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John Byrne
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Posted: 15 May 2018 at 2:31pm | IP Logged | 1 post reply

There is a simple test to determine how much Stan contributed: read the stuff Jack wrote on his own.
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Darin Henry
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Posted: 15 May 2018 at 3:08pm | IP Logged | 2 post reply

That makes sense. So with 1/3 fewer panels per issue, a story that used to happen in 20 pages, now required 60.   You could almost say that Kirby started ďdecompressionĒ before it was cool. 
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Greg Kirkman
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Posted: 15 May 2018 at 4:55pm | IP Logged | 3 post reply

Well, I read CASE FOR KIRBY. While I found some of the claims very extreme (Lee added NOTHING??), I was quite surprised by his "FF#1 was actually a repurposed story" argument... I thought he made some good points and called attention to details I'd never noticed before. 
++++++++

Exactly my take. A ridiculously-biased work (note that the actual weblink title of the e-book is ďCase_Against_Stan_Lee.PDFĒ), which also contains some interesting observations and provocative nuggets of truth.
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Greg Kirkman
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Posted: 15 May 2018 at 5:00pm | IP Logged | 4 post reply

Much as I love EVERYTHING Kirby did on the FF, my preference is for the early work, the time when I was an active reader. Heavily influenced by nostalgia, no doubt, but that was when the characters and stories felt "real" to me.
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Ditto. The first dozen issues are my personal sweet spot, partly because I had the first FANTASTIC FOUR Marvel Masterworks book when I was a kid, but didnít have access to much else from the Lee-Kirby run, aside from a very small handful of single-issue reprints.

The creative apex of the book came later in the run, but those first issues are just full of magic. You can literally watch Marvel as we know it being born, piece by piece, issue by issue. And itís amazing. Even the hiccups and changed premises of those early stories (the shift from plainclothes to costumes, the changes in Benís speech pattern, etc.) are charming.
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Wallace Sellars
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Posted: 15 May 2018 at 5:20pm | IP Logged | 5 post reply

There is a simple test to determine how much Stan contributed: read the stuff
Jack wrote on his own.

ó

Jack Kirby was an incredible talent. His art was (IS) powerful, and he
introduced ideas that are truly awesome! There is nothing the King
produced without Stan Lee that comes close to entertaining me in the
way that his work with the Man does.
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Michael Penn
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Posted: 15 May 2018 at 5:30pm | IP Logged | 6 post reply

Stan Lee collaborated incredibly with several (incredible) artists other than Jack Kirby. His work with Kirby was both their peaks, but that doesn't detract from what Stan achieved without Jack (or vice versa). And it certainly doesn't mean that Stan Lee contributed little to nothing in his work with all those other artists, as if this were all some massive conspiracy in support of a Stan Lee Mythology. 

Also, excepting I believe the Silver Surfer, I'm not aware of any of the major Marvel characters originating thus: an artist comes to Stan Lee with the conception of a superhero and asks Stan to script it. As far as I know, it's always been the other way around: Stan has an idea, pitches it to an artist, sometimes likes the result, sometimes doesn't and pitches it to another (e.g., Spider-Man), and after that a full collaboration begins.

The Case for Stan Lee is his success with co-creating and developing characters and their storylines with many different artists.
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John Byrne
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Posted: 15 May 2018 at 5:44pm | IP Logged | 7 post reply

As the story goes, Jack included the Surfer because he felt a character as powerful as Galactus needed a herald.
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Jason Czeskleba
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Posted: 15 May 2018 at 6:56pm | IP Logged | 8 post reply

 Michael Penn wrote:
Also, excepting I believe the Silver Surfer, I'm not aware of any of the major Marvel characters originating thus: an artist comes to Stan Lee with the conception of a superhero and asks Stan to script it.


Doctor Strange.  Ditko plotted and drew the first Doctor Strange story on spec, and brought it to Stan who purchased it and dialogued it (and most likely came up with the character's name).  Both Lee and Ditko have confirmed this.  

As to the major Lee/Kirby creations (FF, Thor, Hulk, X-Men), it's unclear who originated the characters in the first place, since both Stan and Jack at times claimed to be the originator.  Stan generally says he came up with ideas and pitched them to Kirby.  Kirby says he brought character ideas to Stan.  So it comes down to who you choose to believe.


