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[Stan Lee answers the greatest question of all: who would win, Thor or the Hulk in this shot from the Wizard World FB page.]
Playboy has a long interview with Stan Lee here (link NSFW but not really as much as you’d think), Normally I’d call this an “autumnal” interview, but under the circumstances, it’s more…the lion in winter. Lee, perhaps realizing this is one of the few spots he has to dig in a little, sometimes avoids the kind of jokes and spin he uses in other interviews. And while his memory is always spotty (and any Lee interview includes may places where he takes the question and moves the answer to more familiar territory) his grasp on things is still pretty sharp all things considered. This is truly a “you need to read the whole thing” interview, as he discusses Kirby and Ditko at length, discussing the last time he saw Ditko (10 years ago) attending Kirby’s funeral 20 years ago and staying in the back (something I can attest to as I was there) but ultimately saying he did the best he could by them. And that’s his final word, I’m sure. But I’m sure this interview will eventually get some vetting. Mark Evanier has already noted that there is a LOT to dispute:
A lot of the history is not only at odds with my understanding but it’s different from things Stan has said in the past, both in print and in private conversations. I suspect an upcoming issue of Playboy will feature a letter from Steve Ditko saying much the same thing.
That said, there is still a lot of vintage Stan:
You have to understand that growing up during the Depression, I saw my parents struggling to pay the rent. My father was always unemployed, and when he did have a job, he was a dress cutter. Not very much money there. I was happy enough to get a nice paycheck and be treated well. I always got the highest rate; whatever Martin paid another writer, I got at least that much. It was a very good job. I was able to buy a house on Long Island. I never dreamed I should have $100 million or $250 million or whatever that crazy number is. All I know is I created a lot of characters and enjoyed the work I did.
And memories of WWII:
PLAYBOY: You went off to the Army in World War II and wrote military pamphlets with an elite group that included Frank Capra, William Saroyan and Theodor Geisel. What’s your standout memory?
LEE: That Dr. Seuss was slow. In the comic-book world, you live and die on your speed, but Geisel was slow. Most of them were slow. I was writing faster than all of them. One day the major who was in charge of our unit said, “Sergeant, will you work a little slower? You’re making the other guys look bad.” I wrote all these training films about things I had no knowledge of. I remember I did one film, The Nomenclature and Operation of the 16 mm IMO Camera Under Battle Conditions. What got the most attention, though, was something I wrote about venereal disease.
I think Lee has slowed down a bit over the last few months. Since his lawyer Arthur Lieberman died in 2012, we’ve seen a lot less “pacting”
. I haven’t seen Stan showing up at quite as many comic-cons of late, although he’s confirmed for Dubai.
Certainly the guy has earned a wee rest, and whatever the sins of his past, Stan’s late in life resurgence has allowed fans of all ages to connect with a living myth.
The Brit Zone continues, sort of, with a new announcement from Titan Comics. This week Titan unveiled a new co-publishing deal between themselves and Atomeka, which will put out ‘Monster Massacre’. This anthology will feature stories all about – you guessed it – monsters. On top of stories from creators like D’Israeli, Ian Edginton, Ron Marz, and Dave Wilkins, the book will also include a Joe Simon/Jack Kirby story, ‘The Greatest Horror of Them All’, taken from Black Cat Mystery.
The cover is far too rude for me to post on The Beat, so instead here’s a page or two of interiors.
Put together by writer/artist Dave Elliott, the anthology’s full list of credits are:
Joe Simon/Jack Kirby, Andy Kuhn, Dave Dorman, Mark A Nelson, Ron Marz /Tom Raney, Dave Elliott/Alex Horley,Vito Delsante/Javier Aranda, Dave Wilkins/Dave Elliott, Jerry Paris/Arthur Suydam/Dave Elliott, Ian Edginton/D’Israeli, Alex Horley and Steve White.
A little bereft of female creators perhaps, but that’s a fine line-up. There are ten stories collected in total, along with two art galleries.
The anthology will be released in September, and be day-and-date digital.
Whoosh! HeroesCon just raced on by! We arrived late on Thursday, hit BarCon and the rest was just WHOOSH! So much fun, we barely had time to type about it at all. That isn’t to say there weren’t some snafus–all on our own part–but they came and went so quickly.
