Jack Kirby: Behind the Lines Jack Kirby: Behind the Lines

“Do I Have the Guts to Defy Odin Once Again?”



If Jack Kirby was still cranking out stories and art at this unassuming, spartan drawing board he would be 96-years-old today. As many of you know, Jack died in 1994 which was way before his time. If he’d lived another 20 years one can only imagine the masterpieces he would have created -- maybe he could have dabbled a bit in other mediums like sculpture or film. This is a rare example of Jack working with paint in the late 1960s.

2aHere’s a photograph of the finished piece from You can see the colors have faded a bit over the years but it’s still a spectacular piece of Kirby bio-tech, notice the robotic face on the right side of the image.

3About 700 American World War II veterans are passing away every day -- that’s every single day, not every month. In the next 24-hours about 700 American men and women who fought to defend our liberty in the 1940s will be laid to rest. Their average age is 94, so by 2020 all but a few of our WW II veterans will be gone. The loss of these brave, honorable, hard-working Americans is going to be a devastating loss for all of us. If you’ve known anyone from that generation, I can almost guarantee you will agree with me when I say the WW II generation were the most kind-hearted, hard-working, intelligent, humble group of people imaginable. Here’s a photo of Jack and his wife Rosalind in Manhattan (1944), from their granddaughter Jillian Kirby’s website Kirby4heroes. All the Kirby family photos in the rest of this article are from Jillian’s website.

4Today on Jack’s birthday, I encourage you to not only take a moment to reflect on the life and work of Jack Kirby, but also please remember all the American soldiers who fought for our freedom over the years, especially our few surviving WW II veterans, and their families because they all played a role in defeating fascism. Here’s another photo of Jack and his family, an archetypal American middle class family, June 1954.


For the last three years I’ve been doing a daily weblog about Jack Kirby called Kirby Dynamics which was my version of the Daily Show meets Saturday Night Live focused on the life and work of Jack Kirby -- I covered news stories and analyzed the history while also trying to have fun along the way. For a bunch of reasons I decided to pull the plug on that project, but as we move towards Jack’s 100th birthday I still wanted to keep my toe in the water, so my thanks to the editors of The Comics Journal for giving me a chance to do a monthly column I’m calling “Jack Kirby: Behind The Lines.” It’s a privilege to have the opportunity to honor Jack’s career here at The Comics Journal. As long as comics are being written and drawn I’m sure TCJ will be at the vanguard of comics scholarship and comics journalism.  I’ll try not to ruin their website.

The reason I picked the over-used cliché “behind the lines” for this series is probably going to be pretty obvious. Each month I’m going to take a look at Jack Kirby original pencils and examples of Kirby original art -- images that reveal information not in the final newsprint publications. I may also take a look at some scans of Jack’s pencils from the 70s and compare those to the printed books. Mainly I want to focus on Jack’s famous margin notes from his 1960s work so we can get a glimpse into the Jack Kirby/Stan Lee collaboration.

I’m also calling the column “behind the lines” because Jack literally fought behind enemy lines during the second world war. Jack served in the 3rd army, 5th division under General Geroge S. Patton. Here is a photo of Jack at basic training in Camp Stewart, Georgia, July, 1944.

6Kirby was a combat infantryman, and he served as an advance scout -- an incredibly dangerous assignment since each step could result in instant death from anything from an enemy landmine to a sniper's bullet. Here is a Kirby family photograph of Jack in battle gear at Camp Picket, Virginia shortly before shipping out to Europe, June, 1944.

7You have to think if the Nazis had captured Jack and found out he was the illustrator of this iconic cover, Jack's stay in an enemy torture chamber would have been most unpleasant. Captain America # 1 (Mar 1941).

8Jack wasn’t just a comic book cartoonist -- he was a warrior/artist, a genuine hero/creator. Not too many of those around anymore. Many of you may have read Joesph Campbell’s famous book A Hero with a Thousand Faces (first published in 1949) where Campbell explored the reoccurring myths that appear all over the globe throughout recorded history.

I don’t think it would be a stretch to say Jack was a mythmaker in that long tradition. And because of his prolific output I’d also suggest Jack Kirby was “The Hero who Created a Thousand Heroes.”


Here's a quote from Jillian Kirby's kirby4heroes website next to that photo:

Jillian Kirby: Taken in March 1945, "Home from the Wars" was the description written on the back of this picture by my grandma Roz. For you WWII history buffs, I am proud of the medals and badges pictured on his uniform: Combat Infantry Badge, Rhineland G0 40 WD45 Campaign Ribbon, European African Middle Eastern Theatre Ribbon with One Bronze Battle Star. I see his patriotism and combat experiences reflected in many of his comics such as Foxhole and Captain America.

Before I begin this month’s piece, some very quick background: I’m going to assume most of you have a general understanding of comics history (if not an encyclopedic one that dwarfs mine), so I won’t rehash the whole Kirby/Lee authorship debate. If you want an introductory course in Jack’s margin notes check out Mike Gartland’s series he wrote for John Morrow’s  Jack Kirby Collector called “A Failure to Communicate” -- Mike was a pioneer in the exploration and analysis of Jack’s margin notes and I encourage you to support TJKC. I did a couple series for HiLobrow where I broke down some of the basics of the Kirby/Lee authorship debate: one was called “Btoom! Kirby vs. Lee,” the other “Galactus Lives.” Here is a link to all the installments: HiLobrow Kirby Close-Up series. I’ve talked about the margin notes at length at Kirby Dynamics: here is a post Fantastic Four # 14, page 12  I’d like you to check out (unfortunately the Kirby Museum  changed the settings on their website recently so the format is messed up). This was an early article where I put forth my theory that from 1959 – 1963, I suspect Jack was doing the bulk of the storytelling using visuals (Stan Lee added text to Jack’s stories), then when Jack would turn in the finished penciled stories Kirby would verbally go through the story with Lee in his office briefly explaining to Stan what was happening on each page; Lee sometimes would make tiny notes to himself based on Jack’s direction. I think the conversational, friendly, even humorous tone in Jack’s monologue was probably very similar to what you see in Jack’s margin notes which started appearing in late-1963 and continued all the way through 1970 when Jack left Marvel to work at DC. After that, Jack simply wrote text in the word balloons himself as you can see in this example: a low-resolution pencil scan downloaded from the internet, New Gods # 8, pg. 20 (Apr 1972).


In the future we’ll probably examine several pages since this is a monthly column, but for today let’s look at a single piece of art and see what we can learn from it. This scan was recently posted by Tom Kraft at his site Thanks to Tom for giving me permission to use the scan, and thanks to Rand Hoppe at the Kirby Museum for working to scan all of Jack’s pencil photocopies. This is a photocopy of the pencils for Thor # 147, pg. 8 (Dec 1967). To start off, I digitally erased Lee’s captions, not to eradicate Lee from the record but to show you what the page looked like when Lee opened the package featuring Jack’s entire Thor # 147 story. In the past Lee has said the process of adding text to Jack’s stories was like doing a crossword puzzle. I encourage you to read Jack’s notes, look at the art and think about how you might add text to this piece.


Here’s the complete scan of the page:

13The quality of the source photocopy is exceptionally good. It’s rare to have all the margin notes intact, usually about 3/4 of them were cut off in production so only fragments remain. A lot of the scans of Jack’s pencils are poor, probably because the ink cartridge in the photocopier was running low, and I don’t think Jack’s home photocopier was that good to begin with. But this is very high quality -- in all likelihood it was made at the Marvel offices for some unknown reason since they rarely did that.

You can see Jack’s pencils are strong, confident, and detailed. This work is almost publication-ready today with digital enhancement. Jack rarely used an eraser. A lot of artists from that period would not pencil backgrounds and leave that up to the inker. Not so with Kirby, and remember Jack was knocking out  at least three entire 20-page books a month in the 1960s, plus covers and annuals so if he wanted to cut corners he could have left out extemporaneous detail. But I think Jack was a perfectionist, he realized the backgrounds played an integral role in the overall composition of each panel so he always made sure to create an effective marriage of foreground/background. Jack illustrated at least 10,000 pages in the 1960s so fans always talk about how “fast” Jack was, and he certainly was, but he still spent about 2 – 3 hours on each page, so illustrating 3 pages of story would take a full 8 – 9 hour shift at least. So, yeah, Jack was faster than an artist who spends a whole day laboring over a single page, but the guy was still working at a breakneck pace, sometimes 12-hours a day, 7-days a week if he was doing additional work.

Okay, let’s dive in. We’ll look at each panel individually.

Thor # 147, pg. 8, panel 1

14Jack’s margin notes tend to tell Lee what is happening, where the story is going, what the characters are doing, and what the characters psychological motivations are. These notes set the stage for the whole page. Jack’s directions at the top of this panel for Stan Lee say: “Odin is now testing the strength of his commands -- that’s why Loki is back -- that’s why Sif and Balder are admonished! Are their personal desires stronger than Odin’s orders -- like Thor?”

One thing I’m going to do in this series is highlight examples where I think Stan Lee follows Jack’s directions in his captions. Here’s the first example.

15Pretty self-explanatory: Lee has Odin verbally admonish Sif. Visually Jack makes it clear there is conflict between the characters; Balder pulls Sif away from the “All-Father” -- the visuals obviously influence Lee’s text. You see Loki is bowing before Odin, raising his hands in a sign of supplication, ironic because Lee has Balder use that term in his caption. I doubt Jack would have wanted the final word balloon that is falling out of the bottom of the panel in the image, it ruins the flow of a solid left-right composition, and you can see there was barely enough room for the letterer to add that caption without writing over Loki’s face or hands. Loki is bowing out of the image, exiting stage right, the word balloon reminds me of Public Enemy Flavor Fav’s clock necklace. It’s superfluous.

I’m going to try not to be overly-critical of Lee’s dialogue, but I don’t think that caption is necessary; it’s obvious in the next panel that Loki is leaving, so there’s really no need for Loki to telegraph it with a caption. And I don’t know about the rest of you, but sometimes I don’t even understand what Lee Thor-dialogue means. For example, Lee has Loki say: “Now my grateful Loki doth take his leave of thee.” Why is Loki calling himself “my grateful Loki?” Shouldn’t it be “thou grateful Loki,” or “thy grateful Loki?” Isn’t Lee’s caption a kind of double-first-person remark? “I, me.” Lee Thor dialogue is just bizarre sometimes, but I guess when you make up your own language you have to fabricate the grammar on the fly; and people do love made-up languages like Klingon and all the new languages in shows like Game of Thrones, so maybe Lee was ahead of his time? Now my grateful writer of this column doth take leave of this panel.

Thor # 147, pg. 8, panel 2


Jack’s directions for Stan Lee say: “Loki slinks off / He’s all hopped up.” Notice Jack separates ideas by dashes ( -- ) at the top and bottom of the page, then on the sides where there is less room, he tends to use a single line ( __ ). This is a great example of Jack’s margin notes just filling space, what is happening in the image is obvious and doesn’t require explanation. Loki is sneaking off to, no doubt, spread mischief like the archetypal trickster rabbit of ancient North American mythology. Balder and Sif look defeated, their shoulders slouched, they walk away conquered. Lee’s dialogue reflects that when Loki says “Balder and the beauteous Sif have failed.”

One thing I find interesting about Jack's margin notes: they are very conversational and friendly, and funny at times even when the subject matter is serious. Jack is having fun, doing something he loves; it comes through in the art and the margin notes. I strongly suspect this is how Jack verbally explained his stories to Lee when they would meet F2F before Jack started using the margin notes in late 1963. In his own voice Jack would explain essential elements of his story to his editor, panel-by-panel. I think the notes on this page capture a playfulness and humor in Jack's character you can see in some of these family photos.


The Kirby family band, 1958.

July, 1952.

July, 1952.

May, 1952.

May, 1952.

Hanukah, Dec 1963.

Hanukah, Dec 1963.

Thor # 147, pg. 8, panel 3

21Jack’s directions for Stan Lee say: “So Thor is on Earth / without his god-powers / What a break! / Do I have the guts to defy Odin once again?”


I circled Jack's margin notes and Lee's captions in blue where the Kirby notes/Lee captions agree -- as you can see, inside the circles Lee's text mirrors Jack's directions. But Lee decided to move in a bit of a different direction in relation to Jack's other notes -- notice instead of having Loki ponder whether he should defy Odin (as Jack suggests), Lee decided for Loki to take a more active approach towards his brother.

A subtle change, but one worth pondering: in Jack's version, Loki is cowardly, wondering if he has the "guts" (as Jack puts it) to challenge his powerful Father. Notice Loki is visually hiding behind a wall -- lurking, scheming. On the other hand, Lee's text focuses purely on Loki's desire to defeat the god of thunder. I think you could argue Jack's approach adds more complexity to Loki's character and fits the visual, plus in some respects Lee's caption is redundant because Jack has Loki turn his sights to defeating Thor in the next panel.  This is just one example of the tug of war that took place between Jack and Lee on the page itself where both men were trying to put forth their own vision. There are hundreds if not thousands of examples of this in the margin notes that survive.

Thor # 147, pg. 8, panel 4


Jack’s directions for Stan Lee say: “Thor is at my mercy -- I may never get another chance to nail him like this.”

Jack’s notes suggest Loki knows he may never get another opportunity like this to destroy Thor, but Lee doesn’t use that idea, instead Lee has Loki doing typical bad guy ranting. Once again, I think Jack’s directions add another lost layer of meaning to the page that helps establish the character -- Loki is a conspirator, he knows he has to seize this rare chance to eliminate his brother immediately, time is of the essence -- in Lee’s text Loki is just raving maniacally.

Thor # 147, pg. 8, panel 5


Jack’s directions for Stan Lee say: “Loki can’t resist break! -- he used trans-dimensional gestures he learned from wicked norn enchantress.”

This is one of the reasons I wish we had copies of all Jack’s margin notes. Although Lee didn’t use Jack’s concepts in the captions, examining a source document like this adds an additional layer to Jack’s original story -- it’s a lot like a footnote, or a behind the scenes narration a director adds to a film. The reason behind Loki’s gestures are lost when the page was captioned then printed, but looking at the pencils we can see there is more going on than meets the eye in Jack’s imagination. There are many layers to the story in Jack’s mind. But I think Lee’s decision here to add a simple, small caption is effective in terms of keeping the story flowing. There was really no need for a lengthy piece of dialogue or a long caption. Kirby Purists will crucify me for this, but these types of moments where Lee steps out of the way and lets Jack’s imagery carry the story are very effective.

But make no mistake, Jack Kirby was what I call “The Principal Author” of The Mighty Thor # 147.

As the Principal Author Jack wrote the story with visuals and directions for Stan Lee in the margins.

Stan Lee was the “Secondary Author,” who took Jack’s story/art then added text in the word balloons and caption boxes based on Jack’s art and Jack’s margin notes. In my opinion, an accurate credit on the front page of this story should have read:

Writer/Artist: Jack Kirby

Writer/Editor: Stan Lee

That’s a fair description of the chronology as well, the story started on Jack’s drawing board, it ended with Lee in the New York offices, and if the True Believers would have found such a designation of credit confusing, Lee easily could have explained this division of labor in his letters columns or his bullpen bulletins which appeared in every Marvel magazine every month.

Here is a scan of the published page.


The colors and printing make a semi-mess of the artwork. Those seemingly haphazard splotches of sky-blue on Balder’s cape and glove, the area around Loki’s neck should be yellow, no color in the eyes in panel 4 -- all make for classic, muddled 60s four-color publishing. Vince Colletta does his job here and makes Jack’s pencils suitable for publication. For the most part he delineates the images in Jack’s artwork, but you can see Colletta tends to add scratchy lines to areas where Jack had drawn solid shading. There is one relatively insignificant omission on the page. Note the character in the bottom right corner of the panel below disappears in the published version, something pretty common in a lot of Colletta-inked Thor. Almost like a character stepping into the 60s Star Trek transporter.


Colletta’s decision to delete that Asgardian pedestrian doesn’t really hurt the page, you could argue it actually helps highlight Sif and Balder, but Jack put details like that in there for a reason, mainly to show that Thor’s world is a bustling universe full of diverse costumed characters and imaginative flowing technology.

That’s all for that page, but we’ll look at several more Thor pages in the future. I’m not sure how this column will evolve -- right now I plan to focus on reporting on what we find on the artwork and analyzing that as opposed to composing satire and making wisecracks as I did on my old daily Kirby Dynamics weblog, but as I was writing this article a decision came down in the latest round of the Marvel vs. Kirby lawsuit so I did want to make one comment since everybody else on the internet is weighing in. I’m going to shock you all and say I think this recent Marvel/Disney vs. Kirby court decision is a good thing. Yeah. That’s right, I disagree with just about every internet comment I’ve read on the judge’s ruling: I think it’s fantastic that Marvel stomped on Kirby like he was a little tiny, eensy-weensie ant and grinded him into the concrete like he was nothing. Sure, I’d love to see Jack’s family get a tiny percentage of the billions of dollars Marvel is raking in (and Marvel might settle with them one day), but to me the decision just adds to Jack’s status as a true American folk hero.

You had this kid who survived the depression, found a sci-fi pulp in the  gutter one day and started drawing,  despite the horrible economy he was able to find work as an artist, he was there at the dawn of the animation industry and the comics industry, he graduated from comic strips to comic books, helped create Captain America, served his country in WW II where he almost lost both feet to frostbite, he returned home to raise a family, helped invent the romance genre in comics, totally reinvented the superhero genre, created the first comics epic with the Fourth World, produced great work in animation, fought for artists rights, helped invent the comics direct market, and after he passed away his family carried on the fight trying to get him well-deserved credit and compensation. Sounds like that would make a pretty good folk tale to me -- you’d have to think such a character deserves to stand beside the likes of Yankee Doodle, Johnny Appleseed and Paul Bunyan. True working class American heroes.

Unfortunately you’d be hard pressed to find 1 out of 100 kids in many American neighborhoods who could even name all 4 Beatles right now, so it’s probable that people won’t have any conception of comics or comics history in the future (or any history for that matter) which means Jack Kirby may never achieve true folk hero status. What’s far more likely is that Jack’s 1960s editor Smilin’ Stan (The Man) Lee will end up being the next great American folk hero – or a Legend like King Arthur or Robin Hood. If the corporate machine keeps promoting him, Lee will stand amongst the titans of human creativity, his name synonymous with the likes of Homer or William Shakespeare. In fact the former already happened -- here's a new French book on the art of Stan Lee by an author named Jean-Marc Lainé. The book is called Homère du XXe siècle. The English translation of the title is "Stan Lee: A 20th-Century Homer." Thanks to Frédéric Cwiécinski from the Kirby tribute site Kirbyholic for passing along that link.

28I’ve had people tell me over the years that Stan Lee is not just the “Homer of Comics,” but Lee is also “The Shakespeare of Comics. “ Here’s a link to one author making that claim: Why Stan Lee is the Shakespeare of the 20th Century. Since people love to quote Shakespeare I thought it might be fun to have the old bard himself, the real Shakespeare, quote the other Shakespeare – “The Shakespeare of Comics” a few times. Here are a few pieces of satire I ran at Kirby Dynamics recently.

293031323334That’s it for today’s column. And since this is “Jack Kirby: Behind the Lines” I want to give Kirby the last word and end with a piece of Jack’s art that reflects his service to his country. Here’s a simple, sublime, intense, foreboding yet beautiful piece of comics art: the cover for Foxhole #4 (1955). Art by Jack Kirby.



220 Responses to “Do I Have the Guts to Defy Odin Once Again?”

  1. Mark Mayerson says:

    Rob, I’m glad to see that you’ve resurfaced to continue waving the flag for Kirby. I’m looking forward to future articles.

  2. Peter Sattler says:

    Great and fun article, Rob — even if the Stan-Shakespeare stuff doesn’t seem worthy of the rest.

    I was wondering, though, about the FOXHOLE cover, and Jack’s covers for that series in general. It’s pretty common knowledge that the memorable cover to Issue #1 is an adaptation of Joseph Hirsch’s “High Visibility Wrap.”

    But I’m now wondering about that great cover to #4, above. It seems to have a strong — although more heroic — spiritual resemblance to Tom Lea’s “2000 Yard Stare” (1944).

    A similar heroic re-appropriation seems to be taking place on FOXHOLE #5, which seems (to me) to draw some of its form and dynamics from Robert Capa’s “Moment of Death.”

    Do you have any thoughts on this matter? Clearly, the Kirby-to-source link is not as obvious as it is with FOXHOLE #1, but is it possibly a theme to the series covers as a whole — taking familiar and strong wartime images and recasting them?


  3. patrick ford says:

    The quality of that Thor image is so good because it was produced by a stat camera not a photocopier.
    Heritage Auctions recently posted for sale several pages from FF #61 which are stats the full size of the original artwork. These are highly unusual in that the stats supplied to Kirby were small , about what is called “digest size.” The full size stats were also made before the pages were lettered, which is also unusual.

  4. patrick ford says:

    The correct term is “pidgin-Shakespeare.”

  5. Tim says:

    Great. I didn’t read the full article but the comparison of Kirby’s notes and pencils with the final publication was totally interesting, looking forward to see more of that!

  6. It’s columns like this that infuriate the Lee Lemmings so much–because they KNOW they have nothing to parry it with. It’s the House That Jack Built vs. their House of Cards that they’ve circled their wagons around.

  7. btw, the best birthday present I can give Jack is to keep spreading the love: my pro-Kirby “Auteur Theory of Comics” 16-pg verbal/visual essay manifesto supports the Jack Kirby Museum’s efforts to put up a real museum on the Lower East Side, where Ya’akov Kurtzberg was raised:

  8. Bill says:

    “A lot of artists from that period would not pencil backgrounds and leave that up to the inker. ”

    Apparently your knowledge of comic history is better than mine. Who were those artists?

  9. Hey Rob! As a semi-regular reader of Kirby Dynamics, I’m glad to find you here at TCJ! I enjoyed a lot the content of this first installment. Let me tell you, I think the comparison between the margin notes and the dialogue as a regular feature will be, hopefully, a stronger argument for Kirby as author than the satiric jabs at Stan Lee (though in the right doses, those can be pretty funny too)

    It is my hope that, after Stan passes away (I’m not saying I wish he dies), more people will dare to speak more openly about the creative process at Marvel. perhaps then, Jack will have more of the mainstream recognition he really deserves.

  10. Pingback: It’s Jack Kirby’s 96th Birthday — The Beat

  11. Steibel says:

    Thanks, Mark. And thanks to the hundreds of comics fans, professionals, journalists, students and scholars for so unselfishly sharing information and opinions with me over the years on the subject of Jack Kirby. Thanks also to Tom Kraft and Rand Hoppe for the Thor scan; thanks to TCJ editor Dan Nadel for his work formatting and publishing the article; and a big thank you to Jillian Kirby for posting all those wonderful photographs of her grandfather at her Kirby4 heroes site.

