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CSBG Archive

365 Reasons to Love Comics #327

Inker Appreciation continues with the best inker from the Marvel Age of comics! (Archive.)


327. Joe Sinnott

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Joltin’ Joe Sinnott is a great artist in his own right, but his inking is what pushes him into the realm of brilliance. He’s worked with the best of the best, and taken their pencils to the highest levels imaginable. His elegant inking line brings about the smoothest inks I’ve ever seen, producing some of the slickest, most dynamic comic images ever. He’s definitely one of the best “embellishers” to ever work in the industry.

He got his start drawing and inking in the 50s for Atlas, but it was in the 60s, during the Marvel explosion, that the magic truly happened, on a little book called the Fantastic Four. The title really took off when Mr. Sinnott became the regular inker on Jack Kirby‘s mighty pencils– it’s science!– and they went on to produce some of the finest comic art ever seen. Many believe it’s Joe Sinnott that helped develop those classic Kirby dots everybody remembers. I’d say that Sinnott was Kirby’s best inker, followed closely by Mike Royer.

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Of course, it wasn’t all Kirby, all the time, but their styles meshed wonderfully. Joe went on to ink titanic runs on books like the Avengers and Thor. Boy, I loved his Thor run with Tom DeFalco and Ron Frenz. Some people disliked it, but their run was an epic love letter to the heyday of Stan Lee and Jack Kirby– and Joe Sinnott was there to really evoke that feeling. Marvelous artistic work in the classic style. And hey, let’s not forget his quick stint on ROM, Spaceknight! As a ROM fanboy, I must point it out, but c’mon! ROM + Sal Buscema + Joe Sinnott = Amazing.

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In the early 90s, Joe pretty much retired, though he still dabbles with inking on the Spider-Man comic strip with Alex Saviuk. You can find him kickin’ it on the internet at his website, from which I’ve borrowed quite a few of the images within this post. Check it out for far more samples of his fine art. The man’s a comics inking legend, and we shouldn’t overlook it; inkers never get the credit they deserve. Joe’s one of the world’s greatest comic book inkers, and has earned the accolades.

And be sure to pick up the book “Brush Strokes with Greatness,” by Tim Lasiuta. It’s all about our man Joe, and published by TwoMorrows, so you know it’s good.


Man, I love me some Joltin’ Joe! Essential FF #3 shows when Joe tool over inking The King full time and the art, thought already excellent, really improves. I think his inking was integral to the classic FF look, and his contribution is highly underrated. Also, I hear he’s a really nice guy!

When I read you were doing inkers I thought of Joe first (okay, second, after Terry Austin, but only by a fraction of a second!).

Most of my first recollections of comic book art I liked was inked by Joe. He made everything clean and powerful.

I was most recently struck by his work over Al Milgrom during Stern’s run on Avengers. When I think of Milgrom, I unfortunately think of not-so-nice art on things like Secret Wars II, Kitty Pryde and Wolverine and some issues of Hulk. But those Avengers look really good, and I think we can thank Joe for that.

Good pick. Am eagerly awaiting Mr. Austin (please).

Joe Sinnott is the unsung hero of the Marvel Age. His elegant, clean style is indeed a gift to storytelling. It makes the flow so smooth that one follows the tale in a breeze, without being distracted by either the limitations or the excesses of the art.

I once named Al Milgrom (during the Roger Stern run) as the best Avengers penciler. Only later did I realize that my praise was actually meant to Joe’s superb inking.

Best inker for Kirby, for sure, but my favorite inker from the Mighty Marvel Age is Tom Palmer.

I realized I only like Kirby’s FF once joltin’ Joe starts on inks…. And for that he truly is a reason to love comics.

Inker? More like tracer, amirite?

I totally agree: Joe Sinnott is tops. His inks not only on Kirby but Steranko and Buscema came during the Marvel heyday and helped define a consistent level of excellence for the industry, Marvel and DC alike.

Thanks for keeping peoples educated about the great artists of our time!

Inker? More like tracer, amirite?

How do you do it?

I always wanted to buy whatever comic Joe Sinnott inked, no matter who was writing and no matter who was drawing. If Sinnott was inking, the art would always look good. Everything on the page was always so crisp looking.

When I finally had a chance to see some of Sinnott’s science fiction in the Tales to Astonish Masterworks, it was interesting to see how much his pencilling/inking work work at one time resembled the work of Murphy Anderson, who is a lot people’s favorite DC inker. Sinnott, like Anderson, was heavily influenced by the more highly rendered comic strip illusrators such as Milt Caniff and Alex Raymond. If you’ve seen FF#5 or Journey into Mystery #83 (Thor origin) which Sinnott inked, you can see how he still inks in a more of classic illustrator style than he did later on.

Sinnott’s inking style starting around FF#44, the style he would more or less use for the rest of his time at Marvel, is somewhat more “cartoony” i.e. his line work is much more bold and direct than in his earlier work.

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