Posted In: News
Who Needs The Avengers?
Marvel/Disney Want You Lining Up at the Box-Office; Don’t.
Talking the Talk: Captain America® and ©Marvel Entertainment Group, Inc., or whatever their current moniker might be at this moment; all rights reserved, not posted with permission, but for archival and political purposes only, Fair Use under the terms of the still-in-effect Copyright Act—here’s Captain America spouting the kind of thing Marvel loves to have Captain America proclaim, while they merrily mash the Kirby legacy and heirs into the dirt.
This was the opening of the initial Avengers movie preview I caught in theaters:
“You were made to be ruled.”
“In the end, it will be every man for himself.”
Is Marvel talking to US?
Because, in a nutshell, that pretty much sums it all up, from the Marvel/Disney perspective:
We were made to be ruled.
And it clearly is every man for himself.
Is it too arch to note that Jack Kirby—crib, midwife, co-creator of nearly all the current Marvel exploits—saw this coming and said as much after his departure from Marvel (as it was, circa 1972)?
Himon/Jack Kirby: “I’m a dreamer! A visionary! A ‘think-tank’ who pioneered … I dream! I roam the universe! Darkseid wants to own it!… if Darkseid puts an end to all other dreams but his!” (Mister Miracle #9, 1972; image below ©1972, 2012 DC Comics, Inc./DC Entertainment, Inc.).
Supplant “Darkseid” with “Marvel/Disney” in Jack’s dialogue…
It was, in part, Jack Kirby and Stan Lee‘s dreams that fueled my own.
I don’t want your dreams any longer, Marvel Comics.
It was Kirby‘s dreams that fed me.
A close friend asked today, since he’s bought Marvel Kirby-derivative product all his life, “What makes the movie so different?”
EVERYTHING Marvel has done with Kirby derived-product since the summer 2011 judgment is different because it follows the summer 2011 judgment.
Marvel has had decades to work this out; Marvel chose, blazed, explored, and enforced this path.
DC Comics, Paul Levitz, and Jenette Kahn started working out ways to work royalty shares with Kirby while he was still alive (using Super Powers as the initial vehicle [thanks to "Atomik Kommie" for the correction; see comments thread, below]).
Marvel hasn’t. Marvel has repeatedly demonstrated, from the late 1960s to today, that they’re not even remotely interested in “working out ways” to resolve this.
Fine. It’s their business.
And they’re getting no more of mine.
For me, it’s simple: the judgment of 2011 was the straw that broke the camel’s back. Do what you want; I’ve had it with Marvel as a consumer at this point.
I won’t be seeing The Avengers movie. I will encourage others to avoid it, if and as I can.
The thought of sitting through another bloated multi-million dollar-budgeted charade about how “it’s right to fight for justice” when Marvel/Disney can’t cough up the equivalent of, say, one day‘s shooting budget for catering or grips to toss a bone to Jack‘s heirs—well, that act of enduring that film isn’t at all attractive or appealing to me any longer on any level.
THE AVENGERS? It’s a sham.
The only “team effort” Marvel/Disney understands, or chooses to apply to real-world treatment of those (other than Stan Lee; more on that later this week) who ensured there even was a Marvel Comics for Disney to purchase in 2010, is the team of lawyers they’ve regularly paid to ensure Jack Kirby, in his lifetime, and Jack Kirby‘s heirs, since his death, get NOTHING.
Justice? Spare me.
Teams of superheroes “fighting for right against impossible odds”?? Marvel/Disney demonstrated how little they believe in the core principles of their own corporate parables.
If they don’t believe it, I sure don’t buy it—and I’m NOT buying it, or anything like it, until Marvel/Disney demonstrate they’ve got a fraction of the principles of their fictional constructs.
Having a tough time explaining the Jack Kirby/Marvel Comics judgment injustice? It’s simple: “Shouldn’t Margaret Mitchell have earned income from Gone With the Wind when it became a movie? Shouldn’t her heirs? Especially if she’d written, like, 300 Gone With the Winds?”
Insert “Stephen King” in place of Margaret Mitchell‘s name if they’re—or you’re—that dense.
Work-for-hire or not, it’s piss-poor capitalism to NOT reward innovation.
Work-for-hire does not, ipso facto, mean a creator or co-creator benefits not at all from their creations earning (in this case) billions for the parent corporation. I earn royalties on Swamp Thing to this day. Every quarter, they show up. I earn more royalties for John Constantine, Hellblazer; when the movie option yielded a movie, we each banked a $45,000 check from our fraction of a percent of our co-creator shares.
Bob Heer pointed out in August 2011 that “Todd Klein recently wrote about a minor Green Lantern character he co-created back in the 1980s and how he was recently offered a revised rights contract for the character to be used in the movie and related merchandizing, which already paid him more than he got for writing the stories in the first place.”