  12. Steibel says:

    Thanks for the comments. It’s an interesting question: was Jack influenced by a specific image when he illustrated that Foxhole # 4 cover? Obviously there’s no way we can know for sure unless someone unearths a specific image like Joseph Hirsch’s “High Visibility Wrap” (that clearly was the influence for Foxhole # 1 cover) but such a source could turn up.

    I suspect Jack was probably more influenced by all the various hard-boiled US soldiers in the cinema of that era as opposed to a specific piece of photo reference. Maybe the Joseph Hirsch image was one Jack found particularly powerful and haunting and that’s why he used that composition for the Foxhole # 1 cover — maybe Jack was doing homage. Or there could be a million other reasons for that composition, maybe Jack just cranked that image out to beat a deadline.

    For the Foxhole # 4 cover maybe that’s Jack’s own version of “High Visibility Wrap” — a less battle-scarred soldier facing the unknown with trepidation yet strength. There’s no way to prove it, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Jack colored that cover as well. I don’t know if the original art exists but there might be pencil-work that hints at where those shadows and camouflage on the face should be located. It just looks to me to be a piece where the color was an integral part of the final piece, so I’ll put forth the possibility that Kirby probably colored the piece as well. It’s really a masterful piece of comics art that should stand beside any artwork produced about the second World War, and since Jack fought in that war you have to think that cover is a synthesis of the reality Jack witnessed on the battlefield and the stylized, idealized classical style of heroism Jack started to integrate into his artwork in the 1960s.

    The cover for Foxhole # 5 seems to move further in that “heroic” direction where you’re looking at a character on that cover that clearly was a prototype for Nick Fury, who was probably a Jack’s version of an archetypal, everyman WW II solder. So the covers for Foxhole # 1, Foxhole # 4, and Foxhole # 5 show an interesting progression from reality towards Jack’s more stylized approach towards portraying heroes which really reached its peak with Jack’s Our Fighting Forces work.
    Here’s an interesting image, Simon and Kirby historian Harry Mendryk posted a rejected Foxhole # 4 cover here:

    So that image of the face on Foxhole # 4 may indeed simply have been an example of Jack trying to beat a crushing deadline. The result is still very powerful, especially the red and pink in the eyes.

  13. Steibel says:

    Re: Heritage FF pencil stat scans

    Thanks for sharing the link, Patrick. Several Kirby Dynamics readers sent those scans to me as well, so thanks for showing me the original source. I’ll probably break those down in some future columns here, those are terrific examples of how Jack’s art looked during that phase of the process. Thanks again for the link, I encourage all of you to sign in and check those images out in HD.

    Re: Stat camera

    Also thanks for the comment about a stat camera being the source of the Thor # 147 image. Here’s an image of a stat camera that might be similar to the one used by Marvel in the 1970s.

  14. Steibel says:

    Re: Background pencils

    Bill: “Apparently your knowledge of comic history is better than mine.”

    Hi Bill. As I said in the article I’m sure most of the readers of TCJ have a fairly comprehensive knowledge of comics history that dwarfs mine.

    Bill: “Who were those artists?”

    In retrospect I might edit that part out because I don’t have exact quotes handy, although I do recall inkers from that era mentioning some pencilers did not draw extensive backgrounds which meant the inker had to do extra work, unpaid for the extra hours and uncredited for that extra work. Many of the conversations I’ve had with comics pros are off-the-record, so that may be one source for my thoughts on that subject, hence hearsay.

    I do think I recall a published interview with Joe Sinnott where Joe mentioned Kirby was an artist who always illustrated full backgrounds, while some pencilers (I think Sinnott mentioned John Buscema) did not provide the inker with fully fleshed-out backgrounds, so the inker had to add them which was time consuming.

    Since I don’t have that exact quote in front of me, I’d probably re-word that sentence if I was editing the article again. You make a good point: that sentence was an over-generalization. Thanks for pointing that out. I should have simply said “Kirby gave the inkers full backgrounds” and left it at that.

  15. Steibel says:

    One other thing to add: I meant to write “A lot of artists from that period would not pencil FULL backgrounds and leave that up to the inker.” So that sentence is a mistake. I might be able to go back into the article and fix that, so thanks again for pointing that out. I certainly know of no 60s Marvel artists that illustrated absolutely no backgrounds. But some gave the inker more to work with than others.

  16. Jon Holt says:

    Hi Rob,
    I enjoyed the article, learning about the Kirby-Lee relationship from the margin notes to final copy.
    The Lee-as-Shakespeare finale was funny, but perhaps you need to explain things more. Were you suggesting that, based on your margin notes analysis, you can essentially prove how big a liar Lee was (what he says in those captions)? If so, I wasn’t convinced. Yes, Lee is self-serving and self-aggrandizing, but isn’t it possible that, even with Thor #147, Lee did tell Jack, “Jack, for #147, I want a story where Loki sees his chance to beat up Thor while he’s on earth without his powers” — and, as Lee says in these bardian captions, he may have indeed told Jack the “germ” of the story and Jack came back with the story + his margin notes. I guess what I’m saying it, the margin notes analysis does not necessarily prove that Lee didn’t provide the “germ” of the stories to his writer (and thus allowing him to be first-billed??). What of course these “germs” were is another matter. I enjoyed the article, I just thought the way you closed the essay weakened the thrust of your argument.
    P.S. No more gratuitous Public Enemy references, I beseech you.

  17. Kenn Thomas says:

    Tremendous to see your new column at The Comics Journal, Rob. Can’t think of a better way to observe Kirby’s 96th. I think the jabs at Stan Lee are well-done and well-deserved, of course. They should be coming out of the mouth of P. T. Barnum, though, and not William Shakespeare. And thanks to Pat Ford for posting that sat. So nice to be able to blow those things up on a screen and get up close and personal with Kirby art on the desktop. TCJ should creat an app for the iPhone motherbox just to share your column with mobile users!

  18. Wonderful piece, still absorbing it, my “better” knowledge of Kirby runs in to his older stuff and business. What I think you might/should have mentioned regarding Foxhole was/is it remains part of Simon & Kirby’s abortive delving in to self-publishing in 1954 as Mainline Publicatons.

    S&K had known 50-50 royalty splits since they escaped Martin Goodman after ten issues of Captain America and landed on their feet over at DC National with the likes of Boy Commandos. They knew 50-50 royalty splits with ALL the publishers they worked with from 1942 thru 1954.

    With Mainline they also owned the properties.

    A whole world could be described regarding Mainline Pubs and its then-potential effects on the industry. Same time S&K launched their self-publishing trip, Andru & Esposito launched MikeRoss with their best title being Get Lost being one of the best of the Kurtzman-inspired Mad Comics take-offs.

    To date I have done the only “in-depth” look-see at Mainline which saw print more than a decade ago in The Jack Kirby Collector #25, a special S&K issue.

    My favorite Kirby story is a two pager out of Foxhole #2 called “Hot Box” which I urge you to score a copy of and make a column out of it as only you seem capable of doing. Wish I had a copy in stock right now, but am sold out on it, otherwise would be sending you scans myself ASAP.

  19. steibel says:

    Hi Jon,

    In the satire I wasn’t doing Lee-as-Shakespeare, I was doing Shakespeare-as-Shakespeare. In the same way people quote Shakespeare, I thought it would be fun to have the real Shakespeare quote the man who many consider the “Shakespeare of comics.”

    As for your comment “the margin notes analysis does not necessarily prove that Lee didn’t provide the ‘germ’ of the stories to his writer (and thus allowing him to be first-billed??)”

    100s if not several thousands of Stan Lee fans have made that same argument to me since I started discussing the subject in about 2002. Sure, Lee could have given Jack the “germ” of an idea. Space aliens also could have given the germ to Lee (or Kirby). I’ve had some comics “experts” claim Martin Goodman was providing the germs. What I did here was report on what we CAN see on the source document.

    But if you think the credits on that book should read:

    Germ: Stan Lee
    Jack Kirby: Writer/Artist
    Stan Lee: Writer/Editor

    And if you think that is a more fair designation of credit, that’s great, that’s your personal opinion. And that may be what took place, but we will never know for sure once Lee passes away because he is our only living witness (unless Marvel releases their files on Kirby and Lee, and there is a plot for the book in those files). For today, there is no evidence of “the germ” on that page. All I can do is report on what I see. This is one phase in the process.

    As for the Public Enemy comment, it wasn’t gratuitous, many consider Flav the Shakespeare of rap; and you’re lucky I’m not still doing Kirby Dynamics, I could spend a month adding Lee comics captions to outlandish photographs of Favor Flav. That’s actually great idea. If I do that I’ll be sure to give you a “germ credit.”

  20. steibel says:

    Hi Kenn,

    Good to hear from you. Thanks for sharing your Kirby research and wisdom over the years.

  21. steibel says:

    Hi Bob, thanks for the comment. I have that “Hot Box” story in my files somewhere. If you’d like to read it again, email me at and I will send it to you (if I still have it). It is a great story. I touched briefly on it here:

    I’ll be sure to dig out your Mainline article and re-read it. Thanks for sharing all your great comics research over the years.

  22. Peter Sattler says:

    I do not take back any of my appreciation for your article, but since so many people are so happy with your Shakespeare stuff, I may as well take issue.

    As far as I can tell, practically no one talks about Stan Lee as “the Shakespeare of Comics.” The post you to is barely worth the click. And, indeed, even the French text you cite uses the “Homeric” epithet with a grain of salt, as a way of describing the author’s youthful adoration of Lee’s work. (I assume the title also refers in part to those who have argued that no actual “Homer” ever existed — that he, too, was all composite and legend.)

    But to put it to the test, at least within a circumscribed arena, try a Google search for “Shakespeare of comics.” With the exception of perhaps a deeply buried comment or two, here is what you get. The Shakespeare of Comics is:

    Bill Woolfolk
    Alan Moore
    Neil Gaiman
    Jack Kirby
    Will Eisner
    Carl Barks
    Grant Morrison
    Gilbert Hernandez
    George Herriman
    Frank Miller
    Robert Crumb

    Indeed, the only main posts or articles that seem to use that term… are yours, recycling the same jokes you present here. Your fighting with your own memories.

    Nonetheless, your analysis of the Kirby pages and marginalia are thoughtful, detailed, and engaging. The puffery around the edges only makes those sections seem weaker and are unworthy of the work you put into them.

  23. steibel says:

    I appreciate the comments. The article wasn’t me playing Perry Mason and givng a closing argument in a trial so I wasn’t trying to prove or defend any specific argument.

    I saw the article as two totally separate parts: Part One was about Jack’s birthday, his service to his country, and the margin notes.

    Part Two was added onto the article when I read about the ruling in the Kirby vs. Disney-Marvel trial last week: that section was about the Kirby trial, Jack’s potential to be a folk hero, and the reality that Lee might become a legend (you should have seen the several paragraphs I edited out of that section about current events).

    So the Shakespeare satire wasn’t there to strengthen the argument in Part One, it was there as a reaction to the fact a Kirby Dynamics reader sent me a link to the new book “Stan Lee: a 21st Century Homer.”

  24. Allen Smith says:

    I’ve seen people call Stan Lee the savior of the comics industry, they don’t compare him to Shakespeare, even they aren’t that stupid. It’s plain that through his promotional efforts, not necessarily his creative ones, he helped save Marvel by using the talents of Ditko and Kirby that were at his disposal.
    He clearly didn’t save the industry.

  25. patrick ford says:

    To me the idea that the germ of the ideas were generated by Lee is the single most ridiculous idea in the whole of the Lee v. Kirby discussion. The basic ideas. The germ of the ideas. Are all easily traceable to Kirby.

  26. patrick ford says:

    In other words, “Is it even remotely possible Lee was giving Kirby some kind of basic springboard?”

    No. It isn’t remotely possible. Not in any way. There is…no…possibility…at…all.

  27. patrick ford says:

    You know. This isn’t a difficult subject. It’s easy. It’s very, very easy.

  28. nfpendleton says:

    Jim Steranko on Twitter in response to the question of authorship:

    “@iamsteranko: .@theromra It is NOT! Stan provided synopses which the artists (including me) broke down into scenes and panels, even supplying dialogue and

    @iamsteranko: .@theromra captions. Stan would subsequently write, edit and rewrite to suit his purposes, furthering the collaboration in the Marvel style.”

    Mr. Steranko’s version of events may already be well known, but I saw this and thought it pertinant to the conversation.

  29. patrick ford says:

    Steranko would have no idea what went on between Lee and Kirby. He was not at the company between 1958 and 1963.

  30. patrick ford says:

    Here is what Roy Thomas said about the FF #1 synopsis in The Jack Kirby Collector #18.

  31. Scott Grammel says:

    Now, Patrick, we’re suppose to note Roy’s distrust of Stan’s memory and ignore his distrust of Jack’s memory, right?

  32. Diamonddulius says:

    Actually, Roy most often sides with Lee in matters pertaining to the creation of the Marvel characters. IMHO, I believe Thomas’ bias has to do with his unfaltering allegiance to his mentor and lingering bitter feelings over House Roy”.

  33. patrick ford says:

    Many people place a great deal of emphasis on the Stan Lee FF#1 synopsis. Kirby said straight out in TCJ that any suggestion he had ever seen the Lee synopsis for FF#1 was (exact quote) “An outright lie.” Marvel editor Roger Stern said another Marvel editor David Anthony Kraft found the synopsis in Lee’s old desk at the Marvel offices. David Anthony Kraft is the same person Jim Shooter said was responsible for loading Kirby’s mid-late-’70s LOCs with negative letters and urging from the editor to discuss the controversy. Shooter said he replaced Kraft because of this.

    When Roy Thomas was asked about the synopsis in TJKC #18 he said,

    “Even Stan would never claim for sure he wrote it before speaking to Jack.”

    Thomas also says in TJKC #18 that Lee “didn’t remember” if he’d spoken to Kirby before writing the synopsis or not. This sounds like Thomas had recently questioned Lee about the synopsis, and Lee told him he could not remember.
    And then a short time later in Alter-Ego Vol.2 #2 Lee showed up to say he absolutely wrote the synopsis before ever speaking to Kirby. It was one of dozens of inconsistent statements Lee was questioned about.

    Again TJKC #18 page 21. Roy Thomas :

    “Later I saw Stan’s plot for FF #1, but EVEN STAN (my caps) would never claim for sure he and Jack hadn’t talked the idea over before he wrote it.”

    When Mark Evanier was asked about FF #1 at the ASK MARK EVANIER forum he said.

    “Jack and Sol Brodsky both claimed (though Stan said it was not so) that Stan’s initial idea, when Goodman asked for a hero book, was to revive Captain America, Sub-Mariner, Human Torch, etc., and that Jack suggested that new characters would be preferable.”

  34. patrick ford says:

    BTW. It’s been nice to see Steranko dress down both Joe Simon and Will Eisner recently. It’s somewhat odd Steranko has chosen to defend Lee while criticizing Eisner for not properly crediting the team of creators who worked on the SPIRIT.
    Steranko did give a written declaration for the Kirby heirs and in it he disputes much of Lee’s deposition testimony. A relevant page can be seen here:
    Part of the reason Steranko may have answered that Twitter question in the way he did was he was asked a “loaded question.” The question said something like “Kirby fans claim Lee did nothing. Is that true.”
    Kirby fans do not claim Lee did nothing. Many of them feel Lee did too much. The argument is not that Lee did nothing. The dispute is did the basic characters and ideas flow from Kirby to Lee as Kirby consistently said going back to the ’60s. Or did the basic characters and ideas originate with Lee, who then assigned them to Kirby.
    Since no one was there with Kirby and Lee when they met 1958-1963 all we have today are old interview comments by Kirby, the eyewitness testimony of Kirby’s children who saw him working at home in his studio, and the testimony of Stan Lee who claims he created every copyrighted character (1958-1963) before ever speaking to Kirby and only then assigned the character to Kirby.

  35. patrick ford says:

    Scott, Seems clear to me. He said he didn’t totally trust either of their memories. It’s right there in the quote.

  36. James Romberger says:

    I hate to dispute his opinion, but Steranko isn’t the final word on the subject, because to my knowledge, he only collaborated on a single story with Stan Lee, the romance short, “My Heart Broke in Hollywood.” Steranko told me that Lee provided a “half-page plot” for this and then Lee copywrote the story after it was drawn. This, however, was not how Lee worked most often with Kirby. Kirby would draw stories completely with little or more often, no springboard from Lee at all. In other words, Lee didn’t know what was happening until he saw the story completely worked out in the pencils with all action and suggested dialogue and captions detailed in Kirby’s handwriting on the margins. And before anyone tries to claim that Lee wrote the three Captain Americas that Steranko drew, he didn’t —-Steranko wrote those.

  37. I don’t think anyone should put much stock in anything Kirby said in that Groth interview, particularly as it relates to Lee and Marvel. More than one person has taken the view that Kirby was wrestling with senility during the last decade or so of his life. Gary appears to be among them, as he has described Kirby during the period as “pixilated” (a word my Merriam-Webster defines as “somewhat mentally unbalanced”) and “not all there.”

    If one looks at the transcript, one will see that when Gary brings up the FF #1 synopsis, Roz Kirby jumps in before Jack responds. She says, “I’ve never seen anything.” Jack then more or less repeats that with “I’ve never seen it,” which he then follows up with the “outright lie” bit. Roz may have been prompting him. According to Greg Theakston, who was Kirby’s art agent, Roz admitted to him that at least some of what they said about Lee during the interview was in bad faith. And beyond that, she was known to brazenly lie about Marvel in public. An example is the 1985 San Diego Comicon, where she said to Jim Shooter in front of a panel audience, “…we’ve never tried to get the copyright back from Marvel. It’s you people who keep bringing it up. Marvel seems to be worried about something, and I don’t know why you people worry.” We now know for a fact that the Kirbys had threatened Marvel’s copyrights in correspondence with the company a few months before that.

    With regard to David Anthony Kraft, Jim Shooter’s memory is not reliable. I believe he generally says things in good faith, but you’re dealing with recollections about things decades earlier, and that occurred in a very hectic office environment. He garbles things. Everything he says needs to be checked out–and knowledgeable dissenting views noted–before quoting him on anything. As far as the supposed “negative letters” are concerned, Roger Stern and Scott Edelman, who were both on staff, dispute that the letters pages were filled with them and say the pages were largely positive. Edelman personally oversaw the Captain America letter pages and talks about it here.

    Sol Brodsky would have had no direct knowledge of what was talked about back in 1961. He hadn’t worked for Marvel since 1957, and he wouldn’t return until 1964. I’d be curious to know when Kirby allegedly told this to Evanier as well.

  38. patrick ford says:

    Sol Brodsky was working freelance for Lee all through the ’60s. He designed the original logo for the Fantastic Four (1961) and inked many stories. He also did production work and seemingly advised Stan Lee on a broad array of subjects.
    This page from FF #3 (March 1962) is inked by Brodsky, and also has a word of advice for Lee concerning Lee’s text.
    Brodsky writes: “Whew!! Very heavy page of lettering for a first page Stan!!”

  39. patrick ford says:

    By the way Jim Shooter’s frequent assertion that the Kirby’s sued Marvel seeking copyright’s is a flat out lie. It never happened and Shooter admitted he was mistaken when confronted. Shooter had been claiming Kirby sued Marvel seeking the return of the copyrights. When it was pointed out to him this was incorrect he changed his story and said Kirby only threatened a lawsuit.
    Only a short time later Shooter went right back to claiming Kirby sued Marvel.

  40. Patrick–

    I’m the one who confronted him about it over at his blog, and I came away with the impression that he was just being sloppy and talking off the cuff, which was pretty typical of his blog postings. When all that went down, he responded in a new post, basically guaranteeing everyone who read his blog saw it. To the best of my knowledge, he has not made that claim since. If he has, please post the link.

  41. As for Sol Brodsky, I would not expect him to be privy to those sorts of discussions as a freelance inker or logo designer. Hell, I don’t think Kirby and Joe Sinnott, who was the best of his inkers there, even had a conversation the entire time Kirby was at Marvel in the ’60s. I would give Brodsky the benefit of the doubt if he was the company’s production manager, which he was in ’64, but that’s not the case.

  42. patrick ford says:

    Are you not aware of the first time Shooter claimed Kirby sued Marvel?
    It’s all easily found.

  43. Patrick–

    From what Shooter’s quoted as saying there, it’s clear he’s jumping to conclusions based on the language of some internal correspondence at Marvel and his own recollections. It would not surprise me that the dispute was being referred to as “Kirby v. Marvel” in internal memos. As for his recollections, keep in mind what his circumstances were when all this happened in the mid-80s. He was putting in 80+ hour workweeks trying to manage an editorial and production operation that was by all accounts processing about twice as much work as it could comfortably handle. On top of this, he was at the time constantly fighting with James Galton, the company president and his boss. And on top of that, he was micromanaging certain high-profile projects to maximize his ability to take credit for their success with the company’s future buyer–Marvel was for sale–in order to have the clout to get rid of Galton when the opportunity came. He couldn’t do anything about the Kirby situation, anyway–it was completely in the hands of Galton and the company’s lawyers. It was a distraction that was probably close to the last thing on his mind. Confusion about what happened years afterward is understandable. To the best of my knowledge, he’s backed off those claims for good since I got after him about it.

    As for the TCJ account the fellow quotes at the link, that thing’s a load of crap. Contrary to that thing claims, Shooter wasn’t directing things on Marvel’s end at all. By all accounts, it was Galton acting on the advice of Marvel’s lawyers. No one at TCJ then or now has seen any of the alleged correspondence Roz Kirby referred to in her various statements beyond the 4-page release Marvel sent. Gary, Tom Heintjes and so on just trusted Roz Kirby to accurately quote and/or paraphrase it over the phone. There was no verification whatsoever.

    I note that Mark Evanier and the Kirby family refuse to publish or otherwise release the correspondence between their father’s legal counsel and Marvel. I know because I asked him for it myself a year or so back and was tersely refused. Something tells me “it lays out a very different picture” than the one he, TCJ, and others have painted as well. If you want specifics, I believe Kirby’s lawyers claimed he owned the copyright for the artwork. Kirby said as much in an interview at the time. If that happened, it would go a long way towards explaining that overkill release he was sent.

  44. patrick ford says:

    Why don’t you ask Marvel for the correspondence and see what they say?

    Let’s say Shooter’s earlier “Kirby sued Marvel” comment was just some bit of confusion on his part. I don’t by that , but for the sake of argument I’ll give him that. The point is he jumped to a conclusion. Was shown he was wrong. And then went right back and said Kirby sued Marvel again a few years later.
    If it was just the first time his explanation would be a lot more credible. A person could think maybe he was confused.
    The way the earlier incident played out including long replies by Shooter and Shooter editing his old message to remove his claim Kirby had sued Marvel, it’s hard for me to accept him returning to the “Kirby sued Marvel” allegation a second time, as just another slip up.

