What Long-Term Service Did Stan Lee Provide That Jack Kirby Didn’t (or Couldn’t)?
Man, the crazy resistance to Jack Kirby‘s heirs deserving anything (save, apparently, contempt) is maddening.
Heirs of creators whose fathers and mothers created work of lasting cultural impact/value inherit either a legacy of continued participation and profiting from that legacy (i.e., Edgar Rice Burroughs [see John Carter movie, right], Margaret Mitchell, Boris Karloff‘s daughter, Bela Lugosi‘s son, the Fleischer family, the Disney family, etc.), or they inherit a legacy of exclusion, impoverishment, and frustration (i.e., Bill Finger, Jack Kirby, etc.).
Are people really arguing the latter is preferable and somehow, magically, “fair” while corporations become the heirs by default?
That is what is being persistently asserted in various threads and by various parties.
BTW, the illusion (and it is illusory) that those who have carved out incomes from stewardship of inherited creative value take it as a “gift” without “earning” it is part and parcel of this specious argument. In most cases, as with the Kirbys, families have to mount costly, time-consuming legal battles to protect their legacy (i.e., Bela Lugosi v Universal), and it’s real work to protect, nurture, and extend such a legacy. They earn every penny, and protection of trademarks/copyrights involves vigorous management and labor. It also ensures vital bodies of creative work are not lost, and remain accessible to the public and potential audiences—consider, for instance, the difference between Jean Giraud aka ‘Moebius‘ reaching an American readership when Starwatcher was his legal representation (spawning the complete Moebius volumes from Marvel/Epic, etc.), and what we have now (good luck finding old or new Moebius work in print in the US; only used copies of the Epic/Marvel and earlier Heavy Metal collections are in reach). It’s a lot of work to manage/agent/sell one’s creative work; Jean, clearly, prefers just to create, as do most cartoonists and artists.
Frankly, I don’t see any validity in these contempt-filled and contemptible “arguments,” save either aggressive or passive envy (“why should THEY inherit ANYTHING of value having created nothing?”) that supports the status quo proprietary claims of Marvel—who also, actually, created nothing (despite the legal fiction of work-for-hire—the Marvel of 1961-1967 was sold in 1969, and passed through multiple hands since then—thus, “inherited creative wealth” moving through a chain of purchasing agents and management. Fans are thus passively arguing for corporate inheritance being valid while individual/biological inheritance isn’t—which is typical of the current cultural environment, alas.
Others argue that the Kirbys somehow not having suffered childhoods of abject poverty, want, neglect, etc. should be “enough” for the Kirby heirs, while Marvel should and does happily pocket billions off the cumulative real-world wealth of Kirby‘s legacy.
This is an argument positing a la-la land perception of freelance life, specifically freelance family life: having been there (as a father), I’m telling you, it’s no picnic, bunky. Is it better than other ways of making a living? Sure. But it’s no picnic.*
More to the point, it’s a loopy Dickensian-era argument Charles Dickens himself would have spat upon (and did, or haven’t you ever read A Christmas Carol?): since the Kirbys weren’t orphans like Oliver Twist, they should just shut up and stay home and treasure what they “had,” while The Avengers costs/earns millions?
What happened to the American belief in families building better futures for their children?
Are we really, really this far gone down the path of passive subservience to plutocrats, oligarchs, and corporations?
The Bobbettes (Jannie and Emma Pought, Reather Dixon, Lara Webb, and Helen Gather; they also wrote the tune) sing “Mr. Lee,” their 1957 song that hit #6 on the Billboard Pop singles chart scored #1 for a full month on the R&B chart.
Beginning in August 2011, I’ve (happily) taken a lot of online abuse for my initial posts concerning my personal decision to cease buying any and all Kirby-derived Marvel products—including the movies (my last Marvel movie, seen in the theater before the fateful Marvel/Kirby Heirs judgment, was Kenneth Branagh‘s Thor adaptation, which was rich and ripe with 1960s Kirby imagery and themes). That heat increased after James Sturm‘s recent Slate.com essay citing (and linking to) my August 2011 essays, and my posts/links to James‘s essay which I prefaced with my own remarks.