Bob Heer added, “I’ve heard at least two creators say that the reprint money they got for some 1970s work for DC was more than their original page rate. Now, a lot of that speaks to how low their original page rate was, but it’s also an indication that reprint money isn’t unsubstantial. Especially when, like with Kirby, the volume is so high (Marvel’s probably reprinted at least 1000 pages of Kirby artwork a year since 2005).”
I’ve certainly earned far, far more in reprint royalties from Swamp Thing than I ever, ever earned while doing the book (when my first wife and I were scraping by, with two kids, on poverty-level income with both of us working).
Jack clearly had his regrets about how badly he had handled his own affairs in his lifetime.
(a) Jack signed no contracts originally, as the real work was done in the 1960s;
(b) Jack worked in an industry that not only discouraged freelancers having legal representation, but actually shut out and black-balled freelancers who dared to mention either agents or lawyers (such was the case, still, when I entered the field in 1977, with the notable exception of Mike Friedrich being the first agent Marvel and DC tolerated, since Mike had written for both companies prior to establishing his agency);
(c) Martin Goodman (prior to his selling off Marvel at the end of the 1960s) and Marvel used coercion, duress, and all manner of strong-arming and bullying in dealing with Jack;
(d) Jack was terrified of not working, and the field was very limited in terms of alternatives in the 1960s.
The fact is, Marvel was Jack’s last-ditch station by 1959, and if it weren’t for Carmine Infantino becoming publisher at DC in the late 1960s, Jack wouldn’t have had anywhere to go from Marvel when he left the company.
Back in January, responding to my interview with Tom Spurgeon
Daniel W. Ring wrote on Facebook:
“I like what you said about Kirby’s heirs Vs. Marvel/Disney. Remind of one the last things Jack Kirby said before he died. Kirby was asked what advice he would give anyone going into comics for the first time, “Get an entertainment lawyer.” he said.”
That same week on Facebook, Scott Shaw! cited my calling out Scott by name in the interview with Tom Sturgeon, where I said:
“Even the die-hard Kirby fans, and die-hard Kirby pro fans, who posted with such enthusiasm on Facebook the week the Captain America movie opened, actively resented, reviled, and/or shunned my stance and argument. When I can’t convince as rabid a Kirby lover (as well as nice guy and terrific cartoonist) as Scott Shaw! that this doesn’t outweigh the addiction to Kirby-derivative media that doesn’t pay a red cent to Kirby‘s family — and I’m not meaning to be unfair to pick on Scott here, but he’s a clear example of the passionate Kirby fan and devotee who isn’t a Marvel employee who continues to support the status quo—I’m not sure there is any traction to be had, frankly. So, I speak up whenever I see that happening. Which, as far as I can see, has only made me a pariah in new arenas. Big deal. The whole vicious cycle will play out when The Avengers movie promo machine revs up and then hits.”
Well, it’s time.
The Avengers movie is just about here.
Need more input?
“What makes this situation especially hard to stomach is that Marvel’s media empire was built on the backs of characters whose defining trait as superheroes is the willingness to fight for what is right. It takes a lot of corporate moxie to put Thor and Captain America on the big screen and have them battle for honor and justice when behind the scenes the parent company acts like a cold-blooded supervillain. As Stan Lee famously wrote, “With great power comes great responsibility.”
If Mitt Romney is right, and corporations are people, perhaps Marvel/Disney has the capacity to feel shame. …Tom Spurgeon…framed the issue in moral terms, as did the cartoonist Seth: “The corporate lie about Kirby’s role in the creation of all those characters is abhorrent. It’s a bold faced lie. Everyone knows it’s a lie. No one is fooled. Everyone lying for the company should be ashamed. Stan Lee should be ashamed. What the Marvel corporation is doing might be legal but it certainly isn’t right.”
A boycott of The Avengers and other Marvel movies could conceivably strike a blow in the only place that truly hurts a corporation: its bottom line….”
What are YOU gonna do, “True Believer”?
“The corporate lie about Kirby’s role in the creation of all those characters is abhorrent. It’s a bold faced lie. Everyone knows it’s a lie. No one is fooled. Everyone lying for the company should be ashamed. Stan Lee should be ashamed. What the Marvel corporation is doing might be legal but it certainly isn’t right.
I was even more disheartened to read some of the comments of comics fans last week. A great number of whom clearly have more sympathy for the Corporation than the people who crafted the comics they grew up with. I cannot understand this and I won’t bother to try. No matter what you think of the Lee/Kirby collaboration and of who did what –I simply cannot understand how anyone could agree that Mr. Kirby does not deserve at least the same credit and compensation as Mr. Lee.”
Next: Mr. Lee.