  45. This isn’t stacking properly. Here’s my response to Patrick’s 11:24 post again:

    I have asked Marvel’s press people for it. I haven’t heard back. I don’t think they’ll ever turn it over to me, though. Large corporations regard that sort of thing as proprietary information and none of the public’s business no matter how innocuous it may be.

    I hold Evanier and the Kirbys to a different standard because they have made a public issue of the situation. They have a responsibility to be forthcoming about it.

    Hopefully this placement makes more sense. If the administrators would please delete the earlier one with the above, it would be appreciated.

  46. Regardless of how erroneous Shooter’s characterization was, it’s true that Kirby’s lawyers sent belligerent correspondence to Marvel that made legal claims and threats that Marvel was not going to accede to. Whether or not it was a lawsuit is more a technical point than anything. What you’re complaining about is that he’s not fastidious enough for your liking when he’s talking about this stuff. There’s also something like a decade between the CBR postings and what he put on his blog. I’m perfectly willing to grant it slipped his mind in the interim.

    If you like I can get after you for a lack of fastidiousness as well. How are those interview citations where Kirby said he was doing proposals via presentation pieces at Marvel in the early ’60s. I’m still waiting for those. Or would you prefer to acknowledge that you made a sloppy statement with that and are backing off it?

    I can get after Gary Groth for that failing, too, as he’s the one who initially treated the lawsuit claim as such a big deal. Has he ever backed off the demonstrably false claim he’s made on at least two occasions that Shooter fired or otherwise ran Steve Englehart out of Marvel during his time as editor-in-chief? It was actually Gerry Conway who drove Englehart away from Marvel back in the ’70s. Englehart returned in 1982 and had been regularly working series assignments for Marvel between 1983 and when Shooter was let go in 1987.

  47. patrick ford says:

    Why bother with Kirby’s statements on character creation when there is Jim Shooter saying he held in his hands Kirby’s original presentation piece for Spiderman?
    Of course Shooter may have just been confused. Or maybe he’s senile?

  48. Shooter recalled in 2011 that in 1969, when he was a 17- or 18-year-old editorial assistant at Marvel, he saw a page of “design drawings” featuring Kirby’s rejected version of Spider-Man. He saw it while going through a pile of unused pencil art that Marvel used as tests for inkers. His main recollection was that it was nothing like the Ditko version that was published.

    Perhaps he saw a character presentation piece of the sort that you claim–apparently without basis–that Kirby was proposing features with in the early ’60s. Of course, pieces of that sort that we know he produced later in the ’60s I gather only show one drawing and not multiple ones that Shooter claims he saw. Or perhaps he saw one of the story pages of the sort both Lee and Ditko say Kirby produced for the character. That would explain the multiple drawings he says he saw.

    His memory may be confused about certain specifics of that page. Can you blame him? How clearly would you remember the details of a piece of art you once looked at momentarily over 40 years earlier?

    Also, none of it means anything relative to the who-created-what issue. Even if Kirby did produce presentation pages for characters at that point in time, there’s no way of knowing if he produced them after talking to Lee about the characters or not. And no one is disputing that Kirby produced art for a rejected version of Spider-Man. Why is it so damned important that one might be a page of “design drawings” if there’s no way of knowing the impetus for its creation?

  49. Jim Boone says:

    I have to wonder why the issue of where the ideas originated is even arguable after Patrick whipped out the evidence regarding The Fantastic Four with the link to that issue of Challengers.

    Of course, there are literally tons of real forensic evidence contained in Kirby’s work throughout his career before (and after) his “collaboration” with Stan Lee which proves without any reasonable doubt that he was the author of all those works as well as the creator/originator of the legions of characters & plot concepts. It’s all there and easily researched.

    What can’t be disputed is where it is not. Nothing that I’ve seen anyway, in the body of work throughout Stan’s career before/after Kirby.

    Unless you count his masterwork: the myth of “Stan Lee”.

    That incredible fiction made him a multimillionaire, famous the world over…
    and apparently still moves the masses to this very day.

  50. Jim Boone says:

    Oddly enough, Rich Buckler claims that Jack Kirby was one of them.

    Buckler has publicly stated that Dick Ayers told him “… how Jack’s pencil art always required a heavy amount of “finishing”. The way he described it, at first glance it would look like everything was there. But much of what Jack pencilled on the page amounted to stylized lines that were mere “suggestions” of things rather than what they were supposed to represent.”

    Buckler goes on to suggest that the main reason Jack was able to be so incredibly prolific was that he was sticking his inkers with penciling work (the first I’ve ever heard Kirby compared in the same light as Buscema & Kane in that regard)…

    “As the inker Dick had to do a lot of “embellishing” (in ink, but also in pencil, to bring the drawing up to a finish before inking it). Also a lot of corrections and refinements and added detail were required–probably partly due to how fast Kirby penciled, which was always very fast (as much as five pages per day, I have heard–on a good day the most I could ever manage was three, and not on a regular basis!).

    Anyhow Dick estimated that the inking took him two or three times as much time per page as it did for Jack to pencil. And he wasn’t bragging or complaining–that’s just how it was in those days.”

    I personally submitted a reply asking Buckler to kindly point out examples of Kirby’s pencil pages which confirm his assertion of vague “suggestions” in Jack’s work, since everything I’ve seen seems incredibly tight to me.

    Unless Buckler (or Ayers) was somehow confusing the pages which Kirby only laid out (at Lee’s insistence), acting as plotter for other artists to pencil. I pointed out that as those lay-outs were paid at a much lower rate, and done above his normal workload, they would hardly qualify. And in any case, as professional artist himself, Buckler ought to know the difference between rough lay-outs and finished pencils…unless he was, um, totally wrong.

    Apparently that question was deemed unworthy by mod and was never published.

    Here’s the link:

  51. patrick ford says:

    “Buckler goes on to suggest that the main reason Jack was able to be so incredibly prolific was that he was sticking his inkers with penciling work ”

    Did he mean something like this?

  52. That Challengers of the Unknown cover only demonstrates that one aspect of the FF origin story likely originated with Kirby. On the other hand, the inclusion of a new Human Torch makes it all but certain that Lee and Kirby discussed the story before Kirby drew it, and probably on more than one occasion, as both Lee and Martin Goodman would have had to sign off on the use of that character.

    Just for the record, my own view of the creation of the Marvel material is that Lee and Kirby would have brainstorming sessions over the phone or in the office. Kirby would then draw the story. After he completed the penciled story pages, Lee would review them and order revisions to the pencils as he felt were necessary, and when that was taken care of he would write the final dialogue and captions. Nat Freedland provided an account of one of the office brainstorming sessions in his famous New York Herald Tribune piece, and Kirby wrote and drew a strip featuring a slapstick version of one in Fantastic Four Annual #5.

    I believe the stories were collaborations, through and through. Lee and Kirby were co-authors. I personally feel Kirby deserves more credit than Lee, as he was much, much more responsible for the narrative material in any given episode. However, Brock Hanke for one, feels Lee should get more credit as he did more to determine the overall direction of the features. Hanke also made an intelligent case for the Kirby collaborations being of a thematic piece with Lee’s work with other cartoonists. He argues they’re far more consistent with that material than with the features Kirby produced on his own, specifically The Fourth World titles. This is probably something that will be argued about for as long as this material is discussed.

    My major issue with Patrick is that he makes all sorts of epistemologically suspect claims about the practical circumstances under which the material was created, how the authors worked, and the specifics of how the publishers operated. Some of these are fanciful extrapolations from what is known, some of it is swallowed-whole bullshit from parties with their own agendas, and some of it is just crap he comes up with out of thin air. The goal apparently is to propagandize on behalf of the Kirby family in their legal case, among other ostensibly pro-creator ends, and as long as a claim supports the narrative he wants to see, he shows no skepticism towards it at all. I’d be inclined to blow it off if he didn’t make a point of incessantly repeating these things in nearly every major comics forum on the Internet. Whether he intends it or not, his behavior comes off like a Big Lie campaign–if he repeats the bullshit loudly and often enough, people will eventually believe it, the truth be damned. It’s pernicious.

  53. Patrick and I agree for once. Buckler’s full of it.

  54. Jim Boone says:

    Well, that Herald piece was clearly staged and proves nothing it itself.

    The editing Stan did, signing off with Goodman and such, is not in contention. This is what line editors do. They: clarify, focus, revise, etc.

    In any collaborative medium there is overlap and contributions from various sources to varying degrees.

    But just as record producers may play a large role in developing albums in the studio in collaboration with their artists, no one would rightly claim that George Martin ought to be credited equally with Lennon/McCartney as the originator and author of their songs. I wouldn’t give Stan Lee even producer credit along the lines of a George Martin, simply because there is no evidence that he developed anyone’s work to that degree.

    The answer to the question of who came up with the ideas for those characters and plots is easily answered, and already has been, despite what anyone personally feels about that answer.

    All the plot elements of the Marvel work to which Kirby and his adherents lay claim to are found in his other work prior (and subsequent) to his collaboration with Lee. Just about every plot element, character construction, devise, you name it…it’s all there just as evidenced in that Challenger cover. I could provide you dozens and dozens of examples. Can you do the same with Lee?

    Where are all the prototypes, the embryonic emerging which herald such a wealth of imaginative force in a man credited as the Walt Disney of super heroes, before Kirby came to work for him? Did the well just happen to run dry after Kirby left Marvel? Kirby seems to have suffered no such writer’s block after separating from Lee.

    Lee has no stand alone body of work as a writer of any merit, even by comic book standards. No unpublished manuscripts, no science fiction stories (Heck, even such luminaries as Gardner Fox & Otto Binder were able to publish a couple), nothing at all to indicate that he had all these great and wonderful ideas outside of the “collaborative” work which he was allowed to plaster his name on due to his unique position as sole editor and relative of the publisher.

    Every hack writer down to the lowest amateur literally has reams of stuff laying in files and stuffing draws …have you ever seen anything like that of Stan’s? That’s because he was no writer. If such exists, simply point it out. Otherwise all the hearsay and pedantry is moot.

    All artists, writers have a creative “fingerprint” that identifies their work, especially when their careers span decades. Again, all of Kirby’s work prior and subsequent to his relationship with Lee contains all of the elements of that work which Lee and his adherents claim as his. Lee’s work however contains none of those elements.

    Maybe credit the melodrama and hokey semblance of 12th rate Shakespearean dialogue to Stan. If that counts as an equal collaboration in your mind, I won’t argue.

    But unless someone can point me to the characters and stories that Stan created which resemble in any way what he claims to suddenly have created after turning 40, at any other point in his long career, and not done in “collaboration” with others, then I say it’s pretty obvious who did the actual creating and who used their position to steal credit for such.

    To argue otherwise is, in my opinion, to willfully disregard the only pertinent and hard facts of the matter: that being the body of work of these individuals done apart from the other.

  55. If you’re trying to argue that Kirby created those stories cold with no prior input from Lee, I have to disagree. And Lee ultimately determined the final shape of the stories as published. Comparisons with comics and movies are problematic, but to give credit in movie terms, Kirby was the director, Lee was the producer, and both deserve screenplay credit, although Kirby’s name should come first.

    Why do you say the Herald Tribune session “was clearly staged”? I wasn’t pointing to it as definitive proof of a greater situation, by the way. It’s just an example of a general situation that’s been attested to by any number of people, including Kirby himself.

    I don’t claim to be a scholar of Kirby’s or Lee’s bodies of work. However, Brock Hanke appears to be one, and he made a carefully researched argument that the 60s Marvel material Lee worked on is thematically consistent regardless of the cartoonist, and that the material is thematically at odds with Kirby solo work, particularly The Fourth World. He wrote:

    But if there was one man who was more responsible than any of the others for the point of view displayed in the Marvel comics of the early 1960s, the freshness, humor, and pathos, the things that made them different from anything else being published, that man was Stan Lee. And if only one man can be the author of Marvel, he has a greater claim to that title than anyone else.

    The number of Lee’s scripting credits shrink as the ’60s go by. Around the time Kirby left, Lee became Marvel’s publisher and his responsibilities in that role and others, such as the company’s point man in Hollywood, took up much of his time.

    I gather he still continued to write and come up with projects and so forth. Off the top of my head, I know he put together a screenplay with Alain Resnais and created a continuing strip proposal for Playboy with John Romita. His personal papers are archived at a university somewhere. I think Tom Spurgeon’s been through those archives and could say more about it. Lee also continued to propose ideas and offer input on the ’70s Marvel line. Mike Ploog, who was a key artist at Marvel during the ’70s, had this to say about Lee:

    He was a showman. He was like this ball of unharnessed energy with a better idea every 10 minutes, and it was a good thing he always had somebody around him writing them down, because here’s the 114 ideas that Stan had this morning. And they were all good, because he was very much in tune with the business

    While I think Lee takes a lot more credit for many things than he deserves, he wasn’t a creatively negligible individual, either.

    The essay was published alongside the Groth/Kirby interview in TCJ 134 and also appears in The Comics Journal Library: Jack Kirby. As I said above, I don’t agree with this conclusion, but it was a very conscientious essay overall, and it deserves respect.

  56. Whoops. That final graf should appear immediately after the Brock Hanke quote.

  57. patrick ford says:

    The Nat Freedland interview was obviously a public relations event. A clear indication of this is the presence of Roy Thomas who said he had no idea why he was invited to sit in since he was not part of Lee/Kirby meeting which took place in Lee’s private office. Thomas said he assumed he was asked to sit in as a witness, because he played no part. The interview took place in Nov. or Dec. (accounts vary) of 1965 and the article was published on Jan. 9, 1966.
    The context of the interview is illuminating. In late 1965 Lee had seen Wally Wood quit Marvel and begin working for TOWER. Wood commented on his working relationship with Lee at Marvel.

    Wally Wood: “I was coming up with most of the ideas. It finally got to the point where I told him that if he was the writer, he’d have to come up with the plots. So, we just sat across the desk from one another in silence.”

    Lee was also having trouble with Steve Ditko. In fact according to Ditko Lee refused to speak to him and their only contact was via Sol Brodsky. In the Nat Freedland article Lee sarcastically mentions “Ditko considers himself a genius.” Ditko quit Marvel shortly after the publication of the Freedland article. At almost the same time Lee was apparently ridiculing Ditko in conversations with John Romita.

    Notice that in 1966 Lee told Romita it was Ditko’s plan to reveal Norman Osborn as the Green Goblin. A bit later Lee began telling Romita (Romita is quoted in Tom DeFalco’s book on Spider-Man) that it was his idea to make Osborn the Goblin and that had caused a rift between Ditko and Lee.
    Dick Giordano described visiting Ditko’s studio at this time.

    GIORDANO: “The dispute was he thought he was writing Spider-Man, but Stan was getting the credit. As proof he showed me a chart he had on the wall that said when certain things were going to happen over the next six issue span. Steve felt it was criminal for someone to take credit for something he didn’t do. That’s what led to the break-up with Marvel and Steve. (COMIC BOOK ARTIST #9 pg.42). ”

    It wasn’t only Wood, Ditko, and Kirby who were creating the characters and plots for their work. Stan Goldberg describes a MILLIE THE MODEL story conference in Lee’s office.

    GOLDBERG: “One time I was in Stan’s office and I told him, “I don’t have another plot.” Stan got out of his chair and walked over to me, looked me in the face, and said very seriously, “I don’t ever want to hear you say you can’t think of another plot.” Then he walked back and sat doen in his chair. He didn’t think he needed to tell me anything more.”

    In the same interview Goldberg described Kirby in these terms.

    GOLDBERG: “Jack would sit there at lunch, and tell us these great ideas about what he was going to do next. It was like the ideas were bursting from every pore of his body. It was very interesting because he was a fountain of ideas.

    Goldberg’s comments are in line with numerous other accounts of Kirby ability to plot and create characters.

    WALTER GEIER: “Jack Kirby was great about that; he always came up with the plots. Jack had a fertile mind. Jack was the idea man. Jack would give me the ending, because he was good at figuring out stories. It was not hard to work with Jack. They were Jack’s plots. I just supplied the dialogue.”

    KIM AAMODT: ” I really sweated out plots, unlike Jack Kirby. Jack just ignited and came out with ideas. Jack’s face looked so energized when he was plotting that it seemed as if sparks were flying off him.”

  58. Steibel says:

    Hi everybody,

    Wow, a lot going on here. Impressive knowledge on all sides. Out of the 100s of great points you folks are raising, I might address a few in the next column, but I did want to comment here on this one point:

    Jim Boone: Buckler has publicly stated that Dick Ayers told him “… how Jack’s pencil art always required a heavy amount of finishing.” The way he described it, at first glance it would look like everything was there. But much of what Jack penciled on the page amounted to stylized lines that were mere “suggestions” of things rather than what they were supposed to represent.”

    Thanks for the comment, Jim. This is a good point to make, Jack’s backgrounds were indeed much sparser in the early 1960s. Jack was cranking out a ton of stuff. Here’s an example:

    In the mid-to-late 1960s Jack started doing far more detailed backgrounds, probably because he had a little more time (which is hard to believe considering how much work he was cranking out). He may have also consciously wanted to add more background detail so the final images had maximum impact.

    Jim Boone: …Dick estimated that the inking took him two or three times as much time per page as it did for Jack to pencil. And he wasn’t bragging or complaining–that’s just how it was in those days.”

    I think Dick is probably mistaken there. It would have taken Jack a minimum of about 2 hours to pencil one of those early 60s pages. Maybe a little less if he was only doing figures. But at least 2 hours. I doubt Dick spent 4 to 6 hours inking a page.

    Dick is a class act and I have tremendous respect for him, but he’s human, so his comments may reflect a bit of bitterness over the fact that Lee basically demoted him from being a penciler to an inker, and clearly he did have to do extra work inking Jack’s sparse early 60s material. Even Joe Sinnott (as gracious as he always has been) has mentioned he would have preferred to remain a penciler, but I think both Dick and Joe probably ended up having very good careers in the industry in large part because of their iconic work with Kirby.

    So good point about the backgrounds. Dick probably did have to do a bit of extra work in the early-60s, and even Sinnott has discussed how he had to work hard to get the perspective perfect in Jack’s backgrounds in the late-60s. So to suggest Jack was giving the inkers more to work with than other artists was a bit of an over-generalization, but I think you do see from the mid-60s until the end of his career, Jack did very, very detailed backgrounds.

  59. Patrick–

    No one is disputing what the Marvel method consisted of. The cartoonists did the plotting. But a plot is not a premise, and a plot is not the final scripting. All are elements of the writing. I happen to think the plot is the most important aspect of the writing, at least as far as ranking co-writers as far as credit is concerned. I don’t think there’s any argument there.

    No one is claiming Kirby was anything less than an active volcano as far as coming up with stories was concerned.

    No one is disputing Wood and Ditko resented Lee’s approach to the credits. And Lee made concessions to both of them. Beyond that, from what I know of the three, and from what people who knew them say, there were personality conflicts that would have likely occurred regardless of the credit issues.

    The resistance is to your effort to deny Lee any significant credit at all, apart from perhaps an aesthetic vandal.

    Your implicit thesis appears to be that the so-called Marvel method is not a process that should allow for the final scripter to call himself the writer. Which is fine. It’s an understandable view. Some disagree, and others, such as myself, would qualify your view somewhat so it isn’t quite as rigid. I just wish you’d recognize that interpretations of aesthetic questions like this are relative.

  60. Steibel says:

    Robert Stanley Martin wrote:

    Mike Ploog, who was a key artist at Marvel during the ’70s, had this to say about Lee: He was a showman. He was like this ball of unharnessed energy with a better idea every 10 minutes, and it was a good thing he always had somebody around him writing them down, because here’s the 114 ideas that Stan had this morning. And they were all good, because he was very much in tune with the business.

    We have to remember that the relationship between Mike Ploog/Stan Lee and the relationship between Kirby/Lee were probably much different (and I think that is an understatement).

    I strongly suspect that by the early 1970s Lee was beginning to develop his P.T. Barnum solo-genius act. Lee was morphing from comics editor to Hollywooed entertainer. That’s what Ploog was witnessing, and I suspect he felt a bit of awe for Lee which is why Ploog remembers “all” of Lee’s ideas being good (and if those 114 ideas were so good… where are they? The creative volcano that was Mt. Stan Lee stopped erupting the milisecond Jack Kirby walked out of the door in 1970).

    I seriously doubt that the Ploog/Lee working relationship was the same as what took place when Kirby/Lee met alone in Lee’s office behind a closed door in, say, the year 1963. As I mentioned in the article, Jack probably did most if not all the talking when presenting Lee with a story. If Kirby/Lee did have plot jam sessions, I doubt Lee had “114 ideas” that morning that “were all good” and Kirby simply wrote them all down.

    Ploog was a fan witnessing the birth of Stan Lee the superstar at the end of his comics editing career. So his account is not necessarily an accurate depiction of the Kirby/Lee “Marvel Method.”

    Jack’s relationship with Lee was far different: over a 10-year period Kirby/Lee rarely spoke, and Jack gave Lee about 10,000 + pages of stories and art, 99% of which Kirby was uncredited and uncompensated for as a writer.

  61. Scott Grammel says:

    Much thanks for that last paragraph above — and even more for your repeated responses to the Unstoppable Pat Ford Anti-Lee/Pro-Kirby Quote Machine.

  62. Steibel says:

    Robert Stanley Martin: “No one is disputing what the Marvel method consisted of. The cartoonists did the plotting. But a plot is not a premise, and a plot is not the final scripting. All are elements of the writing. I happen to think the plot is the most important aspect of the writing, at least as far as ranking co-writers as far as credit is concerned. I don’t think there’s any argument there.”

    Lee did give artists like Romita, Buscema, Heck, Colan, Lieber et al a “premise” (or what Lee tends to call a “plot”) for each story then the artists would fill in the holes — they would provide what I call “story elements” (or plot points) that flesh out Lee’s “premise”/plot.

    But Kirby had no need for a plot and I doubt he wanted to work from someone else’s “premise.” Clearly history suggests Jack had his own ideas (understatement). Plus Lee was very busy — so why would Lee waste valuable time giving artists like Kirby and Ditko a “premise” when he had other artists who really craved and genuinely needed that type of input. Why would you provide guidance for those who don’t need it when you have a stable of artists who must have that guidance or the books won’t be published on time. Sometimes common sense has to come into play when exploring these issues.

    As editor, Lee did greenlight Kirby and Ditko’s ideas, I’m sure he made suggestions (and Lee may have given Jack an ultimatum and told him he had to do a story based on a specific premise of face the consequences) but in all liklihood Kirby came up with the “premise” or initial plot for almost all of his stories because he was good at it and since Lee was a good editor, Lee let his top artist have the freedom to create comics masterpieces.

    But as we all know, ultimately there is always going to be a “well, maybe Lee gave Jack a plot” philosophy so every story Jack worked on with Lee will be attributed to Lee, and that’s great — Lee did add text to the stories and do a bit of editing. My contention is you have to counterbalance that with a “well, maybe Kirby came up with the plot” philosophy as well unless we find SD evidence that suggests otherwise. Even if the books themselves don’t credit Kirby as a “writer,” on all his 60s stories future comics students, fans, and historians probably will.