First off, hats off to Shelton Drum for running a show this long! It is, at this point, a beloved institution. Everyone knows Drum and the Heroes Aren’t Hard To Find staff treat the guests like family. From the shuttle that picks you up at the airport to the big art auction party on Saturday to the dead dog party at the store to the shuttle that takes you to the airport on Monday. It’s all so friendly and comics-loving. As mentioned in the previous post, this edition of the show was notable for there being NO EDITORS around. No one to buy drinks or dinner. Instead everyone bought their OWN drinks and dinner…and it seemed to work out just fine.
Although we never glimpsed Stan Lee he was definitely the main presence. As several con reports have alluded to, whenever Stan was doing something — signing, talking, facing front — crowds on the show floor seemed to sparsen. (Is that a word? It is now.) Sales slowed for some during the Stan-induced lulls, but it was still a great show for art purchases, and most everyone seemed to sell loads of stuff. The HeroesCon attendees appreciate art and like spending money on art — and luckily the local economy has some pep in it and they can still afford to do what they like.
I will admit one of the reasons the show whooshed on by was that I could barely spend any time on the show floor. Friday I had a ton of work to catch up on so I got there late. Saturday I had two panels, one of which lasted more than two hours…so again I got to the floor very late. Sunday I had some personal business to attend to, and had to make an offsite…but I managed to cram as many meet and greets in as I could.
As for those panels, well this is where I managed to mess things up because I didn’t have as much time to prepare as I should have. One of the things I’ve learned about panels over the years is…the more you prepare the better they go. And when you DON’T prepare, it tends to show. This year I had to more or less wing it, because it was the best I could do, and all I can say is…the more you prepare the better things go!
The first one, Humor in Comics, was basically the same as last years, with Evan Dorkin and Roger Langridge from ‘11 and Tim Rickard sitting in for Richard Thompson. I had prepared a slideshow but neglected to tell the show crew that I needed AV. We tried to set it up in the middle of the panel but…that is not a good idea. To avoid asking the same questions as last year I opened it to the floor, as it was a well attended panel (not all were.) The talk veered to how hard it is to make a living doing humorous comics, which isn’t the world’s funniest topic. However, all the panelists were very smart and funny (especially Evan, but you all know that) so there were manny laughs. Still: LESSON: ALWAYS MAKE SURE THERE IS AV BEFOREHAND.
The next panel was the epic mega-panel “Echoes of 1982″ which was organized by Craig Fischer. This was truly an epic with a v
It’s “see half dressed Marvel gods day” at the Beat!
More from Sean Howe!
By: Heidi MacDonald
Blog: PW -The Beat
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, Old Comics
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, Craig Yoe
, Elsie Segar
, H.T. Webster
, Jack Kirby
, Milt Gross
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Tweet Before “meta” was physical, before Modernism became Posted, before Art Popped, cartoonists drew stories about cartoonists and cartooning! Some of it was autobiographical (or possibly semi-auto… I doubt Milt Gross almost became Batman!), some of it was pure fantasy. (The pygmalian dream of a drawing come to life is represented twice in this volume, [...]
By: Heidi MacDonald
Blog: PW -The Beat
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, Francesco Francavilla
, Frazer Irving
, Henry the Worst
, Jack Kirby
, John Allison
, Jonathan Edwards
, Kevin Tong
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, Might Morphin Power Rangers
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TweetHello and welcome! We are starting a weekly art thingy and have -rather thoughtfully- set it for Friday, that interminable day where the weekend is within touching distance and yet you still have to be at work. Hence, pretty and cool stuff that will help tide you over- forget words, just feast your eyes. This [...]
BY JEN VAUGHN – On October 21st, Stephen Bissette from The Center for Cartoon Studies met up with Oliver Goodenough from The Vermont Law School to discuss Jack Kirby and his relationship with Marvel Comics. The Comics Journal put the audio up and it is a good listen with a nice James Sturm introduction. It was standing/sitting on the floor room only as law students and cartooning students mingled in the law classroom in South Royalton, Vermont.
Bottom line: get it in writing before you do the work. Listen for cartoonist Alec Longstreth’s Carl Barks/Disney question too!
Goodenough and Bissette
Professor Oliver Goodenough’s research and writing at the intersection of law, economics, finance, media, technology, neuroscience and behavioral biology make him an authority in several emerging areas of law. He is a Professor of Law and the Director of Scholarship at the Vermont Law School. His is also currently a Faculty Fellow at The Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University, where he is co-director of the Law Lab project. Prof. Goodenough holds many appointments and has written on a vast array of subjects including the topic of today’s conversation, intellectual property and the transmission of culture.
