Jim Shooter: Groundhog Day in the Land of the Apocryphiars

It’s hard to grasp how Shooter could “remember” so much, and so many details, of a widely reported public dispute that he was intimately involved in, none of which are true. A generous reading may suggest that he has misremembered certain facts, but there are few underlying facts that are remotely analogous to what he remembers.

For example, in the mid-’80s, Cannon Films promoted a Captain America film they hoped to produce, and in print advertising cited San Lee as the sole creator. Of course, Lee had nothing to do with creating Captain America (it was created by Kirby and Joe Simon in 1941). When they saw the ad, Jack and Roz Kirby had their lawyer send a letter to Cannon, then Marvel, asking that the credit be corrected. If this is what Shooter’s referring to, he got it exactly backward: It was Lee who was taking sole credit for a character he had nothing to do with creating and Kirby asking that he be given credit for what he created!

But, how could Shooter remember a lawsuit when he was dealing directly with the Kirbys in 1984? According to Roz Kirby:

We saw Shooter in Chicago in ’84, and he was very friendly, and he said, “Jack, when are you going to come back and work for Marvel?” Then he said they were working on arranging a policy so they could start returning Jack’s artwork. He said, “Don’t worry, everything’s going to work out fine.” After we came home, we didn’t hear from him for months and I started calling him up constantly, and he’d say, “Well, they have to get someone down here, and it takes time.”

The Kirbys employed a lawyer to negotiate the release of Jack’s original art for obvious reasons, but not only was there no lawsuit, but Marvel practically refused to even acknowledge their lawyer! According to Roz, “Our lawyer told us that he’s never come across an outfit like that, that wouldn’t even correspond with a lawyer,” telling the Journal that it took “10 or 15 letters to Marvel to get a response.” “And when I talk to Shooter,” she added, “all I’m doing is running up my phone bill. It never does any good.”

In fact, the Kirbys hadn’t considered suing Marvel over the copyright: “We never intended to fight,” said Kirby, referring to the possibility of a lawsuit, “We’ve never sued anybody.” To which Roz added sensibly: “We’re in our 60s. Something like that would take 10 years to get to court.”

(Shooter, by the way, made the same assertion about Kirby suing Marvel in an interview in Heroes Illustrated in 1994 as well as other places; I pointed out the falsity of this assertion in the September 1994 issue of The Comics Journal — which Shooter must’ve missed, otherwise he couldn’t possibly keep repeating it. Truly, it’s like being trapped in Groundhog Day. Older readers may be experiencing déjà vu, to whom my apologies, but keeping track of Shooter’s prevarications is evidently and unfortunately a life’s work; my earlier essay, published when I first discovered Shooter was re-writing history, appears here: “Jim Shooter, Our Nixon,” from The Comics Journal #171 (September 1994).)

The comments following Shooter’s post were as nauseating as the post itself, praising his candor, courage, and integrity. But on April 3, Robert Stanley Martin posted a comment pointing out that Kirby never sued Marvel; apprised of this, Shooter posted a follow-up on April 4, writing, rather blithely and utterly flabbergastingly, “You may be correct, possibly the suit was never filed. I was Editor in Chief, not company counsel.” He then proceeds to elaborate on his recollections, specifically of a public panel protesting Marvel’s treatment of Kirby, and digging his duplicitous hole even deeper:

I attended a panel at the San Diego Con, misleadingly titled, which turned out to be a Marvel-bash-fest MC'ed by Gary Groth. I don't remember the year. '79? '80? Thereabouts. Groth opened with a diatribe against Marvel and its horrible unfairness to Jack. Then he turned the mic over to Jack.

Jack was obviously blindsided by the panel being a Marvel bashing thing. Jack said, in the nicest way, that, yes, he had a dispute with Marvel, but that he didn't think it should be discussed this way; that it was between him and Marvel, and that he was confident that it would be resolved.

Groth wasn't going to let it go at that. He asked his other panelists to chime in. Notable among the panelists were Alan Moore and Frank Miller. Moore had no knowledge of the Kirby situation with Marvel, but told horror stories about the mistreatment of artists by IPC and other British publishing companies, and supposed that Marvel's dealings with Kirby were similar. Other panelists also bashed Marvel.

