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Jason Czeskleba
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Posted: 09 April 2013 at 11:57am | IP Logged | 1  

Kirby reportedly drew three other Marvelmania posters that were not used, one of which (Spider-Man) was redrawn by Romita in a manner similar to how the Hulk poster was redone.  According to Evanier, Kirby was not paid for the unused posters, and was paid less than promised for the ones that were used.  It wasn't "someone at Marvel" who decided not to pay him though.  Marvelmania was an independent company that licensed the Marvel characters, and according to Evanier their management had a lot of issues with not paying people.  Evanier worked for them briefly and was not paid either.


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Matt Hawes
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Posted: 09 April 2013 at 12:32pm | IP Logged | 2  

Cool, seeing Kirby's Spider-Man going against Sentinels!
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David Plunkert
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Posted: 09 April 2013 at 2:32pm | IP Logged | 3  

It wasn't "someone at Marvel" who decided not to pay him though.  Marvelmania was an independent company that licensed the Marvel characters, and according to Evanier their management had a lot of issues with not paying people.  Evanier worked for them briefly and was not paid either.

iii

Jason, the particular passage in Evanier's book is vague on this point and mentions that someone at Marvel ordered the poster changed.... and that Kirby was subsequently not paid. It makes sense that Marvelmania is the company that owed Kirby money...though it sounds like Marvel might have acted as a wrench in the works. 
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Robert White
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Posted: 09 April 2013 at 4:54pm | IP Logged | 4  

I've heard several horror stories about Marvelmania. I have Kirby King of Comics and read about it in most detail there. Unfortunately with people like those, you pretty much have to resort to legal action or physical threats to get their attention.
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Chad Carter
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Posted: 09 April 2013 at 9:28pm | IP Logged | 5  


I seem to recall an interview with him where he said he didn't like drawing Spider-Man. Didn't like all the webbing or something. I think he said he could never remember just how the web design was supposed to look, especially on the mask.

Must predate when he started claiming to have created Spider-Man! Which, of course, Kirby fans would support by pointing out that the costume is "pure Kirby".

Uh huh.


For some reason this is irritating me to no end. This comment, which I've heard before by you, JB, seems directed toward anyone who thinks Kirby did, well, pretty much create most of the Marvel U and plot probably 75-80% of every FF and Thor comic he worked on (probably more, in this bulk of his Silver Age work.) A "Kirby Fan." Someone who comes from the Image school of heralding Kirby while exploiting Kirby.

I'm going to say that whatever Kirby is pointing out, in the "Kirby created Spider-Man" comment, which I can't say I've heard elsewhere, is that Kirby took the first swipe at the character, as he essentially did every single character for Marvel at the time. Kirby wasn't taking credit for creating Ditko's Spider-Man, but Kirby DID create A Spider-Man. An unused and rare flop, probably from an idea Kirby came up with before Stan Lee. 

I'm not such a rabid Kirby Fan as to believe Kirby didn't get his facts shaken and stirred, but I get pretty fed up with the idea that one of his biggest proponents, yourself, seems to believe Stan Lee has some kind of defensible position as a creative trickster at best and an outright despicable thief at worst. And on top of it, Kirby was correct in receiving his just desserts because "Kirby did it to others when he ran his own company" and "Kirby didn't deserve any more than any other creator" and "Kirby signed the contracts." Or "Marvel's not responsible for Kirby" any more than Stan was personally responsible for Kirby, or his heirs. Which didn't stop Stan from soaking every ounce of creativity from Kirby's brow and allowing the world to believe these pencil-pushers had no input. 

Not all of these quotes are verbatim and certainly not all from the mouth of John Byrne, but some variation has been more than inferred over the years.

If the idea is that Kirby cannot be compensated for his unparalleled work for Marvel and DC--being as he is forever dead and gone--and that his heirs deserve nothing (which, frankly, I agree with, since Kirby blood money is meaningless to the family, doesn't bring back Kirby or his creative force), then what the hell is the point in reiterating that Kirby claimed to have created Spider-Man? *Snicker!* Because that's all it is, that's what it sounds like, mocking yet another utterance of Kirby's frustration, behind which was a lifetime of creative genius disguised as a working stiff, a girder instead of the goddamned architect. Kirby deserved better, as many have (Bill Finger, notably.) But the cosmic gods know, nobody deserved more lionizing than Kirby, when he was alive.


