Stuf’ Said p 27: This is very telling. The book is running late, and Stan hasn’t finished dialoguing it, but the pencil art is in by now. Yet Stan has no idea what it is about, which leads me to believe Kirby has plotted it without Stan’s involvement. Either way, it’s definite that the duo is using some form of the “Marvel Method” at this point.
One reason it would be running so late: FF #7 is when the mag goes from bi-monthly to monthly publication. So the change from their old production schedule means making up a month on the schedule to get it to press on time. Thus, it makes sense Stan might turn Jack loose as the deadlines tighten, and let Kirby plot issues around this period by himself. This lends more credence to the idea that Kirby writes the dialogue on FF #6. Jack is an accomplished pro who’s done countless books before. So Stan can feel confident turning it over to him if he is running late and needs help on it.
Correction: Lee “turned Jack loose” in general because he felt confident in Kirby doing the writing without pay. Lee doesn’t know the plot until Kirby turns in the pages.
“definite that the duo is using some form of the ‘Marvel Method’ at this point”? The practical application of the Marvel Method from its inception (FF #1, see previous definition), was that Kirby would plot, write, and pencil a story; he would relate the story to Lee in the story conference when he turned over the pages; then Lee would add the dialogue.
31: Stan continues to correspond with Jerry Bails, one of the prominent names in fandom: [Lee] “You’re right about Al Hartley’s art work not being right for Thor. Actually, Al specializes in teen-age strips (he does the Patsy Walker mag for us) and simply pinch-hit Jrny. Into Mystery because it was an emergency—Jack was busy with an FF ish that was late, Joe Sinnott was tied up with another job, etc.”
The “emergency” Lee refers to is actually more involved than he lets on. While Kirby skips drawing the Thor feature in Journey into Mystery #90–92, he spends this time course-correcting the Human Torch feature in Strange Tales #108 and 109, and giving a creative push to the new Iron Man strip in Tales of Suspense #40 and 41—which would easily account for an issue of Fantastic Four running late.
Might I suggest that despite multiple such accusations by Lee to third parties and on letters pages, Kirby was rarely, if ever, late with FF pages? Again, Morrow should question everything.
“Al Hartley wanted to work on an adventure strip, so I took Thor away from Kirby.” See how silly that sounds?
Kirby’s creative push on Iron Man included the design of the character, and likely included the first story drawn. Why Heck’s story with Kirby’s plot appeared first is the puzzle. (See Further information, p 28.)
36: Lee goes on to reveal more about how frantic things are at Marvel: [Lee] “Can we level with you? We can’t tell you what the next FF will be because we haven’t decided on a plot yet. So we won’t say ‘Don’t miss the greatest, most thrilling, etc. etc.’ All we’ll say is—we’ve got to dream up a story in the next couple of days, and have it drawn pronto if we wanna make our deadline!”
“Can we level with you?” We’re about to do anything but level with you. It’s what we say before we don’t level with you.
Lee hasn’t decided on the plot because he hasn’t yet seen the plot in Kirby’s pencilled pages. When Kirby’s pages arrive, I predict Lee will have a revelation.
40: Plans are afoot for the summer, but it’s still a bit early to finalize them, as Stan eludes: [Lee] “We are definitely going to publish a Spiderman annual!… We don’t know the exact content yet because we haven’t written it yet! In fact, we don’t know when we’ll get the time to write it.”
“We.” Ditko hasn’t submitted his pages yet.
40: The two main stories are mentioned by title, though it says some of the other features are “still top secret”, likely meaning they haven’t been decided upon yet at the time of this writing.
“decided upon”? Lee hasn’t received Kirby’s pages yet.
41: Meanwhile, as Lee composes the letter column for Sgt. Fury #11—a title Jack hasn’t been involved with beyond covers for four issues—Kirby is name-dropped by Stan: [Lee] “Hey Kirby—FF’s a week late!”
The odds are against it.
41: Is Kirby ever late, unless Stan has overloaded him with too much work?
Not even then.