The legendary inker’s astonishing revelation about his longtime Fantastic Four collaborator…
The Marvel Bullpen is one of the great myths of the Silver and Bronze Ages. Stan Lee, PR hustler that he was, loved promoting the notion that the House of Ideas was built by a bunch of creators sitting around and kibitzing as they produced the pages that dazzled a generation of hungry readers.
In reality, it barely existed, at least as far as artists and writers were concerned. Generally speaking, these creators were freelancers, typically working from home, much like they do today.
Conceptually, the myth extends to specific creative teams. How could penciller Jack Kirby and inker Joe Sinnott do such earth-shattering work on Fantastic Four in the ’60s without a healthy back and forth?
The truth is, according to Sinnott, the two men never met until it was all over.
I picked up this little tidbit from the latest issue of Jon B. Cooke’s Comic Book Creator, from TwoMorrows:
Issue #20 – featuring a cover story on Joseph Michael Linsner, as well as a terrific feature on Joe Jusko’s Marvel corner box re-creations – includes a newly resurfaced 2007 interview with Sinnott by Bob Andelman.
Just dig the table of contents:
Anyway, Sinnott gives a broad view of his time at Marvel but I was taken with what he had to say about his relationship with Kirby – such as it was.
So dig this EXCLUSIVE EXCERPT from Comic Book Creator #20 – which you can pick up at your local comics shop or get directly through TwoMorrows. (Click here.)
Bob Andelman: Now, I wanted to ask you, you’ve had a business relationship with Stan for 57 years. How different was Stan in 1950 from the man who, this year, is hosting a weekly TV show?
Joe Sinnott: I can’t see one bit of difference.
Andelman: Is that right?
Sinnott: Oh, yeah. Stan was always the life of the party, so to speak. If Stan was in a room with a thousand people, he would stand out. Great sense of humor. His memory is a little bit off now, but even back in those days, he wasn’t known for his memory. Tremendous sense of humor.
I wish I could tell you some of the stories because whenever I vouch for my work, Stan sends me a little note back. I’ve kept them all. I have hundreds and hundreds of Stan’s notes and letters. Someday, they’ll make a good book, I think. Really, you can’t believe the sense of humor he had. Always with a smile. If you ever see a picture of Stan, it’s with a great big smile.
Well, he could be tough too, though. He knew what he wanted, and he expected it. He certainly helped me in many, many ways. Right from the start, I remember when I was just a kid out of school, he said, “Joe, whatever you do, exaggerate everything.” He said, “I want everything exaggerated.”
That’s what we lived by.
Andelman: What about Kirby? Obviously, you got pages from him. And I know that while Stan developed this idea of the Marvel bullpen, there were some guys working on staff, but mostly guys worked from home so you didn’t see each other that often.
Sinnott: No. Most of the guys who did the books worked at home. The staff, of course, involved so many people. Proofreaders, people who did corrections, things like that. Well, (John) Romita, of course, worked there at the office, and there were a few others.
Kirby, I worked with Jack, oh gee, must be 18 years, something like that, and I had never met him. Never talked to him on the phone, would you believe that? And so Marvel had a convention in ’72, and I went down and I was introduced to Jack Kirby by Marie Severin. And
I didn’t see him again, I didn’t talk to him again until 1975. They had another convention, and I went down and we got together. We had a great three days together. After that, I never spoke to him again. Would you believe that?
Of course, Jack moved to California, and he dropped me a note once in a while if he wanted something. For example, if he wanted his characters inked, and he’d ask me that way if I could help him out, and of course, I always did. We never talked about the Fantastic Four. He never told me he liked the way I did this or didn’t like the way I was doing that. We just never talked about what we were working on, which is amazing, I think.
Andelman: Well, to use the Marvel term, it’s astonishing, really. You guys only met twice in all those years, and yet, your work is so closely tied from that era.
Sinnott: Never discussed the work. Never.
Andelman: I’m baffled. Really.
Sinnott: Of course, Jack and Stan used to write notes on the pages for each other. If Stan wanted something changed, or Jack didn’t like a certain way a story was being told or whatever, but when Jack sent the work to me, there was never, ever a note on the border saying, ‘Joe, would you do it this way or would you do it that way.’ And, of course, my son knows all the pages we did together. It astonishes me, Bob, sometimes also.
Andelman: Do you have any guys that you were particularly close to from that era, from Marvel?
Sinnott: No, no. Actually, it was pretty much the same as Kirby. They sent me the work, and they knew I was gonna do a complete, acceptable job when I returned it.
— KIRBY 100: SINNOTT & ROYER — The Hands of the King. Click here.
— When Comics Great Joe Sinnott ‘Met’ THE BEATLES. Click here.