 

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David Miller
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Posted: 09 April 2013 at 11:27pm | IP Logged | 6  

Chad, I think you're being unfair to Stan; if nothing else, his writing revolutionized superhero comics. There wouldn't have been a Marvel Age without Lee or Kirby. (Or Ditko for that matter.) And there wouldn't be a Marvel today. You're absolutely right, though, Kirby definitely deserves more than being derided as a liar, a hypocrite and a welsher. If the man's creations deserve our respect, why not the man himself?
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Chris Rayman
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Posted: 10 April 2013 at 1:46am | IP Logged | 7  

Just my two cents:

Jack without Stan (or Joe)
Eternals, Fourth World, Devil Dinosaur, Machine Man, etc.


Stan without Jack
Spider-Man, Doctor Strange!


ALL of Jack's concepts are cool but comparing the two is just ridiculous.  I realize that Stan worked on "his" two above entries with another phenomenally ground breaking collaborator but Blue Beetle Captain Atom, the Creeper, the Question, and Hawk And Dove, (while again, all also great) don't live up to DITKO'S collaborations with Stan either.  To me, that's irrefutable proof that there was a LOT more to Stan's contributions than just "filling in the word balloons."  Like many great teams, working together brought the best out of each individual.

Another point is Kirby fans like to point out that Kirby created the Silver Surfer "whole cloth", with no input or even suggestion from Stan.  However what they fail to know, mention, or consider is that Stan gave the character his ENTIRE personality, pathos, origin, and EVERYTHING with the exception of his appearance, (rather silly TBH) mode of transportation, and very loosely defined powers.  Given his way, Kirby  would have had him talking in 60's "surfer speak" like Michelangelo 
from the TMNT and when we think of the Surfer now, we think just as much of his humanity/personality as of his appearance.


/end rant :)


Edited by Chris Rayman on 10 April 2013 at 7:57am
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John Byrne
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Posted: 10 April 2013 at 4:07am | IP Logged | 8  

Must predate when he started claiming to have created Spider-Man! Which, of course, Kirby fans would support by pointing out that the costume is "pure Kirby".

Uh huh.

+++

For some reason this is irritating me to no end. This comment, which I've heard before by you, JB, seems directed toward anyone who thinks Kirby did, well, pretty much create most of the Marvel U and plot probably 75-80% of every FF and Thor comic he worked on (probably more, in this bulk of his Silver Age work.) A "Kirby Fan." Someone who comes from the Image school of heralding Kirby while exploiting Kirby.

I'm going to say that whatever Kirby is pointing out, in the "Kirby created Spider-Man" comment, which I can't say I've heard elsewhere, is that Kirby took the first swipe at the character, as he essentially did every single character for Marvel at the time. Kirby wasn't taking credit for creating Ditko's Spider-Man, but Kirby DID create A Spider-Man. An unused and rare flop, probably from an idea Kirby came up with before Stan Lee.

I'm not such a rabid Kirby Fan as to believe Kirby didn't get his facts shaken and stirred, but I get pretty fed up with the idea that one of his biggest proponents, yourself, seems to believe Stan Lee has some kind of defensible position as a creative trickster at best and an outright despicable thief at worst. And on top of it, Kirby was correct in receiving his just desserts because "Kirby did it to others when he ran his own company" and "Kirby didn't deserve any more than any other creator" and "Kirby signed the contracts." Or "Marvel's not responsible for Kirby" any more than Stan was personally responsible for Kirby, or his heirs. Which didn't stop Stan from soaking every ounce of creativity from Kirby's brow and allowing the world to believe these pencil-pushers had no input.

Not all of these quotes are verbatim and certainly not all from the mouth of John Byrne, but some variation has been more than inferred over the years.

Couple of things.

First, it's a helluva jump from "Kirby didn't create Spider-Man" to "Kirby didn't create anything". And in making this jump, you are doing exactly what I am complaining about -- giving Kirby MORE than his due.

It seems almost impossible to give Kirby more credit than he deserves, but there are Kirby fans who do it all the time, and make it look easy. To coin a rather clumsy illustration, it is as if there are three tumblers, each containing liquid. One is labeled STAN, one JACK, and one STEVE. The one labeled JACK is filled to the brim, but some still insist on siphoning off the contents of the other two to add more.

Kirby did what he did, and Marvel as we know it would not exist without him. But he did not work alone, and when it comes to Spider-Man, he did not have anything to do with the character that saw print.

Second, you seriously need to learn what "infer" means.

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John Byrne
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Posted: 10 April 2013 at 4:10am | IP Logged | 9  

Let us pause for a moment to review.

Evil Bad Marvel changed Kirby's work and did not pay him for it!! Only it wasn't Marvel, it was something called "Marvelmania", which was licensing the Marvel characters. And they had a reputation for not paying others, besides Kirby.