Stephen R. Bissette has won many industry awards in his quarter-century in comics as a cartoonist, writer, editor and publisher and is best-known for Saga of the Swamp Thing and his self-published horror anthology Taboo. His efforts in comics and publishing have provided fuel for many films including Constantine, From Hell, and TMNT II: Secret of the Ooze. He is a founding faculty member at the Center for Cartoon Studies in White River Junction, Vt. and has been a champion for creator rights for decades.
Jen Vaughn is a freelance cartoonist, librarian an
Bluewater Press, which has published countless bios of pop culture and political figures from Betty White to Justin Bieber is turning to the comics with a bio of…Jack Kirby.
“Orbit: Jack Kirby” highlights Kirby’s amazing artistic talents and how he truly reinvented the comic book. Written by John Judy with art by Paul Cox, the task of writing about a comic book legend was somewhat intimidating. “What was it like trying to bring to life the man in a comic book who helped reinvent comics? In a word, daunting,” said Judy. “I was really concerned that the word balloons for each character only contained exact quotes. I wasn’t going to go literally putting words in anyone’s mouth.”
In the words of Charlie Brown
For Australian Fashion Week, Romance Was Born designers Anna Plunkett and Luke Sales went all Jack Kirby with an “exuberant” mix of stripes and patterns.
What saved the collection from being an exercise in nostalgia was the finish and elevated production values behind the clothing. A paillette skirt and cape were works of chic elegance and embellished bustiers packed a punch. Romance Was Born has finally ditched the lingering atmosphere of students gone wild with a sewing machine and glue gun.
The models paraded in front of a backdrop by paper artist Benja Harvey
Fashionising has the pictures. What say you — would you wear any of these?
Some rambling thoughts that have been rumbling around my head this week. Don’t expect it to make any sense.
TCJ has been running a roundtable this week focusing on Jack Kirby and Charles Hatfield’s new book on the same, with critics including
Jeet Heer, Jonathan Lethem (novelist and comic book writer), Glen Gold (novelist and comic art collector), Sarah Boxer (cartoonist and critic), Doug Harvey (art critic), Dan Nadel (co-editor of The Comics Journal website), and Robert Fiore (comics critic).
As you may have noticed, this is a 1998 home run derby level lineup of comics critics. But unlike other such critical conclaves, it’s not a total sausage fest by virtue of Boxer’s inclusion. But, it turns out….she’s not exactly in the Kirby cheering section:
I’ve been watching the Kirby lovefest from the sidelines — not with envy, but with a kind of fascination. Why I can’t I dive in? Why does my son want to? (I see a superhero comics fan in the making and I am horrified but interested too.) There must be a reason. Hatfield’s chapter “How Kirby Changed the Superhero” speaks to the point. And it also seems to explain my physical revulsion for almost all of the Kirby superheroes except, perhaps, the Silver Surfer, a giant phallus on a surfboard.
BURN. Yeah, why DON’T girls like Jack Kirby, huh?
Oh wait, they do.
Okay okay that’s
the Power Rangers Voltron, but still…
Anyway, even if women aren’t writing their scholarly tomes on Devil Dinosaur, Moviefone got an incredible amount of heat for a dumb piece that was originally entitled GIRL’S GUIDE TO ‘THE AVENGERS that was so sexist and condescending that they had to post a disclaimer:
[Editor's Note: As you can see, we've gotten a lot of heat for this article. It was meant to be a satirical piece, and obviously, it did not come across that way. There are plenty of female superhero fans, and our intent was not to make them feel marginalized. We've changed the headline to reflect the focus as we originally intended it (but did not communicate as well): One woman's perspective on the Avengers]
This after, for instance, a 13-year-old girl (or someone purporting to be one) posted this:
I am only thirteen and I find this offensive. If you seriously believe you did something wrong, take it down. It doesn’t read as satire. And yes my dumb female mind knows what that is. It presents an unfair stereotyped view of the female sex. Now, I know some people might need a refresher. In that case I suggest the internet. It is an awesome resource for things like this. The Internet and sites like comicvine helped me understand comics when I started reading a year ago. It isn’t really all that hard to figure out what is going on.
