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The Evolution of the Thing's Skin During Jack Kirby's Fantastic Four

Knowledge Waits is a feature where I just share some bit of comic book history that interests me.

In another piece dealing with Jack Kirby and Joe Sinnott, I recently discussed an old Comic Book Legends Revealed that I did about how Jack Kirby initially intended for the Thing to look like he had sort of dinosaur hide. As Kirby noted at one point, “If you’ll notice, the beginnings of Ben, he was kind of lumpy. I felt he had the power of a dinosaur, and I began to think along those lines. I wanted his flesh to look like dinosaur hide.”

However, that approach was not translated well by Kirby's inkers. He went through a pile of different inkers on Fantastic Four until Joe Sinnott took over the series. The difference between Sinnott and the others is that unlike the other inkers, who Kirby would not let affect how he drew the Thing, he actually changed his approach to the Thing once Sinnott got there. Kirby began to pencil the Thing as Sinnott was inking him. That has been the Thing's look ever since.

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But how did we get there?

Let's watch the Thing evolve from inker to inker in the early years of the Fantastic Four!

PROBABLY GEORGE KLEIN

No one is ABSOLUTELY sure who inked Jack Kirby on the first issue of Fantastic Four, but the most likely candidate is George Klein. He got pretty close to the dinosaur look...

DEFINITELY GEORGE KLEIN

On the off chance that Klein did not ink #1, he did ink #2, so we'll share that one, too, just to be safe...

SOL BRODSKY

Brodsky kept things mostly the same over his two issues.

JOE SINNOTT FILL-IN

So did Sinnott when he did a fill-in issue in Fantastic Four #5.

DICK AYERS

Here is where the change came in. Ayers clearly went to a more nuanced approach, with less of an emphasis on the lumpiness....

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STEVE DITKO

Ditko did a fill-in in the middle of Ayers' run and Ditko went for a pretty darn lumpy look...

DICK AYERS AT THE END

However, by the time that Ayers left the book, you can see that he has already begun to adopt the sort of rock-like look that would eventually define the Thing....

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