Strange Tales #107: Flamin’ ‘Eck 19

Strange Tales #107, page 11, panel 2

Strange Tales #107, page 11, panel 2

Plot: Stan Lee

Script: Larry Lieber

Art: Dick Ayers

Lettering: Art Simek

Given that there are people with serious nut allergies who have less severe reactions than Johnny does to water in later issues of Strange Tales, it does seem rather unlikely that even with his nova blast going, he would be able to dive into the sea for several minuets without his flame going out.

But that’s not what today’s panel is really about. It’s been two issues since Dick Ayers has assumed both pencilling and inking duties for this book, and yesterday’s panel and today’s really highlight the differences between his art and that of Jack Kirby. The biggest criticism that can be levelled at Ayers is the lack of detail in his art. Other than in the light patterns on Namor’s hair, pretty much everything in this panel is rendered with one thickness of line, a pretty heavy one. Johnny and his flame are depicted in outline only, and the previous panel only used a few sparse triangles to suggest his all-over body flame. When compared to Jack Kirby being inked by Steve Ditko in Fantastic Four  this very month, there really is no competition – Jack wins out by a country mile.

That’s not to say that I don’t like Dick Ayers – in the context of the Sgt Fury comic, on which he would again replace Jack Kirby, his artwork strikes a deft balances between miltaristic realism and great cartoon influences on the characters, each face saying as much about the personality of the Howlers as Stan’s hilarious dialogue. However, there he was normally inked by someone else, suggesting that he had the time to put the detail into his pencils. Here, assuming double-duty, his artwork falls short of what Kirby had established for the Fantastic Four and Strange Tales.

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