The Discriminating Fangirl, aka Pamela, spoke out for the legion of empowered female genre entertaiment fans
"And there came a day, a day unlike any other, when Earth's mightiest director and actors found themselves united against a common threat: the sagging box office. On that day, the Avengers were born--to fight the foes no single super hero could withstand! Heed the call, then--for this Friday, the Avengers Assemble!"
Today really is a day unlike any other--it’s practically a nerd holiday: The Avengers, a superhero team comprised of the biggest names in the Marvel universe (Captain America, Iron Man, Hulk, Thor), hits the big screen as portrayed by some of the biggest names in the box office (Robert Downey, Jr., Scarlett Johannson, Chris Hemsworth, Samuel L. Jackson), directed and written by geek god Joss Whedon (creator of Buffy the Vampire Slayer). I say thee yay!
What follows below is a primer for before and after the film, or a refresher for fans who’ve fallen out of the habit. It’s by no means comprehensive, so please suggest your favorite Avengers tales in the comments below.
The Ultimates Vol. 1 by Mark Millar and Brian Hitch: Purists, I apologize. The Stan Lee and Jack Kirby comics are the rightful classics, but Whedon’s film seems to draw heavily from the tone and costumes (and origins) of Millar’s re-imagining. Here, the heroes are presented as government operatives, each with plenty of emotional baggage and secrets. It’s an adult take on a previously kid-friendly concept, told in a very contemporary, decompressed manner, and this first volume caused plenty of ripples throughput the industry.
The Avengers Vol. 1 by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby: The book that started it all. Bright adventures, crackling energy, and plenty of exclamation points keep these early stories alive. There’s a sense of true wonder at work and new readers should be prepared for the overflow of enthusiasm.
The Korvac Saga, The Kree/Skrull War, and Under Siege by various industry legends: 1970s and 80s tales as told by Roy Thomas, George Perez, Sal Buscema, Jim Shooter, Neal Adams, and more. Travel the cosmos, the future, and a who’s who of Avengers villains in the stories that many cite as the team in its prime.
Avengers Assemble and Avengers Forever by Kurt Busiek, George Perez, and Carlos Pacheco: These late 1990s stories are the last “classic” Avengers collections, featuring pages stuffed with big costumes and bigger dialogue balloons. Perez’s artwork never ages, lending a timeless appeal to these nos
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Tiny Titans Field Trippin'
, Thor The Mighty Avenger Volume 1
, Chris Samnee
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, Jack Kirby
, Roger Langridge
, Art Baltzar
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By: Ninja Librarian Bill,
Well I'm back with another couple of good reads that happen to be two Graphic Novels this go round. So read on and maybe try to get a hold of these most excellent reads.
Thor, The Mighty Avenger - Volume 1 by Roger Langridge and Chris Samnee -
This is really a great reboot for Thor that has a great story to tell, well scripted characters and amazing artwork. Thor finds himself booted out of Asgard by his father Odin and is not in the best of moods. Fortunately for him he runs across Jane Foster, who works at a local museum, and takes him under her wing after he has a terrific battle with Mr. Hyde. He pretty much gets the stuffing beat out of him by Hyde, but Jane takes him to her home and helps him heal. In round 2 with Mr. Hyde Thor prevails and starts to wonder why he has been exiled from his home (he cannot remember). In his next adventure, his evil half brother Loki, puts a spell on Thor where he sees Frost Giants everywhere. To make matters worse Ant-Man shows up and enlarges his size until Thor truly believes he is a Frost Giant. Along with these stories there is one additional where some old pals of Thor show up to have a night on the town and end up mixing it up with Captain Britain. Best of all Thor's first adventures are reprinted from Journey Into Mystery by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby. Really great stuff recommended for those 9 and up.
Tiny Titans: Field Trippin' by Art Baltzar and Franco -
Aw yeaaaa, the Tiny Titans are back in their newest Graphic Novel and they don't need no stink'in Permission Slips. In this installment of Tiny Titan coolness Trigon thinks Kid Devil is a baby and pays the price; ouch and double ouch. Thanks to Kid Flash the Titans are also getting bushy hairdos thanks to his super speed. Evil Brainiacs and Tiny Legion of Super Heroes from the future coming visiting and much, much more. Not to be be missed by any age who likes to laugh allot. This Graphic Novel Series rocks!!!!!!!
