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My old pal Steve Bissette weighs in on the Marvel-Kirby Heirs decision, a history of abuse, and the power of fan protest:

http://srbissette.com/?p=12761#comments
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TIAGO FERNANDES's profile photoAlbert Freeman's profile photoD.J. Coffman's profile photoGabriel Pagan's profile photo
21 comments
 
not a very good summer for marvel or dc...
 
Thank you for sharing this. I found it to be quite interesting.
 
I'm not sure that a ban that's not asking for anything can be successful. If he were asking for something -- a pension for the Kirby heirs, say -- that might work better.

The problem (in my entirely predictable opinion) is that it's not the judge's ruling that's wrong; it's the entire structure of copyright law.
 
Kirby signed a work-for-hire contract when he worked for Marvel, which gave the publisher ownership of the material he worked on.
Regardless of how much input he had into the stories and character, and how much public credit he deserves, he signed away his rights to his employer.
This case was bound to fail because his heirs were asking a judge to void contracts signed 40-50 years ago which were legal under the copyright law at that time.
 
+Richard Cosgrove Yeah, stupid idiot shouldn't have signed a contract that was standard back then, without any alternatives. He should have taken up chicken farming or something instead of working in the comics industry.
 
Thanks for sharing. I will be the first to admit being a Marvel kid growing up and Fantastic Four being my favorite next to Thor. With comics being such a visual medium, I find it hard to believe any sane person could fail to acknowledge Jack Kirby's impact on those early years of the rebirth of Marvel. After reading these issues mainly in reprint form, Kirby created not only many characters along with Stan Lee but set in stone the Marvel style.
 
+Abe Lincoln Jr. I can't offer a legal opinion, because I'm not a lawyer (or a doctor, for that matter; "Scott" will do fine), and I'm sure this particular case has plenty of gray areas...

But hardly any artist in that end of the business was treated fairly in those days (much like in the music industry) and Kirby in particular deserved far more compensation -- and RESPECT -- than he received over the years from a royal procession of lawyers, asshole execs, and two-faced colleagues.

Anyone contesting that Marvel was largely built on Kirby's ideas just doesn't know their comics history.
 
+Jürgen Erhard I wasn't arguing that Kirby was an idiot, that Marvel didn't screw him, or that he didn't deserve more, but he signed away his rights when he started working at Marvel. And his contract was what the court case was about - not how Marvel could of treated him, or should have treated him.
Personally, I think that if Kirby's fans want to do something constructive to mark his contribution to Marvel, they should buy one less comic a month and put that money towards a trust fund for his grandchildren and great grandchildren, or to an educational fund to help out people studying graphic art. That would be a constructive way to direct fan rage. And may even shame Marvel into putting some money into it.
 
I agree with the general sentiment here... Unfortunately, from a legal prespective, Kirby's works belong to Marvel and the court ruled "correctly", within these legal definitions. He was indeed a great man and he indeed deserves a ton of respect that Marvel (which has been treating its fandom pretty badly for at least a decade in my opinion) isn't giving him... but the reality is that his heirs had unrealistic expectations when they filed their suit.

That said, I'm already sort of boycotting Marvel for what they did to the first fandom I was ever a part of (X-Men) and to the Marvel universe in general. They've begun to about-face from that in recent years, with specific runs, but that doesn't change my general opinion of them - they seem to have grown into a corporation that cares more and more for profit and less and less for its fans.

I therefore don't expect any miracles from them... but the fans should totally put up a fund to help the heirs and such. That would at least bring them some sort of "happy ending" out of this mess.
 
I have to play Devil's Advocate here and ask: what have the Kirby heirs done to advance the art of comics, other than be fruit of his loins (which is not an advance in and of itself)? Being the son or daughter of a famous person grants some recognition, and perhaps wrongly, as it's hardly anything they had control over, but is it enough to overturn agreements signed 50 years ago? Will these people be any better stewards of his legacy than Marvel? Since we cannot question the intent of the deceased Jack Kirby, I think the court made the only choice it can make in this instance.

I do not dispute that Jack Kirby deserves all the recognition in the world for his work and it's influence both within and beyond the sequential art world. I would even say he deserves a lot more recognition.

Someone help me out here - what makes them more deserving than say, Scott (as an example only) or some other artist?
 
Boycotting current books mean keeping money from current creators right? And this helps Kirby how?
 
An alternative to not buying one fewer Marvel comics a month and putting the money in a Jack Kirby trust would be drinking two fewer coffees from Starbucks, smoking one less packet of cigarettes, eating one fewer take-away pizza, or having two fewer beers, and putting that money into a trust.
 
#1 I'm sick of seeing people beat up on the Kirby heirs. Jack would have wanted his creation's royalties to go to his family. Period. Even petty royalties they give for licensing art now would have set his family up for generations now. And that's all Jack truly wanted was to do what he loved and feed his family.

#2, the "Kirby Estate" doesn't necessarily mean his FAMILY. It's about his legacy too. Could you imagine what the Jack Kirby Museum could do with royalties from Marvel? That would be amazing.

I'm all for a boycott. I'm also for a creator boycott too or strike. I've written my thoughts extensively here: http://www.djcoffman.com/2011/08/03/justice-of-jack-kirby/
But I think there has to be a demand or an endgame.

Marvel has to agree to at least ONE of the following demands:

Option #1 - Give the Kirby estate money as a retroactive royalty of sorts. They weren't asking for it in the legal stuff. That's not necessarily the "family" mind you. They are all grown and have their own $. If you don't believe the family deserves anything then demand #2 is...

Option #2: Set up something in honor of Jack Kirby's contributions and give a retroactive royalty to a charity or foundation.

Option #3: Give credit where it is due. This could cost them NOTHING but a nano-second of a letterer's time. For things that Jack Kirby and Stan Lee supposedly "co-created", or anything that Kirby Pitched... it should at least have his name on it instead of just "Stan Lee Presents"

Just ONE of those three things would be doing something right here. I don't expect it to ever happen. Nobody at Marvel has ever wanted to step up and be a voice inside.
 
+Gabriel Pagan My point wasn't people should boycott Marvel, but that the amount of money it'd take to set up that fund from every Kirby or Marvel fan wouldn't come to much if each Kirby and/or Marvel fan contributed.
But I'm all for all of +D.J. Coffman's suggestions.
 
I...was actually talking to him about this last night! (I'm attending a summer ccs workshop. Steve Bissette is so cool irl. O_O)
 
I really like +D.J. Coffman's suggestion of an endgame. Is anyone reading "Kirby Genesis" from Dynamite? Its not mind blowing, but its a fun read. Bissette suggested finding alternate titles to buy so the shops don't end up getting hit because of a Marvel boycott.

Kirby Genesis seems to be a fitting title, because

A. its inspired by Kirby ideas and gives him credit
B. its from a non-Marvel company
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