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Rebecca Jansen
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Posted: 15 May 2018 at 9:48pm | IP Logged | 9 post reply

I really think a lot of writers about this stuff are revisionist about things. Okay, so you can look back at work made for hire as a bad deal for awhile now, well it was a bad deal then too... because comic books were in the bottom rungs of publishing (unless maybe you worked at Western/Dell or E.C.). You had the options of working for the better paying more respectable 'slick' magazines though, or heading to Hollywood where storyboarding and all kinds of related skilled areas might have been a good fit. As far as the publishing world of the past goes, comic book artist or writer was a step up from guys who 'creates' crossword puzzles and about par with freelance girly magazine funnies artists.There was absolutely no pretense of comic books being either literature or any kind of capital 'A' art (again I think Western/Dell and E.C. had at least a certain respect for a top craftsperson) it was crank-it-out-by-a-deadline for the most part, distributed in bales, actual ship ballast to foreign markets, and maybe the first hint of something more was the tongue-in-cheek Marvel Pop-Art Productions briefly appearing in 1965 and DC's 'Mod Go-Go Checks' not long after. There was some recognition for newspaper comic strips, and that was another place for a better payoff and recognition.

You had a set-up where an editor 'created' the work for freelancers to do. There weren't too many instances of someone creating a work and then taking it around to publishers. Where an editor was Sheldon Mayer at DC he could do his own Scribbly or Sugar & Spike comic, or Walt kelly at Western/Dell where he owned Pogo. Stan Lee was a writer-editor, like Bill Gaines at E.C. To say he or the company oppressed Jack Kirby or stole credit when Kirby was credited and paid is to say Kirby should just have not worked for them if he didn't like the set up. Disney paid very well with benefits for his situation with artists. The publisher puts up the money, the editor manages how what's available gets spent, and you either work for that or go someplace with other conditions. Did I only imagine all the bullpen bulletins and even cover blurbs hyping Jack 'King' Kirby? Hardly burying his contributions and talents.

The bad blood seemed to get serious in the '80s, when under pressure of Roz' medical bills original art was wanted, and there was an issue of if  the physical artwork was anyone's rightful property whose responsibility was it to get it to them, and then some Marvel people being jerks about that (maybe to try to cover up that a lot of it had gone missing). Legally Marvel owned the work the same as Westinghouse or Disney, even though they didn't pay anywhere near as well, but that's the bottom of publishing frankly, of ten or twelve cent priced retail items. People who tried to do other kinds of upscale comics hadn't been succeeding or making enough up to that point.

If you want to argue with that it's just arguing with history and the economics of the time. Comic books were practically junk and didn't have a large or devoted adult audience. As things changed Jack Kirby got dealt in, even having left the company once before, for a Fantastic Four tv animation project that paid well. If he had made himself more approachable and not less that might have helped, and if you really followed things Stan Lee was pretty much always very diplomatic about things he would say about Jack Kirby even though Kirby was less so.

I really wish people who didn't know either of these people at least would just can it by now though. A lot has been redressed, but there wasn't really all that much to redress. And I'm as tired of the demonization of Walt Disney for the most part too. There are much more positive and fruitful things to do, and I just wasted a couple hours catching up reading a lot of revisionist whinings which I could've done something better with. I read a lot of similar stuff twenty or twentyfive years ago and it's exasperating and even depressing that it's still going on (the internet gives an inviting platform for grievances and conspiracy theories though I understand).


Edited by Rebecca Jansen on 15 May 2018 at 9:50pm
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Michael Penn
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Posted: 16 May 2018 at 6:08am | IP Logged | 10 post reply


 QUOTE:
As to the major Lee/Kirby creations (FF, Thor, Hulk, X-Men), it's unclear who originated the characters in the first place, since both Stan and Jack at times claimed to be the originator.

What about the other Lee co-creations? Stan says he first brought the concepts of Daredevil to Everett and Iron Man to Heck, for example -- that's not clear? Other non-Kirby characters -- unclear? Hawkeye, Black Widow, Captain Mar-Vell? Kingpin, Rhino, Abomination? Etc.?
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John Byrne
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Posted: 16 May 2018 at 6:17am | IP Logged | 11 post reply

The "Marvel Method" creates a lot of smudging and blurring when it comes to defining who created what. So does the serial nature of comics.

Consider one from my own experience, Kitty Pryde. I presented the character to Chris as a fait accompli. She was all there, name, look, powers, backstory, the works. Chris set about immediately turning her into a different character. Later writers continued the process. My Kitty is today nowhere to be seen. So who created the character?

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Michael Penn
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Posted: 16 May 2018 at 6:41am | IP Logged | 12 post reply

Co-creator is definitely the most accurate epithet in re Marvel and perhaps comicbooks published by anyone.

And yet, Kitty Pryde did begin with John Byrne. That doesn't erase what Chris Claremont did with the character, of course. And she may have evolved so far from what John Byrne wanted that his ultimate contribution as a co-creator has been significantly minimized. Still... it began with him. Without Ditko, the specific amazing world-beloved character of Spider-Man would not exist, absolutely. To acknowledge that Stan had the initial conception of some kind of Spider-Man character does not detract from that. This anti-Stan mania that seeks to cut down either his having had the original spark of an idea for characters or his contributing majorly to the subsequent development of characters is most noxious.