Among the lengthy Facebook exchanges and on various boards (including the Myrant comments threads), one of the most-flogged whipping posts was that I was attacking Stan Lee, co-creator of all the Kirby co-creations Marvel built the company’s Silver Age resurrection upon. How dare I?
Amid the Facebook exchanges, Christopher Moriarty (accurately) noted, “I don’t see any of this as a Jack versus Stan thing. I don’t see that in the [Sturm] article and I don’t see it in Stephen‘s preface. The way I read this, it’s not a Jack versus Stan thing, it’s a Marvel versus Jack thing.”
To which I replied, “With all due respect, anyone bringing anything except Marvel‘s behavior to the fore here is missing the point, or willfully obfuscating the point. Why?”
For the record, I don’t “blame” Stan. I don’t think he’s behaved admirably or honorably regarding Jack Kirby over the years—more on that shortly—but I don’t blame Mr. Lee. I think, in many ways, I understand what he’s done, and the “why” seems self-evident (read on).
I DO blame the company, Marvel; hence my decision not to spend another penny on Marvel products or derivative products (like the upcoming Avengers movie). MARVEL instituted and codified their ill treatment of Kirby.
So, why the perceived “attack” on Stan Lee?
Aside from the cultural addiction to dualism—
—the simplistic division of any discussion/debate to “two sides,” the diversionary tactic of turning an ethical argument (that Marvel should treat Kirby‘s heirs honorably) into being, ipso facto, an attack on Stan Lee, who has been enriched into his 80s by his ongoing relations with Marvel Comics, long after he ceased scripting and/or editing a single comic for the company—
—it’s a handy means of avoiding the issue.
Furthermore, both Stan Lee and Marvel Comics have done their utmost since 1963 to conflate the two as one in the public arena: in many ways, Stan Lee was Marvel Comics. Marvel Comics was Stan Lee, in the public eye.
And however much the public may perceive otherwise, Stan Lee isn’t Marvel; he never was. He was always, at best, an employee of Marvel. A favored employee, as time has proven, but still an employee.
In fact, discussing the Marvel v Kirby’s heirs judgment is impossible without evoking and citing, at least by inference, Stan Lee.
So, here goes.
* First of all, Marvel as we know it today would simply not exist without Jack Kirby; the same must be said about Stan Lee. Together, Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, and Stan Lee and Steve Ditko—and, to a measurably lesser extent, Stan Lee and others—laid the firm foundation for all that became Marvel.
[Right: Timely, aka Atlas/Timely, before the Silver Age; Captain America was co-created by Joe Simon and Jack Kirby in 1941. Attempts to revive their Golden Age superheroes in the early 1950s failed; it took the Lee/Kirby and Lee/Ditko magic to pull off that feat in the early 1960s.]
* As Steven Barnes asserted amid the same Facebook conversation cited above, “I have zero problem with people wanting a giant like Kirby to be treated fairly, his family compensated. But I do disagree heartily with the contention, advanced by many, that Lee was less important.”
For the purposes of my argument, I am in total agreement with Steven.**
* In fact, for the purposes of my argument, I will work with the rational, measurable supposition that the products of the Jack Kirby/Stan Lee collaborations were and remain definably distinctive from all works by either creator working solo or with other creative partners.
I arrive at this supposition based upon my having read their Lee/Kirby collaborations since at least 1960; based upon my reading of their works apart, solo and with other creative partners, since at least 1966; and based upon my own living experience as a creative partner in various collaborative works since 1974, primary among those my collaborations with Alan Moore, John Totleben, Rick Veitch, and editors Len Wein and Karen Berger on Saga of the Swamp Thing.
I know I can never, ever create anything in comics to come close to what Alan, John, Rick, and I collaborated on in Swamp Thing, working under the guidance of editor/Swamp Thing co-creator Len Wein, then editor Karen Berger.
Collaborative creative chemistry, when it works, is glorious, and I can say that first-hand, definitively. No one party can claim sole credit, including the editor—or sans the editor.
