jack Kirby Collector, those are each manually cleaned-up by hand for optimal reproduction.
A special thanks to Eric Nolen-Weathington for his dedication (and wear and tear on his scanner) in seeing this project to completion. I know I’ll rest easier knowing that this great material will be preserved indefinitely, so future generations can discover Kirby’s penciling wizardry.
To give you an idea, and in memory of poor old Steve Rogers who bit the dust this week, here’s pencils from Kirby’s cover to Captain America #194 (February 1976). Click on the image to see it larger.