  63. Steibel says:

    And notice I said “a writer.”

    Jack Kirby: Writer/Artist
    Stan Lee: Writer/Editor

    To me that is a fair division of labor, and I suspect any modern editor with even a semblance of integrity would be sure to accurately credit their artist with this type of credit if that artist turned in three entire 30-page comic books a month with extensive directions next to every single panel, and then that editor added his/her own text to that story/artwork. It is inconceivable to me that any modern editor would list themselves as the sole writer/editor of such a book and only list the artist as a “penciler.”

  64. patrick ford says:

    My argument has always been Lee did too much not to little. My opinion based on everything I know is Kirby came up with the basic characters and ideas and presented them to Lee. Once a series was launched it’s my opinion Kirby would create a finished story in pencil and sell it to Lee. In the early years (1958-1963) Kirby would come to the office and briefly explain the plot to Lee. If Lee had suggestions they would be made at that time a process which often required new story pages be created from scratch to fit Lee’s rewrite. Beginning in 1964 Kirby began using notes in the borders of the original art pages to explain the story to Lee. From that point on Kirby visited the office far less frequently and typically mailed his pages to the office.
    I credit Kirby almost entirely for the characters and stories he brought to Lee, and I would give Lee a great deal of credit for the stories which ended up in the published comic books.
    Of course the creator of the seminal idea is very important as related to copyright and the work for hire definition.
    There is a pattern to Lee’s post Perfect Film and pre-Perfect Film comments concerning his working relationship with Kirby. In practical terms Lee never (there are two exceptions) credited Kirby with anything more than being a penciler from 1958-1969 in the only places with mattered; the writing credit and freelance page rate. Lee did give various interviews which suggested the creative process was collaborative and even told Ted White Kirby “…needed no plot at all…”. I doubt that impressed Kirby anymore than it impressed Wally Wood when Lee placed Wood’s name on the cover of Daredevil. Wood had already been promoted as part of Bill Gaines’ “star system” in the ’50s and as an experienced professional was more interested in seeing his name on paychecks.
    There is a very definite pattern after Perfect Film purchased Marvel, and that pattern is Lee ratcheting-down the crumbs of verbal credit he had previously given to Kirby. Lee freely acknowledged this in his Dec. 2010 deposition where he was cross examined for over 250 pages (over twice the length of the May 2010 deposition Lee gave for Disney/Marvel.
    Lee explained he made those comments during the Silver Age because he knew Kirby might read the interviews and he, “wanted to make Jack feel good, like we were doing it together.” Lee also explained the comments were part of an image he created as a sales tool. The image Lee created was a happy bullpen, a group of guys all having a blast and bouncing ideas off one another.

    One of the more interesting observations in Jeff Trexler’s recent TCJ article is the major point of contention in the Lee v. Kirby dispute (who brought the basic ideas to who) appears to have been made moot by the appellate court ruling which contains language which appears to say even if the characters and ideas were generated by Kirby in his studio without any direction from Lee, the work became work made for hire the moment Kirby sold the material to Marvel. The court’s reasoning seems to be Kirby created the work intending to offer it to Marvel, and that is enough to meet the work for hire standard.

  65. Steibel says:

    I meant 20-page book, I need to stop writing in these comments sections, the text is too tiny to read. (smiley)

  66. Jim Boone says:

    That page may be lacking in backgrounds, but so were the finished (inked) pages, if I recall correctly. A lot of the Kirby/Ayers atlas monster stuff also had sparse backgrounds, and that carried over into the first couple of years of the super-hero revivals, for the reasons you mention.

    But…that’s not what Buckler is saying Ayers was saying . Nothing about finishing off empty backgrounds.

    Those quotes are Bucklers, BTW, not mine. I agree with your assessment of professional jealousy being the cause , and lets be clear, we are speaking of Buckler’s account of what Dick said, none of this came directly from Ayers himself.

    There was a lot of that running through the industry tword Kirby it seems.

    That page looks pretty tight to me, even sans backgrounds.

  67. Frank Santoro says:

    FYI if the text is too small to read on the screen hit “command and plus (+)” – that is if you have a Mac – not sure how to enlarge screen text on PC

  68. Steibel says:

    Hi Jim, great points, and yeah we don’t want to attribute those quotes to Dick unless we have a source. Thanks for pointing that out.

    I hope Buckler has that wrong, I hope Dick has fond memories of that era, but the reality is that they were all working their asses off. We have fond memories of the art; they see it as another day trying to beat crushing deadlines to keep their families fed, so I can understand any artist feeling the pain when they have to reflect on 12 hour shifts, even if it was at home drawing comics.

    I consider Dick an icon — those early 60s books he did with Kirby are legendary and obviously he’s gone on to have a great career on his own. It may have been hard work, but those early Kirby/Ayers books are classics. Dick has been nice enough to answer a few of my questions over the years. He’s a class act.

  69. Jim Boone says:

    I say it was staged exactly for the reasons Patrick recounts. It was obviously known in advance that the interview was going to take place and when. The boss (Stan) simply made sure a couple of players were on hand, dragging a confused Roy Thomas in for good measure and then proceeded to act out his shtick.

    There are other similar accounts of early mainstream attention, where (perhaps less disinterested) reporters seemed to see right through Stan’s facade. It is after all completely insincere even if he’s lived with it so long that by now he actually believes it. It’s the stuff of an correspondence school PR man who got an “A” in public speaking.

    Nothing in Stan’s personal resume as a “writer” even hints at a mind who just a few years earlier, suddenly out of the blue and having passed 40, began cranking out an unprecedented pantheon of characters, plots, and incredible stories. Not one thing.

    Stan was an editor, and he knew the comics business very well, no one denies this.

    By the time he became publisher, he already had a staff in place that, while still small, would have assumed much of the editorial duties which he himself supposedly juggled nearly single handed, while supposedly still able to write all the work and create all the stuff he claims he did, alone, for nearly a decade. All of this while lecturing on the college circuits, giving self aggrandizing interviews to anyone who would listen, etc. Quite a feat.

    Compare this to Kirby, who by all accounts worked in his “dungeon” twelve hours every day for those same ten years. Not much time to self promote when you actually have to do the creative work others are taking credit for.

    So using Stan’s publisher (mostly emeritus) status as an excuse for the quite sudden drop off in creative output really doesn’t hold water. His Hollywood days seems like a pay-off and consisted mostly of glad-handing which amounted to nothing. That it took more than 30 years after the advent of Star Wars for Marvel fare to become seen as viable in Hollywood ought to give you an idea just how effective Stan was in that regard. But then, everyone is a bullshitter in Hollywood.

    The origin of what later became known as “The Marvel Method” had nothing at all to do with giving a penciler greater freedom to tell the story visually. That was merely a contrivance (though it later proved to be a beneficial byproduct of such, especially when actual writers/plotters were involved).

    Stan sought out artists who could plot their own stories, and those who played along with his game of taking the writing credit for himself were bestowed the the limited slate of assignments in what was a very rough economic atmosphere.

    In this way Stan was able to pad his editor’s salary with the page rate for freelance writing/plotting. The actual credit wasn’t the issue in the beginning since no one dreamed that would be worth anything…it was simply a way for Stan to use his very unique position as the sole editor and relative of the publisher in order to steal writing credit to pad his pay check.

    That’s the origin of the Marvel Method. Stan could claim (as he did) that he scripted the dialogue balloons after the artist turned in the art based on his story suggestions. Since he never had to produce a single script, and since no freelance artist was going to pound on Martin Goodman’s door to complain…it worked very well (for Stan).

    You couldn’t get away with that at National, where there were several editors who solicited scripts from writers and then assigned those scripts to artists.

    I’m not out to flame or war with anyone, and if your opinion despite the obvious evidence to the contrary is that Stan Lee deserves what he’s realized and even %10 of what he’s claimed for himself, you’re entitled.

    But I’m struck by the unfairness of it all.

    This is the same guy who in the 40’s wrote about how Martin Goodman “created” Captain America, and yet hundreds of thousands of people today believe he’s the guy who created all this stuff because he had the pulpit and the ability to slap his name on it.

  70. Earl Wells says:

    The quote attributed to Brock Hanke above is actually from an essay I wrote, which can be found in The Comics Journal Library: Jack Kirby. (If anyone wonders why an essay that ends up on Lee’s side in the Lee-Kirby debate was published in a book devoted to Kirby, it’s because I wrote a lot about Kirby’s Fourth Worlds stories, which I admire.) Except for correcting errors about my essay, I ask to be excused from further comments on Kirby versus Lee. I’m pretty sure I said all I had to say in my essay; I’ve kept up with the subject over the years, but haven’t seen anything that makes me want to change or reiterate my conclusions .

  71. Earl–

    My apologies.

  72. Allen Smith says:

    Shakespeare is Shakespeare. Stan Lee’s writing is the equivalent of Shakespeare’s toilet paper.

  73. Mike Hill says:

    @Robert Stanley Martin: I disagree with your interpretation of Scott Edelman’s defense of negative letters in Kirby’s letter columns, as I disagree with his response to my comment on the blog page you linked. Scott’s assessment that the letters pages contained “lots of positivity,” or that it was his job to see that they were “balanced” is not even a matter of opinion. Robert, have you read the letters pages?

    Remember that Scott’s blog post was in response to actual research that Rob conducted for his Kirby Dynamics blog. Like looking at the actual artwork or finished comics as an authority for who did what during the creative process, it’s instructive to have the actual letters pages as a resource when evaluating the legacy of Jack’s Marvel editors. That way there’s no need to rely on the blogger’s desired positive spin or faulty memory.

    Mister Edelman had already blogged about “the crudeness and incomprehensibility of Kirby’s dialogue,” inspiring the initial Kirby Dynamics response. In the later post, he maintains that personal acrimony didn’t interfere with his job as letter column editor, but I beg to differ. The Captain America and Black Panther letter pages were used to stir up negative responses and to showcase the worst kind of bile imaginable, particularly unbelievable in a device used to promote the product. To justify this, and to enable them to claim “balance,” the editors made sure “positive” letters outnumbered the (often very personal) smear letters. A better description of the approach is, “Let’s see how much positive fluff I need to put in to allow me to print this terrific personal attack.”

    Balance? Stan himself would never think of printing a negative letter, and even wrote his own rave reviews (at least once signing his wife’s maiden name). Rob Imes recently posted Robin Snyder’s (positive) letter to Black Panther, and the attack letter that was deemed fit to print on the other side of the page is despicable. These are people who wished Jack to fail in spite of it being their job to promote the product.

  74. Allen Smith says:

    Agree, Roy seems to support Lee in the question of who created what. Which just means that in large part, the “Houseroy” portrayal seems accurate. Thomas is apparently writing a book on Lee.
    I can hardly wait for that one.:-)

  75. Allen Smith says:

    Somebody needs to come up with that quote from a Kirby fan that “Lee did nothing.” Lee did do quite a bit, very little of it good.

  76. Allen Smith says:

    True. We either credit prior creations similar to the FF, such as Kirby’s creation of the Challengers, or we credit Lee’s “creation myth”, based on his past track record of creating exactly nothing like it, to guess and speculate. But it’s speculation based on past performance. That, plus Lee’s infamous poor memory or conscious lying by omission, and the balance of what evidence there is points to Kirby.

  77. Allen Smith says:

    Robert Stanley Martin, if that’s what Pat Ford is doing, but I don’t think it is, then he’s learned from the master of bullshit, Stan Lee. And, what does Brock Hanke say about Lee’s work prior to the arrival of the true writers, Ditko and Kirby? Any relation between Lee’s writing on such brilliant things as Millie the Model and his later writing on the FF, for example? Minus the usual and boring soap opera angles, that is?

  78. Allen Smith says:

    And of course Kirby and Lee were co authors. A shame the credits at the time didn’t reflect that fact, isn’t it?

  79. Allen Smith says:

    In addition, there was more than just one concept common to the Challs and the FF. The Challengers lineup consisted of a jet pilot, a professor, a circus acrobat, and an Olympic wrestler. Who went on a journey managed to survive it, just as the FF did. They then dedicated their lives to helping humanity because they’d cheated death. Now, some of those things were common in other features, but those features didn’t have in common what the Challengers and the Fantastic Four did:
    Jack Kirby. Of course, Marvel was smart to make the FF different from the Challengers, or they might well have been sued.

  80. I stand by the view of Patrick you’re responding to. If you disagree, fine.

    I erroneously attributed the essay I quoted to Brock Hanke. It was actually written by Earl Wells.

    I’m glad you consider Lee the co-author. Maybe you’re aware of this (or maybe not), but with the first eight issues of The Fantastic Four, that’s all he claimed to be. There’s no division of credit. They’re just signed “Stan Lee + Jack [or J.] Kirby”. The ninth issue is the first appearance of the script/art or credits.

  81. Jeet Heer says:

    That Earl Wells essay Robert Stanley Martin cites makes an interesting argument but suffers from the fact that it compares the Marvel comics of the 1960s (credited to Lee and Kirby) with the solo comics Kirby did in the 1970s. What it ignores are the comics Kirby did (often as party of the Simon and Kirby studio) in the 1940s and 1950s. But if you use the 1940s and 1950s work as a starting point and survey the sweep of Kirby’s career, the continuity of the work is striking and the 1960s work looks like a logical extension of what came before (and very different than anything Lee did pre-1960s). Kirby, as Charles Hatflield noted in his recent book, never dropped a genre or a trope but constantly reworked his earlier material in new forms. One good example of this is that his extended foray into romance comics wasn’t forgotten in the 1960s superheroes but incorporated into them in the soap opera plots. Consider all the themes that we see in Kirby’s work in the 1940s and 1950s: the importance of teams that often have a shared origin or common history (everything from the Boy Commandos to the Challengers of the Unknown), technology as a disruptive social force, the fusion of the medieval gothic with sleek science fiction, the parallel fusion of mythology with science fiction, the super solider, and many other tropes and motifs. There is a real logic in the evolution of Kirby from the 1940s to the 1950s to the 1960s — a logic which makes clear that Lee’s role in conceptualizing those comics was secondary. Which is not to say that Lee didn’t play a role as a post-facto script writer and as the editorial director who gave coherence to Kirby’s wild & ceaseless creativity. But editorial direction and writing captions/dialogue for already plotted stories are very different things than conceiving ideas. (I should also add that this is a comment simply on the creative process — given the way the law is structured legally Lee & Marvel might deserve to win in court (a statement that says more about the law & legal system than the justice of the case).

    @Robert Stanley Martin: “I’m glad you consider Lee the co-author. Maybe you’re aware of this (or maybe not), but with the first eight issues of The Fantastic Four, that’s all he claimed to be.” Sure, in the first 8 issues Lee only claimed to be the co-author but after that for many years he claimed to be the sole author and creator (with Kirby having the secondary role as the drudge who executes ideas). Lee recently re-affirmed these claims under oath. Given the considerable forensic evidence to the contrary, Lee’s claim of sole authorship should be challenged.

  82. Jeet Heer says:

    Also, I’ll add that Robert Stanley Martin and Scott Grammel should be ashamed of themselves for accusing Pat Ford of using Nazi-style rhetorical techniques (i.e., what Robert Stanley Martin calls “the Big Lie campaign”). You may not like what Pat Ford has to say, but he’s invariably courteous (I’ve never seen him call anyone “senile” or a “homewreaker” or out to earn “blow money”). And the points he makes are highly relevant, based on pubic accessible sources, and worthy of consideration.

  83. Allen Smith says:

    A funny thing about the Marvel method: it benefitted Stan Lee more than it benefitted Marvel. If Stan did the editing as an employee, and free lanced the writing, then by doing any of the writing the artists were helping Stan Lee with his freelance work, weren’t they? That they weren’t compensated for? Marvel was going to have a story no matter what. If Lee didn’t want to cut into his free time by writing full scripts, why was that the artists’ problem? Lee would have had to use more of his free time to actually produce those freelance writing pages, it wasn’t the business of the artists to bail him out by plotting, suggesting dialogue, pacing the story via panel by panel art, etc.

  84. Allen Smith says:

    Of course, the creative drawback to having Stan write full script would be that we would have had to put up with the stories he wrote.

  85. Jeet–

    I’ll leave it to Earl Wells to defend his article. I’ll also leave it to Charles Hatfield to say if he wants his work being used to attack Wells in this manner. However, I will note that this attack is very typical of you, which is that Jeet Heer does not approve of Earl Wells writing about Jack Kirby because Wells does not demonstrate that he is a sufficiently obsessed nerd about Jack Kirby in Jeet Heer’s view to be able to offer what Jeet Heer considers a valid opinion. Of course, Jeet Heer only makes this sort of complaint when the writer takes a position that Jeet Heer doesn’t like and happens to be someone whom Jeet Heer doesn’t feel has the status to justify brown-nosing.

    I would also point out that to meet the Jeet Heer standard of holistic pedantry and therefore be qualified in Jeet Heer’s view to argue opinions that Jeet Heer doesn’t like, one would all but certainly have an idolatrous view of the author or artist in question. Jeet’s complaints, such as the one above about Wells, generally boil down to the fact that the critic isn’t sufficiently idolatrous. So, in order to solve this problem of less than idolatrous critics, Jeet Heer creates a standard of qualification that only an idolatrous critic is likely to ever meet. (Can one imagine anybody other than a huge Kirby fan having the wherewithal to plow through the Simon & Kirby body of work to the degree Jeet describes Charles doing?) In essence, Jeet’s view is that less than idolatrous critics are disqualified by dint of their being less than idolatrous.

    Your description of Lee’s testimony caricatures it to the point of falsification. For those reading, here’s some of what he said:

    ” I would just give them [the cartoonists] an idea for a story, let them draw it any way they wanted to. Because no matter how they drew it, even if they didn’t do it as well as I might have wanted, I was conceited enough to think I could fix it up by the way I put the dialogue and the captions in.”

    “as we [he and Kirby] went on, and we had been working together for years, the outlines I gave him were skimpier and skimpier. I might say something like: In this story let’s have Dr. Doom kidnap Sue Storm, and the Fantastic Four has to go out and rescue them. And in the end, Dr. Doom does this and that. And that might have been all I would tell him for a 20-page story.”

    “…we could work where I’d give them [regular Marvel cartoonists such as Kirby] a few words, and they could go ahead and come up with the written drawn story… [a]nd if they did anything a little different, it was usually an improvement…”

    Lee is definitely acknowledging the enormous volume of contribution that Kirby and the other cartoonists were making with creating the stories, even if he wasn’t phrasing it the way many would like. Any idiot could see he wasn’t saying they were just illustrating scripts. And his testimony is generally consistent with what he’s been saying from the 1960s onward about these matters.

    As for Patrick Ford, I’ve explained my characterization of his conduct, whether intentional on his part or not, as a Big Lie campaign above. I think it’s pretty clear. As for his “invariably courteous” conduct, this includes accusing Lee of perjury, Disney’s lawyer of suborning perjury, characterizing the standard practice of payment of legal settlements as money laundering, and repeating accusations that calling in a demand loan for a piddling amount of money relative to Kirby’s income was “duress.” Among other things, Patrick is recklessly accusing people of committing criminal felonies, which, in a word, is LIBEL. I am not using that word hyperbolically either; I mean it according to the legal definition in probably every state in this country and most likely Canada, too. Fortunately for both him and the sites that permit him to post this crap, the people he defames are either dead or public figures and have no legal recourse.

    I’ve pointed out the problems with many of his statements on the who-created-what-when issue elsewhere, and I stand by them. I am quite familiar with his distortions of material from “public accessible sources.” I’ve also found that in some instances the “public accessible sources” he cites for information appear to not exist, such as interviews in which Kirby claimed to have pitched the early 60s Marvel characters with single-page presentation pieces. If Jeet finds his statements “highly relevant” and “worthy or consideration,” I suspect it’s for the usual reason, which is that Patrick is saying things Jeet wants to hear, regardless of whether they have any validity or not.

    As for my alleged rhetorical excesses, I did not say Kirby may have been “wrestling with senility” to attack him. Senility is a very sad condition that afflicts many elderly people. It’s a terrible thing to see, and I feel very sorry for anyone who suffers from it. I only mentioned it to highlight that one should take what Kirby was saying with a large grain of salt, which even family friends such as Mark Evanier acknowledge one should do. If I’m attacking anyone with that statement it’s Gary. If he considered Kirby “pixilated” and “not all there,” it speaks very poorly of him that he would ever publish that interview. It’s exploitive, unethical, and absolutely disgraceful conduct on his part if that’s how he saw Kirby.

    I used the word “homewrecker” once to describe Joanne Siegel. Let’s see. She got romantically involved with a married man (a famous and ostensibly wealthy one, by the way) who shortly thereafter left his wife and young son in order to marry her. That fits the definition of “homewrecker” as I understand it pretty much perfectly. If Jeet has another one, I’ll be glad to consider it.

    As for “blow money,” I used the word “blow” as a verb. I did not, as Jeet appears to be claiming, use it as an adjective. I said Joe Shuster was a spendthrift, which is borne out by accounts of him in the 1940s before the Superman lawsuit, and those between the 1976 pension settlement and his death in 1992. I did not say he had a cocaine habit, as Jeet implies.

  86. George Bush (not that one) says:

    Great to see you here , Rob !!!

  87. Jeet Heer says:

    “Whether he intends it or not, his behavior comes off like a Big Lie campaign–if he repeats the bullshit loudly and often enough, people will eventually believe it, the truth be damned. It’s pernicious.”

  88. patrick ford says:

    Maybe RSM could supply the quote where I said Kirby said in interviews he submitted the ideas for the Marvel comics characters as presentation pieces.
    I do not think I said that. What I have said is Kirby said in numerous interviews as early as the ’60s he created the characters. I’ve also pointed out Kirby presented ideas for new characters in the form of presentation art and text.
    Jim Shooter described such a page for Spider-Man. There are pages of presentation art by Kirby from the ’50s, ’60s, and ’70s which I’ve linked to. The Marvel presentation art was likely recycled as pin ups or covers. That is my opinion. I don’t think Kirby ever even described submitting ideas to DC in the form of presentation art, but it’s known for a fact he did.
    With comic strips what a syndicate expects are a few weeks worth of finished strips. There are many of those created by Kirby.
    With comic books characters were generally presented as concept ideas in the form of sketches.
    This piece dates to the ’50s:

  89. patrick ford says:

    Joe Simon’s presentation art for CA and the way it was recycled as a splash page.

  90. patrick ford says:

    Bob Kane’s Batman presentation (maybe faked up, but still indicative of the typical way new characters were offered to publishers)

  91. patrick ford says:

    Simon and Kirby in the ’50s with Simon holding presentation drawings for the BOY’S RANCH characters Clay Duncan and Wabash:

  92. I’ve responded to Patrick on many, many comment threads on various sites and on Facebook, and I don’t keep track of what I’ve said to him on each and every one. I’ve asked him for interview citations about the alleged early ’60s presentation pieces on multiple occasions. This is the first time he has questioned that he ever claimed Kirby made such statements in interviews. If he never said such a thing, one would think he’d have disputed it on each occasion that I’ve brought it up. If one can locate the first time I asked him to cite the interviews, the parent comment by him is likely where he made such a claim.