When it works, while it lasts, the resulting work is the creation of a composite “third person,” if you will, and no one member of the team can claim primary credit or recreate the chemistry alone or with others.
The same goes for Jack Kirby/Stan Lee.
* Since (a) none of us can do anything but extrapolate from the multitude of first-person published accounts of the Marvel Silver Age catalytic years, and (b) since (unlike the judge involved in the 2011 judgment) I see too many self-evident conflicts of interests reflected in Stan Lee‘s 2010 deposition account of how creative work was done in the Marvel offices in 1959-1963 (see below), I propose, for the purposes of the current argument, we agree for the duration of this post that we can only surmise the Stan Lee/Jack Kirby co-creations were, and are, 50/50 collaborative works.
In adhering to this supposition, I am neither minimizing nor inflating the creative role or contribution of either creator.
I ask only that we briefly agree that assigning an equal division of credit in the act of co-creation is a rational basis for parsing out the true nature of Stan Lee‘s ongoing relationship with Marvel Comics.
[Note: This is necessary to get to the core issues. It's not just differences of opinion or taste that cloud almost all discussion of what roles Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, and Steve Ditko played in the co-creation of the characters and concepts that remain the foundation of the Marvel universe; it's also the fact that all such discussions also ignore the fact that those formative Marvel years (1959-1963) necessarily and irrevocably changed who these men were, how they worked, and their subsequent creative paths.
As Steven Barnes wrote in the Facebook conversation cited above, "When Kirby or Ditko left Marvel and did their own stuff, it felt very different--I tried to follow them as a fan, and couldn't. The art was the same, but the stories and dialogue just didn't have that Marvel 'snap.' On the evidence of the product produced, Kirby was the greatest artist in the history of the Medium. But Stan was arguably the greatest writer. Together, they were amazing. But other artists, working with Stan, also created wonderful stories. I see no reason to trash Stan to uplift Jack. Life is not a zero-sum game." Life is also rarely ever static: Kirby's and Ditko's work after departing Marvel was inherently reactionary, at first. Both writer/artists explicitly autopsied and rejected many of the core principles of the work they'd done at Marvel, countering the compromised heroes of the Marvel Silver Age (a rejection absolutely manifest in Ditko's Mr. A, which debuted in Witzend in 1967, and remains a primary concern of much of Ditko's work, in comics and as an essayist in the newsletter The Comics), and even personifying and vilifying Lee himself via gross caricature (see Kirby's Funky Flashman character in Mister Miracle). Ditko's and Kirby's conscious rejection, even vilification, of key characteristics of their collaborative work with Lee arguably and necessarily eschewed any emulation of Lee's writing strengths and style.
Kirby was working all his life within a freelance system that rarely provided a venue for what he thought and knew he could bring to comics. I side completely with Charles Hatfield's assessment in his new book Hand of Fire that the closest we got, as readers, to seeing what Kirby was capable of in his prime was in a couple of years of his 1960s Marvel run (particularly in Thor, and "Tales of Asgard," both dialogued by Stan Lee) and his initial burst at DC under Carmine Infantino's helm, after the "here, make Jimmy Olsen work" and before DC pulled the plug on the Fourth World. After that, the size and fit of the strait-jacket constrained Jack's best efforts; even complete creative freedom, a'la Pacific Comics, arguably came too late, and only a handful of The Eternals published issues demonstrated he still had it in him.
Thus, I would argue trying to determine who did what at Marvel in 1959-1963 based on comparative readings of Lee/Ditko with subsequent solo Ditko comics, or Lee/Kirby against Kirby's subsequent solo work, is neither quantifiably accurate nor particularly rational.]
* We must agree on one undeniably fact: Stan Lee has enjoyed a very different relationship with, and been treated very differently by, Marvel Comics.
Stan has been taken care of every step of the way.
* It is fair to then ask: Why?
What service did Stan Lee provide, even after his departure from writing and/or editing a single Marvel Comic, that makes rational sense of Marvel‘s ongoing relationship with Stan Lee?
