Happy 50th anniversary, Fantastic Four! To think, 50 years ago, a total of one issue of the Fantastic Four was available to buy, and it cost a total of 10 cents. If I was around in 1961 and had some foresight, I would have bought a hundred copies, sat back and waited for my millions to roll in. Of course, I'd be fifty years older now, so maybe there's a tradeoff. In any case, it's quite a milestone.
I met Joe Sinnott, one of the FF architects as a long-time inker, at the 2010 Pittsburgh Comic Con, and was lucky enough to have a chance to talk with him and his son. He even drew the above Yeti sketch, which will grace the cover of Teddy and the Yeti before too long. A little while after, I sent him some questions for a quick interview, and I'm posting that today. These questions are from a few months ago, before the 50th anniversary date came around. In his answers, Joe mentions that he hadn't been contacted by Marvel to produce any art for the anniversary. Since that time, Joe inked classic Archie artist Stan Goldberg on a variant cover to FF #1:
Unfortunately, that's the only project he's worked on in relation to the FF's 50th. To be fair, Stan Lee hasn't been involved in the process at all either, but in my opinion, that just doubles the shame on what should be a grander event. Marvel should give these guys their due and celebrate the birth of the Silver Age in style.
Check out the Q&A below (questions are in bold). Many thanks to Mr. Sinnott for his time and his contributions to the comic book industry.
JM: There are many celebrated runs by creative teams when it comes to comics, but your work with Stan Lee and Jack Kirby on the Fantastic Four stands out as one of the all time greats. What do you think it was that worked so well for the three of you on that title? What is it about the FF that worked so well with what you, Stan and Jack brought to the table?
JS: First of all, I was fortunate to come on the FF when Stan and Jack created most of their famous characters, and the stories were at their strongest point. I worked extremly well with Jack, according to most critics and fans, and this certainly helped. Inking issue #5 - The very first appearence of Dr. Doom, and then returning for a very long run with Jack starting with issue #44 - The beginning of the Inhumans, and then Galactus and the Silver Surfer was a great thrill. What a way to start my run on the Fantastic Four!
JM: This year is the 50th anniversary of the Fantastic Four at Marvel, and I expect to see a number of titles spring up in celebration. To the point that you are allowed to say, will you be working on anything for this anniversary? Can you divulge any details?
JS: Marvel has yet to contact me concerning any projects involving the FF, but I certainly hope I am included in some capacity. I was fortunate enough to ink many of the FF's 40th Anniversary Worlds Greatest Comics. That was 12 issues. I probably wouldn't want to ink that much at this stage, but I would really like to contribute something as I feel I have been a big part in the success of the FF lasting for 50 years.
JM: The role of inkers in comics has changed over the years. These days, pencilers sometimes ink their own work, and there are comics that cut out the inker altogether in lieu of coloring directly over top of pencils. What do you think the industry has in store for inkers in the years to come? Do you see inkers being phased out, or do you think there will always be a place for traditional inking in the world of comics?
JS: I think that there will always be a place in the future for the inker that is also a gifted penciler - unfortunately, not all inkers are good artists, some can just ink, and are very good at what they do. Although adding color to just the pencils may work to a certain degree, I feel that there will always be work for the inker.
JM: Artistically speaking, you've been involved in more than just comics in your career. One achievement that stood out to me in particular was your work on some Bing Crosby album covers. How did this come about?
JS: Yes, I've done many Bing Crosby record album covers and Bing magazine covers throughout the years. After the first Bing art that I did, it just seemed that anyone that produced anything on Bing wanted me to do all the artwork for them. It was a real pleasure, since I am a big Crosby fan as well, this is something that I really enjoyed doing.
JM: Lastly, you've let it be known that you enjoy, from an historical perspective, the US Civil War. Who are some of your favorite figures from this period of history? I won't hold it against you if you don't mention Union General George B. McClellan, a relative of mine from your neck of the woods in New York. But I also won't think it's pandering if you do mention him.
JS: General George McClellan sure looked the part of a Hollywood General, handsome with a great military bearing, but as you know, Lincoln thought him to be too tentative and replaced him with Grant. Of course, Custer was my favorite and one of the real heroes of the Civil War. "Stonewall" Jackson was without doubt the best that the south had, although Jeb Stuart had outstanding success until Custer's cavalry routed him at Gettysburg.
Of course Grant was outstanding, but he did have his mistakes and setbacks, such as the Battle of Cold Harbor when Lee routed him with Grant's command suffering great losses. I never could see why Lee was considered the genius he was made out to be. His decision to send Pickett up that murderous hill at Gettysburg, despite Pickett and the other Southern Generals admonishing him not to, was the big blunder of the war in my opinion.
It's not often that you get to talk the Civil War with a legend the comic book industry. Thanks, Joe!