    If he is now of the mind that Kirby never made such statements in interviews, since Kirby never appears to have done so, good. We hopefully will not have to revisit this particular question of sources again.

  93. Allen Smith says:

    I’ve seen enough scans of Kirby pencils to know that Kirby drew in many details. If Ayers had to add certain things, wouldn’t that be because he felt he had to, and not as a result of being told by Stan Lee that he had to do so? The early FF was good but is overrated, in part because it was a time period in which Kirby was producing very many pages and adding less detail to the art. Don’t see where that lesser detail had anything to do with Ayers’ inking what was on the page. If a page was insufficiently detailed to suit Ayers, all he had to do was just ink what was there.

  94. Allen Smith says:

    As for ‘ol Rich Buckler, Kirby’s art was at least good enough to have him, Buckler, use it as “inspiration”, to put it kindly, wasn’t it?

  95. Jim Boone says:

    Accusing Patrick of repeating a pernicious Big Lie is ironic, to say the least, considering it’s being done in defense of the man who wrote: The Origins of Marvel Comics.

    By his own a admission, RSM (rightly) believes that the ideas for the characters and concepts in question originate from Kirby, and this at very the least tacitly damns Lee as the liar he is.

    One only need examine Lee’s reaction in the taped interview when questioned as to his feelings about Ditko famously eschewing Lee’s written offer “Considering” Ditko as co-creator of Spider-Man.

    Lee has never really backed off his claims of being the true creator of everything, and the originator of all the crucial ideas.

    Whenever he seems to give others credit, it’s always with a nod and a wink that he’s just doing so because he’s such a great guy, not because they really deserve it.

    Ditko knew the man well enough, and saw through his “I consider” qualifier for exactly was it was.

    Again, Stan Lee has published books claiming that he was the creative force behind the Silver Age Marvel Universe, that he was the person who created all the characters and ideas (unless you count Captain America, whose creation he’d previously credited in writing to Martin Goodman).

    In the general public’s mind, Stan Lee was the writer/creator and Kirby, Ditko, etc. merely illustrators assigned to draw his stories.

    That is the only pernicious big lie that I’m concerned with here and seek to counter.

  96. patrick ford says:

    What Robert fails to grasp is Lee’s deposition testimony is nothing more than a slightly revised version of what he used to say in the ’60s.
    The Silver Age Lee version was to brush a few crumbs of meaningless credit Kirby’s way. The credit was meaningless because it was not reflected in the published writer’s credits or the writing page rate.
    Lee’s new version is he alone created every single one of the named and copyrighted characters 1958-1963 before ever speaking to Kirby. He also says he created every single basic plot 1958-1963 before ever speaking to Kirby.
    If a person accepts that as fact it places Kirby in the “work-for-hire” position of accepting assignments based on Lee’s creations. Once Kirby is in that position it does not matter from a legal standpoint what he adds to the characters. The design, the look of the character may be Kirby’s, but he did it on assignment from Lee and it’s work-for-hire. If Kirby took one of the characters or plots Lee says he created and expanded on the premise, it’s all work-for-hire because Kirby is in the cart position behind Lee’s horse and thus creating work-for-hire.
    What I consider to be a huge smoke screen (like everyone here I was not at Marvel or in Kirby’s home during the years 1958-1963) is what Lee has been doing for decades. What he does is various versions of this.

    “Jack is the greatest. He’s the greatest ever. Jack has no bigger fan than I. I’m Jack’s biggest fan. No one was as creative as Jack. Jack was incredibly creative. Jack was the most creative person I’ve ever worked with. No one can match Jack’s greatness and creative ability.”

    What is always missing are the names of copyrighted characters created between 1958 and 1963 which Lee says Kirby brought to him. And what is missing is even one instance where Lee credits Kirby with the springboard of a plot.
    This all seems very calculated to me. That’s my opinion based on my knowledge and observations. If other people want to think Lee in every instance created the characters and plots and gave them in a basic form to Kirby they are welcome to their opinion. I’ve heard it before, and don’t agree with them.

  97. patrick ford says:

    I didn’t dispute it because I think it’s best to ignore straw man arguments. I’ve seen every instance where you asked for a citation, and kept waiting to see if you had a quote from me where I said in plain terms Kirby said in an interview he gave Lee presentation pieces. Kirby is not even on record saying he showed Carmine Infantino the Fourth World presentation pieces. He’ll just say he showed the characters to Infantino. This does not mean he didn’t show them, he just was never specifically asked.
    As with many cartoonists it’s unfortunate that in spite of the fact Kirby was interviewed dozens of times he was never asked what seem like obvious questions. Part of this is old time interviews tended to be either “gee-wiz-golly” stuff for fanzines, or in more substantial interviews a person would try to cover Kirby’s whole career.

  98. patrick ford says:

    And to reinforce what Jim said. People tend to think who came up with the basic ideas for characters and plots are kind of trivial. Steve Ditko wrote a whole essay on the subject arguing correctly that the basic undeveloped ideas of characters are of little creative value and it’s what is done with those seminal ideas, how they are built upon and developed, that is important. And from an artistic (or creative POV) he’s correct. None of the early ideas are original or brilliant in any way. Just about all of them are directly traceable to old ideas Kirby had done before, and they are basic ideas Kirby himself had borrowed or adapted.
    From a legal POV the basic ideas are important because if Lee gave the basic characters and plots to Kirby that’s all it takes to place Kirby in the work-for-hire position.
    A potentially gigantic side note to this is the appellate court ruling which suggested even if Kirby created the basic characters and plots on spec at home in his basement without any direction from Lee at all, Kirby’s work is still branded work-for-hire the moment he sold it to Marvel because Marvel was his primary client, and he created the character with the intent of offering them to Marvel.

  99. Here’s the initial exchange in question, beginning here:

    Patrick: And of course Lee’s claim is that creators were always paid for any work done at HIS DIRECTION.
    This apparently would not apply to things not done at Lee’s direction, like the Fourth World characters. And of course the whole basis of the heir’s case reflected Kirby’s long standing claims that he brought Lee finished presentation art and text containing characters and plot suggestions he created of his own initiative on his own time and at his own expense (his labor and materials) in his basement with no guarantee they would be purchased by Marvel.

    My request for the interviews in response, two comments down:

    RSM (Me): Patrick–

    To the best of my knowledge, Marvel has never made any claim to ownership of The Fourth World material. It was part of Kirby’s relationship with another publisher several years after the material at issue in this case was created. Why do you keep bringing it up?

    Would you please cite the interviews or correspondence in which Jack Kirby stated “he brought Lee finished presentation art and text” in advance of any completed stories?

    [Boldface added to both comments]

    Patrick never responds.

  100. patrick ford says:

    The clear distinction there is Kirby never made those claims in an interview. If I had interview comments along those lines I’d have been quoting them. People who knew Kirby have said he brought Marvel the presentation drawings. It’s a major part of their case. It was a large part of Evanier’s testimony. Marvel didn’t return any of Kirby’s artwork in the Silver Age and probably made use of the presentation art as pin-ups. Since the heirs didn’t have anything sold to Marvel the examples they used were things Kirby offered to Marvel but which were rejected. Examples included Captain Glory.
    If Kirby’s presentation art existed it would probably have not made a difference anyway. Lee does not dispute Kirby produced a Spiderman story. He disputes the idea for the version of Spiderman based on The Fly was Kirby’s.
    If the presentation drawings for the FF suddenly were found inside Kirby old taboret by Neal Kirby I would assume Marvel would say Kirby created them after speaking to Lee.
    It’s really a simple issue. Lee says he created every character 1958-1963 before ever speaking to Kirby.

  101. Earl Wells says:

    Contrary to what Jeet Heer wrote above, in my essay I did not ignore the comics Kirby did in the 1940s and 1950s. I just reached a different conclusion.

  102. When you say Kirby had “long-standing claims,” it follows that they had to appear somewhere. And if it isn’t interviews or correspondence, it’s in hearsay. And if it’s in hearsay, it’s highly questionable. Forgive me for thinking you might have something worth pointing to.

    But let’s go through the hearsay claims. And keep in mind we are talking about the early ’60s characters ONLY.

    “People who knew Kirby have said he brought Marvel the presentation drawings. ” Name who said this, and provide citations.

    “It was a large part of Evanier’s testimony.” Quote where Evanier said this.

  103. patrick ford says:

    It follows in your view they would have had to appear somewhere. If there were quotes you would dismiss them in the same way you dismiss quotes where Kirby says clearly that he created the characters, just as you dismiss quotes from Jim Shooter that he saw Kirby’s presentation art for Spiderman.
    Here’s just a part of Evanier’s written declaration.

  104. Jeet Heer says:

    @Earl Wells: Fair enough. I was going by my memory of the essay, which I read two nearly two decades ago. It does seem to me that as more Simon and Kirby material gets reprinted in recent years, it’s easier to see the link between the Kirby of the 1940s/1950s with the Kirby of the 1960s — something I only had a small inkling of in 1995. (I hope, by the way, that my comments don’t — pace Robert Stanley Martin — come across as an “attack.” I think your essay is interesting and important — I just wanted to register why I didn’t agree with it.)

  105. Mike Hill says:

    Given Shooter’s memory issues, I think it’s fair to rely on his testimony only if you need a diagnosis of senility.

  106. “It follows in your view they would have had to appear somewhere.”

    Yes, it would. Or at least somewhere apart from your imagination. Jeet, do you want to reconsider your defense of this fellow?

    “If there were quotes you would dismiss them…”

    I don’t know if I would dismiss the quotes or not if I haven’t read them, or know who was making the statements. If it’s hearsay, yes, I’m inclined to be very skeptical, but it’s not a given. I think you’re not naming anyone or providing quotes because you can’t. Of course, I invite you to prove me wrong.

    Evanier makes no reference to presentation pieces for the early 60s characters in that statement you linked to.

    I do not blindly accept anything Kirby, Shooter, Stan Lee, or anyone else says when they’re talking about things that occurred decades earlier. If they have a clear ax to grind, I insist on weighing what they’re saying against other testimony and evidence out there. In this instance, my view is that the truth of who specifically created the characters is largely unknowable based on the evidence, and the only fair conclusion to draw is that Lee and Kirby were both responsible.

    Speaking of Mark Evanier, here is his view of the creation of the early ’60s characters from his deposition.

    EVANIER: You were asking me why I thought that the [Fantastic Four #1] synopsis had followed a meeting with Jack’s giving his input.

    Another reason is that the storyline of Fantastic Four is very similar in a number of ways to a comic Jack had done previously called the Challengers of the Unknown, very similar structure to the characters.

    It feels an awful lot more like Jack’s earlier work than anything that Stan had done to that date. So I find it very difficult to believe that Jack did not have input into the creation of the characters prior to the — that synopsis, whenever it was composed.

    And, also, I have the fact that I talked to Stan many times, and he told me — and he said it in print in a few places — that he and Jack had sat down one day and figured out what the Fantastic Four would be.

    Q: And they discussed the plot before they actually — the drawings were done?

    MARK EVANIER: They discussed the plot before the alleged synopsis was done also.

    Q: And was it your understanding, with regard to these other characters — and we can go through all of them, or just we can get a general understanding – that this was typically what was done, that Lee and Kirby would sit down together, discuss the plot, discuss the storyline, and then Kirby would go and draw whatever he was going to draw?

    MARK EVANIER: Correct.

    I don’t think this should be admissible in court, but I agree with Evanier here. This is probably the most accurate description of how the characters and stories were created that we’re ever going to have.

    Patrick, one last thing. I’m not challenging you because I’m a Lee partisan (I’m not) or I’m motivated by personal animus towards you. I’m getting after you because you make a lot of questionable and irresponsible statements, and if you’re going to publicly discuss these subjects to the degree that you do, you really need to clean up your act and show some rigor.

  107. patrick ford says:

    A few things concerning the Earl Welles article.
    I’ve been told Kirby considered the Nate Freedland article a staged P.R. act put on by Lee. Roy Thomas said in THE JACK KIRBY COLLECTOR #18 that he was not part of Lee/Kirby meetings in Lee’s office and he had no idea why he was asked by Lee to sit in unless it was as a witness because he played no role.
    The backdrop of the “story conference” is a time when Wally Wood had left the company after disputes with Lee which caused Wood to loath Lee for years afterward. Lee was not speaking to Ditko and Ditko left soon after the interview was published. According to Ditko, Kirby was on the fence as to leaving along with Ditko or staying on. Kirby did receive a page rate increase shortly after the interview which allowed him to reduce his workload and that is the promary reason he stayed on.
    Earl mentions an early ’70s interview with Kirby from MARVEL COLLECTOR’S HANDBOOK as an example of Kirby claiming he created the characters. Earl might not have been aware of, or possibly did not notice the date on two interviews collected in TCJ JKL. The Mark Herbert interview is from early 1969 more than a year before Kirby left Marvel. In there Kirby is asked:

    MARK HERBERT : You created and drew all of Marvel’s standard heroes?
    KIRBY: That’s right.

    In the same book is a May 14, 1971 interview with Tim Skelly where Kirby takes credit for creating the characters and makes the following statements:

    Earl goes on to give Lee a good deal of credit for some of the personality traits and thematic subtext of the stories.
    In my view all a person has to do is go back and look at the Golden Age NEWSBOY LEGION and you will see both the “heroes with problems” angle as well as the bickering group dynamic. The Newsboy Legion stories are almost all based in part on unremarkable events and circumstances. The boy’s are broke. A poor woman has a sick child. Another gang is taking the best spots to sell newspapers.
    Within the group itself are the basic personality types found in the FF. They are a near perfect match. The intellectual BigWords/Reed, the tough guy Scrapper/Ben, the provocateur Gabby/Johnny, and the diplomat Tommy/Sue.
    As far as other thematic concerns the best place to find those are in Kirby early ’50s Romance comic books. These go well beyond girl-boy nonsense and deal with issues like economic and social prejudice as well as human nature and frailty.

  108. Steibel says:

    Re: The Kirby/Lee authorship debate

    I see the legendary Kirby/Lee debate raging again — (Odin voice) “Forsooth, verily methinks it will probably continue forever in internet comments sections, er, unless Obama and Kerry start WW III and the world is nuked into the stone age. I have spoken.”

    The most compelling evidence I think proves Kirby was heavily involved in the process of creating the characters and writing the stories with visuals comes from Steve Ditko’s recollections of Jack’s first Spider-man story.

    Ditko: Insider’s History

    I think this proves pretty conclusively Jack was in the driver’s seat on the Spider-man property when he (Jack) was working on it — there’s no other logical explanation for Kirby’s Spider-man being so similar to the Simon/Kirby Fly.

    Yeah, yeah.. I know many (probably millions of) Marvel fans will say things like the FF/COTU similarities are “pure coincidence,” sort of like how the moon is the same size as the sun during an eclipse.

    But to suggest the Fly/Spider-man similarities are ALSO the result of “pure coincidence? To many, that defies logic.

    And sure, I realize Lee fans then claim, “Well, even if Jack did write the first Spider-man story, Lee MIGHT have pitched Jack the name Spider-man. So Lee created it!” The problem is that we have only one witness to that — Lee. And not only are some of his recollections on “history,” shall we say, questionable — this world would be in a lot of trouble if we mindlessly believed every word an individual says about a particular event without showing solid proof.

    Oh yeah, the world actually is in a lot of trouble for that very reason right this second!

    It’s definitely strange going about the rituals of daily life when the very real threat of nuclear war is hanging over our heads (or to quote George W. Bush “nu-que-lar” war). If the only thing that survives the armageddon is a flimsy Spider-man doll, one wonders what future sentient beings on this planet will think about the mysterious, dim-witted animals called humans who destroyed themselves.

  109. patrick ford says:

    Good luck with you having even the slightest effect on anything I have to say. Say hello to your handlers at Marvel.

  110. patrick ford says:

    The thing there is Lee was asked if Kirby brought him a Spiderman character based on The Fly and Lee said no.
    Sadly Lee’s deposition is so heavily redacted we don’t know if Lee claims there never was a “magic ring Spiderman” and that Kirby worked on the same “radioactive Spider-Man” Ditko worked from.
    Or if Lee said he created the “magic ring Spiderman.” And then later the “radioactive Spider-Man”
    We do know Lee admits Kirby created some Spiderman pages. In fact Lee said even though they were rejected Marvel paid for them.

  111. Allen Smith says:

    Does hearsay beat outright lies? In the case of Smilin’ Stan, it does? And, of course, there are exceptions to the hearsay rule in the legal domain.

  112. Allen Smith says:

    I have the definitive answer to the Marvel fans: they are senile.

  113. Steibel says:

    At the very least we have a witness (Ditko) who was right in the middle of the creation/writing process. Ditko’s report suggests to me Kirby was writing the first Spider-man story with visuals on the fly (if you’ll excuse the pun).

    Clearly the later Lee/Ditko Spider-man was different than Jack’s (although many elements like the Aunt and Uncle, webshooting, etc. made it into AF 15) but I do think Ditko’s essay (if it’s factual) shows us an example of a witness reporting that Jack was writing a story on his own and there’s no reason not to suspect that is what took place throughout the 60s on all the Kirby/Lee books.

    One has to wonder if Ditko laughed when Lee told him about the “new” character he had just created — Spider-man. Then Ditko had to carefully point out to Lee (s0 as not to get fired) that just like FF was a knock-off of COTU, Jack had done it again — Spider-man was a knock-off of the Fly.

    Not sure if Ditko is the type that likes to laugh a lot, but at that moment it might have been hard from him to hide his smirk.

  114. Allen Smith says:

    I disagree, Rob Steibel. The real smirk would come when Ditko read what Lee had written for the comics while comparing himself to Shakespeare.

  115. patrick ford says:

    We also have an eyewitness named Jim Shooter who said :

    “I saw, and held in my hand, exactly one such page. It was a page of design drawings. I remember that his version of Spider-Man had a “Web-Gun” and wore trunks, I think, like Captain America’s. He was far bigger and bulkier than Ditko’s version. There were no similarities to Ditko’s Spider-Man costume. I think he had boots with flaps. There were notes in he margin that described the character, again, nothing like the Ditko version. I think there was something about him being related to, or having some connection with a police official, which was how he’d find out about trouble going on. It was a long time ago, I can’t swear to that last item, but I can swear to the fact that it wasn’t similar to the Ditko version. I remember thinking, “This isn’t at all like Ditko’s.”

    So Shooter confirms the version of Spiderman Ditko identified to Lee as, “The Fly.” Not only that but Shooter says the Kirby Spiderman was in the form of design drawings with text describing the characters. It’s know that is the typical way Kirby presented new characters to publishers going back to the ’40s. The Kirby Spiderman presentation art also conforms to examples of Kirby’s presentation art for Marvel and presentation art he submitted to Marvel, but that was turned down and later sold to other publishers.

  116. patrick ford says:

    Leonard Pitts interview with Kirby.

    KIRBY: I didn’t present it to Ditko. I presented everything to Stan Lee. I drew up the costume, I gave him the character and I put it in the hands of Marvel. By giving it to Stan Lee, I put it in the hands of Marvel, because Stan Lee had contact with the publisher.

    PITTS: Now, Stan has said many times that he conceived Spider-Man and gave it to you and that he turned down the version you came up with because it was too “heroic” and “larger than life”-looking for what he had in mind.

    KIRBY: That’s a contradiction and a blatant untruth.

  117. patrick ford says:

    The funny thing about Lee’s “too heroic” explanation for rejecting Kirby’s Spiderman (the Spiderman whose presentation drawing Jim Shooter held in his hands), is Steve Ditko was looking at the drawings because Lee was giving them to Ditko to ink. It was only after Ditko told Lee the character strongly resembled The Fly that Lee told Ditko he would go and “talk to Jack.”
    You would think if the character was “too heroic looking” Lee would have noticed that before getting ready to have Ditko ink the pages. He probably should have noticed it when he was the same presentation drawing Jim Shooter said he “held in my hands.”

  118. patrick ford says:

    Steve Ditko on Lee and Lee’s fans.

    The Fantasy Lifters, © 2013 S. Ditko

    “Contradictory claims can’t both be true. One claim has to be untrue, false, a lie, with the relevant implications, consequences, for a deliberate deceiver.”

    “Comic book fans accepting, believing, spreading, [Stan] Lee’s unsupported claim reveals, exposes, a too willing self-blindness to facts, truths and honesty that dominates comic book fandom.”

  119. Allen Smith says:

    I’m curious, Robert. Why don’t you do your own research if you’re that concerned about the truth? Is anyone on this board under any responsibility to me, to you, or to anyone else? The statements on this board are starting points, do your own research.

  120. Allen Smith says:

    Ditko’s nailed it.

  121. Jim Boone says:

    Ditto Ditko.

  122. […] a too willing self-blindness to facts, truths and honesty that dominates comic book fandom.

    One wonders what Ditko makes of Kirby idolaters, as this reflects them very well.

    John Byrne has a nice allegory for the Kirby idolater attitude here.

    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 […] 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 […]

    I once told Charles Hatfield that I didn’t think this field was ready for serious critical and historical writing. If memory serves, he disagreed. I wish he was right, but sooner or later I’m always confronted with claptrap-filled discussions like this thread. I really wish the comics community would quit confirming me in my disdain for it.

  123. patrick ford says:

    Steve Ditko: “Comic book fans accepting, believing, spreading, [Stan] Lee’s unsupported claim reveals, exposes, a too willing self-blindness to facts, truths and honesty that dominates comic book fandom.”

    The Fantasy Lifters, © 2013 S. Ditko

  124. patrick ford says:

    Bernard Krigstein (interview with John Benson 1965):

    “I was delighted to learn that Lee has attained the status of an authority in the comics field. Twenty years of unrelenting editorial effort to suppress the artistic effort, encourage miserable taste, flood the field with degraded imitations and polluted non-stories, treating artists and writers like cattle, and failure on his part to make an independent success as a cartoonist have certainly qualified him for this respected position.”

  125. patrick ford says:

    Roy Thomas (TJKC #18):

    “…even Stan would NEVER claim for sure…”

  126. patrick ford says:

    Stan Lee (Dec. 9, 2010 deposition):

    (quoting from Alter-Ego Magazine Vol. 2 #2) “Incidentally, I didn’t discuss it with Jack first.”

  127. Jim Boone says:

    Must be quite a bummer leaving the rarefied air of your lofty perch to lower yourself into the gutter and slog it out with such intellectual troglodytes.

    But Just think…if you hadn’t done, posterity would have gone lacking your serious critical and historical John Byrne quotations which so eloquently illuminate the discussion.

