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I’ve long been awaiting Jeff Trexler’s analysis of the Marvel/Kirby Settlement, and he starts a two-part piece with Should the Kirby Family Have Settled? In case it hasn’t been explicitly stated enough, it was Trexler’s exploration of the potentially ground breaking work for hire aspects of the case that Kirby family attorney Marc Toberoff seems to have used to get the Supreme Court to even look at the case. To allow it to go to decision would have established an important precedent—but it was extremely risky for the Kirby heirs:
That’s not an unreasonable point of view, but it’s also not entirely fair. To see why, it can help to compare the Kirbys’ situation with that of the Siegel heirs in their own pursuit of a historic precedent. As we saw with the Siegels, the calculus in the Siegel case involved more than a decision between a win and a loss. The Siegels filed their lawsuit after agreeing to a set of terms that their previous attorney had informed them was legally binding; the likely and ultimately realized worst-case scenario was that the Siegels would quote-unquote lose with an eight-figure payout. The Kirbys, on the other hand, were in Schroedinger’s Court – the case for the moment was dead and alive, but once the Court observed it the lawsuit would reduce to just one of these states with no in-between.
Trexler also suggest that the votes on the final case may not have been the ones we were expecting. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg—who actually requested Marvel answer the petition—may not have been all pro-freelancer:
Nonetheless, while Ginsburg’s dissents in such infamous cases as Citizens United (opposing corporate personhood) and Hobby Lobby (opposing the corporate religious exception for birth control coverage in Obamacare) have made her an anti-corporate hero, her approach to copyright cases is far more tempered. Exhibit #1: Justice Ginsburg wrote the majority opinion in the equally notorious case of Eldred v. Ashcroft upholding the constitutionality of the Sonny Bono Act, the law that extended the term of copyright and kept Mickey Mouse out of the public domain.
Ginsburg also concurred in the Grokster case, an unpopular decision (in free-culture circles, at least) that sided with the music companies against those who believed that online file sharing should be left alone. Moreover, Ginsburg sided with the majority in the recent Aereo case, which helped the big TV networks to keep an Internet start-up from rebroadcasting freely available TV signals. Opposing Ginsburg & the rest of the majority in defending the rights of the corporate copyright establishment: conservative Justices Scalia, Thomas and Alito.
In a subsequent piece, Trexler will look at what we know of the settlement, which it’s been suggested, included a mid-eight figure monetary sum.
I urge everyone to just go read the whole thing. Given what we know, it’s quite possible that we have Trexler himself to thank for the circumstances that allowed the Kirby heirs and Marvel to come to an agreement which allows Jack to finally get his due in the modern Marvel Universe. And for that, we all owe him a huge thank you.
This photo was posted on Marvel.com in a piece commemorating Veteran’s Day.
Obviously there is no one in comics more suitable for this kind of salute than Kirby who would tell his war stories to all.
JACK KIRBY ON MARVEL.COM
The piece includes family photos and remembrances from Kirby’s son Neal of his dad’s wartime exploits:
Kirby took part in the crossing of the Moselle River at Dornot on September 8, 1944. Paddling themselves across the river in tiny assault boats while under fire from German troops on the other side, the battalion established a small beachhead where they were met by the 37th SS Panzer Grenadier Regiment. Holding a thin line in the woods, the men of the 2nd Battalion held for days. Neal Kirby remembers one harrowing story, when a tank was charging down on his father’s foxhole. Sure to be run over by the massive tank, “the guy next to him stood up and just fired a round right through the drivers slit and the tank stops dead. It’s one of those one in a billion shots,” that saved Jack Kirby and others.
You may recall that Marvel and Kirby’s heirs recently reached a settlement over the matter of Kirby’s massive input in creating the Marvel Universe that is currently worth billions and billions of dollars. I suspected that we would see a suddens surge in crediting Kirby and not only do comics now have his name as co-creator, he has a credit on Agents of SHIELD, and now a salute on Marvel.com. You can’t get too much Jack Kirby and I hope this is just the beginning.
And here’s to you Jack and every one of the men and women who have served our nation.
A joint statement has just been released by Marvel and the family of Jack Kirby indicating that a settlement of somekind hs been made:
“Marvel and the family of Jack Kirby have amicably resolved their legal disputes, and are looking forward to advancing their shared goal of honoring Mr. Kirby’s significant role in Marvel’s history.”
