Joltin’ Joe Sinnott (1926-2020)

the greatest inker for Marvel Comics

Joe SinnottI was working the front counter of the FantaCo comic book store in Albany on November 2, 1982. Joe Sinnott had driven the 45 miles from Saugerties to buy 10 copies of Life of the Pope, John Paul II, which he had inked. He wanted to have copies to give to family and friends.

I’m sure we gave him a deep discount. But I wish I could have just given them to him. It’s because, as everyone who has written about him has noted, he was the sweetest man in the comic book business. In fact, he might have been the kindest person I’ve known, period.

Joe, as most comic fans know, was the primary inker for Jack “King” Kirby on the Fantastic Four. Read this quote from Joe’s Wikipedia page. “Sinnott was a master craftsman, fiercely proud of the effort and meticulous detail he put into his work. That slick, stylized layer of India ink that Sinnott painted over Kirby’s pencils finished Jack’s work in a way that no other inker ever would. Comic fans had never witnessed art this strange and powerful in its scope and strength.”

However, Joe worked on a multitude of titles, before, during, and after his stint on the FF, including Thor, Silver Surfer, The Avengers, and the Defenders. He “retired” from full-time work for Marvel in 1992 but inked the Spider-Man newspaper feature until 2019.

Pettigrew for President

On my occasional treks to the Albany Comic-Con, I’d always stop by Joe’s table and talk with him. Or try. The line to see him was always the longest in the place.

As I noted in 2017, my friend Mark got the chance to meet Joe. Mark also discovered a fairly obscure Sinnott credit. “A bi-monthly comic book called the Treasure Chest of Fun & Fact was distributed in Catholic parochial schools. The Treasure Chest was intended as a remedy to the sensationalism of traditional comics.”

Joe Sinnott died this month. Mark Evanier shares his history, but also what a swell guy he was. Check out Joe’s official page for photos, samples of his art, and more.

Joe Sinnott and the first black President

The candidate’s face was carefully hidden in every panel, until the final page of the final issue of the story, when Pettigrew is finally revealed.

In mid-October, my friend Mark went up to a little town in Ulster County, south of Albany, to listen to a talk Joe Sinnott was giving, and afterwards asked if he would give a presentation to a comic book club for some disadvantaged adults. He had never met Joe before, but found him “delightful.”

I’ve known Joe a bit personally since my days at FantaCo back in the 1980s. My strongest recollection was when he showed up at the store in 1983 and bought 10 copies of The Life of Pope John Paul II, which Marvel Comics put out in, for which he was the inker. I sold them to him at a deep discount, as I recall.

Joe is STILL “delightful”, as I’ve noticed when I get to the occasional Albany Comic Con. At 91, he’s still a working artist, as inker of the Sunday Spider-Man comic strip for King Features. Quite coincidentally, my answer to the question which penciler/inker teams have had the most impact on me reappeared in my Facebook feed. The answer was Jack Kirby with Joe Sinnott on the Fantastic 4.

Friend Mark has discovered another credit for Joe. A bi-monthly comic book called the Treasure Chest of Fun & Fact was distributed in Catholic parochial schools. “The Treasure Chest was intended as a remedy to the sensationalism of traditional comics: it contained educational features, narrated the lives of saints, and presented adventure stories featuring realistic characters with what were considered wholesome values, like patriotism, equality, faith, and anti-communism.

“By the early 1960s, the Treasure Chest was at the height of its popularity… In 1964, Joe Sinnott… teamed up with writer Berry Reece to produce a story depicting a U.S. presidential election. It was set in the future: the presidential election was supposedly that of 1976, the year of the nation’s bicentennial.

“‘Pettigrew for President’ lasted for ten issues, following the campaign trail of the fictional Tim Pettigrew from the announcement of his candidacy through the national convention of his party. The candidate’s face was carefully hidden in every panel, until the final page of the final issue of the story, when Pettigrew is finally revealed: the first black candidate for president of the United States!”

Note that the original links no longer work – http://www.lib.cua.edu/wordpress/newsevents/802/ – but the material is still out there via the Wayback Machine.

July rambling #1: Joe Sinnott, and Marigolds

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