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I Don’t Want To Hear What Michael Chabon Thinks About Comic Books

March 22, 2010

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A business article in the New York Times about Jack Kirby‘s kids suing Disney for some Marvel dough – an article heavy on the who-did-what-when-and-how in terms the creation of famous and lucrative Marvel superheroes, mind you – got around to mentioning Stan Lee on page three. For pete’s sake.

I’m pretty sure the “work-for-hire” argument is the correct one but I can’t front like I know anything about the legalities of all these things (though I do know from experience that just because you work from home doesn’t mean it aint work for hire).

And no-one can ever claim that I’m I don’t have Jack Kirby virtually running through my veins because I do. He was one of the formative influences on me as a kid. But I have it on pretty good authority that Stan Lee was definitively the straw that stirred the drink at Marvel, case closed. That being said, it is well-documented that the relationship between Lee and Kirby was incredibly collaborative, even moreso than with Lee and other artists (which by all accounts was pretty darn collaborative).

I don’t know what the psychology is behind it but this idea persists that Kirby was the “real” brains behind Marvel’s glory days. And as much as Stan Lee has at times taken more credit that he deserves (he doesn’t always), claiming the converse is just as inaccurate. Again, I don’t know how the money should be divvied up, but the argument about who is the “true” creator should take a rest. I guess it won’t till the money issues are settled.

And oh yeah:

The Kirby case is virtually certain to reopen the much-chewed-over history of Marvel to an examination even more intense than it has received from comic book fans. Many fans believe that Marvel and Stan Lee — who once wore varied professional hats, including editor in chief and publisher at Marvel — assigned too little credit to the contribution of an artist they like to call “King Kirby.” Mr. Kirby has drawn lavish praise from such luminaries as the novelist Michael Chabon, who has described him as “the Shakespeare or Cervantes of comic books.”

Blech.

I couldn’t finish Kavalier and Clay anyway.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. la mama permalink
    March 22, 2010 8:24 pm

    Me, either! on both the title AND the last line … good grief. I’d much rather hear from Roy Thomas or Mark Evanier, people who realllly know their stuff.
    Jack Kirby was peerless, but Shakespeare? Cervantes?? No. I can name at least two cartoonists who come closer, and even they don’t reach that level, methinks.

  2. A. Strung permalink*
    March 23, 2010 11:42 am

    Well I would put him on any level you’d care to name for an ARTIST, but why he’d be compared to great writers is beyond me. It’s just pretentious. I don’t see how Cervantes or Shakespeare are interchangeable anyway, they do totally different things.

    I mean if we’re going to get right down to it, Shakespeare didn’t really invent much, whereas Kirby invented a whole hell of a lot. Shakespeare was a re-teller of stories; I see him kind of as a Quentin Tarantino – someone who repackages things. And I mean that in the best possible way, but it’s a very different role from someone like Jack Kirby.

    Though Jack had Stan Lee to supply the faux-Shakespearean dialogue in Thor and stuff like that and it is awesome.

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