Until next time all peace,
Library Ninja Bill
I usually don’t comment on my activity or lack of it any more, but I have pressing matters which preclude commenting on some of the big stuff going on—I’m still working on that damn TCAF report—including the ongoing Jack Kirby/Avengers/creators rights matter. Or the matter of the day as I like to call it. I’ve been saving up my links and girding my loins. I guess I feel a bit defensive about it because not commenting on something is often attacked as condoning this or supporting that. My thoughts are complex and I don’t want to dash something off; it’s too important for that.
I guess the short version is “Viva Jack Kirby!” You can’t go wrong with that.
In the meantime, here’s a post from The Secret Sun: The Avengers, or Jack Kirby Conquers the World.
The aliens, the ultra-violence, the tech, the vision– that’s all Jack. The self-sacrifice, the superteam as bickering family, the old New Deal liberal morality– that’s all Stan. This Whedon guy knows his stuff and knows it well enough to translate from the sunny, optimistic Sixties to the grim, dour Twenty-Teens. Not an easy task.
Creator/publisher Zak Sally weighs in on the Kirby Matter, and the actions he suggests are more proactive:
actually, over the course of writing this, i think i DO have an answer– not THE answer, but an idea anyway: it’s somewhat presumptive on my part, and it is NOT what “should” happen, but it falls under the category of “the least you could do”.
i think Marvel comics should pay for the Jack Kirby Museum. they should fund the thing in its entirety, right now– and not a temporary, pop-up (which would still be awesome), but a permanent, brick and mortar space. what is that– 10, 20 million bucks to do it right? that’s a drop in the bucket. and all profit from the museum in perpetuity could go to the Kirby estate.
and there’s where the presumption comes on my part– what SHOULD happen is that Kirby is given some credit on all his creations and a commensurate slice of the action. but i don’t think that’s going to happen; do you? so, this would be a simple, classy way to honor the man and his contribution, without endangering their precious legal status as “creators” of the work in question (and, again, as i write this– all of you who are yelling about “well, they did it under a work-for hire contract”, which, yes, is legally binding– what you are then saying is that THE CORPORATION IS THE CREATOR OF THE WORK AND CHARACTERS, both morally and legally. that, effectively, NO ONE CREATED the stuff, just this amorphous, profit yielding, non-human entity. you’re ok with that, as an ongoing and seemingly perpetual situation? HAVE FUN.)
While getting Disney to fund this might not be…feasible, maybe this is a better way to go. It’s my own feeling that getting support for actual things (i.e. crowdfunding) is easier than boycotts. At least you have a nice museum at the end of it.
Speaking of which…would an IndieGoGo or Kickstarter for the Kirby Museum do well?
Observers of the ongoing Kirby family v Marvel case have long wondered what Stan Lee would have to say on the subject. Now, finally, we get to find out. Last year, he and several others were called to give depositions in the case which involves the Kirby family’s quest to terminate Marvel’s copyrights on 45 characters Kirby helped create. Transcripts of these depositions have recently become public. It’s 4:00 AM at BC USA headquarters and I was about to call it a night when I noticed that this material had become public. […] this material is sure to be dissected at the atomic level for years to come.
Bold text is mine, because I thought it was pretty funny and perfectly astute. Still, from the point of view not only of comic book fans and Kirby fans, this is especially fascinating for all of us who “draw for a living” and a good reminder to read those contracts when they come across your desk. And when they don’t.
Before he designed the Thunder God whose movie opens tomorrow, Jack Kirby had designed two previous characters named Thor, and over at the Kirby Museum they look back at the Sandman version and the TALES OF THE UNEXPECTED version.
We’ve seen THOR, btw, and will have a full review tomorrow. Short version: entertaining but 3D sucks.
The notorious 1990 Comics Journal interview with Jack Kirby is now online in its entirety, and you can see what made it notorious. The 71-year-old Kirby was not shy about asserting his place in the creation of comics best known characters and at the expense of his collaborators.
KIRBY: Yeah, sometimes he did. Stan was a very rigid type. At least, he is to me. That’s how I sized him up. He’s a very rigid type, and he gets what he wants when the advantage is his. He’s the kind of a guy who will play the advantages. When the advantage isn’t his at all, he’ll lose. He’ll lose with any creative guy. And I could never see Stan Lee as being creative. The only thing he ever knew was he’d say this word “Excelsior!”