  128. Mike Hill says:

    Robert, let’s take a look at this. Your stated mission is to “go after” Patrick. You do this by following him from article to article, denying or saying the opposite of what he says. Or worse, you claim Patrick’s motivations are your own, or Kirby’s virtues are actually Lee’s. You say Lee has told the same story from the beginning. No, Kirby has; Lee’s story never stopped changing until his deposition.

    “I do not blindly accept anything Kirby, Shooter, Stan Lee, or anyone else says when they’re talking about things that occurred decades earlier.” You blindly accept the conventional wisdom of the creation of the Marvel Universe, not questioning the origin of that conventional wisdom or his motivations. You reject Kirby’s assertions, not only from decades later, but from the very decade in question. You blindly accept Shooter’s uninformed (and self-serving) medical opinion, and reject vehement opposing claims by those who actually spent time with Jack.

    Why should Jeet defend “this fellow”? Because Patrick is not bound to the conventional wisdom by nostalgia, and is able to reject claims that are simply too far-fetched for rational people. Patrick doesn’t have any sources among former Marvel staffers to whom to ingratiate himself, and whose input, if he had your convictions, he would have to reject. Patrick doesn’t need to spread the unfounded rumour that Stan Lee is senile just to advance his argument. Patrick is not compelled either to temper his position, or to manufacture one, based on the fervent hope of one day being a close personal friend of Stan Lee (even if it’s only during an autograph signing, at the close personal friends rate of only $250).

  129. Steibel says:

    Robert Stanley Martin: “John Byrne has a nice allegory for the Kirby idolater attitude here…”

    Byrne: “… 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.”

    I haven’t followed John Byrne’s work since the lated 80s, so I’m not sure what he is up to. If he’s making analogies about tumblers having various amounts of liquid in them, thanks for sharing.

    One thing is for sure, based on what I do know about Byrne, in the 80s if you had one tumbler full of liquid representing the amount of money Jack made on his 60s Marvel creations vs. one tumbler full of liquid representing the amount of money Byrne made on Jack’s 60s creations, Byrne’s tumbler would have been overflowing.

    As for the typical demonizing of Jack’s fans, friends, associates, scholars, students and associates by labeling them “Kirby idolaters,” I guess when Byrne’s Puck character makes billions of dollars and a few people point out there is evidence Byrne created Puck, those fans will be labeled “Byrne Idolaters?”

  130. patrick ford says:

    Steve Gerber and Kirby had a good allegory for John Byrne:

    Booster Cogburn the Dislocated Spine.

  131. Steibel says:

    If there are three tumblers, each containing liquid. One is labeled STAN, one JACK, and one BYRNE, The one labeled JACK is filled to the brim with creativity, class, humility and character. The ones labeled STAN and BYRNE? They are probably empty, although I suppose there are a few coins still clanking in the bottom.

    And please, more John Byrne allegories…

  132. patrick ford says:

    Ever notice that people like Robert Stan Lee Martin (Goodman?) who apparently worship Stan Lee always resort to straw man arguments? Their favorite is to accuse Kirby’s fans of saying Lee created nothing.
    This is something I would never claim. My feeling is Lee did far too much. So much in fact that the stories published by Marvel are unreadable in my opinion. Lee made changes to the plots and characters Kirby created and sold to Lee. Lee’s rewrites are so intensive the published stories are often completely at odds with the intent of Kirby’s border notes. There are many well documented instances of this.
    My position is a simple one. The basic ideas, the nascent ideas, the springboards, flowed from Kirby to Lee. Once Kirby was finished with his part Lee began his.
    Lee also wrote the published dialogue. If people think it’s funny or profound, or goofy fun, then give Lee the credit for that.
    Saying Lee collaborated with Kirby is like saying Laszlo Toth collaborated with Michelangelo on the Pietà.
    Perhaps Lee’s greatest contribution was as the creator of the brand. I don’t in any way think most fans of Marvel relate to the material because of Kirby or Ditko. Marvel comics was Stan Lee.
    Darcy Sullivan a music critic who was the liner notes editor of RHINO RECORDS used to write an occasional piece for TCJ. In issue #152 Sullivan summed up Lee’s role:

    “Sullivan from TCJ #152: …everything in a Marvel comic book sounded like the manic persona Lee assumed.
    Lee addressed the reader as a smart consumer, generating brand awareness and promoting the idea one book’s success ought to rub off on another. The reader was told that appreciation of (read purchase of) this comic book placed him/her in an in-group of hip cognoscenti. The direct address of the line implied that the reader was a member of the group. A “pilgrim” Flattery like this got Marvel everywhere.
    Lee suggested the reader was a part of a club of connoisseurs who were too intelligent for comics.
    This massive denial helped Lee court a literate young audience, who historically gave up on comics some time during puberty. He sold his inherently pre-adolescent product. Marvel constantly noted that college students read comics. Despite Lee’s protestations, most creators—and certainly KIrby—knew they were making kid’s comics. Stan Lee says in the introduction to the Les Daniels book, “We fashion stories for adults which can be read and enjoyed by younger readers.” This is just part of Lee’s canny hype. Marvel stories respected the readers intelligence if the reader was 6-13; anyone else was just along for the cheap high. “

  133. Jim Boone says:

    Straw man, ad holmium attacks, and blocks of quotations which merely represent the opinion of others, which I guess represent the appeal to (dubious) authority in place of facts, examination of evidence, and critical reasoning.

    Fallacy trifecta.

  134. Jim Boone says:

    *ad hominem*

    I am a troglodyte…

    pretty much.

  135. Jim Boone says:

    I don’t discount Lee’s importance to the formative era of Marvel Comics and its legacy.

    I have no doubt that his contributions as editor were fundamental to the success of the company.
    He did give Marvel a face and a voice that however hokey and hyperbolic in retrospect, was very endearing considering the time and the place.

    He obviously had a vision which was unique in the industry and was able to articulate such to the delight of his audience, which as you say, was primarily juvenile.

    What I would take issue with is that these aspects of his stewardship constitute being a creator/writer/co-author rather than what I believe he was…an editor-in-chief

    I tend to think that tweaking someone’s stories (for better or worse), making plot suggestions such as: “Let’s have Dr. Doom return next issue, the kids really seem to like him”, along with scripting dialogue does not constitute being a writer, much less co-creator.

    This is what editors do all the time.

    Revisiting the record producer analogy; the difference between Lennon’s demo’s of Strawberry fields and the final recording with George Martin’s added orchestration is pretty substantial, yet no one presumes to elevate Martin to co-author of that work.

    Because that’s what producers do all the time.

    Had Stan Lee given proper credit to creators and the billing read: Written, penciled, and created by Jack Kirby, Inked by whomever, edited and scripted by Stan Lee, I’d have no problem lauding him for the wonderful memories and happily say that he deserves the millions he’s reaped over the years. He’d be the Bill Gaines of super-heroes.

    But that’s not what Stan Lee did. What he did was steal the credit for those creations from others in order to enrich himself. He had money as a motive and his rather unique position in the industry as the means to do so.

    He has claimed over and over again that he created those characters and stories, and has exhibited a pattern in his published writing since the 1940’s of blatant, indisputable lies regarding creator attribution (such as with Captain America which he credited to Martin Goodman 1947) through his Origins of Marvel Comics, and beyond.

    So I personally don’t think Stan Lee has ever created anything worth a damn aside from the myth of Stan Lee.

    My personal position on the subject requires no straw man argument in this regard.

  136. Allen Smith says:

    Anyone find it ironic that Kirby fans are called idolators, when it’s Lee who coined the term, True Believers, and Lee’s fans who go around acting as if they are True Believers. My contempt is complete and utter.

  137. Steibel says:

    Re: Jack Kirby “Idolaters”

    Allen Smith: says: “Anyone find it ironic that Kirby fans are called idolators, when it’s Lee who coined the term, True Believers…”

    Possibly because of the fascist connotaions (or maybe Marvel copyrighted the terminology), at some point Lee dropped the “Fearless Leader/True Believer” propaganda. Now he calls himslef “Your Generalissimo,” and he calls his fans “Brave Brigadeers.” And no, I’m not making that up. Examples:

    Your Generalissimo

    Brave Brigadeers

  138. Allen Smith says:

    Lee should change that little moniker: He should refer to himself as Chief Horse’s Ass, and to his followers as a “bunch of horse’s asses.” ‘Nuff said, effendi?

  139. T Guy says:

    Rob: ‘Kirby Purists will crucify me for this, but these types of moments where Lee steps out of the way and lets Jack’s imagery carry the story are very effective.’

    As, I suppose, some kind of ‘Kirby purist,’ I agree with your sentiment that Lee stepping out of the way is a good thing. I don’t see why you think anyone would disagree.

  140. Mike Hill says:

    My vote is “villain.”

  141. Earl Wells says:

    In the post above, Patrick Ford piles up a lot of facts in a way that might leave a reader who hasn’t read my essay with the impression that I am ignorant of those facts and/or that they refute what I had to say in my essay. I don’t know whether this is deliberate on his part or just an accidental consequence of his idiosyncratic style. In either case, I feel motivated to point out that a reader left with such an impression would be wrong.

    Ford mentions that the meeting between Lee and Kirby described in Nat Freedland’s article, in which Lee was portrayed as the dominant partner, may have been staged. A reader might infer that I consider the description important evidence on Lee’s side and that I didn’t consider the possibility that it was staged. Actually, in my essay I noted parenthetically that Lee may have been grandstanding for the reporter but that I’ve read other accounts of story conferences in which Lee behaved in a similar manner. See p. 76 of The Comics Journal Library: Jack Kirby. And I concluded that : “The historical record, at least as revealed in the articles and interviews published in the 1960s, yields as much evidence that Kirby was the author as it does that Lee was… .” See p. 77.

    Ford then provides “backdrop” information about the disharmony between Lee and his collaborators at the time of the Freedland article. A reader might infer that I was unaware of this disharmony and that my assumption of a harmonious relationship is somehow germane to the question of authorship. Actually, in my essay I quoted some lines from Freedland’s article about the friction between Lee and Ditko and noted that Ditko left soon thereafter . I also noted that Kirby probably wasn’t any happier than Ditko was. See p. 76. Whether there was a harmonious relationship or not is irrelevant to the issue of authorship and I never said otherwise.

    Ford mentions two early interviews, which I didn’t read when I wrote the essay, in which Kirby claimed credit for the 1960s Marvel stories . A reader might infer that I considered the date on which Kirby first claimed credit to be significant, and that earlier claims refute my thesis. Actually, I put no weight on the date on which Kirby first claimed credit. I simply pointed out the earliest such instance I had found, and included a couple of later, increasingly more extensive and vehement claims. I also pointed out an instance where Kirby said he and Lee “talked things out” when creating the stories. See p. 77. And my conclusion was the one I already quoted above about the historical record. Knowledge of the earlier interviews wouldn’t have changed my conclusion. (It’s interesting that the earlier of the interviews Ford cites, the Herbert interview, which was conducted in 1969 but not published until 1976, also contains instances where Kirby talks about collaborating in general and with Lee in particular rather than creating stories on his own. When Kirby is asked whether he ever wanted to do a comic book all by himself, he says. “I don’t feel that I should do everything myself. …Nobody does anything by themself. When a guy comes out and makes a statement like ‘I did this,’ you can be sure 50 people helped him.” See p. 8 of The Comics Journal Library: Jack Kirby. When asked who was responsible for Thor getting into “mythology-fantasy”, Kirby said: “Both of us, in a way. I researched it and gave my version of it, and Stan gave his version of it. Stan humanized it in a way where, for instance, I might be concerned about Thor’s relation to the other gods. I might bring up a Ulik or I might bring up something out of the wild blue yonder, like the Oracle… And Stan would come down to Earth and find Thor’s relationship with Earth people.” See p. 11. When comparing DC to Marvel, Kirby says: “Stan will look at all the characteristics of a character, which is good… .” See p. 13.)

    Finally, Ford states his belief that the similarities between Lee and Kirby’s 1960s Marvel stories and the earlier Simon and Kirby Newsboy Legion and romance stories are evidence of Kirby’s authorship. A reader might infer that I was not familiar with those stories and thus failed to notice their significance. I did not consider the Newsboy Legion or the romance stories in my essay, although I was aware of them. If I had considered them in my essay, my conclusion would have been the same as it was regarding Captain America, Boys Ranch, and the Challengers of the Unknown, all of which I did mention: Leaving aside the problem of erasing Kirby’s collaborators from the equation, I find the similarities to the 1960s Marvel stories limited and superficial compared to the monumental differences. But I also wrote that one couldn’t base a conclusion about authorship solely on those differences. See p. 79.

    What I did find conclusive was a comparison between the Marvel stories and the New Gods stories, but I grow weary of typing so I’m not going to go over that ground again. Anyone interested in what I had to say can read the essay in The Comics Journal Library: Jack Kirby. Anyone who isn’t interested I can sympathize with. I started research for the essay what seems like 100 years ago, and while I stand by my work, I am not interested in continuing to reiterate it like this.

  142. patrick ford says:

    Everyone interested should go read the Earl Wells article. He looked at much of the same information available to anyone who cares to find it and reached conclusions which I don’t agree with as to the authorship questions.
    Every person interested forms their own opinion of the facts , stories , and interview statements.
    The central dispute keeps getting lost when it comes to the Kirby/Lee issues. The basic dispute is when an idea for a character or plot was first broached did the idea spring from Kirby or from Lee. My feeling is something like Kirby’s Spiderman obviously was via Kirby based on the Spiderman logo he’d been given by Joe Simon, and the similarities between The Fly and Kirby’s Spiderman as described by Jim Shooter, and Steve Ditko.
    The Challengers of the Unknown have obvious similarities to the FF and the FF does not resemble the JLA.
    Thor is a character Kirby had very recently used at DC in a story concerning Thor’s hammer being found on Earth by an ordinary man.
    Sgt. Fury is very much like an adult version of The Boy Commandos and an idea for a newspaper strip John Severin says Kirby proposed they collaborate on in the late ’50s.
    In my opinion there is no doubt the characters (the vast majority of them) were based on Kirby’s springboards and early development.
    The characters would be presented as something very much like this:

    Obviously there are other people do not agree, and have their own opinions.
    A couple things on the Mark Herbert interview. The interviews date of publication does tend to confuse people. It even confused Stan Lee who thought he could seize on it to call Kirby a liar.

    Lee: I wrote the
    Origins of the comics for Marvel I think I even put it in my
    introduction, and he read that. He didn’t say anything then. But
    with the Hulk I wanted something that was a combination of the
    Frankenstein Monster and Jekyll and Hyde, and I’ve said that to people
    over and over again. And I read an interview with him somewhere, and
    he said, ³I’ve always liked Frankenstein and Jekyll and Hyde, and I
    wanted to do it.² And the son-of-a-bitch read that I had written it
    and it somehow became part of his–you know, how d’ya–

    The origins book was published in 1974.

    Here’s Kirby in early 1969 (a year before he stopped selling his freelance creative work to Marvel)) talking to Mark Herbert.

    Kirby: “I created the Hulk, and saw him as kind of a handsome Frankenstein. I never felt that the Hulk was a monster, because I felt the Hulk was me.”

    Kirby’s comments:

    ” Yeah, sure, you know, everybody has that feeling, that “boy, if they could let me by myself: ” Nobody does anything by themselves; nobody ever does. When a guy comes out and makes a statement “I did this,” you can be sure 50 people helped him. It’s true. The only time you do something by yourself is when you’re in trouble.”

    This is better understood in it’s full context. Kirby goes on for several paragraphs describing how no one ever does anything all alone. He say there are always 50 people behind them. He mentions that even in an instance where a man might be isolated in combat he has weeks of training behind him.
    It’s obvious Kirby always preferred to write and draw his own scripts. He even did a great deal of inking in the ’50s. He almost always had people behind him. The list of people helping him would be his parents, the Boy’s Brotherhood Republic, Hal Foster, Alex Raymond, Roz and other early influences. The list of people in front of Kirby helping him would be the letterer, the printer, the mailman, and anyone else connected to his life and work.

    The comments about Lee humanizing Thor I’ve seen people bring up dozens of times. In my opinion the comments again need to be seen measured against Kirby’s work, all his other comments, and particularly against the other comments in the interview.
    The Mark Herbert interview is interesting in large part because if you read the whole thing Kirby is constantly talking about human nature. He makes the comment I quoted above about not seeing the Hulk as monster because he sees himself in the Hulk. He talks about how gods and super beings are just entertaining fantasy character stand-ins for ordinary people. This is the same thing you see in the Greek, Roman, and Norse myths. The gods weaknesses are almost always human weakness.
    People (and I mean lots of people) have seized on the quote about Lee’s “humanizing.” It’s one scrap amid a long interview with deals with Kirby’s humanizing all through it’s length and in the context of the interview and all Kirby’s other comments on man and man’s nature I see the comment about Lee and Thor as Kirby simply saying Lee wanted the book to be more grounded on Earth where as Kirby wanted to move in another direction more like Tales of Asgard. Mark Evanier has talked about this quite a bit, and there are a 1966 set of presentation drawings by Kirby which he pitched to Marvel as part of his proposal. These are not the Fourth World presentation pieces which were created two years later in 1968.

    Like everyone else with an opinion on these matters I can’t prove my opinion is correct. I just put it out there for other people to consider.
    I’m really not interested in trying to convince anyone who has a hard opinion about this stuff to change their mind. The reason I post is because I assume there are new eyes all the time, and it’s not just old men, long time veterans of the Lee/Kirby debate who read this stuff.
    If everyone, who feels Kirby was the seminal creative force, withdraws from the discussion because they feel the debate has gone on too long and is embarrassing on some level , then as the years go by Lee’s version grows into greater prominence as it is advocated by his vastly larger number of fans (Kirby fandom is actually minuscule by comparison) and by huge media corporations.
    Before you know it you have federal judges identifying Lee as a comic book artist in their rulings.
    In 1998 Marvel was in Chapter 11 and ties with Stan Lee. Lee immediately (or very quickly) became part of a company called Stan Lee Media. In exchange for his position with the company, salary, and stock, he signed an agreement (very much like the agreement Kirby signed in 1972) assigning any rights he might have to the Marvel characters to Stan Lee Media.
    Stan Lee Media soon ran into all sorts of problems and Lee ended up back at Marvel as well as starting another company called POW Entertainment with his long time attorney and business partner Arthur Lieberman. Lee reassigned his rights (assuming he has any) to Marvel. This was challenged in court by Stan Lee Media and a federal judge ruled Lee’s transfer was illegal and the rights (asserted) remained with Stan Lee Media. Stan Lee Media then sued Disney for the copyrights on the characters. Lee gave a deposition for Disney a few months ago and just the other day a judge ruled in favor of Disney.
    Here is a little snip from that ruling. It’s the bottom of page one and continued on the top of page two.

  143. Mike Hill says:

    Thanks for the clarifications, Earl. I first read your article after reading RC Harvey’s rebuttal in TJKC. I think in the intervening “100 years” (thanks in part to Jim Amash’s interviews in Alter Ego), there’s even more reason to disagree with your conclusion, at least as far as it concerns collaboration.

    I have no problem with Patrick’s assessment that in public interviews, Kirby would have been aware of the ramifications of not putting a positive spin on his relationship with his boss. (That’s boss, not collaborator.) Even then he made a point of claiming creatorship/authorship.

    There’s no proof that regular story conferences weren’t part of Lee’s manufactured persona. Believing in the story conferences requires believing that at some point Kirby was happy enough with the relationship that he would spend that time with Lee, and there’s now ample evidence that this may never have been the case.

    I see the comparative darkness or maturity in the Fourth World books as a result of Stan’s “authorship” of the Marvel books after the fact, manipulating the original stories with dialogue and forced “redraws.” Jack’s outlook on life was understandably darker by 1970, considering the situation in the world and the fact that he’d spent the previous twelve years chained to Stan.

  144. patrick ford says:

    This clip is transcribed from a May 1971 radio broadcast interview Kirby did with Tim Skelly. The clip and major portions of the rest of the interview show Kirby making comments very much in line with his later comments from the ’80s. People might also want to give some consideration to the “Funky Flashman” story.
    Again though, read this clip from 1971. It’s very, very little different from what Kirby said about authorship in the ’80s.

  145. Allen Smith says:

    Interesting, Robert Stanley Martin. Why would any allegation that Joanne Siegel was a homewrecker have come up in a conversation in the first place? Why would it be relevant to any conversation as to who created what?

  146. patrick ford says:

    One of the best descriptions Kirby gave of the usual practice followed when developing new characters for a publisher was in his affidavit concerning the creation of Captain America and lawsuits filed by Joe Simon in the ’60s. Scans of the original affidavit can be seen here where they were posted by the Justia Law blog.

  147. patrick ford says:

    It’s often been said Kirby sided with Marvel by giving the affidavit. If a person reads the text I’m not sure what they could find in it that would be useful to Marvel.
    The case dockets for Simon’s lawsuits have never been examined so the precise nature of Simon’s complaint isn’t known. Simon told Gary Groth, “I have the copyrights right here.” That would suggest Martin Goodman failed to renew the copyright when it was ripe for renewal and that Simon had taken advantage of Goodman’s lapse by applying for the renewal himself as the original author. The confusing thing about that is 1969 would have been the time for renewal, and Simon is said (no one has looked at the records) to have sued Martin and Jean (Stan Lee’s mother’s sister) Goodman in New York state court in 1966 and then in New York’s federal court (2nd Circuit) in 1967.
    What is surprising is Marvel ever settled with Simon. Kirby’s affidavit is not a perfect match for Simon’s version of events, but on the only points related to copyright it would not undercut anything Simon might have said unless Simon claimed he created Captain America before being employed by Marvel. In the early ’40s Simon and Kirby were on staff at Timely being paid a salary, not selling material on a freelance basis to Timely at a piece rate.
    Based on all that Simon filed the lawsuits ( and I am not even sure they were filed) before the 28 year copyright term expired. Simon as an Editor on staff being paid a salary would seem to have no chance of prevailing in court. My guess is Marvel settled with him because they were aware Simon was looking for a relatively small sum of money and it was more cost effective to give him a few thousand dollars every time he came knocking than it was to pay their attorneys.
    In any event. Kirby’s description of the process used to create characters:

  148. patrick ford says:

    Kirby continues. Notice the big difference between Kirby in the ’40s being paid a salary as a staff employee at Timely and working in the office, and Kirby’s situation in the ’60s as he described to Tim Skelly in 1971, where he was a freelancer working out of his own home for a piece rate.