* In struggling to define that relationship, if only to understand what Marvel Comics was paying Stan Lee for over the decades, it then becomes essential (and neither offensive, slanderous, or unfair) to ponder some things that might be construed as potentially insulting, either to Stan Lee personally, to Marvel Comics, or to fans of either Lee or Marvel.
With all due respect to Mr. Lee (and little or none to Marvel or its fans), I won’t apologize in advance.
* I’ve never read anything from Stan Lee, as a long-time Marvel reader in the 1960s and some of what followed, that failed to praise Jack Kirby as one of the best artists working in the business.
It must be agreed, however, that “praise” is not standing up for, or defending, Jack Kirby; if I must note (and I must) that Stan Lee has never stood up for Kirby, much less Kirby‘s heirs, I do not do so lightly, nor to be abusive, but simply to state the fact of the matter.
* To discuss these issues, we need not dispense with compassion. There is no need to deny, denigrate, or dispose of Stan‘s hard work, skill as a writer, or his essential role as editor and co-creator of the Silver Age Marvel properties in order to redress how shoddily Marvel Comics had, has, and continues to treat Jack Kirby and the Kirby family.
Both Lee and Kirby (and their heirs) deserve equitable, fair treatment from Marvel Comics.
* Stan Lee is about my father’s age: 89 years old (my dad turns 89 later this year). I have no desire or stomach for attacking an aging man who gave me so much pleasure, for so much of my life. I explore and analyze the following with no malice in my heart for Stan Lee, however blunt my language at times.
I wish I could say the same for Marvel Comics aka Marvel Entertainment Group. I cannot.
* Let’s open with Stan’s own voice.
Jonathan Ross interviewed Stan Lee for the BBC documentary, In Search of Steve Ditko; the relevant clip, and Jonathan Ross‘s commentary, bear revisiting.
And, more recently—this week, in fact—there’s this, from BBC‘s The One Show, Feb. 24, 2012:
* But it’s not just about co-creating the Marvel characters, is it?
Comics writer Steven Grant pointed out this week (amid another Facebook conversation on my wall), “Marvel‘s position is complicated somewhat by Stan‘s deal. Though Stan was on staff at Marvel & not a freelancer at the time he & Kirby created most of early Marvel Comics, he was still (despite being the publisher’s nephew) still a hired gun with no apparent rights in the properties – if you go by the common argument that “everyone knew the companies owned everything & those are the terms they all chose to work under” though Kirby‘s own career prior to his late ’50s return to Marvel demonstrates there were many different kinds of deals available in that era – so logically & perhaps legally there’s no reason for the Kirby family to accept any lesser deal than what Stan has, in terms of continued participation. If Marvel had no deal with Stan, they could more reasonably cut a “special circumstances” deal with the Kirbys & argue for a much smaller deal, but Stan‘s deal demonstrates what the company is, or was, ultimately willing to accept.”
Which again, begs the question:
What’s the deal?
Why the preferential treatment of Stan Lee, as co-creator of the same properties Jack co-created?
First of all, back to point: MARVEL‘s behavior is what’s under fire here.
But we must sort out what it was Stan Lee did that qualified him for preferential treatment, far beyond what Kirby earned, or what Kirby was relegated to.
* At no point have I (or James Sturm) stated that Lee was “less important.” But that doesn’t make (as Marvel argued, successfully, to the judge behind the 2011 judgment) Kirby less important, either.
Simply put, none of what Kirby co-created existed at Timely/Atlas before Kirby co-created it; Stan Lee alone didn’t do it.
[Note: Having edited and co-edited my share of comics (Gore Shriek, Taboo, 1963, etc.), I am not giving Mr. Lee short shrift in that department. I am basing my supposition of an equitable 50/50 co-creation split for Lee and Kirby in part on Lee's editorial workload. Whatever he didn't do working the "Marvel method," he did labor on each co-creation in his editorial decisions, to my mind.]
As I’ve detailed before on Myrant, in comics, unless a writer draws as well as writes up a character design, that writer cannot claim to have wholly created the character. And an “idea” for a character isn’t an expression of an idea—in any medium—hence, not a character, and certainly not a publishable property.
