Awhile back, I addressed the idea that Jack Kirby was the first comic book artist to draw splash pages. He was not, but that led to discussions about the first artist to do an interior splash page within a comic. And the general consensus is that while it is unclear if Kirby was the first to do an interior splash page, Kirby was definitely the first to use a two-page spread.
The two-page spread that gets referred to as "the first" is the following, from Captain America Comics #6, from September 1941...
It's really a remarkably well done image. I got the image courtesy of Harry Mendryk, who runs the brilliant Joe Simon/Jack Kirby website, titled (appropriately enough), Simon and Kirby (be sure to check it out here - it's excellent). Harry believed that he recalled an earlier example of a double-page spread, and upon looking into it, I did, indeed, find an earlier example (by the way, I, of course, mean a double-page spread in the middle of a story - there had been plenty of examples of two-page spreads in the comic strip comics where there were two pages that was the entire story, much like a pin-up - we're not talking about those here, we're talking about a two-page spread that is within a larger story, like the Captain America spread above).
Ka-Zar the Great was a pulp character created and written by Bob Byrd. His stories were released by Martin Goodman's line of pulp magazines.
When Goodman began a line of superhero comics, writer/artist Ben Thompson adapted Byrd's character into the pages of Marvel Comics and then Marvel Mystery Comics.
Thompson was a fine artist, but his work was pretty much par for the course at the time. He was not doing things that were too different than anyone else was doing at the time. Here's a sample page from Marvel Mystery Comics #10.
However, in Marvel Mystery Comics #11, rather than being the LAST story in the issue, which it typically was, Ka-Zar the Great was in the MIDDLE of the book. This meant that Thompson would have the center of the comic to play with, and quite surprisingly, he burst out what was, as far as I can tell, the first double-page spread in a comic book story ever...
This was September 1940, a full YEAR before Captain America Comics #6!
Pretty cool, huh?
Thanks to Harry Mendryk for putting me on the right trail to find the Ka-Zar story in question!
Okay, that's it for this week!
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