The Jack Kirby And Mike Royer Original Art That Isn't

What constitutes Jack Kirby original art?

Recently, Australian art seller Richard Rae has been selling original art listed as being by Jack Kirby and one of his inkers Mike Royer.

The only trouble is, the work is based on scanned penciled by Jack Kirby, and then inked over more recently by Mike Royer.

While there is certainly a market for such an item, they have been sold by Rae without this explanation, as if Jack Kirby pencilled a piece and Royer inked right over it, signing the work, and also inking over Jack Kirby's signature. It's a very different provenance.

After complaints, Richard Rae relisted the works with the explanation added.

However it appears that he has continued trading out of the public spotlight, without adding these provisos. With experiences such as this;

Yes, last year I sent 2 covers to Richard Rae in trade for 3 "Kirby" pieces. This has been the worst trade that I've done as collector in my life, although I also obtained another piece that was pretty good. The deal was complicated and lengthy. Richard insisted very much in having a deal and apparently he spent considerable time in the hospital (or at least he said this), and he didn't mention that the pieces were not actually penciled by Kirby until the art was on the way to my house. When they arrived, I sent pictures of this "Kirby" art to Mike Burkey, who confirmed my suspicions and said that the value was not more than 200 or 300 dollars each. I let it go because I was guilty for not asking enough about what I was acquiring.

Buyer beware, it seems. In explanation to another complaint Richard Rae writes;

At my age I've so far never had anybody suggest that anything I have ever done has "ripped anyone off"…until now and by you.

To be clear about the Cap "original" I offered you for trade…it is NOT a Kirby "original" (not original pencil art and Kirby did not ink it) and it is NOT a Royer "original" (Royer does not draw like this)…it is simply a "Kirby/Royer original"…and that is what it is…and that is a fact!

Let me explain a little more…get a copy of the Kirby pencil art to this drawing and give it to another artist to ink, like Barry Smith…the final "original" drawing would NOT look like my Kirby/Royer "original".

This is because inkers DO NOT JUST TRACE, they add their own style to a drawing…Glen if you or I (or even Royer or Smith) got a copy of the Kirby pencil art to this Cap drawing and placed it onto a light box and we all just "traced" over the Kirby pencil image, then I assure you that the final drawing would look like *spoon*…this is because the Kirby pencil image is "unfinished" and needs to be completed…and that is the "inkers" job and NOT the "tracers" job…the "inker" is the "partner" artist…

To be clear: There is no way this Cap image would look like this if (1) it was just the Kirby pencil drawing (2) if Kirby himself or any other artist other than Royer had "inked" the image (3) if Royer (or anyone) had just "traced" the image…or (4) if Royer had done his own original version of Cap without using the Kirby image.

That is why this is a Kirby/Royer Captain America "original"…and what I am placing for trade is the original art to this drawing…and I'm not trading a Kirby original or a Royer original…it is a Kirby/Royer original…and that is just what it is.

ALSO: As Royer was one of Kirby's coolest inkers (remember-partner artists)…a lot of Kirby fans/collectors like the work Royer did with Kirby over other artists/inkers…and this "original" was created for them…the inker to this Kirby-Cap pencil drawing is not some hack new unknown artist BUT he is one of Kirby's most well known AND RESPECTED partner artists.

In ending…I say that my description of this Captain America "original art" is accurate…with respect Glen I'm "ripping-off" no one…and with respect I take objection to comments you made in your last email.

On a more personal note…I just wish Royer had continue to ink all of Kirby's later comic work, because most of the so called "inkers" that followed Royer's Kirby run were in fact "just tracing".

As stated, there's nothging wrong with selling or trading with this work, but as ever, transparency is the key. And describing the work as a Kirby/Royer original just isn't enough… and easily makes ten times the difference in value.

This issue became quite a heated one on the Collectors Society board, where Richard Rae turned up to defend himself and his practices, and came over a little Rick Olney…

"right…remember mate…when your ready you have friends here…I know that it must be hard for you to have me here…to force you into confrountiing me "one-on-one" with your exagirations…but please just relax and don't panic….we are all on your side."

Thirty pages later, it's still ongoing…

About Rich Johnston

Chief writer and founder of Bleeding Cool. Father of two. Comic book clairvoyant. Political cartoonist.

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