Furthermore, having worked the “Marvel method” first-hand professionally (at Marvel, 1978-1982; and via the series 1963, packaged for Image Comics, 1993, which I also co-edited with Rick Veitch), I assure you, a lion’s share of character creation, storytelling, pacing and making COMICS lands in the artist’s lap in that system.
It wasn’t and isn’t called “the Marvel method” for no reason.
Stan Lee codified it, thrived upon it, and made his and Marvel‘s fortunes with it.
* Stan Lee has cumulatively earned above and beyond what any editor or writer who labored in pre-1976 Copyright Act work-for-hire comic books ever earned, and benefitted more than any editor or writer from the system and publisher he worked with and for.
Jack Kirby and Kirby‘s heirs were and are the victims here. Anyone arguing that defending Kirby and the Kirbys is, by its very nature, an attack on Stan Lee is willfully obfuscating the argument by trying to paint Lee as somehow being a “victim.”
Stan Lee is not a victim.
Beyond Lee‘s behavior concerning Jack Kirby and Kirby‘s heirs—behavior I personally find abhorrent in the extreme, especially given all Lee has earned in his lifetime and still does—I’m not attacking his tenure as Jack‘s editor, as the man who scripted those famous issues over Jack‘s pencils, or as Marvel shill (which is what he was paid to be from 1941 onwards), nor am I claiming I know what he did or didn’t do as a co-creator.
I met Stan Lee in 1977, the second time I showed up at Marvel with my portfolio—he’s instantly likable. I like Stan. He’s charismatic as a man can be. I get that. He did some great, industry-changing work, and deserves all he earned and earns. Bully for Stan.
But Jack deserved at least the same, and so does Jack‘s heirs, given the billions of dollars Marvel reaps from Jack‘s co-creations.
* Forgive my being blunt: As a corporate shill, Stan has behaved as shills should at all times. As a human being, Stan has at times behaved abominably and shamefully toward his former friend and frequent collaborator, and that man’s heirs, while tending to his own selfishly and always adhering to the Marvel line to protect his own.
Creative work and co-creator issues aside, Stan has never, ever defended Jack Kirby, Jack‘s legacy, or Jack‘s heirs within a fraction of how he has zealously protected and sheltered Marvel‘s and his own interests. Period.
* Furthermore: As Charles Hatfield eloquently argues in Hand of Fire, Jack‘s post-Stan Lee Fourth World at DC Comics built upon what he and Stan had done at Marvel, and went it all one better—building, no less, the entire “preconceived universe” template almost all comics publishers and creators have taken for granted since, and that most creators/fans/historians erroneously chalk up to the Kirby/Lee and Ditko/Lee Marvel universe.
Stan‘s dialogue was in almost (almost) all ways sharper, I’ll grant that; but simply discounting all Jack did after he and Stan parted ways lionizes and places a revisionist spin on what Stan and Jack‘s actual published work was, in its day, and today.
* Praising Jack publicly (which supports Stan’s position as all-around nice guy) isn’t defending Jack. The complex, convoluted history of Jack and Stan‘s interpersonal dealings is a point of much discussion, and we’ll never know the ins and outs of it, really, but I’ve never seen any version of events (including Stan‘s) where Stan or anyone at what had become Marvel made a stand or difference regarding how Marvel treated Jack Kirby.
I’ve occasionally put my own career and livelihood on the line to defend and stick up for friends and co-creators, and I’ve seen others do it, too (including an editor or two, mind you, at least once on my own behalf). It can and does make a difference—and it can and does result in loss of work, being fired, etc. It also can forge relationships that can (and often does) yield later, mature, even better work. I’ve never read any version of events in which Stan put his ass or job on the line to defend any cartoonist or collaborator.
Please, anyone, anybody—do correct me if I’m wrong. I’d love to be wrong. I like being wrong.
* Cutting to the chase: let’s discuss a core principle of Capitalism:
You get what you pay for.
Let’s consider the contracts Marvel/Disney cited in the legal proceedings resulting in the judgment.
