Personal History of Christopher Rule is unknown.
Christopher Rule was an American comic book artist active from the 1940s through at least 1960, and best-known as legendary comics artist Jack Kirby's first regular Marvel Comics inker during the period fans and historians call the Silver Age of comic books.
Early life and career
Christopher Rule worked in comic strips as far back as the 1920s before becoming a staff artist at Marvel Comics, joining Marvel forerunner Timely Comics by 1944, during the period known as the Golden Age of comic books. Working in what was called the "animator bullpen", which produced such movie tie-in and original funny-animal comics as Terrytoons Comics, Mighty Mouse, and Animated Funny Comic-Tunes, he was separate from the superhero group producing comics featuring the Human Torch, the Sub-Mariner and Captain America. Vincent Fago, Timely's interim editor during editor Stan Lee's 1942-45 World War II military service, recalled that the staff at some unspecified point in his tenure included: "Mike Sekowsky. Ed Winiarski. Gary Keller was a production assistant and letterer. Ernest Hart and Kin Platt were writers, but they worked freelance; Hart also drew. George Klein, Syd Shores, Vince Alascia, David Gantz, and Chris Rule were there, too".
Due to his work going unsigned, in the manner of the times, comprehensive credits are difficult if not impossible to ascertain. Tentative credits, however, reach as far back as the Timely comic book Miss America Magazine vol. 1, #4 (Jan. 1945), for which Rule may have inked Pauline Loth on a story each of the superheroine Miss America and the teen-romance star Patsy Walker. Rule's first confirmed credit is as penciler-inker on a one-page fashion filler, "Pattern Patter", in the teen-romance comic Junior Miss #32 (Jan. 1949)
Rule's earliest confirmed story work is penciling the seven-page "With Tears in My Soul" in My Own Romance #6 (June 1949). Rule continued to ink romance stories over such pencilers as Klein, Sekowsky, and Shores in such comics as Faithful, Love Classics, and Love Tales. He expanded into other forms with the mythologically-based superheroine Venus, inking Werner Roth on a story in Venus #10 (July 1950), and with horror via the story "Hands of Murder", penciled by Sekowsky, in Adventures Into Terror #4 (June 1951) from Marvel's 1950s iteration, Atlas Comics.
Inker; Joe Giella, who worked on staff at Timely for two years beginning circa 1946, recalled Rule at the time as "a very heavy, older fellow with grayish hair. He was a good friend of Mike Sekowsky's, and worked in same room with Mike. He was kind of an intellectual". Artist and Comic Book Hall of Famer Gene Colan, a Marvel mainstay from 1946 on, described Rule as "kind of like a Santa Claus — a roly-poly guy who was very funny".
Atlas and Kirby
In a rare formal credit in a comic of that period, Rule is listed as "art associate" in the Atlas Comics title Girls' Life #4 (July 1954), under "editorial and art director" Stan Lee. In that or a similar staff capacity throughout the 1950s, Rule inked in a variety of genres and forms, with known work that includes medieval adventure, inking Syd Shores' Black Knight and Crusader stories in Black Knight #5 (Dec. 1955); Westerns, inking Shores in Six-Gun Western #2 (March 1957); biography, drawing the feature "Famous Explorers of Space" in the successively named Space Squadron / Space Worlds; and science fiction/fantasy, drawing a story each in Strange Tales #49 (Aug. 1956) and World of Fantasy #9 & #15 (Dec. 1957 & Dec. 1958), and inking Shores yet again in World of Suspense #6 (Feb. 1957). In a rare switch, Rule penciled a story that someone else (Vince Colletta) inked, in My Own Romance #63 (May 1958).
Rule inked the first stories of industry legend Jack Kirby when Kirby returned to the company for the first time since 1941, having co-created Captain America with Joe Simon. Rule inked Kirby's premiere Atlas/Marvel cover accompanying seven-page story "I Discovered the Secret of the Flying Saucers" in Strange Worlds #1 (Dec. 1958) — the first of dozens of memorable and much-reprinted Kirby science-fiction and monster stories that led directly into Kirby and writer-editor Lee's industry-changing superhero series The Fantastic Four. Rule would remain Kirby's regular, nearly exclusive inker as Atlas Comics segued into Marvel Comics, at which point Dick Ayers would become Kirby's most frequent inker during the company's early years.
Rule inked several classic Kirby "pre-superhero Marvel" stories, many of them reprinted in subsequent decades, in such comics as
- Journey into Mystery # 51-52, 54 & 56 (March–May, Sept. 1959 & Jan. 1960)
- Strange Tales # 67-70 (Feb.-Aug. 1959)
- Strange Worlds # 3 (Aug. 1959)
- Tales of Suspense # 2-4 & 6 (March–July & Nov. 1959)
- Tales to Astonish # 1 & 5-6 (Jan. & Sept.-Nov. 1959), and
- World of Fantasy # 15-16 & 18 (Dec. 1958 - Feb. & June 1959)
Rule as well inked the prolific Kirby on Western stories in Gunsmoke Western #51 and Kid Colt: Outlaw #86 (Sept. 1959), romance stories in Love Romances #85 (Jan. 1960), and war stories in Battle #66-67 (Oct.-Dec. 1959), plus many covers across all genres.
Rule's last known confirmed credit is inking Kirby on the five-page story "What Was the Strange Power of Simon Drudd?" in Tales to Astonish #10 (Jan. 1960).
Some comics historians theorize he may have been an inker on some portion of Kirby's landmark comic Fantastic Four #1 (Nov. 1961), for which George Klein is the generally recognized, uncredited inker. Others note the long lag time between Rule's last confirmed credit and the Fantastic Four premiere. The Jack Kirby Museum, singularly and with no specified corroboration, gives Rule credit for stories as late as "I Dream of Doom" in Strange Tales #96 (May 1962), and lists him as inker for one of three chapters in The Fantastic Four #1 (the 12-page "The Fantastic Four Meet the Moleman") and the 24-page entirety of The Fantastic Four #2 (Jan. 1962).
- No special notes.
- No trivia.
Links and References
- The Grand Comic Book Database
- The Unofficial Handbook of Marvel Comics Creators
- Monster Blog: Kirby Monsters Never Reprinted
- POV Online (column): The Jack FAQ — "Who Inked Fantastic Four #1?", by Mark Evanier
- "Vincent Fago and the Timely Funny Animal Dept.," by Dr. Michael J. Vassallo
- Vincent Fago interview, Alter Ego Vol. 3, #11 (Nov. 2001)
- Joe Giella interview, Alter Ego # 52 (Sept. 2005), p. 6
- Gene Colan interview, Alter Ego # 52 (March 2006), p. 69
- Comicartville Library: "A Timely Talk with Allen Bellman" Part III (interview)
- Evanier, Ibid., believes the first two issues were inked solely by Klein, but notes that "Rule and Klein were close friends who often worked on each others' assignments". See also FFPlaza.com: Fantastic Four vol. 1, #1. Note: The comic itself carries no formal credits, bearing only signatures for editor-writer Stan Lee and penciler Jack Kirby.
- The Jack Kirby Museum search page