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Adam Schulman
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Posted: 16 May 2018 at 7:19am | IP Logged | 13 post reply

By the way, if anyone who read Alan Moore's 1963 ever wondered why it reads the way it does, it's because Moore really does believe that "Kirby did everything and Stan Lee did nothing" where Lee-Kirby Marvel comics are concerned. Moore's been explicit about this in interviews. He thinks Ditko did "everything" on AMAZING SPIDER-MAN too. 
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John Byrne
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Posted: 16 May 2018 at 11:04am | IP Logged | 14 post reply

Stan and Jack had a perfect synergy. The whole was greater than the sum of the parts. Neither had such great success on his own as they did together.
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Cory Vandernet
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Posted: 16 May 2018 at 12:35pm | IP Logged | 15 post reply

I agree that Stan and Jack brought out the best in each other. I think that Jack would take whatever plot he was given, verbal or otherwise and amplify by 10. I believe Stan has stated on occasion that Jack give him more than he asked for, and probably because of that Stan would up his game.

I think you can get a pretty good idea of what Jack brought to the table just by looking at the 2nd FF book of the early 60s. Strange Tales 101-134 (published the same time as FF 7-40) starred The Human Torch and the Thing with Reed and Sue from time to time, the issues that were plotted by Stan with artists Dick Ayers and Bob Powell were pretty dull. The issues that Jack penciled had the same snap his books in the FF did at that time.


Edited by Cory Vandernet on 16 May 2018 at 12:51pm
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Rebecca Jansen
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Posted: 16 May 2018 at 12:45pm | IP Logged | 16 post reply

Those six 1963 comics were a fun read, especially some of the fake ads, but it'll probably be ten years before I can enjoy them again. There was some kind of online supplement about them that was taking it too far in my opinion and showed some real ugly bitterness about Stan Lee.If he hadn't been like he was there'd have been no 'Marvel age of comics'... Kirby and Ditko sure didn't sell the heck out of everything like Lee, or speak at colleges and on radio. Lee (okay, Leiber if you want to be pedantic) was the prime force that made it happen from a lot of batty monster comics to these valued 'properties' today. He wasn't around when captain America started, but those original trio of top characters would've been as remembered/successful now as Bulletman, Dollman, The Shield or Catman are if there hadn't been the '60s Stan Lee presents 'universe' incorporating them in.

He made you feel good about Marvel comics as a reader without being pretentious, and a lot of his humor was self-deprecating (or dissing the Distinguished Competition in a light-hearted way). It was fun, then somewhere, Roy Thomas, Denny O'Neil, Steve Gerber, things got just that bit too serious maybe? Spider-man without the wise-cracks but Ayn rand polemic... wouldn't have worked (and I love all the weird Steve Ditko creations)... The Fantastic Four without The Thing complaining about Yancey Streeters to cut the pathos of his situation (you have to go back to the Newsboy Legion or something in Kirby to detect much of that kind of humor). Most solo Kirby comics to me, though chock full of some great big meaty concepts, suffered from a lack of lightening or balance.

If Alan Moore is a one-trick deconstruction pony of superheroes, Stan's one trick was to jazz them up to not be too serious (like the old Binder & Beck Captain Marvels were) and fun reads, where you want to read the dialogue where with Gardner Fox it was a bit of a trudge sometimes if he got wordy. You can't really build on Moore, but look at how people built on Stan Lee... onward and upward.
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Jason Czeskleba
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Posted: 16 May 2018 at 1:54pm | IP Logged | 17 post reply

 Michael Penn wrote:
What about the other Lee co-creations? Stan says he first brought the concepts of Daredevil to Everett and Iron Man to Heck, for example -- that's not clear? Other non-Kirby characters -- unclear? Hawkeye, Black Widow, Captain Mar-Vell? Kingpin, Rhino, Abomination? Etc.?


Iron Man is another one that's in dispute as far as who came up with the initial concept.  Kirby was involved in the creation of the character in some capacity, and I believe he claimed to have originated the concept. 

It's likely Stan did come up with the initial idea for some characters.  All I was saying is that for the major Marvel characters created by Lee and Kirby, it's unclear who came up with the initial idea because they disagreed.  I was responding to your post saying that (with the exception of the Silver Surfer) no character originated with the artist, they all originated with Stan.  That is what Stan says.  But since Kirby said otherwise and there is no conclusive evidence proving or disproving either of them, it is unclear who came up with the initial ideas.