But it was still Evil Bad Marvel that changed the work! Except this is supposition, without evidence.

Aren't we tired of this kind of foolishness, yet?

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Paul Greer
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Posted: 10 April 2013 at 6:01am | IP Logged | 10  

I do think Kirby becomes the catch all for when people talk about the creation of the Marvel Universe. In the end guys like Ditko get less credit than he deserves and guys like Don Heck are completely ignored. 
Just when people get upset about Marvelmania not paying Kirby and blame it on Marvel we have this tendency to look back at the facts and twist them to suit our worldview.  
Kirby deserves a huge amount of credit for the characters he helped create with Stan (and those without him). However, giving Kirby all the accolades is just as disingenuous as giving Stan all the credit. Look at the Avengers movie and thank Don Heck for Hawkeye, Black Widow, Pepper Potts and his contribution for co-creating Iron Man. Instead all we hear is Kirby did it all. It isn't an all or nothing proposition in saying Kirby was mistreated.
 He shouldn't be credited for things he had little or nothing to do with. That is the same kind of mistreatment towards Ditko and Don Heck that we are defending Kirby from.
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John Byrne
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Posted: 10 April 2013 at 7:07am | IP Logged | 11  

[Kirby] shouldn't be credited for things he had little or nothing to do with.

In some ways, Kirby has become an actual manifestation of my old joke about how I created Venom. Where I had an unused Idea that eventually ended up in a different place, with a different writer, and spun off from there into a whole character, the more zealous Kirby fans want to give him ALL the dominoes, because he (with help) knocked over a bunch of the first ones.

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David Plunkert
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Posted: 10 April 2013 at 7:28am | IP Logged | 12  

Aren't we tired of this kind of foolishness, yet?

iiii

It would be foolish if one reached the conclusion that Marvel was "evil and bad" from the evidence and anecdote as related.... but I don't think anyone is doing that.  I take the blame for failing to note Marvelmania in the original post but I had no intent to malign Marvel....simply that Jack did work that was changed and he didn't get paid for it....and was insulted.

We have the evidence of changed artwork... Evanier would have close proximity to Jack and Marvelmania. So he would know if someone at Marvel ordered the poster changed but not necessarily who. But someone did change the artwork... Marvelmania is not likely to have cared and Marvel would have likely had final approval as their client.

Evanier would know if Jack were insulted and not paid... and that he personally would have considered this one more cut and a reason to leave Marvel. Not enough to convict in court but enough to believe hurt feelings and disrespect on Kirby's part from Marvel and their chosen licensing firm. 

Take it with a grain of salt to be sure but there is probably some worth in discussing the value of Evanier's Kirby history as reliable or not in the broader sense. 


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Paul Greer
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Posted: 10 April 2013 at 7:42am | IP Logged | 13  

David, you may not have intended to malign Marvel with your story but leaving out the fact that Marvelmania was the one who didn't pay Kirby does just that. Before throwing out stories one should put all the facts into place. Even if Marvel asked the poster to be redrawn they didn't control who got paid in that instance. They were just giving approval when another company was putting out materials based on their properties. While the comics industry is known for not paying their artists to redraw projects, they do have a firm history of actually paying them for work used or unused.

Marvel did many things to disrespect Kirby, however, this does not sound like one.

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John Byrne
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Posted: 10 April 2013 at 8:09am | IP Logged | 14  

Take it with a grain of salt to be sure but there is probably some worth in discussing the value of Evanier's Kirby history as reliable or not in the broader sense.

+++

David, you may not have intended to malign Marvel with your story but leaving out the fact that Marvelmania was the one who didn't pay Kirby does just that.

And Paul provides us with precisely the reason books like this -- and the recent Marvel "history" -- do more harm than good. Even if the writers have no agendas (in a perfect world. . . ) too many of the readers will.

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Andrew Bitner
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Posted: 10 April 2013 at 8:10am | IP Logged | 15  

it becomes fashionable to champion the underdog-- it's just a characteristic of american culture. we gravitate to whoever we think of as "the little guy" and kirby was the david versus marvel's goliath.

when that happens, we imbue "david" with a lot of virtues and achievements that might not rightfully be his, in the name of making him more heroic and thus worthy of victory over the bad guy. this often means that other quasi-davids are robbed of their due. and then partisans and "sides" form up and civil wars are waged within a community over who is right and who is wrong (because it has to be one or the other, right?).

as JB said, the marvel universe as we know it would not have happened without jack kirby; also as noted, it would not have happened (again, as we know it) without stan lee, don heck, and a legion of others. kirby was a huge figure in creating marvel but he was not the only one.

give caesar what is due caesar and all.