While this might seem a bit heavy, you have to remember where Kirby was coming from: for nearly 50 years he’d been a never ending fountain of concepts and characters that power the comics industry to this day, but he never got the remuneration or credit that he saw other people getting, and his original art had been stolen — to be sold on the open market. It would have angered anyone.
As I look around at the way that comics are part of pop culture now, and comics creators are regularly seen on cable TV and at movie premieres, I invariably think, “I wish Jack had made it this far.” Kirby died in 1994, long before comics were anything more than a renegade medium, still treated with suspicion. Kirby would not have been the least bit surprised at the respect now afforded his chosen medium — he believed in it already and would have basked in the spotlight of adoration that — one likes to think — would have inevitably been cast on him.
Think of what he’d have to say about the THOR movie, for instance. Here’s Kirby’s comments in the 1990 interview:
GROTH: Some of the Asgardian landscapes, it seems like you must have taken great joy in…
KIRBY: I did. I took a great joy with inventing new kinds of mechanisms. I invented new kinds of machines. I’ve been a student of science fiction for a long, long time, and I can tell you that I’m very well-versed in science fact and science fiction. I’m 71 years old, and so I’ve seen all this new conception. I used to read the first science fiction books, and I began to learn about the universe myself and take it seriously. I know the names of the stars. I know how near or far the heavenly bodies are from our own planet. I know our own place in the universe. I can feel the vastness of it inside myself. I began to realize with each passing fact what a wonderful and awesome place the universe is, and that helped me in comics because I was looking for the awesome. I found it in Thor. I found it in Galactus.
Gerry Giovinco’s blog is always worth reading, but here’s a telling piece setting the two titans’ accounts of the origins of Marvel side by side and coming to a conclusion:
The reality is that Jack Kirby and Stan Lee simply represent two different types of men. Jack Kirby was an amiable, creative genius who’s imagination knew no boundaries. He created for two primary reasons, to comfortably support his family and to express his ideas. Any reward beyond that was secondary to his nature, by the time he realized his loss it was too late.
Stan Lee had his eye on the prize his whole career. He continues to live for the fame and the fortune. He believed in the Marvel product and aggressively sold it with a huckster’s gleam in his eye that exists to this very day.”
STAN LEE BONUS LINK: You might think from all the forgoing that Stan Lee is everywhere, but not so. From a profile of Hollywood Reporter editor Janice Min in the Times
But somewhere in the middle of the meeting, a proposed picture for the back page, a strong, iconic image drawn from the trade magazine’s 80-year history, is slid down the table for inspection. After being handed a picture of a back-in-the-day Stan Lee, the comics genius, posing with some badly dressed superheroes, Ms. Min cocked her head to the side as she took a skeptical look. Bill Higgins, a reporter who was hired away from Variety, said, “I know that look, I’ll keep looking.”
A sad day for those who hoped, perhaps against hope, that Jack “The King’ Kirby’s heirs would get some of the money their father’s creations have made over the years. Characters including Captain America (created in the 40s with Joe Simon), The Hulk, Iron Man and Thor– you know, if they called next year’s potential biggest-movie-of-all-time THE AVENEGRS “JACK KIRBY’S AVENGERS” they would not be far from the mark.
Deadline has analysis, seeing it as a big setback for lawyer Marc Toberoff, who has won many unlikely IP cases against giant studios in the past:
He’s had so many victories they’re hard to count, and Toberoff has won or settled lawsuits on Lassie, Get Smart, The Dukes of Hazzard, The Wild Wild West, and Smallville. In the comic book arena on behalf of Superman creator Jerry Seigel against DC Comics against Warner Bros, the U.S. District Court Judge ruled that “after 70 years, Jerome Siegel’s heirs regain what he granted so long ago — the copyright in the Superman material that was published in Action Comics, Vol. 1. What remains is an apportionment of profits, guided in some measure by the rulings contained in this Order, and a trial on whether to include the profits generated by DC Comics’ corporate sibling’s exploitation of the Superman.”
However, this time out the court offered a summary judgement for Marvel/Disney saying that Kirby had created the characters in question under work-for-hire situations, and thus was not entitled to any ownership of them.
Frankly, we’d heard some accounts of the case that suggested that one of the reasons Marvel might be vulnerable is that they had no records of Kirby ever actually signing any work for hire documents. However, while upholding Kirby’s role as the creators, the courts ruled that this was a WFH situation thanks to agreements Kirby signed in 1972 and 1975.