The Kirby Estate had been suing Marvel for right to the characters Kirby created over the years, from Captain America in the 40s to the Fantastic Four in the 60s. Although every court case went against the Kirby family, recently it seemed that the case might actually go to the Supreme Court, and it may have been the unpredictable nature of the claims that led to this settlement.
While an initial wave of joy over the end of this battle is the natural emotion, one hopes that the Kirby family got something out of this and it wasn’t just keeping up appearances in the light of an ongoing battle that didn’t look like it would end favorably.
Tribute to the King by Alex Ross.
Friday’s announcement of a settlement between Jack Kirby’s heirs and Marvel seems like good news—but is it? And what does it mean?
I’m told Jeff Trexler, whose identification of the “instance and expense” aspect of the lawsuit may have helped get that into the petition to the Supremes, is writing his summary for TCJ.com, so while we all eagerly await that, here’s a little of the known knowns and known unknowns:
First off, Mark Evanier, a Kirby family confidant, a witness at various Kirby-related trials and filier of an amicus curiae brief is certainly in a position to know more of the Kirby position and this is all he had to say on the matter:
It was announced this morning that the family of Jack Kirby has settled with Marvel Comics (i.e., Disney) ending a very long dispute. The Supreme Court was only days from considering whether to take on the case and obviously, the timing of this settlement has much to do with both sides’ concern with what would get decided there.
If you’re coming to this page in search of details and commentary, you’ve come to the wrong place. I will be saying nothing about it other that I am real, real happy. And I’m sure Jack and his wife Roz, if they’re watching this from wherever they are, are real, real,real happy.
That’s either great fronting or a pretty solid indication that the Kirbys got what they were looking for. Since Evanier was intimately involved in the case, it’s probably legally all he can say. But if Mark thinks Jack is smiling, I’m smiling.
You can read all the petitions and briefs here. And you can bet a lot of people will be poring over these for a lot of reasons.
Charles Hatfield has a good round up of the ins and outs of the case itself, the many friend of the court briefs, and how the case grew in importance as more Hollywood vested interest signed on.
However, news of the cert petition reignited publicity over the case, and in May SCOTUS discussed the case in conference, after which the Court requested a response from Marvel. Then, in June, things started to happen: several important amici curiae briefs supporting the Kirbys’ petition brought high-profile attention to the case. One of these was filed on behalf of Kirby biographer Mark Evanier, Jack Kirby Collector publisher and editor John Morrow, and the PEN Center USA (a nonprofit representing diverse writers).
In addition, the California Society of Entertainment Lawyers filed a brief. Another brief that became very important for the press coverage of the case was submitted by Bruce Lehman, former Assistant Secretary of Commerce and Director of the US Patent and Trademark Office, and an authority on intellectual property law. Lehman filed in collaboration with former US register of copyrights Ralph Oman, the Artists Rights Society, and the International Intellectual Property Institute; they were joined by the American Society of Illustrators, the National Cartoonists Society, the Association of American Editorial Cartoonists, and other organizations representing arts professionals—as well as scores of cartoonists and illustrators who also signed on.
Kurt Busiek has been debunking some common myths about the case in the Beat’s own comments, but perhaps because Beat commenters are just smarter or less pig-headed than the average commenter, he saved his masterpiece in the genre for this CBR thread where he debunks from all times that the Kirby heirs were just greedy and opportunistic. (Link via Tom Spurgeon) He also speculates about the outcome, just like Iim gonna do in a few paragraphs:
Based on that, it sure doesn’t look like Marvel’s throwing the Kirbys a few bucks to go away. If that’s what they wanted to do, they could have done that any time within the last few years. Whoever blinked, it was the side that had the most to lose if the case went to the Supreme Court and risked a ruling they didn’t like.
That wasn’t the Kirbys — they were already getting nothing, so the Supreme Court deciding against them wouldn’t hurt them any.
But Disney/Marvel has billions on the line. They don’t want to risk losing that. Not even with a pro-business Supreme Court likely to rule for them. Because they’re not sure the Court would rule for them. Not with a bunch of people on the other side who make IP contracts their life — including one of the guys who helped write the 1978 Copyright Law. If that guy is saying, “No, no, it doesn’t work that way,” there’s too much of a chance that the Court will listen.
So my prediction is: All the public changes you see coming out of this are going to be favorable to the Kirbys. Probably the first thing you see will be creator credits. And the family’s going to suddenly be financially secure, like their father/grandfather wanted them to be.