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John Byrne
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Posted: 10 April 2013 at 8:21am | IP Logged | 16  

As most of you know, I feel defense of Kirby stumbles on the fact that when he had to chance to do something about the conditions of the industry, thru his own company, he didn't. And that's not even a slam of Kirby. The industry was different, and the attitudes of most people working in the industry were also different. People like Will Eisner, who actually left comics in search of a better deal, were the exception, far from the rule.

It took a long time for things to change, and when they did, there were many who felt those changes should be retroactive. One of the many reasons I respect Steve Ditko is that he is not a member of that tribe. He knows things would have been much better for him, if the industry itself had been better. But it wasn't, and that is the reality he accepts. He might not like it. He might be angry and bitter about it (don't know, haven't talked to him about it), but the Past is the Past, and when we fix it, we do so going forward.

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Joie Simmons
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Posted: 10 April 2013 at 8:30am | IP Logged | 17  

As most of you know, I feel defense of Kirby stumbles on the fact that when he had to chance to do something about the conditions of the industry, thru his own company, he didn't. And that's not even a slam of Kirby. The industry was different, and the attitudes of most people working in the industry were also different. People like Will Eisner, who actually left comics in search of a better deal, were the exception, far from the rule.

It took a long time for things to change, and when they did, there were many who felt those changes should be retroactive. One of the many reasons I respect Steve Ditko is that he is not a member of that tribe. He knows things would have been much better for him, if the industry itself had been better. But it wasn't, and that is the reality he accepts. He might not like it. He might be angry and bitter about it (don't know, haven't talked to him about it), but the Past is the Past, and when we fix it, we do so going forward.

- - - - - - 

My grandfather had a job where he worked with asbestos when he was younger. In his 80's he started getting phone call after phone call from former coworkers and lawyers because they were trying to sue the company. Every time they called he would tell them that they had all been informed as they were working with the asbestos that it was cancerous and they all knew that while they were working with it and hang up on them. He said that they should have quit their jobs and found something else at the time and had no right to sue the company for something that was never a secret.


That Ditko example reminded me of that.

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Matt Hawes
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Posted: 10 April 2013 at 8:49am | IP Logged | 18  

 Chad Carter wrote:
...Which didn't stop Stan from soaking every ounce of creativity from Kirby's brow and allowing the world to believe these pencil-pushers had no input...

Good lord! How many times is THAT lie going to be passed around????

FACT! Before STAN LEE, credits in comics were NOT the standard! Stan Lee was the fella that made those credit boxes the norm, AND he brought special attention to the creators with his nick-names.

ALSO...

Read this book:

-- I did! -- Back in the 1970's! It's how I knew that Jack Kirby came up with The Silver Surfer (though, as pointed out above, Stan was the guy that gave Silver Surfer his personality, which was a big part of that character). Guess who revealed that fact about Kirby? Stan Lee, himself. And back then, Stan Lee wasn't yet being crucified by over zealous fans who wanted to say he contributed NOTHING to Marvel other than hype.

Stan Lee AND Jack Kirby AND Steve Ditko (with help from some others here and there) created Marvel. ALL OF THEM! We wouldn't have Marvel without any of those guys, and that includes Stan Lee.

My favorite thing about Stan-bashers: How they suggest that Stan Lee didn't write anything, then they will turn around and point out how Stan Lee ignored some notes from time to time on Jack Kirby's artwork regarding story, changing things in the process. Which means he rewrote some stufff... which means he WROTE some stuff. So, which is it? Did Stan Lee NOT write or did he?

And how many stories from artists at Marvel at the time are there about Stan Lee jumping up on his table and acting out scenes when brainstorming a story? That IS a form of writing, too. He acted out plots for his artists at times.

Stan Lee received a lot of credit fromthe media, yes. But Stan himself has acknowledged the contributions of his artists over and over again for decades.

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Matt Hawes
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Posted: 10 April 2013 at 8:51am | IP Logged | 19  

Oh, and I greatly appreciate Jack Kirby as an artist and creator, but "his" Spider-Man (which was also part Joe Simon's Spider-Man) was riffing off the original Captain Marvel.
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David Plunkert
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Posted: 10 April 2013 at 9:26am | IP Logged | 20  

David, you may not have intended to malign Marvel with your story but leaving out the fact that Marvelmania was the one who didn't pay Kirby does just that. Before throwing out stories one should put all the facts into place.

iii

Point taken Paul. It was admittedly sloppy of me to leave out Marvelmania in the original post. Subsequently... the source was provided when asked for and the evidence evaluated in a further discussion. I think the discussion aspect of the Forum makes this distinct from someone just writing rumors on a bathroom wall but it also shouldn't be confused with a court of law.