Here’s the actual judgement (warning, 50 heartbreaking pages long). Jeff Trexler has posted a bunch more of the documents, including depositions from Roy Thomas,
John Romita, Larry Lieber (Stan’s brother), < Neal Kirby and
Spinning out of a Facebook discussion, cartoonist and educator Steve Bissette is making a case for a boycott of Marvel over how shabbily they have treated Jack Kirby and his heirs:
A few key points:
* I don’t question the legal logic Marvel’s attorneys made, and the court decision reflects. However, nothing is being said about the conditions under which Kirby signed, and was pressured to sign, the contracts presented. I don’t think “extortion” is too unfair a word to use, particularly in the very public case of the Marvel artwork “return” contracts.
That is a moral issue here, and Marvel’s pattern of decades of effectively slandering, maligning, and dimissing Kirby and his legacy is, too.
* If, in the 1970s, Neal Adams and Jerry Robinson hadn’t rallied around Siegel & Shuster, who had multiple signed settlement contracts with National Periodicals to wield against them, agreements they had signed over their lifetimes (agreements they and their legal reps—like Albert Zugsmith—had negotiated), nothing would have changed.
Adams and Robinson brought to the public the moral case, the moral outrage, over the treatment of the creators of Superman.
At that time, the legal matters were considered “settled.”
C’mon, folks: Jack changed a century, the medium, the industry, our lives, and Marvel.
Let’s change how the rest of this onfolding story goes.
* The very public pattern of undercutting Kirby’s legacy as a co-creator of properties of great value to Marvel Comics (see Stan Lee’s and Martin Goodman’s revisionism on Captain America) dates back to 1947, and the first edition of Stan Lee’s “The Secrets of Comics” pamphlet.
Bissette calls on people to ask questions of Marvel regarding their treatment of Kirby at panels throughout 2012 — let’s call it a “Kyrax2.” Because it’s Bissette, it’s a long piece, but it’s worth a read.
Tom Spurgeon has some thoughts on this, and boils it down to the main points:
What remains most troubling about what Marvel has done and continues to do to many of its contributors and their families is how deeply unnecessary all of it seems. Marvel has resources out the wazoo. They have plenty of publishing money to provide royalties to a creator or an estate on work republished, even more movie money to make payments to creators for use of their characters in a movie, and tons of accrued cultural capital to properly give folks credit for a storyline or character without damaging the all-precious brand. To habitually punish their past runs needlessly counter to the way they treat a number of their current creators happy to be partnered up with them, and the generally positive attitude most people have in comics towards their current editors and publishing people.
There’s more from Tom, too, but…he’s right. Marvel’s continued disdain for the legacy of Jack Kirby is one of the most shameful practices in comics. I don’t say that this policy is the brainstorm of anyone currently running Marvel. It goes way back to othe
The must-read from yesterday is Michael Dean’s look at the actual court documents:
Although today publishers are required to show contractual proof of work-for-hire arrangements, there was no such requirement during this period of Kirby’s freelance work for Marvel. In the absence of a contract, Judge McMahon relied on the instance-and-expense test. Under this test, a work-for-hire relationship is said to exist if a creator produces work at the behest of a publisher/employer and is compensated by the publisher/employer for the work. Toberoff argued that Kirby had generated ideas and concepts beyond what he had been specifically assigned to create, but McMahon concluded Marvel’s editorial supervision of Kirby’s work and its page-rate payments to him were sufficient for the relationship to pass the instance-and-expense test.
Much more that everyone should read before making uninformed statements.
ALSO, Spanish cartoonist Pepo Perez has his own comments on creator ownership battles, here in the Google translation. That’s makes for some awkwardness, but also some great stuff.
I keep reading some arguments on the case heirs v. Disney Kirby, American and Spanish forums, and I get the smoke ears.
Now this is a great way to spend your money! Cartoonist Jason Young has spent the last three years slowly commissioning an array of great indie artists to redraw FANTASTIC FOUR #9, the issue co-starring the Sub-Mariner. It’s a Coober Skeeber/Strange Tales mash-up that proves the talents of all involved. Young writes:
Think of it as a punk band doing a cover of a sixties classic. All the artists involved are respectfully reinterpreting Jack Kirby through their own eyes and style. The project is a long-term, slow process. Jason is paying for the commissions out of pocket for his own personal collection and enjoyment.