What the “greedy heirs” morons don’t get is that this was a case with very important principles set off by the Copyright Law of 1976 regarding what is work for hire. As Kevin Melrose reports of a Law.com article, many issues remains undecided by the settlement, and it’s entirely possible that these will crop up again and the Supreme Court may yet hear such a case:
The Kirby heirs insisted the artist was an independent contractor who worked from home, provided his own supplies and received no benefits. However, he Second Circuit, using its frequently criticized “instance and expense” test, found that because Marvel assigned and approved projects and paid a page rate, Kirby’s contributions were indeed “for hire.”
The Kirbys took aim at the Second Circuit’s definition of work for hire in their petition to the U.S. Supreme Court, which drew support from the likes of Hollywood guilds and a former director of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, demonstrating the potentially far-reaching ramifications of the dispute. However, the 11th-hour settlement announcement arrived just ahead of a Supreme Court conference on Monday to determine whether to review the case — meaning the Second Circuit’s finding stands.
So the gray area surrounding work for hire before 1978 remains, although experts say given that 56-year window — or 35 years for copyrights transferred after 1979 — it’s only a matter time before another case, more likely to involve a musician/songwriter than a comics artist, makes its way to the Supreme Court, requiring the justices to weigh in.
As Kirby family attorney Marc Toberoff told Law.com, “At some point there will be another case like this.”
While it seems unlikely from the outside that SCOTUS would ever have sided with the Kirby heirs, Marvel didn’t know, and a happy smiling settlement was vastly to everyone’s benefit. And more to the point, there’s no such thing as secret in entertainment any more. As Joshua Riviera writes for EW:
One of the great things about modern pop culture isn’t just the wealth of content available, but the interest it has spurred in the creators behind it. Showrunners, once an invisible position in the broadcast era, are now at the forefront of fans’ minds when obsessing over TV. Similarly, the public perception of filmmakers has slowly evolved from the days of the monolithic studio system to accommodate directors and screenwriters and cinematographers and composers and VFX teams and crew. Comics have come a long way from the 60s, which saw Jack Kirby slowly become frustrated with the business that grew and endures to this day thanks in large part to his labors—now many comics are sold based on the strength of the people making them. But the way comics creators are credited in other media based on their work is often lacking.
Yet, things have changed a lot from the days when Marv Wolfman was barred credits of Blade, setting off a lawsuit he eventually lost and the current spate of copyright battles. Nowadays, one imagines, Marv would be saluted at the Hall H panel and trotted around to talk shows. While it’s pretty clear that you need to lawyer up to get your share of whatever pie — mini or maxi — may exist, Marvel/Disney has become more sensitive to the bad publicity of the starving creator railing against the corporation as he rolls around in his ratty sleeping bag from his stately cardboard box on the street.
And now some speculation from me. Given the fair-enough-to-shut-them-up treatment of Jim Starlin and the family of Bill Mantlo over Guardians of the Galaxy, Disney and Marvel seem to be on a better path now. You can attribute that to the bad optics of the cardboard box creator, but I’m pretty sure most of the top brass at Marvel proper, including Dan Buckley, Joe Quesada and Axel Alonso, would wish to see creators fairly treated if it were within their powers. (The same was undoubtedly true of Paul Levitz and Jenette Kahn at DC.)
Given the huge, vocal and unending respect for the work of Jack Kirby by just about every creative type involved with all these “comic book movies,” I share the Busiek viewpoint that we’ll see more public inclusion of Kirby among the “Marvel founders.” Kirby always got acknowledgement in the credits of Marvel movies, but we could see more “created by” credits. Kirby could be inducted into the “Disney Legends” hall of fame type deal. Disney doesn’t do a ton to promote its actual creative people, but I’d expect to see Kirby enshrined as much as possible.
And now, here is my Torsten-like fantasy to end this. Maybe someday at Disneyland, as the Marvel character rides and characters and churros swirl, there could be a statue of Stan and Jack as they create the Marvel Universe as we first knew it. I’m not sure Jack would have really liked that, but the victors write history, and I’m pretty sure that Jack Kirby is a victor now.
By: Heidi MacDonald
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What would Ben Grimm do?