Look, it’s simple: if it’s about the co-creation of creative properties under the terms of the 1909 definition of work-for-hire, and Stan Lee and Jack Kirby‘s co-creations and writer/artist relationship, WHY is the WRITER getting special treatment, as he has since 1962?
Why does Stan Lee get everything, including annual checks/re-ups, while Jack alive gets a page rate, then nada, then punitive contracts (signed under economic duress of one kind or another), then punitive contracts or no artwork return when ever other Marvel artist just signs a release to get their art back?
“What did Stan bring to the pages that Jack DIDN’T” isn’t the question, however much folks try to make it that.
It’s obviously nothing on the pages alone that figures in the Marvel/Stan Lee relationship.
Given just the basic math, the question begged is, “What service did Stan Lee provide that Jack didn’t?”
Stan Lee did something other than co-create the properties in question.
You see, that is Capitalism.
* So, let’s parse this out: If it wasn’t the script—what was it?
Stan Lee, editor?
I have searched for 30 years, and have yet to find a single comicbook editor in the entire history of the comics industry to have landed a sweetheart deal like Stan‘s.
What, then, Capitalism as a principle requires I ask, was the service Stan provided—so that even after his relative Martin Goodman sold Marvel; so that even after Stan ceased scripting; so that even after Stan ceased editing—well, you get the idea.
What did Stan provide, what service did he give of such lifelong, lasting value, to Marvel, to justify what Stan got and gets—and Jack never did, and that Jack‘s heirs likely never will?
That is the question.
Some argue that what Stan provided was a “front man” for Marvel, a face for the company to provide a focus for fan worship and identification. In this, he was more than just a public relations or marketing hired gun: “Stan the Man” was Marvel‘s “Walt Disney,” a human being providing a corporate identity for an otherwise faceless corporation.
As Michael Russo stated during one Facebook conversation, “…Stan Lee was the face of Marvel. I knew who Stan Lee was probably since I was five years old, and didn’t really know who Kirby was until I started hanging out at comic book stores. Stan Lee is a HYPE machine. I worked the Marvel Megatour in 1993. Stan Lee was there, and I couldn’t believe the freaks that had come out of the woodwork just to see him in person. He’s like Elvis….”
No, I don’t think that’s it, either. I don’t buy that, nor would Disney, for a second.
What I DO buy, and what I’m convinced absolutely Disney DID buy, was what Stan delivered last summer to ensure the judge’s decision:
Stan saying anything (including the very dubious proposition that unused pages were paid for—never happened in my 30 years of freelancing for any publisher, including myself publishing myself!) to ensure any challenge to Marvel/Disney’s ABSOLUTE OWNERSHIP of the 1960s Marvel body of published (and, now, thanks to Stan‘s testimony in the deposition, unpublished) work would be defeated.
Marvel, in every incarnation, gambled for decades that paying Stan Lee every year would keep him in “their court” (pun intended).
That gamble paid off, in spades.
* Among its many dividends is precisely what we’re seeing in the online conversations: Stan‘s writer/co-creator status obfuscating the issue, and an arena in which “Stan=writer” would trump “Stan=paid shill” for the public.
In court, all that mattered last summer is that Jack Kirby was dead, and Stan was alive, and nobody else was still alive who was in the room in 1961 to speak up for Jack. And that Stan, per usual, sure didn’t lift a finger or form a syllable to defend—DEFEND—Jack Kirby (though Jack didn’t defend Jack, as he should/could have, in Jack‘s own lifetime, either, and that’s part of the problem, too).
So, let’s follow the paper trail:
At some point, after Marvel circa early 1970s had gotten Jack Kirby to sign the first blanket contract—a tacit acknowledgement that, in fact, Marvel as it existed then was worried that the 1909 work-for-hire terms didn’t apply, since they had no contracts asserting that as the terms of freelance—one begins to ask, rationally, if keeping Stan on board was in part a way to ensure Marvel‘s absolute ownership of its 1960s published works.
Stan, not Jack, was the public face of Marvel, and had been since about 1962; by the 1970s, Stan was a greater potential liability to Marvel if they ousted him.