Recently a Brandom Graham page got much attention, but this morning we’ve just seen Beat comments superstar Dustin Harbin..
And previously, Anders Nilsen:
And before that Chester Brown!
Click on links for the whole pages and Kirby originals.
The Jack Kirby Museum and Research Center has long existed as a website and a table at conventions; but a real museum would be much nicer. Now the organizers have announced they will be setting up a temporary “pop-up” museum this winter — November ‘11-January ‘12 — to showcase what they hope will eventually be a permanent brick and mortar museum.
How cool would that be? They’ll be set up at NYCc to talk about the project — and are accepting donations.
The Summer of 2011 should have witnessed an eruption of interest in legendary American Comic Book Creator Jack Kirby and his legacy. Three feature films were released between May and July featuring characters created or co-created by Jack (Thor, X-Men, Captain America, and most of their milieu). As of this writing, those films have combined to capture more than $1 billion in box-office receipts – in addition to the revenue generated through advertising and licensing. Clearly, millions of people know Jack’s characters and stories. His original work on these characters continues to be reprinted and spotlighted as the genesis of these multi-million dollar properties, and Jack’s art is reaching thousands of new fans every day.
So – why is Jack Kirby still a secret?
To try and answer that question, Jack Kirby Museum and Research Center trustee Randolph Hoppe and volunteer assistant director Mike Cecchini spent some time this summer scouting locations in the neighborhoods where Kirby grew up on New York City’s Lower East Side. The intention is to set up a temporary, or “pop-up,” brick-and-mortar location for the Jack Kirby Museum during November/December 2011 and January 2012.
“When we first established the Kirby Museum and Research Center in 2005,” said Hoppe, “it was intended, as our mission statement illustrates, ‘to promote and encourage the study, understanding, preservation and appreciation of the work of Jack Kirby.’’’ Being a true bootstrap enterprise, a “brick and mortar” presence for the museum was not necessarily practical or an immediate concern of the founders, despite their desire to see it happen. So a robust website became the first “location” for the Museum.
“But – whenever the Kirby Museum sets up at comic book conventions, or attends any event,” said Hoppe, “we are always asked: ‘Where is the museum located?’ It’s a question we’ve fielded via snail mail, telephone, email, tweet, and Facebook, and one we’ve decided to finally tackle head-on.”
“We have a couple of locations in mind,” added Cecchini, “and our plan includes space for original artwork, artifacts from Jack’s life, prominent guest speakers, educational programs and installation pieces. A space like this would be equally appealing to seasoned art patrons, pop-art connoisseurs, students, casual fans, tourists, and families.”
Should the pop-up effort prove successful, it will allow the Kirby Museum trustees to pursue the ultimate goal of a permanent space for the Museum in the near future.
“Nothing like this has ever been attempted for an artist like Jack Kirby,” said Hoppe. “And, in order to make this happen, we need funding. Fast.”
“We’re aiming to open this holiday season,” Hoppe continued, “but we don’t have a hard deadline at this time. We’ll keep soliciting donations unti
Earlier today we noted Stan Lee’s penchant for pacting. Sadly, his partner in the Marvel Age, Jack Kirby did not live to see the era where his creations and influence dominate pop culture. In fact, his family is right now engaged in a bitter dispute with Marvel Comics over the rights to the characters he created.
Some have called, passionately, for a boycott of Marvel over this. and they would have the high ground. But if a boycott isn’t your style. Nat Gertler has started his own way to remember The King, a program called A Buck for Jack which suggests you donate a dollar every time you go see a movie based on Kirby’s creations.
Now, I don’t want to miss these films – they’ve got filmmakers like Kenneth Brannaugh, Jon Favreau, and Joss Whedon, stars like Robert Downey Jr. and Natalie Portman, and a pretty good track record of quality. But I feel uncomfortable going to these movies knowing that they are not benefiting the goals of the man who brought so much creative energy to the work. So here’s what I’m doing: for every film I go to see that features Kirby-crafted concepts but made without financial tribute to Kirby, I’m giving a buck to Kirby’s legacy. For now, it will be by giving that money to the Jack Kirby Museum; if I ever find a way to give it to the Jack Kirby heirs instead, I will start directing the money there.
The campaign is completely unaligned with the proposed Kirby Museum, the Kirby heirs or any other official entity. But it sounds like a good way to watch a Marvel movie and at least make some kind of concrete contribution to keeping Jack Kirby’s memory alive.