Action, a full figure.
Here’s the first time in the book where Kirby does not open with the establishing shot. He opens with a close up. This is a cinematic technique called “pull back to reveal.” He starts off real close. He still gives you little hints and details that tell you you’re on a rooftop. But look at this. With half the guy’s head and part of his hand you know he’s skulking on a rooftop.
Kirby pulls back to reveal that Cap’s way up here, above the city. Crossing a wire.
When little Jimmy read this in a barber’s chair back when I was 11 years old I said, “Wow, cool! He’s going to fall!”
No he’s not, he’s going to jump! Whoa!
I remembered those two panels, even after not having seen them for decades. I used to tell people, artists, writers, about those two panels. I used to tell people, “You know there’s this Kirby book and there are these two cool panels.” Marvel Comics reprinted this story in 1977. We reprinted it and I said, “Yeah, here it is!”
Now wait a minute, last page I said, “Hey, Kirby didn’t want to repeat the same thing so he changed up.” Well, look at this. Here are two panels with two silhouette figures the same size in panels side by side.
Joe Orlando at DC Comics would probably have flapped his arms, screamed and pulled all his hair out. He doesn’t have that much anyway. Two similar panels side by side?! It’s not like the Ric Estrada page! But EVERY page MUST be like the Ric Estrada page! Has to be that way. Two similar panels would be “bad page design.”
Nonsense. We’re telling a story. Here’s the point. Kirby wouldn’t ordinarily do two panels of similar depth side by side, but THIS, panel three, was the best panel he could think of for a man crossing a tightrope, and THIS, panel four, was the best panel he could think of for a man jumping off, and that’s the priority—telling the story.
“Page design” is priority #14, or #36, or whatever you want, but #1 is telling the story. Don’t let ANYTHING compromise the story. Like I told you, there are guys who get away with it, putting other things before storytelling.
I can hear you thinking, “Hey I know of a guy who makes a million bucks a year who doesn’t tell a story.” Fine. No one can teach you that, being glitzy enough so that people buy your stuff even though it’s vapid. Glitzy and glamorous, a series of pin-up shots that convey little, the flavor of the month succeeds once in a while. That’s luck. That’s a fad.
Do what I’m telling you and learn to draw, and you will always have work. For at least forty thousand years, good storytellers have made a living.
Action happens, full figure on Cap. This is interesting. The action takes place outside the jail cell, but he’s got to show these guys, the criminals, close enough up so we can recognize them as the robbers and see them react. He gets it done.