By 1976 and the revised Copyright Act, I can attest from personal pro experience (and the considerable paper trail in my files) that both Marvel and DC were scrambling to rationalize work-for-hire (which in no way, shape, or form now “fit” comics publishing) as the status quo. By 1977, then, keeping Stan annually in Marvel‘s employ was the quickest, cheapest route to protecting the entire 1960s Lee co-created universe.
By the mid-1980s, when Marvel used the return of artwork to bludgeon Kirby into signing yet another onerous, signed-under-duress-and-arguably-extortion blanket “we own it all forever” contract, paying Lee his annual fee to be “Stan the Man” had established what we now SEE: Stan the Man, in his 80s, ensuring within his lifetime that ANY legal challenge from Kirby‘s heirs will be defeated in a court of law because, in short, Lee is the only man left alive who was standing in the room in 1961, and his version of events is no longer contestable.
Lee has always praised Kirby; Lee has NEVER DEFENDED Kirby. Marvel banked on that since at least 1968, and it’s been a very sound investment.
The point is: what Stan got, in some measure, should be comparable to what Jack got, or, now that that can never be redressed because Jack is dead and gone, what Jack‘s heirs should get.
And it clearly isn’t.
And nothing in any other model of comics publishing rationalizes or justifies Stan Lee, writer, getting what Jack Kirby, co-writer/artist, never received ever in his lifetime.
If Stan Lee‘s special treatment is due to Marvel paying annually to keep Stan Lee, Marvel Shill, in the game to ensure Marvel‘s (now Marvel/Disney‘s) absolute ownership is unchallenged as long as Stan Lee lives, then lets call a spade a spade, and quit confusing the argument.
Facing the hard reality, everything makes cold, clear sense.
It’s not about co-creation of characters or properties at all.
Stan Lee was selling insurance.
PAID SHILL=CORPORATE CREATIVE PROPRIETORSHIP INSURANCE FOR LIFE=SET FOR LIFE/CREDIT ON ALL COMICS/MOVIES/INCOME EVERY YEAR/CAMEO IN EVERY MOVIE is an equation the American public instantly will grasp.
There’s not much dignity in it, but there you go.
Why should there be?
* Jamie Coville poignantly expanded upon this amid the Facebook conversation on my wall yesterday. Jamie wrote, “I also think we should really stomp on the idea that the heirs contributed nothing and just want free money. Kirby wasn’t an art robot, he was a human being with flaws that all human beings have. He couldn’t drive and Roz had to take him where he needed to go. Roz also protected him from people looking to take advantage of him. Somebody had to go out buy groceries, do his laundry, cook him supper, etc.. her doing all that work freed up Kirby so he could produce more pages. I’ve no doubt that Kirby‘s kids were a huge source of joy for Kirby, they may have helped out in house chores, were very possibly a source of inspiration/ideas and at minimum were a primary motivator to put in the long hours and do commercially popular work (and even create the characters that he would spend years drawing). Had Kirby been childless he might have stopped doing comics and moved to another line of work at some point.” Well said, Jamie, and thanks.
** Steven Barnes concluded a particularly heated stretch of our recent Facebook exchanges with the following: “I think you’ve won me over, but possibly not as you intended. In other words, if I’m understanding, you are being a warrior for the memory of a great artist, and his family. You are attacking any and all barriers between that artist’s golden legacy and the current state of being “forgotten” by the general public. That demands a certain clarity and…dare I say…ruthlessness. While I admire Stan, it is inarguable that he was a shill for Marvel, which you consider dishonorable. What you are doing is an honorable thing, although I flinch at attacks on an 80 year old man who brought me such pleasure, and whom I admire hugely. You want to provide for his grandchildren–something that is worthy of nothing but respect. So…if muddying the water with my defense of Stan diminishes the chance of building a public tsunami of support for Jack, I can understand how this conversation is hitting a nerve. You are a mench, fighting for a hero, and I have zero interest in placing you or those efforts in a bad light. We disagree about methods, but not aims and intents. I salute you, seriously.”
[All images, music, videos © year of origin and 2012 their respective creators/proprietors; posted here for educational/archival purposes only.]