Ultimately, I don't think it's a big deal who came up with the initial idea.  Both guys contributed significantly contributed to the development and fleshing out of the ideas.   
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John Byrne
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Posted: 16 May 2018 at 2:31pm | IP Logged | 18 post reply

It should be noted that Stan gave full credit to everyone, in books like ORIGINS OF MARVEL COMICS and SON OF ORIGINS, and he did so close enough to the original publications that his memory can probably be trusted. Jack's expanding claims came years later, after decades of metaphorical poisons being dripped in his ear.
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Matt Hawes
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Posted: 16 May 2018 at 6:15pm | IP Logged | 19 post reply

I always find it ironic that Stan Lee, the man responsible for standardizing the credits in comic book publications in a time where credits were rarely given is the same guy the detractors want to demonize as if he hogged all the credit.

Gee, what editor let this cover go to press, with all them credits to other people than Stan Lee?...




Sigh. Well, this debate is like politics in that each side in usually so entrenched in their beliefs as to not give an inch on the other side. Somehow, though, it's not enough to acknowledge that Jack Kirby, Steve Ditko, Wally Wood, etc, contributed to the works, his detractors seem intent on robbing him of ANY legitimate contributions.

It's pathetic when an anti-Stan piece acts like he had no true input, then criticizes him for ignoring Kirby's notes. So, which is it? Did Stan add his own spin to a tale, or did he just stamp his name on the books? Double sigh.

I even have a friend who takes the anti-Stan stance, and acts as if Stan just took credit, yet will mock the stories from Bullpen members of how Stan would jump up on a table and act out a scene he's describing to his artist. Um, that is storytelling. Regardless of how unconventional of a way of communicating a plot to an artist, that is more proof of his contribution to a story.

We wouldn't have had Marvel as we know it without Steve Ditko, Jack Kirby, OR Stan Lee. There doesn't have to be a villain. And if the major criticism against Stan is one of not giving proper credit, then it is mostly unfounded. Hell, Stan even credited the letterer and the colorist! How many publishers before him did that?

That's my two cents on the matter. None of us here will be the ones to resolve the matter, anyway. And some origins of who created exactly what are forever lost to time, and no matter how much "detective" work is put into researching the matter, it remains only speculation to those of us that were not there.

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Greg Kirkman
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Posted: 16 May 2018 at 8:13pm | IP Logged | 20 post reply

The fact of the matter is that most mass-media endeavors are a collaborative process. Itís usually not a black-and-white thing, in regards to who did what. Especially when the Marvel Method of plot-pencil-script factors into it.

People seem far too eager to try and compartmentalize the creative process, rather than acknowledging that it can be a messy thing. You canít always create a handy pie chart to break down one person or anotherís specific contribution to the final product. Without Stan, you donít have the Fantastic Four. Without Jack, you donít have the Fantastic Four. Itís not an all-or-nothing situation. To look at it that way is unfair, unrealistic, and incredibly short-sighted. End of story. 
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Christopher Frost
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Posted: 16 May 2018 at 8:39pm | IP Logged | 21 post reply

" Itís not an all-or-nothing situation. To look at it that way is unfair, unrealistic, and incredibly short-sighted."

And yet, that is how most people on the internet approach any kind of discussion. No wonder humanity is doomed.
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Rebecca Jansen
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Posted: 16 May 2018 at 9:41pm | IP Logged | 22 post reply

"Stan even credited the letterer and the colorist! How many publishers before him did that?"

Great point (and cover)! None that I can think of, and I had at least one but usually many more '40s-'50s comics from DC, Fiction House, E.C., Quality, Fawcett, Dell, Fox, Avon, M.E., St. John, Ajax-Farrell, Standard, Classic Comics, Charlton, and Lev Gleason.
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Eric Jansen
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Posted: 17 May 2018 at 4:22am | IP Logged | 23 post reply

Roger Stern randomly finding that typed plot in Stan's old desk (complete with elements KIRBY didn't draw) is pretty conclusive to me.

I think there needs to be a differentiation between the act of CREATION and the (often extended) act of DEVELOPMENT.  I can create a new super-hero in five minutes (or less!) but it might take a week, a month, a year--ten years!--to actually do something with that character.  But without that initial act of creation, there would be nothing to develop.

To say that Stan Lee was probably the driving force behind the initial creative idea should take nothing away from the ten years that Kirby worked on the 100+ issues he crafted.

(And if we're looking at time put in, I know Kirby was mostly doing layouts then and could maybe draw a whole issue in a week--but how long did Stan put in on each issue, developing the personalities and making the script entertaining?  3 or 4 days?  Maybe the actual hours put in between the two was pretty even.  Joe Sinnott probably spent more time on each issue than either Stan or Jack!)

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John Byrne
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Posted: 17 May 2018 at 4:42am | IP Logged | 24 post reply

You're mixing up the time periods. While Kirby early on was certainly doing what today would be called breakdowns -- most evident under Chic Stone's inks -- by the time Joe Sinnott returned Kirby had switched to full pencils.
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Eric Jansen
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Posted: 17 May 2018 at 10:29am | IP Logged | 25 post reply

Ah...I did not know that!  Thanks!
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