After a few months of truly bizarre speculation across the internet, and denial from the publisher, Marvel confirmed this morning at their Axel-In-Charge panel at New York Comic-Con that they are indeed canceling their main Fantastic Four title. The publisher seems like they are planning something new for their roster of Fantastic Four characters, but this is mere speculation at this point. The comic is ending in 2015. CBR ran a quote from the panel that featured current author of the title James Robinson speaking on the surprise cancellation of the comic.
“That’s the thing — everyone’s upset now because the book is going away,” Robinson said. “Are they buying the book? I don’t know if they are. A lot of it is just people like to get online and moan and complain. I guarantee you if you kill of any character, the most obscure character, you’ll get one angry person that claims it was their favorite character. Jack Frost, golden age character, they’ve done something to him. Where’s the razor blades, I’m slashing my wrists. People do that on the internet, so you have to take that with a grain of salt.”
The author deserves some massive props for talking about his run on the title so honestly. Hopefully this coming change for the Fantastic Four will be what is necessary to get the book boosted into the top 50 of the Diamond Sales charts. Marvel’s first family deserves it after all.
It looks like the results of last month’s settlement in the Jacky Kirby lawsuit against Marvel has yielded swift results: Kirby and Stan Lee are now being given co-credit in books including Fantastic Four, Inhumans and the X-men. And Joe Simon and Jack Kirby are being given co-creator credit on Captain America. Among the books already bearing the new credits: All-New X-Men #33, Fantastic Four #12, Inhuman #7, Wolverine and the X-Men #11 and Death of Wolverine: Deadpool & Captain America #1, which has the Simon & Kirby credit.
Many speculated that the terms of the settlement included not only money but would free the way for Kirby to take his rightful place as the mind behind the visual look of the MCU and the driving force behind many of its greatest storylines and characters. While the FF and the X-Men are being cancelled or downplayed in the comics due to their movies being at other studios, Kirby co-created character such as Cap, Thor, Iron Man, the Hulk, the Black Panther, the Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver (not to mention Groot) are going strong in the MCU, so expect to see more tributes to Kirby as time goes by.
I can’t imagine that there is anyone remotely in the comics business who is not thrilled to see this.
[Via Robot 6]
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
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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, [...]
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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 [...]
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.
[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 family of Jack Kirby’s quest to regain some rights to the Marvel characters still has a chance to go all the way to the Supreme court, as THR’s sturdy legal expert Eriq Gardner reports. Gardner quotes some amicus (friend of the court, i.e. supporting document) briefs by experts as weighing in favor of it being heard:
It was authored by Bruce Lehman, former director of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and the chief advisor to President Bill Clinton on intellectual property matters. He writes on behalf of himself, former U.S. register of copyrights Ralph Oman (who served as chief minority counsel of the Senate’s IP subcommittee during the consideration of the 1976 Copyright Act), the Artists Rights Society (whose past members included Jackson Pollock and Pablo Picasso), the International Intellectual Property Institute and others.
But before getting into what’s said in this brief (provided below), we’ll turn to another amici curiae brief (also below) that offers a better set-up to what exactly is disputed. This one comes from Mark Evanier, a comic book historian who once apprenticed for Kirby and has been an advisor to Marvel, DC Comics and Dark Horse Comics. He joins John Morrow, another Kirby historian, as well as the PEN Center USA, one of the most prestigious organizations of novelists, poets, playwrights and screenwriters.
Although the Kirby case has gotten much further along in its journey to the Supremes than most of us ever thought, observers still pint out that it has one element that makes it being heard unlikely: a lack of division among lower court rulings. Marvel/Disney has won at every level of the court system. And the business-friendly current make-up of the Supreme Court makes a Kirby victory kind of unlikely, no matter how many heavy hitters weigh in on the amicus briefs.
That said, Kirby was always an underdog. And the fact that the underlying elements of the case—the meaning of the ‘instance and expense’ test to prove whether work was work for hire/on staff or independent—have been prominent enough that the court has actually ASKED for brief is telling as well.
Looks like this is going to go all the way down to the wire.
By: Mike Cressy,
Blog: Sugar Frosted Goodness
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This is for the Jack Kirby show that's coming up in August. I always loved the way he visually told stories made with crazy bold graphics. This one is taking an extra creature from an old comic book and painting it up in Photoshop while keeping the bold designs that Kirby created.
I wanted to do something more complicated but I've got many other projects that need my attention right now so this one will have to suffice.
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.
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.
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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?