Friday, November 18, 2011

Everett Raymond Kinstler in Four Color!

Today, Everett Raymond Kinstler is best known as a premier American portrait artist, having painted everyone from President Gerald Ford to Tony Bennett. He began, though, in comics; and his work in our beloved medium was glorious. Typical is this 1954 offering from Four Color No. 511. Kinstler's comic book work has a spectacular, organic dynamism - and jeepers what layouts! The great Gaylord Du Bois provides the writing in "Outlaw Trail"

If you prefer to download this great story, just click HERE!


  1. I hate to disagree with you, but I don't think that's Kinsler's work.
    If you look at his signed work in Avon's Jesse James comic... looks nothing like this story.
    This art looks to me like Joe Kubert's work.

  2. Britt: Disagreements are always welcome! I believe this is Kinstler's work though - it's very distinctive. The artwork you provided by link for comparison looks the same to me in style, particularly in the faces, poses, and hands; as the story I've posted (save for perhaps a more illustrative splash panel). Kinstler did many western stories for Four Color, all with the same stylistic look as "Outlaw Trail." For an brief overview of his work, check out this post from Comic Book Resources, which include "Outlaw Trail" as one of many examples. Of course, I have been wrong before!

    Many have commented on a Kubert comparison. I think it is that organic quality they both share. I am a big Kinstler fan and will be posting more western stories in the future! Thanks for looking in and commenting.

  3. The inks are definitely by Joe Kubert.

  4. SH: Another Kubert vote! The readers of my blog are nearly always more knowledgeable than I am. Thanks for taking the time to comment.

    The Kubert similarity is undeniable (and, as you say, it may be more than a similarity). My thinking was this: I have several Dell comics, all Westerns, that I have always thought were pure Kinstler; and they all have the exact same inking. The Grand Comic Book Database lists them all, including this one, as Kinstler for inks and pencils. As I mentioned to Britt, other sources have listed this comic as being Kinstler's work (pencils and inks) as well. My assumption was that there was a profound difference between Kinstler's comic book work and the illustrative work he did for magazines - which had inks with a far more detailed, fine line look ala Alex Raymond.

    But two Kubert votes from readers who take the time to comment with such assurance speaks volumes, and I'm always hoping for such education.

    More thoughts, please!

  5. Hmmm. In doing more research, something Britt observed about a posted Jesse James comic comes to the fore: Much of Raymond's western work for Avon is signed and it has a finer line to it, particularly in the splash panels. Hmmmm, indeed!

  6. yet check out this cover signed by Kinslter - The inking looks the same to as in the story I've posted, "outlaw Trail; ie: the same heavy black spotting and Kubert-like "organic" quality:

  7. Hello Mykal.

    It's pure Kinstler to me, although it's clear that he was going through his Kubert-ish phase here.

    Keep up the great work!


  8. Alberto: After looking at the last cover I posted in comments, which was signed, I tend to agree. Even in his signed work, Kinstler seemed to work in a wide variety of styles. He definitively had a Kubert-esque style going on in that signed cover.

  9. Britt, Surly Hack, and Alberto:

    I have contacted Mr. Kinstler directly via the email address on his web site (included in orginal post), asking for his memories of the story I've posted: "Outlaw Trail." The following is his response in total:

    "Dear Mykal Banta

    Thank you for your inquiry regarding the comic book western " Outlaw Trail ".

    I drew the pencils and inked the entire story.
    However the color cover painting was not mine.

    I admired Joe Kubert's comic book art, and I must credit his influence when I created " Outlaw Trail ".
    I think my " Silvertip" books drawn during this period reflected more of my personal style.

    I believe my editor at the time was Matt Murphy.
    Jim Vadeboncoeur, Jr., who edited and published the recent book on my early years
    can also furnish you with the above information.

    Thanks for your interest.

    Everett Raymond Kinstler"

  10. Wow. That's an amazing approximation of Kubert's style. I wonder what Joe would have to say about this? I guess I should have looked at the story a bit closer. That b&w page shot from the original art is the best place to see that the linework might not be Kubert. I don't think I'll ever be able trust my eyes again!

  11. And to all concerned, that is a lot more than "Kubert-ish." That is Kubert's style seen through the eyes of another artist of equal talent.

  12. Surly Hack: . . . seen through the eyes of another artist of equal talent."

    Agreed! I love that Mr. Kinstler mentions a Kubert influence himself. What a gentleman. I have the Silvertip stories mentioned in his response and plan to post one soon to show the artist working more in the style most often associated with his work.

  13. Wow, Mykal...going directly to the source for information, Mr. Kinstler himself!

    He reached the pinnacle of success in the fine arts world but has never dismissed his work in comic books. I have much admiration for him as an artist.

    I'd like to see more of his excellent Dell Western work sometime. Here's a plug for my own blog: I showed a Kinstler Western romance story done for DC's first love comic in Pappy's #816.

  14. Pappy: Thanks for the link up, Sir! A visit to Pappy's is always time well spent!

  15. Mykal, here's another 2¢ worth on Kinstler's art being similar to Kubert's. Kubert was almost unique in using those little emphasis dashes (for lack of a better term) that hovered near character's faces. Two good examples are Jim's face while being slapped on page 1, and Joan in panel 1 of page 2. It's true that some of the poses and even faces look very influenced by Kubert, even down to those marks, which I use to help identify early Kubert. Now, thanks to you getting the word from the artist himself, we know that the only Kubert in the artwork is in his stylistic influence.

    We're lucky that Everett Raymond Kinstler is still around to verify it. Most of the comic artists of his generation are now gone.Thanks for going the extra mile to make sure proper attribution is given.

  16. My pleasure, Pappy, and thanks for your thoughts. As I've said before, folks that comment on my blog are nearly always more knowledgeable about the subject of comic book art than I am, and that certainly goes for folks that took time to comment on this post.

    You're right about the Kubert touches. What I noticed is that between your post and mine, what is similar is the way the artist deals with hair. In both posts, you can see Kinstler.

    As I said, I love Kinster's work, both in comics and in "fine art." Naturally, I like his comic book work best. More coming soon!

  17. YAY!! Just my cup of tea... I need to check in here more often!

    I LOVE the DELL western adaptations! The Zane Greys, the Luke Shorts, the Ernie Haycoxes and the Max Brands. Kinstler worked on them all at one time or another. I have five of the SILVERTIPS and they are excellent.

    I have read that DELL basically kept doing these in the "four color" line because they concurrently held the rights to the paperbacks of the same titles... the idea was to get rural and hinterlands kids started on these sagebrush authors early.

    I bet it worked well... heck, I wanna read THE BORDER LEGION from just readin' this blog!

    One thing, though... these adaptations always toned down the violence in these stories considerably. In some cases the result would almost be a different story altogether. My favorite example was the adaptation of Luke Short's BRAND OF EMPIRE [Murphy Anderson drew that one]... The original is basically a non-stop Revenge tale set in a bloody range war. In the comics version nary a soul is slain... :)

    But I digress. Thanks for the great blog. Long Live DELL!

  18. Albie: You bet they toned things down. "Dell Comics are good comics!" I love the western Dells, too, and I have a bunch! You'll be seeing more of same soon in the future. Thanks for commenting!

  19. Nice choice, Mykal. Yep, it's definitely Kinsler by himself. But with all this talk about Joe Kubert, it looks like Kinsler had a big influence on Steve Ditko, as well.

  20. Mykal,

    Zane Grey is very reminded to have created The King of the Royal Mounted comic strip in the 30s, distributed by King Features for the newspapers from the whole world.


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