  149. patrick ford says:

    In both instances (employee on salary and freelancer working on spec) the copyright for the work created is assigned to the publisher. The creators understood this. What they usually did not understand is after the first 28 year copyright term expired the copyright had to be renewed by the publisher, and that the 1976 copyright act granted termination rights to the original author if the author could show the work was not created as “work-made-for-hire.”
    This is why it became so important for Perfect Fim and all of Marvel’s subsequent owners to have Stan Lee to claim all the basic springboards came from him.
    Lee was both an employee as editor and a freelancer as a writer. Lee says he created the characters as part of his editorial duties and presented them to Kirby (and other creators). That scenario immediately places anyone accepting work based on Lee’s original ideas as working on an assignment from Lee. At that point they are in the work-for-hire position. It does not matter if Ditko or Wood, or Kirby created a visual representation of a character, or built up Lee’s plot, because they are working with ideas given to them by Stan Lee.
    Lee does not limit his testimony to taking credit for little scraps on an idea. An example of this can be seen is his deposition testimony concerning Daredevil.
    The conventional wisdom on Daredevil is Martin Goodman investigated trademark registrations and found the trademark on the old Daredevil character had lapsed. Goodman seems to have been of the opinion creators were interchangeable parts and it was characters or even the name of a character, which appealed to the average fan (Goodman’s reasoning is apparently well founded).
    Goodman then asked Lee to develop a Daredevil character. The standard assumption is the first costume was designed by Kirby. It is almost certain the cover of the first issue was Kirby’s design drawing. Lee is then thought to have discussed things with Bill Everett and most people assume the character being blind was Everett’s idea. Everett’s daughter Wendy has made this claim herself several times, and most people accept it.
    When Lee gave his deposition for Marvel he claimed the hero being blind was his idea. He also said he could not remember the particular villain in the first issue, but he did remember he created that villain (I guess just to cover the copyright bases?). What is funny about that is the “villain” in Daredevil #1 is a fat guy with a cigar who dies of a heart attack and is never named.

  150. patrick ford says:

    Lee takes credit for what Wendy Everett says her father brought to the strip:

  151. patrick ford says:

    It must be nice to be Stan Lee, because he can remember creating villains without names, but he can not remember he’s being paid $125,000 per year to write the Spider-Man newspaper strip. Apparently $125,000 is a sum easily forgettable once you have millions.

  152. Allen–

    Jeet Heer was referring to a statement made in a comments thread that followed an article about the Superman case. The thread had absolutely nothing to do with questions of created what with regard to Marvel or anything else. I made a passing reference to Joanne Siegel with that term to razz Patrick for his idealized view of her in particular and his absurdly Manichean perspective in general.

    To the extent anyone is curious, I do think anyone who would knowingly cause a parent to abandon a child, as Joanne Siegel did with Jerry Siegel and his son, is contemptible.

  153. Mike Hill says:

    Allen, it’s a legal term generally used in copyright disputes to claim the moral high ground. If someone wanted to razz RSM for his idealized view of Stanley Lieber, they might use the same term (see paragraph beginning “Back in the world in 1946…”):

  154. Those curious about the genesis of this little tangent can click here:

    Did you guys all email each other before deciding to bring this up over here?

    One thing, though. There’s a big difference between the Lee situation and the Siegel one: Joan Lee had only been married a year and didn’t have any children to victimize with a divorce. Encouraging someone to break up with a spouse is not by itself anywhere near as objectionable as doing so knowing that the person is going to be walking out on a child as a part of that. Of course, for anyone who thinks I idealize Stan Lee, the moral distinction is probably completely lost on them.

  155. Allen Smith says:

    No, Robert, believe it or not we come to our own conclusions independently. And, as for whether it’s more reprehensible to break up a marriage where a child is involved, or where a child is not involved, I haven’t given any thought to. A negligible difference to base one’s outrage on, I think. Both are bad, no reason whatsoever to excuse one and not the other. Unless one is bending over backward and excusing conduct for some other reason. Like idolatry.

  156. Mike Hill says:

    The point is, Robert, that homewrecking doesn’t really enter into copyright law.

  157. Allen Smith says:

    Jim Boone, here’s what I came up with that Stan created that was along the lines of what he “created” at Marvel: …………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

  158. patrick ford says:

    Mike, The point is smearing the reputation of people was part of the Warner strategy. It gives people who are desperate to see the next Superman movie an excuse to despise the creators, and their families. The geek community acted as a pro-Warner peanut gallery eagerly parroting every smear Warner disseminated .
    This is what is known as the “court of public opinion.”
    I’ve been told by people interested in the copyright cases that they wonder if some of the online commentators acting as Warner and Disney mouthpieces are on the pay roll. My guess is there is no need for that. These people are deeply invested on an emotional level with Batman and Spider-Man. Things which get between them and “Peter” and “Bruce” make them very angry. They look around for anything to justify their anger and discover Laura Siegel Larson was “a home wrecker,'” a “real piece of work” and other vile descriptions which label her as less than “Super heroic.”

  159. patrick ford says:

    The “home wrecker” smear is being directed at Joanne Siegel the wife of Jerry Siegel. My error above. Laura is their daughter.

  160. Jim Boone says:

    I find it very telling that the Stan Lee fanatics seem only to attack rather defend their man by simply pointing to creations and prototypes similar to anything found in the Silver Age Marvel Universe that appear in Lee’s work prior to his association with Kirby in 1958.

    It would stand to reason that his creative trail ought to be fairly easily identified given the nearly two decades (1940’s-late 1950’s) that such an incredibly imaginative individual as Stan Lee was producing work within the comics industry, unless the premise is that Stan simply began creating stuff one day out of the blue.

    I’ve yet to see this point adequately addressed by anyone.

    Stan Taylor offers a pretty good examination of Kirby’s habit of recycling tropes from earlier work, particularly in relation to the creation Spider-Man, as well as the plot elements found and first several issues of ASM. He does offer several insights into the origins & prototypes of other Marvel characters (along with many of their supporting casts and major themes), such as The Hulk and Thor, etc.

    While I disagree with some his conclusion regarding the overall value of Lee’s editorial input, his article does make a clear & compelling case for assigning proper credit for origins of the Marvel Universe, backed by evidence and not opinion.

    Which is More than can be said about some of the pro-Lee responses found in this comment section.

    Stan Taylor’s article can be found by searching Adelaide comics and books com kirby case.

  161. Sigh.

    I didn’t bring up the Joanne Siegel remark in this thread. And if Mike feels so strongly that these subjects should be excluded from discussion, why did he bring up Stan Lee’s marital circumstances?

    As for Patrick, on one day his view is that my attitudes about art, literature, and so forth are so highfalutin I shouldn’t be bothering with comics, and on another, I’m a Marvel/DC superhero fanboy desperate to see the latest Superman movie. Whatever.

    A negative statement is only a smear if it can’t be substantiated. Patrick may not like the tone of that characterization of Joanne Siegel, but it is confirmed by probably every published biographical account of Jerry Siegel that discusses his personal life in the 1940s. A recent example is Larry Tye’s Superman: The High-Flying History. The characterization is therefore not a smear. If Patrick would like to see some examples of smears, I invite him to click here and read the eighth paragraph. It’s the one beginning with “As for Patrick Ford…”

  162. Jeet Heer says:

    “A negative statement is only a smear if it can’t be substantiated.” Um, no. This assumes that everyone agrees with the prescriptive morality embedded in the negative term. For me, “home-wrecker” is a horrible term to use because it carries with it a heavy weight of patriarchal and sexist assumptions (it’s a sibling term to “slut”: both are terms used to shame women who behave in ways that violate the sexual double standard). This may come as a shock to Robert Stanley Martin, but not everyone adheres to a morality of heteronormative compulsory monogamy, nor is everyone so quick to judge the personal lives of people they don’t know in cases where the facts and circumstances are by necessity ambiguous. I would strongly encourage Robert Stanley Martin to read some literature — say James Joyce, John Updike, Alice Munro, Phillip Roth and Margaret Atwood — to get some sense of how complex human relationships can be and the folly of drawing too quick and easy moral lessons from the workings of human emotions.

  163. patrick ford says:

    Jeet, There are lots of self anointed high moral characters in the world. Kirby had them pegged.

  164. Jeet–

    I am horrified by what you wrote. I’m not saying this in any polemical or hyperbolic sense. If you believe what you wrote in the above comment, you are a moral idiot. You’re running interference for people who for selfish reasons are effectively engaging in child abuse.

    I believe there are shades of gray with adultery. There are marriages that are essentially glorified boyfriend-girlfriend relationships, and I don’t have any real problem with an extramarital relationship breaking things up in those instances. I don’t think much of cheating, though; I do feel people have a moral obligation to at least strive towards being monogamous at any given time.

    However, when there are children in a marriage, my view is very different. Morally, I feel a parent’s first obligation is to do what is in the best interest of the children. As an outsider, one has a responsibility not to indulge in behavior that would result in a parent straying from that obligation. Getting romantically involved with a married parent, and then breaking up that marriage, generally results, as it did in the Siegel situation, with the adulterous parent withdrawing from the child’s life. That will invariably traumatize the child. Even suspicion or knowledge of an affair is sufficient to cause a child serious emotional upset and accompanying psychological problems. Getting romantically involved with a married parent, much less breaking up the marriage and so forth, is wrong because, among other reasons, it has a corollary effect of psychologically abusing the parent’s children.

    You actually think this is excusable?

    For what it’s worth, I think Jerry Siegel’s conduct was even more contemptible than the future Joanne Siegel’s. I have no problem referring to him as a philanderer, and in light of his post-divorce conduct, a deadbeat dad.

    I also do not regard “homewrecker” as a gendered term. If a man gets involved with a married woman with children and breaks up the marriage, I think it’s perfectly appropriate to call him a homewrecker, too.

    I am very familiar with all the authors you listed, and probably at least as familiar as you. However, based on your comment, I really don’t think you should be reading them. You don’t have the sophistication or maturity to process their writing if it’s resulting in the sort of appallingly relativistic position you’re effectively taking above.

    I think all this is very, very sad.

  165. Jeet Heer says:

    @Robert Stanley Martin. I’m sorry but the term “homewrecker” automatically carries within it gender implications (even if you turn it around and apply it to men, the origins are the word are in historical sexism, just as the word “slut” retains its sexist taint even when applied to men). In any case, adultery and marriage break-ups are almost always sad things, but in my experience it’s very difficult to make categorical judgments about specific cases we don’t know — we can’t know — the intimate details of another person’s life. “The heart of another is a dark forest.” Why did Jerry Siegel’s first marriage fall apart? Why did Joanne and Jerry fall in love? We have post-facto accounts but these of necessity outsiders perspectives. I don’t think we should be so quick to label other people as “homewreckers.” (Even moreso when such labeling really has nothing to do with the topic that was being discussed — a court case about copyright). As for the “think about the children” argument — it’s not as simple as you may imagine. Children can and are damaged by adultery & divorce, true. But that’s not invariably true: perhaps you haven’t had this experience, but I’ve certainly known kids from divorced households who came out not just unscathed but with healthy, happy relationships with their parents and step-parents. This might seem unbelievable to you but it can happen. Further, children can also be damaged by parents who stay together but don’t love each other. Human relationships are complex, strange and unpredictable — it’s not a bad thing to have a little humility in the face of this complexity.

  166. Jeet–

    Your obvious problem is that you don’t recognize that things come in for moral condemnation because they are considered harmful to individuals and society as a whole. Not because patriarchal mindsets find the moral condemnation handy for purposes of oppression, but because they are harmful.

    While there are exceptions to the consequences of parental adultery, the consequences I described are what generally can be expected. It certainly appears to be the way things worked out in the Siegel situation. I have no doubt there are instances when murder works out fine and dandy for everyone connected to the person killed, and examples of women who fall in love with their rapists, etc., etc., but it does not follow that rape and murder and so forth are morally acceptable actions as a result. Or should we “have a little humility in the face of this complexity” and keep an open mind?

    You may feel the term “homewrecker” is gendered in the way that “slut” is gendered, but dictionary writers don’t appear to agree. The Oxford Dictionary (click here defines “homewrecker” as “one who is blamed for the breakup of a marriage or family, such as an adulterous partner.” The word “slut” is defined as “a woman who has many casual sexual partners.” As can be seen, the first is gender-neutral, and the second is not. Whatever the etymology of the term “homewrecker,” it’s not considered gendered now.

    If you think a subject is out of place in a discussion, then don’t bring it up. I note you’re the one who introduced it to this one.

  167. For those curious, here is where I brought up the term “homewrecker” in the Superman discussion. It was in the context of a comment about Siegel and Shuster’s financial situation after their 1948 lawsuit settlement. A couple of comments afterward, I acknowledge it was gratuitous and done to gadfly Patrick’s overly sentimental view of her.

  168. Jeet Heer says:

    @Robert Stanley Martin. “A couple of comments afterward, I acknowledge [calling Joanne Siegel a “homewrecker”] was gratuitous and done to gadfly Patrick’s overly sentimental view of her.” There’s a technical term for someone who makes gratuitous, insulting comments in order to rile people up: troll. I would argue that all of Robert Stanley Martin’s writing on comics are in fact an extended game of trolling.

  169. R. Fiore says:

    I believe the problem with the term “homewrecker” is that it presumes all responsibility lies in one party. Has it ever been applied to anyone other than a woman? In an affair the outside woman hasn’t pledged fidelity to anyone; the husband has. It is up to each individual in a romance to certify his or her availability, isn’t it?

  170. Translation: I’ve lost this argument, so I’m now resorting to name-calling to assuage my ego.

    You’re bringing the matter up in the context of this discussion is trolling, too. Who are you to be getting all huffy about it?

    There was a deeper purpose to doing that with Patrick. As I’ve said, he has an extremely black-and-white/good-versus-evil perspective. He either hallows people or demonizes them, and there is no in-between. I believe this tendency is at the heart of the conduct I object to on his part, which as noted elsewhere, includes libeling people, gross misrepresentation of sources, and treating extremely fanciful speculation as the God’s honest truth. Pointing out that a person he’s hallowed has actually engaged in some fairly odious behavior–with the implicit bit that he would never know of her if she hadn’t engaged in said odious behavior–was a small effort to try to break him out of these counterproductive paradigms of thinking.

    I don’t know what your justification could be. As near as I can tell, it’s about creating a sideshow to distract from the issues being discussed.

  171. pallas says:

    ” He either hallows people or demonizes them, and there is no in-between. ‘

    But that’s just what you did, Robert, saying you were “ill” at the idea anyone could have empathy for divorcees.

    You’re also said taking advantage of a congressionally granted copyright reversion statute is a moral failing (at HU) and later went into the same demonizing of the Siegels you claim other are doing to DC or Marvel.

    So basically you’ve demonstrated you have an axe to grind while accusing other of having an axe to grind.

  172. Pallas–

    Where did I say that I was “‘ill’ at the idea anyone could have empathy for divorcees”? Quote, please?

    At HU, I wrote that it was unethical to abrogate a contract that had been entered into in good faith. I stand by that. And where have I libeled anyone or otherwise indulged in the behavior I’ve criticized Patrick for? Be specific, please, as with quotes.

  173. Jeet Heer says:

    @Robert Stanley Martin. “Translation: I’ve lost this argument, so I’m now resorting to name-calling to assuage my ego.” This may shock you, but the discussions on this board are not formal arguments, they are not scored by anyone, and can only be “won” or “lost” inside your head. If it were a formal argument, I (and others) might make more of an effort to refute each and every one of your absurd arguments. But since it’s just a comic book discussion board, I (and others) take a more scatter-shot approach.
    Re: the term “homewrecker.” My copy of the Canadian Oxford Dictionary says, “a person, esp. a woman, who causes the break-up of a family by seducing one of the spouses.” As per Wikipedia, “Women are more often labelled homewreckers than are men; the additionally pejorative term ‘golddigger’ is sometimes also used in such instances.” (Your own account of Joanne Siegel contains the hint that she was a golddigger, so this seems relevant). I’ll add that I’ve never seen the phrase “homewrecker” applied to promiscuous men who are in the habit of sleeping with married women. Homewrecker is the obvious inverse of homemaker — i.e. a good wife. The sexist implications of homewrecker should be clear: it implies that its the job of women to be guardians of sexual purity, that men are going to be naturally randy, that if a man leaves his wife for his mistress that is the fault of the mistress rather than the man. By calling Joanne Siegel a homewrecker you’re implying that if she hadn’t re-entered Jerry Siegel’s life, he would have remained happily married and been a good father. And I’m sure if Monica Lewinsky hadn’t been around, Bill Clinton would have been a model of presidential chastity. The reason I brought up the “homewrecker” issue is that you had accused Pat Ford of using “the Big Lie” technique, and I wanted to illustrate the problems with your own rhetorical and argumentative style. “Handwrecker” was a handy example, but there are many more out there (as I said before, neither I nor anyone else has the patience to refute each and every one of your fallacious arguments.)

    As for “what my justification could be” — I would like to have a productive discussion about these issues. I think there are compelling arguments on different sides of these issues — especially the Lee/Kirby authorship question. For example, although I disagree with his conclusions, I think Earl Wells’s essay has a lot of insight and has helped deepen my understanding of Kirby’s and Lee’s work. I think you’ve also made some good points but they tend to get lost in the overheated and sometimes reckless rhetoric you employ. So my justification is that I want to call attention to your bad rhetorical habits in the hope (possibly a vain hope) that you’ll become a more careful writer.

  174. pallas says:

    “Where did I say that I was “‘ill’ at the idea anyone could have empathy for divorcees”? Quote, please?”

    Robert I just checked your post again and you just used the terms “child abuse” “moral idiot” “and “horrified” and compared divorce in the context described to “murder” you’re correct that the term “ill” was never used, my mistake.

    Those words pretty clearly show a lack of empathy and a hyperbolic, black and white approach to the topics under construction.

    I don’t know you, man, you might be a reasonable guy in real life, but you’ve sort of torpedoed your ability to claim the moral high ground in an approach to a discussion.

  175. patrick ford says:

    He said he was “horrified.”
    Hyperbolic might have been more accurate.

  176. Allen Smith says:

    Just curious, again, Robert: why would the Kirby heirs or their attorney release any information to you? Do they owe you anything?

  177. Jeet–

    I would have a much easier time taking this seriously if the time you spent debunking my allegedly fallacious arguments was even a small fraction of what you’ve spent carrying on about some small bit of loaded rhetoric I used in a separate discussion several weeks earlier.

    If you have a problem with my describing an aspect of Patrick’s conduct as a “Big Lie” campaign–and I have granted from the start he may not intend it as such–why don’t you try to refute the accusation? You might want to offer what you feel is the best definition of the term and explaining how Patrick’s conduct is different. Instead, you direct personal attacks at me for daring to say such a thing.

    Have you made any effort whatsoever to refute the quite specific criticisms I’ve made of Patrick.? All I can recall is you vouching for his “invariably courteous” manner.

    When I argue with Patrick or with you or anyone, I make a point of addressing the specifics of what is said. If I make negative characterizations, I do my best to support them with specific complaints. If I don’t initially offer support for those characterizations, I’m pretty good about providing it when challenged.

    What I see again and again with you is an all but unwavering disdain for any point of view that runs contrary to your own, regardless of how valid it might be. (And you don’t have to agree with a point of view for it to be valid and worthy of respect.) To pick an immediate example, you could have just said you accept that I didn’t intend “homewrecker” as a gender-based attack, and that seeing it as a gender-neutral term is perfectly valid and supportable. Instead, you won’t let the issue go. There’s this pedantic deluge to support your view of it being a gender-specific term. Your approach is try to set yourself up as the bigger expert on whether the word is gender-specific or not, and that’s not a game I have any interest in playing. I don’t need to. All I have to do is point to that definition, which is at least as authoritative as anything you can cite, and that is that.

    Your frequent default approach in any disagreement is to either paint yourself as the bigger expert, or to belittle the other for not meeting what you consider an appropriate standard of expertise. Engaging with what they say is far more the exception than the rule. I have no respect for that approach to debate. I have very little time for alleged experts whose attitude is, Trust me, I know more than the other guy. Paul Wolfowitz and Dan Senor I’m sure know a lot more about the Middle East than I do, but I reject most of what they say. When I look at the specifics of what they promote, I think they’re out of their minds, and the world has tragically had to see that borne out by the implementation of their ideas in practice. If you’re not going to engage with people’s arguments, I think it’s preferable if you just kindly stay quiet.

  178. Mike Hill says:

    @RSM: Is you accusing Patrick of libel any different that accusing someone of perjury? I can tell you which one would be easier to prove in court. And is it your contention that the troll automatically wins the argument as soon as the title is conferred, or do you consider the title to be the fruit of your victory?

  179. Scroll down.

  180. patrick ford says:

    Lee claims he brought the characters and plots to Kirby. Kirby claims he brought the characters and plots to Lee.
    Based on what I have read my opinion is Kirby was bringing the characters and plots to Lee.
    The fact RSM equates that with libel is hard to fathom. Is that what it’s come to now? A person who believes Kirby created the characters and plots is libeling Lee?
    I’ve said this over and over again. Based on what Kirby said, what I have read about Kirby’s working methods, what people who knew him have said about Kirby’s talent for character creation and plotting, and my readings of his work prior to the 1958-1963 time period, it’s my opinion that Kirby created the characters and plots and gave them to Lee.
    So having an opinion is libel now? Really?

  181. Patrick–

    You are now saying you believe all of Lee’s statements in his deposition were either made in good faith or you’re willing to give him the benefit of the doubt. Is that correct?

  182. patrick ford says:

    Was there something unclear about my last post? I believe Kirby created the plots and characters. That’s my OPINION. I have no hidden camera footage or secret recording from 1958-1963. There is a difference between having an opinion and saying you know something for a fact.

  183. patrick ford says:

    Are you not aware that even the majority of Lee’s fans dispute a lot of what he said in his testimony? The usual explanations are; Stan being Stan, Stan has said these things so many times he’s come to believe them, Stan has a poor memory, Stan was confused, etc..
    In his Dec. deposition Lee described how in the late ’40 Martin Goodman fired the whole Timely staff and began buying only freelance work. Lee then said John Romita had been kept on as art director. Obviously that is not correct. So there is an example of Lee being wrong. Does he have a bad memory, maybe his memory is bad about other things as well.
    I’m pretty careful about not calling Lee a liar. It’s because the word is unproductive and inflames the debate. I’ll just stick to saying Kirby’s version of events sound more logical to me. Maybe Lee can’t remember what happened, maybe Kirby didn’t remember?
    Like I just said. Kirby creating the characters and plots makes more sense to me. It’s my opinion. If you think it was Lee that is your opinion.

  184. Patrick’s response above:

    Was there something unclear about my last post? I believe Kirby created the plots and characters. That’s my OPINION. I have no hidden camera footage or secret recording from 1958-1963. There is a difference between having an opinion and saying you know something for a fact.

    The issue of Lee committing perjury very specifically relates to his statements in his deposition. The central question is did Lee tell the truth in that deposition to the best of his knowledge and belief.

    If Patrick is saying he does not believe Stan Lee committed perjury, then he is saying that Lee told the truth in his deposition as he best understands it.

    If Patrick is saying that he does not believe Lee told the truth as Lee best understands it, then he is saying that Lee committed perjury.

    Which is it? I didn’t ask whether you agreed or disagreed with what he said. I asked if you were saying you didn’t think he was making knowingly false statements under oath.

