An awful lot of the production work materials from the comic books created in the formative years of the industry are long gone, discarded as unimportant “work product” on the way to producing finished comic book issues, which were the goal point all along. Fortunately, a lot of the original artwork has survived (though far from all of it) which gives us something to look at in order to gain some insight into the process. And in the case of Jack Kirby, in packrat style he maintained a file of old xerox copies and photostats sent to him by the companies he was working for. In this way, we’ve been able to recapture a good deal of his work in the form in which he did it–the original pencils, usually accompanied by his border story notes to scripter/editor Stan Lee. Probably the most famous story they did together in the pages of FANTASTIC FOUR was the original “Galactus Trilogy” in issues #48-50. As it turns out, over half the issue survived in Kirby’s files as copies of his lettered pencils, which gives latter day fans a chance to see Kirby’s work exactly as it was produced, and to compare his border notes (or at least what survives of them–they are often partially cut off in these copies) with the actual lettering. Here then are the pencils for 12 out of the 20 pages of FANTASTIC FOUR #49.
Kirby at this point was still working on the larger twice-up original art boards that were industry standard. The first issue of the title he would draw at the smaller size was FANTASTIC FOUR #68. By this point, he was also making a bit more money per page than he had at the beginning, allowing him to lavish each page with a bit more attention and detail than had been the case only recently. The addition of Joe Sinnott as inker also appears to have given Kirby more confidence that any additional work he included in his pencils would be reflected in the finished product.
Kirby opens this issue with two splash pages back-to-back. This is an approach he’d take often in the 1970s (usually with a splash being followed by a double page spread) but I believe this is the first time that he does so. It helps to get across the scale of the threat posed by Galactus.
In answer to the question of who named the Silver Surfer, it certainly appears to be Jack. He uses the character’s full name in the border note on the lower left panel on this page, whereas he typically just calls him The Surfer.
Kirby makes a small error in his border note on the last panel here, referring to the Watcher as the Thinker–an understandable mistake. And scripter Lee doesn’t bother to address Kirby’s note on the second panel that the Torch is busy taking a bath while this is going on.
This one last page from further along in the issue also survived the passage of time.
By way of comparison with the final inking of Joe Sinnott, here are a number of page-by-page before and after images that I also have in my files. You can see both how much of Kirby’s original work Sinnott maintained, and how much he changed. In particular, some of the faces tend to get adjusted, notably Reed and Sue’s much of the time. But it’s a very faithful job all around.