Monday, January 13, 2014

An observation about Gil Kane's style, and how it notably changed over the course of just a few years...

At the dawn of the Silver Age, Kane's art was relatively formal and stiff, as exemplified here by a page from Showcase #22 (Sept.-Oct. 1959), the issue that introduced Hal Jordan to the world:

However, by comparison, it's not a stoic as the Flash pencils that Carmine Infantino was concurrently doing. Kane played it loose and brisk.

Several years later, Kane's work on the same series was sketchier, stretchier, cartoonier, and bolder. Take this page from Green Lantern #55 (Sept. 1967):

(This period is all-too-overlooked, historically overshadowed by the Green Lantern-Green Arrow "socially relevant" issues that began with #75.) Did Kane have ambitions of being this wacky and dynamic back in `59, but was holding back, giving into the blandness that cropped up in the late `50's in the wake of the establishment of the Comics Code? Or did the daily grind, issue after issue, month after month, and year after year lead to him becoming more versatile?

It wasn't just Green Lantern, either. Take this page of his from an Incredible Hulk story in Tales to Astonish #90 (Apr. 1967), a few months earlier than GL #55:

Same stark, cartoony, thin-lined characteristics. (Note the 2nd panel.) 

When I first read DC's Silver Age Green Lantern collections, upon reaching the late mid-to-late-`60's issue discussed and depicted above, recalling the earliest issues, I couldn't believe the art was Gil Kane. Perhaps a factor is that at that point, he was doing in inks (that's the case with both the GL and Hulk examples used here), whereas early in the run, that task befell Joe Giella? 

(Where'd this post come from? This weekend, I finished Marvel's The Essential Hulk Vol. 1. When I reached Astonish #88, the issue where Kane steps in, following a short run by John Buscema, I immediately recognized what period of Kane's it belonged to. So just thought I'd throw it out there.)

-- Ryan


  1. Ryan:

    If you think Gil Kane’s style changed during the period you discuss, check out his Superman work on 1980s Pre-John Byrne-era ACTION COMICS! You’d never think it was the same guy!


  2. Joe,

    I'll definitely have to check those out!

    -- Ryan