  185. Let me jog Patrick’s memory a bit. This was the specific comment I had in mind when I said he accused Lee of perjury and Disney’s lawyer of suborning perjury:

    Lee told that story about the “artists” being paid for rejected work right after a little pep talk from Disney attorney James Quinn which Toberoff observed and mentioned to the judge in a letter. This isn’t even one of those cases where people could blame this on Lee’s bad memory, because he is pretty obviously testifying on command from the Disney/Marvel attorney.

    Now, while Patrick doesn’t use the words “lie” or “perjure” or “suborn” here, the clear inference is that Quinn suborned knowingly false testimony from Lee on the subject of the rejected art. His obvious meaning with “He is obviously tetifying on command” is that Lee perjured himself on the subject, and Disney’s lawyer suborned that perjury.

    This is, by the way, very different that what Toberoff did in his letter to the judge. Toberoff just described what he saw, made no characterization of it, and asked the judge if she would look into it.

  186. patrick ford says:

    Right I’ve posted that several times. Lee said artists were always paid for rejected work as long as it was assigned by him. He was contradicted by numerous other witnesses. It looks to me like he was coached by James Quinn. Was I there? Did I say I overheard their conversation? Did I say I know for a fact what Quinn and Lee were talking about? …Are you serious? You’re trying to be funny right?

  187. Mike Hill says:

    There is much talk from Disney’s minions, the ones who patrol these fora looking for pro-Kirby discussions, seeking people who can be intimidated, that any pro-Kirby talk revolving around Stan’s deposition threatens to land people in court. “If Stan were a litigious person, you could be jailed for what you wrote.” I find this encouraging, because it would mean another chance to get Stan on the stand to answer for any discrepancies his testimony has with that of his brother, or any of the artists who dispute what he said about payment for rejected pages. The hundreds of pages of redacted deposition, however, lead me to believe that anyone higher up the ladder knows that’s crazy talk.

  188. Allen Smith says:

    “Lee told that story about the “artists” being paid for rejected work right after a little pep talk from Disney attorney James Quinn which Toberoff observed and mentioned to the judge in a letter. This isn’t even one of those cases where people could blame this on Lee’s bad memory, because he is pretty obviously testifying on command from the Disney/Marvel attorney.”

    Don’t find anything libelous about any of those statements, myself. To stretch it to libel, too many inferences have to be made, which inferences will vary from person to person. In addition to which, the comments seem to be true, and the truth is a defense to libel.

  189. Allen Smith says:

    “I’ve lost this argument, so I’m now resorting to name-calling to assuage my ego.”
    Glad to hear you admit it, Robert.

  190. patrick ford says:

    New rules are apparently in order. No one can ever question Lee’s version of events again. To do so is libel.
    Sorry, I guess I missed the take over. Please forgive me, it happened while I was walking the dog. I didn’t know. I always suspected that kind of world was coming, but did not know it had arrived.
    Also, all you hundreds of thousands of people who have children and went ahead and got a divorce before the children were fully grown. You will begin wearing a Scarlet “H” by tomorrow so that you are known, and may be properly shunned by your moral superiors.

  191. Pallas says:


    Robert certainly lacks standing to bring a libel claim against Patrick on account of what Patrick said about Stan Lee. Only Stan Lee could do that, and that doesn’t mean Stan Lee would win, or that it is libel, only that Stan Lee has standing to sue someone as a legal principle for a statement about Stan Lee.

    But Patrick can certainly file a lawsuit against Robert alleging Robert falsely accused him of libeling someone. Patrick has standing since the statement is about him. A judge or jury would then decide if Robert committed libel.

    Which means Robert’s attempt to play internet bully by citing legal principles is rather insane.

  192. Allen Smith says:

    If Robert Stanley Martin were an attorney, I’d fire him for incompetence.

  193. Stan Lee cannot bring a libel or slander claim against anyone. He’s a public figure. As such, anyone can say anything they want about him. It doesn’t mean you can’t libel or slander him; it just means he can’t take legal action against you for it.

    The State of Michigan, for one, defines libel/slander in part as malicious or recklessly-made false statements including “the uttering or publishing of words imputing the commission of a criminal offense.” Perjury is a criminal offense. Suborning perjury is a criminal offense. I don’t know how anyone can construe Patrick’s quoted statement as anything but an accusation (an “imputing”) that David Quinn suborned perjury on the part of Stan Lee. (Perhaps Allen Smith would like to offer his interpretation of what Patrick said; it should be good for laughs.) If you accuse someone of committing a crime he or she hasn’t been convicted of, you’re committing libel/slander. That’s why news operations use the words “alleged” and “allegedly” when discussing criminal defendants in news reports. It’s how they get around the prohibition.

    Libel is a civil offense, not a criminal one. There’s no blanket prohibition. To defend myself against a claim of libel based on my accusation of libel, all I have to do is show his statement is false. Since Lee and Quinn haven’t been convicted of anything and aren’t the least bit likely to ever be, his statement is false, and that would be the end of that.

    Pallas, I did a Google search on our names earlier. What I found was a consistent history on your part of flaming, nitpicking, and otherwise trying to get me to chase my tail in response. I’m not replying to you again, here or elsewhere. And please do not bother commenting on any article I post at Hooded Utilitarian or any other site I write for. I will speak to those site administrators about having you banned from the threads.

  194. For anyone reading the above, I’m not a lawyer. This is my layperson’s understanding of the law.

  195. Pallas says:

    “As such, anyone can say anything they want about him. It doesn’t mean you can’t libel or slander him; it just means he can’t take legal action against you for it.”

    A public figure can successfully sue for Libel, but the burden of proof is higher. A cursory internet search would have shown you that.

    “If you accuse someone of committing a crime he or she hasn’t been convicted of, you’re committing libel/slander. ”

    Not true. Nolo’s plain english law dictionary definition libel as “An untruthful statement about a person, published in writing or through broadcast media, that injures the person’s reputation or standing in the community. ”

    It’s only legally “untrue” if a jury or judge decides during the libel litigation that it is not true. The fact that someone hasn’t been convicted of a crime does not mean they didn’t commit the crime.

  196. patrick ford says:

    So now any person who believes Kirby created the characters and basic plots is slandering Lee. That’s the new reality? It’s now an outrageous thing to think it might have been Kirby who was the person bringing characters and plots to Lee?
    There is a new mind-set that unabashedly accepts the idea Lee was the creative force coming up with the basic characters and plots and feeding them to Kirby. And for anyone to suggest it was Kirby is a lunatic theory so far fetched that people who think Kirby was generating the ideas ought to be laughed out of the room.
    I point this out for the benefit of Kirby fans who keep telling me that in twenty years Lee will be forgotten and Kirby will be recognized as a genius.
    Dream on people, dream on. Every day that goes by is another shovel full of dirt thrown on Kirby’s grave.

  197. Pallas says:

    “For anyone reading the above, I’m not a lawyer. This is my layperson’s understanding of the law.”

    I’m also a layperson- one who doesn’t like someone trying to through around legal accusations as a rhetorical bludgeon.

  198. DBay says:

    He’s referring to Lee scrapping Kirby’s original idea for the script and writing something totally different from Kirby’s idea so that Kirby’s art captures the scene.

  199. Allen Smith says:

    The thing is, Robert Stanley Martin, is that Pat Ford didn’t accuse Lee or the Marvel attorney of any crime.
    “Lee told that story about the “artists” being paid for rejected work right after a little pep talk from Disney attorney James Quinn which Toberoff observed and mentioned to the judge in a letter. This isn’t even one of those cases where people could blame this on Lee’s bad memory, because he is pretty obviously testifying on command from the Disney/Marvel attorney.”
    That statement only comments that Lee and the attorney conferred, which isn’t a crime as far as I can see. Now, I’m not an attorney, just have an unused law degree, so I’m no expert, but clearly not libelous. Any inferences to be drawn are drawn by the people reading the comment, and don’t constitute an accusation from Pat Ford of anything. I mean, I could reasonably infer that Lee and the attorney were talking about going to lunch, couldn’t I? As for “testifying on command” from Marvel’s attorney’s, of course Lee was. I mean, he was ordered, more than likely by subpoena, to be there, wasn’t he? Isn’t that a command of some sort? So, Pat’s comments are literally true, any inference is drawn by others.

  200. Allen Smith says:

    As for Lee’s opinion of his readers, he referred to his pre Marvel readers as imbecilic, didn’t he? And, as he was able to con his Marvel readers into believing his hype even as adults, it’s likely that he still holds that opinion of them now.

  201. pond says:

    Here’s another look at the difference between how Lee and Kirby characterized Loki in that page, and how it plays into the story and the reader’s relationship to the story, to the emotional explorations of the story.

    Kirby is interested in all the characters. In this he is more like Shakespeare who could see equally well through the eyes of his heroes and his villains — that is one of the strongest points of the tragedies. And Kirby therefore wonders about Loki’s motives, and invites the reader to see things from Loki’s side. “Do I have the guts to defy Odin again?”

    But there is a problem with this approach, that maybe Lee saw, and was the reason Lee reworked the characterization. If we start to see things from Loki’s angle, then we start to sympathize with him, and even take his side. We little kids and young teens naturally side with underdogs, especially the twerps and nerds who read comic books instead of leading the football team and slugging home runs like Flash Thompson. And, well, Lee the editor and businessman and overarching strategist of the Marvel line of comics, does not want us kids taking Loki’s side.

    So Lee emphasizes Loki’s powers, and his forthright, “evil” plan. In Lee’s telling it is Thor who is the underdog now, and Loki who is winning, winning, winning here — the creep! Loki here is the sibling who gets, or seems to get, all the goodies from Daddy Odin, though he doesn’t deserve it, while Thor is the one who deserves them but is denied, unjustly. It just isn’t fair!

    As to the final balloon in the first panel, it really does look awkward, one balloon too many. But what it does, just like the balloon in the final panel, is to push the narrative forward. This page reads with real life and drive. And for the same reason I think Lee was right to ignore any technobabble about the “transdimensional gestures learned from Norns” and just point us, catapult us, into the next page and panel — Loki is about to mix it up with Thor but good, we have a real donnybrook on our hands, and once more Thor is helpless! Gosh!

  202. patrick ford says:

    Kirby said as much in his 1969 interview with Mark Herbert when he complained:

    “This is company policy. That’s something I can do nothing about, but I don’t feel it should be that way. You can quote me on that.”

  203. geoff klein says:

    i am not a comics historian, nor a blogger…just a reg fan

    stan lee was and is a brilliant salesman and may at one time have been a great editor. but there is very little evidence that he actually created anything, other than cap throwing his shield

    i got into marvel when i was 5, thanks to an older female cousin, who was a marvel fanatic and had collected the books since their inception, and kept them on multiple bookshelves…(this was long before bags, boards and boxes)

    i loved the kirby art and loved what i thought was the lee writing, the letters pages and his soap box

    it wasnt till much later, that i discovered that the whole concept of pimping the writers, artists, inkers, colorists and cover artist and how the letter columns were handled was stolen directly from the company that lee helped to kill….ec

    it wasnt till much later that i fully became aware of how the marvel way of doing comics, was actually done

    people lie all the time…i can forgive that

    but lying to children…i cannot forgive

    stan lee is a charlatan….and i will not grieve when he passes from this mortal plain

  204. geoff klein says:

    oh, almost forgot

    have one question for rob

    on shooter’s blog, rob asks him some questions about kirby and what happened to kirby art and prefaces this with noting that he accepts shooter’s story of the events of shooter as peacemaker between lee/jack/roz at a con

    was that done in order to have shooter open up? because evanier insists the story is made up of whole cloth

  205. Robert Steibel says:

    I recall asking Jim Shooter about the stolen Marvel art and the 70s Kirby letters columns. He was nice enough to respond. I also asked him about his claim that in the late 1970s he saw a 1962 Jack Kirby Spider-man presentation piece in Sol’s pile of uninked art. I found it hard to believe that such a piece (especially considering it was large art) would languish for almost 15 years in Sol’s ink test box, but Jim claims he saw it. (Shrugging my shoulders) seems hard to believe to me, but I have no idea if the anecdote is true. You think someone would have noticed that thing.

    As for any kind of “shooter as peacemaker between lee/jack/roz at a con,” I don’t know anything about that.

    One thing I’ve learned studying Jack, and history in general, it’s amazing how many times people get facts wrong for any number of reasons. Some people outright lie, others just get facts mixed up, or even create false memories in thier minds. So did Shooter see a 1962 Kirby Spider-man piece and did he serve as some kind of peacemaker at a con? Beats me.

    Jim also mentioned he put a stop to the negative letters in Captain America, but as I showed on Kirby Dynamics the campaign to smear Jack continued every single month to the very last issue, so I dunno, maybe like most of us Jim has some of his facts mixed up.

  206. Allen Smith says:

    Shooter wasn’t any kind of peacemaker between Kirby/Roz/Lee. Did the Kirbys even like Shooter? How would he be able to bring them together with Lee, whom they also didn’t like? I’d say it was an accidental meeting where Kirby and Lee just happened to meet and were polite.

  207. James says:

    Saying Shooter was a “peacemaker”” between the Kirbys and Lee is like calling hounds “peacemakers” between a fox and its hunters. Yes, the fox is quieter after its throat has been ripped out.

  208. patrick ford says:

    A couple of things here. The handshake meeting between Lee and Kirby is massively overblown by people who are comforted by the myth of the “Merry Marvel Bullpen.” The fact is Kirby was a mature man who like most people knew how to be polite in a public setting if the occasion called for it. There is nothing unusual about this, it’s easy enough to search images and find numerous pictures of people known to loath one another “making nice.”
    Kirby commented on “THE HANDSHAKE!!!” in an interview with Mark Borax.

    Mark Borax: The whole world would like to see you two shake hands.

    Kirby: We did, yesterday. But it resolves nothing. I could shake hands with Stan ’till doomsday and it would mean nothing. … Beyond that the situation is still the same. Somebody else will have to arbitrate. I’ll leave it to wiser heads.
    I can’t understand why there’s a struggle over who did what, cause Stan and I know. Nobody else knows. If Stan would only come out of his hiding place and tell the world everything would go great. It isn’t obscure. He knows it, and I know it.
    There won’t be a resolution. People don’t change. They can’t change. Sometimes it’s too late. You just go on being what you are. Human beings go on being human beings. I can predict everything that Stan will do. I know I can’t change Stan. He says his piece, and I say mine. I could shake hands with Stan till doomsday and it would resolve nothing, the dance goes on.”

    On the issue of the LOCs.
    As Rob Steibel says the LOCs content did not change. It’s been said here that Ralph Macchio was the LOC editor for Kirby’s run on the BLACK PANTHER. It was also reported that Macchio “loathed” Kirby’s work and mocked and derided it constantly around the Marvel offices.
    Shortly before he was hired by Marvel, Macchio had a fan letter printed in an issue of CA near the beginning of Kirby’s run on that title. That fan letter served as a template for the controversy actively promoted in latter issues by Scott Edelman in CA, and Macchio in BP.
    Issue #7 of the BLACK PANTHER contained a letter by Robin Snyder commenting on the frequent criticism of Kirby work in the LOCs.

    Snyder’s letter is “balanced” by a negative letter.

    In issue #6 there is a long text piece by Kirby himself which takes up the bottom third of the LOC page. Kirby does not directly address the controversy, but rather explains his vision and plan for the Panther. He ends the text piece by asking fans to address their letters to him in Thousand Oaks.
    After that the LOC masthead carries the Thousand Oaks address, but the content of the LOC continues as before with letters mentioning the controversy and complaints how Kirby’s Panther is not like Don McGregor’s.
    This suggests Kirby was not allowed to take control of the LOC even though the page carried his home address.

  209. patrick ford says:

    Shooter says he saw the presentation piece in the late ’60s.

  210. Steibel says:

    Thanks for the correction. If it exists I’d certainly love to see it, and one has to wonder if Jack’s first several pages of Marvel Spider-man story will ever surface.

  211. patrick ford says:

    People with connections to Shooter and other people who were on Marvel’s staff during the ’60s, ’70s, and ’80s, should be asked to comment on the presentation piece described by Shooter as well as the Kirby story.
    It seems like an obvious question, but one which is never asked.

  212. George Bush (not that one) says:

    Read this blog post by Greg Theakston and learn about Shooter’s contribution to the Kirby Art Heist.

  213. Bill Hall says:

    “He (Stan Lee) gave me a long lecture, he told me if there were only two figures in a panel, to add a background” – Dick Ayers from THE JACK KIRBY COLLECTOR #13

  214. Jane says:

    This thread is so strange I couldn’t let it pass without a few comments. I’ll restrict these to the issue of credit purely with respect to plotting/writing, since this appears very straightforward.

    Firstly we have an interesting article that includes multiple quotes from Stan Lee spanning a number of decades. These provide a pretty consistent view of the Marvel method of production, with a particular emphasis on Jack Kirby.

    In these quotes it is obvious Kirby generated ideas/plots either in conjunction with Lee (himself the editor/co-plotter/scripter) or by himself when later laying out the story. (As an aside you could add to this many other references, including the 1966 Princeton campus talk available on YouTube in which Lee clearly credits much of the storytelling to Kirby, even stating that Kirby may be ‘more creative’ than him).

    A Bullpen Bulletins article (perhaps by Lee, perhaps not) is also included in the article. It talks about the Marvel method with respect to Kirby and other artists, noting how it can differ depending on the artist and circumstances. This appeared in the Bullpen Bulletins page of every Marvel comic published with a cover date of January 1966.
    Later in the thread there is reference to then-contemporary accounts of interviews showing Kirby was clearly in accordance with the aforementioned views on the Marvel method. There is even a reference to this quote from Jack Kirby in 1969 (appearing in Nostalgia Journal nov/dec 1976), when he was asked who was responsible for various aspects of the Thor strip, him or Lee:

    “Both of us in a way. I researched it and gave my version of it, and Stan gave his version of it. Stan humanized it in a way where, for instance, I might be concerned about Thor’s relation to the other gods. I might bring up a Ulik or I might bring something out of the wild blue yonder…And Stan would come down to Earth and find Thor’s relationship with Earth people”

    This is all very straightforward and goes well with these quotes from the early 1960s (found in ‘Jack Kirby Collector 54’):

    “An idea can come from me, it can come from Stan, it can come from a reader…”.

    “We’ll build a plot around that type of story. I feel that Stan is very wise in looking over letters from readers and keeping tabs on the progress that the character is making.”

    My response could really end here…after all, what is left to say? Kirby isn’t simply remembering a particular recent incident, nor is he trying to remember something that happened years ago (like whether someone spoke to someone else before preparing a particular synopsis). No…Kirby is merely explaining his participation in a process that is otherwise known as the Marvel method.

    The thread even mentions a plotting session observed by an independent journalist, which relates to the Fantastic Four number 55. In this article we actually got to see how Kirby took a brief plot outline (in that instance by Lee) and later structured this into a more detailed plot/story which was scripted/written by Lee. This is exactly in accordance with the Marvel method that both Lee/Kirby spoke of at the time.

    Yet, despite all of this, the much of the thread somehow becomes another argument about Kirby being denied sufficient credit for his story input.

    But what happened to the comments by Kirby himself from that era? Incredibly, these are simply dismissed by one fan as they don’t match Kirby’s later claims.

    And the independently-observed plotting session? Well, one would think that one recorded instance of Lee providing Kirby with a basic plot wouldn’t be a very big deal…particularly given Kirby’s own comments at the time which acknowledged this happened as part of the normal production process. Despite this it appears that some extreme fans have convinced themselves this must have been somehow faked…as if Kirby was somehow coerced in to not contributing to the session.

    Author Mark Alexander has made a point of noting there is no record of Kirby ever suggesting the session was staged, presumably to head off any conspiracy-minded fans. He could have added that other Marvel staff (Thomas, Romita, Kane) all interacted with Kirby at the time – even while he became dissatisfied at Marvel – and also never heard such a suggestion. Having read this thread it is clear he needn’t have bothered.

    At one point in the thread someone actually concedes that Kirby did get credit in the Marvel method…and instead suggests Lee’s great failure was to deny this in the formal credits.

    During the early 1960s, of course, comic book credits as we know them were in their infancy. Lee was responsible for implementing the modern credits system (at a time when Carl Barks and the DC writers/artists were largely anonymous) and they were more primitive than they are today (letters and colorists had to wait a while for acknowledgement). So perhaps there is a case for the credits being misleading, particularly if the stories are lifted out of their original context (with the Bullpen Bulletins article, letter page references, fanzine and newspaper articles, campus talks etc. that readers had access to at the time).

    But to what extent? I did a quick perusal of the Fantastic Four series, and while I can’t guarantee complete accuracy (didn’t doublecheck my stats) this is what I found:
    The first 8 issues are simply signed Lee and Kirby. Issues 9 – 12 have Lee listed simply as a scripter, with Kirby as the artist. So do annual 2, 33, 35, 40, 50. Neither Lee nor Kirby are directly credited with the plot or story in these issues (though issue 10 shows Kirby pitching an idea of a villain to Lee, presumably during a plotting conference).
    ‘Written’ by Lee appears in 18, 19, 20, annual 1, 21 – 24,28,,29, 30, 31, 34,37, 43, annual 3, 48,49, 51,52, 53, 54, 55. It could be argued here that the ‘writer’ refers to the person who produced the written word…but you could also view this as the writer and/or plotter of the story.

    The Lee/Kirby credit appears in 36, 42 and pretty much everything from 56 – 100 (no division of labour mentioned…a credit that Kirby apparently suggested and was happy with (at least at the time).

    Instances where the actual ‘story’ is specifically attributed to Lee appear in a relatively minor range of issues. Ones I found were 13, 25 – 27, 32, 39, 41, 44-47. This is about 11% of the Lee-Kirby run.

    There is one story where the credits depict Jack Kirby as the sole creator…both writer and artist…and this appears in FF annual 5. This is a back-up feature in which Kirby depicts a humorous account of a plotting session between him and Lee, showing both as active contributors. This story, perhaps more than any other in the mid-sixties, reinforced the Marvel Method in the minds of a generation of readers.

    Food for thought.

    As for who created what…well admittedly that is a very different question. There is certainly sufficient evidence to draw general conclusions on the higher-profile creations…but that is a question for another time.

  215. Mike Gartland says:

    Just came across this Rob; well done!

  216. Heath says:

    So many years later, I am once again late to the party. So many brilliant points to this endless discussion and made by so many people I respect. That being said I agree with Jeet and give him credit for pointing out the gender association with the term “homewrecker”. How is it Joanne Siegel’s fault what Jerry Siegel did? The blame lies with him, not with her. Siegel was a MAN who was responsible for his own decision. This is a society with no accountability and it’s the cigarette company’s fault if you bought cigarettes for years. So Jerry was just a poor innocent sap until sinister Joanne came up with her feminine wiles to seduce him right? Utter bullshit. But I don’t expect much more from Rob Stan Lee Martin Goodman the IVth.

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