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David Plunkert
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Posted: 10 April 2013 at 10:02am | IP Logged | 21  

And Paul provides us with precisely the reason books like this -- and the recent Marvel "history" -- do more harm than good. Even if the writers have no agendas (in a perfect world. . . ) too many of the readers will.

iii

I hope I'm not getting swept up in whatever is being inferred here.


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Matt Hawes
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Posted: 10 April 2013 at 10:31am | IP Logged | 22  

I was discussing this thread with a friend, and I mentioned that I brought up how Jack Kirby's "Spider-Man" was riffing on the original Captain Marvel. My friend reminded me that CC Beck and Joe Simon first worked on that character, which later would become Archie Comics's The Fly.

This made me think of an interesting irony: Jack Kirby is said by some to have came up with Spider-Man because Stan Lee tapped him to work on the character at Marvel first. BUT, the design Kirby used based on several acccounts was a rehash of his design for the "Spider-Man" that would become The Fly, and THAT character was first worked on by Joe Simon and CC Beck.

SO... IF Jack Kirby "created" Marvel's Spider-Man, wouldn't that line of thinking mean that it was Joe Simon and CC Beck that created Archie's The Fly?

Edited to note additionally: And, by extension, following such logic, wouldn't CC Beck and Joe Simon really be the creators of Spider-Man?

The truth is the Spider-Man the public knows and loves was designed by Steve Ditko and the character's personality came from Stan Lee's scripting.



Edited by Matt Hawes on 10 April 2013 at 10:35am
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Andrew W. Farago
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Posted: 10 April 2013 at 11:46am | IP Logged | 23  

Jack Kirby didn't try to take any credit for Spider-Man until late in his life, if I remember correctly.  It felt to me like he'd been denied his proper due, never getting anything more than page rate for what he'd done for Marvel and DC, and adding Spider-Man to his resume was overcompensating to offset Marvel's treatment of him.  Most comic book creators I know in the 70-plus age bracket tend to embellish their personal histories a bit, taking credit for creating a character or making some publishing innovation or giving some other creator the idea for a character. 

I'm not going to begrudge Kirby making those claims at that point in his life, knowing how exhausted and frustrated he must have been with all of his legal dealings over the last 10-20 years of his life.  I hope I'm not trivializing his situation by applying comic book terminology to it, but I treat Kirby's claims to have created Spider-Man as a retcon that didn't stick.  It seemed like it would be an exciting, never-before-revealed aspect of Spider-Man's origin, but the fans didn't go for it, and it was swept under the rug after that.           
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Jason Czeskleba
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Posted: 10 April 2013 at 11:53am | IP Logged | 24  

 Chris Rayman wrote:
Jack without Stan (or Joe)
Eternals, Fourth World, Devil Dinosaur, Machine Man, etc.
Stan without Jack
Spider-Man, Doctor Strange!


This makes no sense.  Comparing the characters Kirby created entirely by himself to characters Stan co-created with other collaborators hardly seems fair as a means of gauging their respective creative abilities.

Analyzing Stan's creative contributions always requires some speculation, because post 1960 he wrote little if anything completely by himself (without a co-plotter), and created characters only in collaboration with others.  Looking at the commonalities between all the things Stan worked on (as well as the things Kirby and Ditko did without him and the things Stan has done with non-Kirby/Ditko collaborators) I come away with the impression that Stan's strengths were his ear for dialogue and his ability to edit, refine, and improve the plots and raw ideas of others.  He strikes me as a brilliant editor/rewriter, not as a great originator of ideas.  And he certainly deserves credit for that, as it was an important part of Marvel's success.   


Edited by Jason Czeskleba on 10 April 2013 at 11:58am
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John Byrne
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Posted: 10 April 2013 at 11:53am | IP Logged | 25  

Jack Kirby didn't try to take any credit for Spider-Man until late in his life, if I remember correctly. It felt to me like he'd been denied his proper due, never getting anything more than page rate for what he'd done for Marvel and DC, and adding Spider-Man to his resume was overcompensating to offset Marvel's treatment of him.

Mind reading, perhaps, but my sense over the years has been that Kirby felt resentful that he had, indeed, co-created virtually the entire Marvel "universe", yet the character that really put Marvel on the map, Spider-Man, was the one he had no claim to.

Mind you, he spent a lot of time out in California, with various sycophants dripping their poison in his ear. He may simply have become convinced he really did do it all, and all alone.

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