I recently sat down and drew page 11 from Fantastic Four #49 ("If This Be Doomsday," April 1966; written by Stan Lee, drawn by Jack Kirby). This is the page where Alicia Masters shows the Silver Surfer what Beauty is. If you haven't read these classic issues of the Fantastic Four, I encourage you to do so! Especially this series, "The Galactus Trilogy," which ran from issues 48-50. (And you might as well keep reading through issue 51 as well, "This Man, This Monster," which many critics consider the greatest superhero story of all time.)
Anyhow, as I was drawing this page, my mind was flooded with observations, thoughts and questions, which I reckoned I would share with you here today. For reference, here's my version of the page:
(Click twice to enlarge.)
COMMENTS, THOUGHTS, AND LESSONS I LEARNED UPON DRAWING PAGE 11 OF FANTASTIC FOUR #49:
• So many words!
• At first glance, the page seems to be divided into a standard six-panel grid (with the bottom tier broken into 3 smaller panels), but actually each tier is of independent size. The top row panels are slightly taller than they are wide, and taller than any of the other panels on the page. Row 2 is more square-shaped than Row 1 (ie shorter), and Row 3 is even shorter still. The Row 3 panels are divided into a vertically symmetrical pattern, with the two outside panels being slightly wider than the middle one.
• Silver Surfer uses the word "word" four times in seven panels.
• How many pages like this did Kirby crank out in a day? Because I was exhausted after drawing just this one.
• In panel two, the ellipses after "sculptures" contains only two dots; in panel six they save room by adding the exclamation mark onto the final dot in the ellipses. Come to think of it, I'm pretty sure I've used this trick in my own comics before! Also, every line of dialogue on the page ends in an exclamation mark or a question mark. Commas are used sparingly-- most of the text comes in short, staccato bursts.
• The Silver Surfer goes from Unquestioningly Destroying the Earth to Understanding Beauty in three short panels. Maybe this is one reason why each one of these classic old comics issues provides the reader with such a fulfilling experience. They are jam-packed.
Silver Surfer and Alicia Masters © Marvel Comics Group, Inc.