When it was Frank Miller's turn to talk, though no more fervent advocate for creators' rights exists, he seemed reluctant to jump on the bandwagon. He even likened the proceeding to a “kangaroo court.” Ask Frank. He saw me in the audience and asked me to speak!

’79? ’80? Try 1985 and 1986. Yes, and. Shooter is here conflating two different panels a year apart and misstating what happened during the two of them collectively. Let me disentangle Shooter’s recollections, one by one.

The first panel was held at the ’85 San Diego Comic-Con San Diego on August 2; panelists were Jim Starlin, Greg Theakston, Kirby himself, me, and one or two others whom I don’t remember. Another panel was held the following year on August 3; panelists were Frank Miller, Alan Moore, Marv Wolfman, with myself serving as moderator (or egger-on).

Kirby was not blindsided at either panel, of course, and understood, indeed, endorsed the purpose of both panels, which was to protest Marvel’s continual refusal to return his art.

The proposition that “Moore had no knowledge of the Kirby situation with Marvel” is absurd. Moore was fully informed on the subject; here is how he summed up his position, which I reproduce here because it is a rousing and eloquent exhortation to his fellow professionals and accurately reflects his passion on the subject:

We have grown up with a very simplistic, black-and-white, yet very workable, good-and-bad morality. If anything, we should be prepared to stand up for somebody in our field who is being trampled. It does not bode well for our field if, in 10, 20, or 50 years, this could happen to me, or Marv, or Frank, or any other creator. Why should we stay around if that’s how we’re eventually going to be treated? If they can do it to Jack Kirby, of all people, they can certainly do it to us. If we want the field to grow, we have to make sure the people in it are treated fairly. That’s basically my point on the subject — it is shocking. I don’t want to stand by and watch this happen to Jack, and I don’t think any of us can afford to, and still have a medium we are proud of.

Was Miller reluctant to jump on the “bandwagon” defending Kirby? Here’s what he said: “My position is very simple — I believe the man’s artwork should be returned.” And why would Miller call a panel he agreed to be on protesting Marvel’s treatment of Kirby a “kangaroo court”? Answer: He didn’t.

Shooter was in the audience of this panel, and was at one point graciously given the floor; among other things, he said: “I would be embarrassed to be up there on that kangaroo court, speculating on my — Marvel’s — reasons for doing what we do, speaking about things you obviously don’t know about.”

Oooops. Shooter actually attributed what he said to Frank Miller!

Oh, and among those other things Shooter said from the audience was this gem: “I speak for Marvel Comics. Although I do not set all the policies, I have a great voice in setting the policies, and they’re not currently doing anything that I do not agree with.” Which tends to belie Shooter’s assertion in his April 1 post that “From my point of view, no one on this planet fought harder for Jack and his interests than me, ever.”

Which is, come to think of it, understandable. If he can confuse what he says with what Frank Miller says, he could easily get Jack Kirby’s interests confused with Marvel’s.

It’s hard to know just what to make of his penchant to repeat the same lies over and over again. Has anyone falsified a moment in comics history more persistently than Jim Shooter? To his credits as writer, editor, and publisher, he can add another to his professional resume, courtesy of the journalist Martha Gellhorn: apocryphiar, which she defined as someone who “re-wrote history, particularly to [his] own advantage.”

The Comics Journal 100 (1984): "Marvel Withholds Kirby's Art"
The Comics Journal 104 (1985): "Shooter Speaks out on Kirby Art"
The Comics Journal 105 (1985): "The Negotiations"

80 Responses to Jim Shooter: Groundhog Day in the Land of the Apocryphiars

  1. patford says:

    Gary, Thanks for this article setting the facts in place. The poor behavior of Marvel/Disney continues to this day.
    At the Justia legal site: Justia Document #49 from the ongoing lawsuit where Disney/Marvel sued the Kirby estate. http://docs.justia.com/cases/federal/district-cou
    Judge Colleen McMahon dismissed (she felt bound by the statute of limitations law) the Kirby estates counterclaim concerning original art, but takes a dim view of Marvel's actions. On page 15 she says:
    "We now know Marvel did not return all of Kirby's original artwork to the artist. On August 26, 2010, Marvel admitted to the Kirby's that it still had some 60 pages of original Kirby artwork (and offered to return 37 of them), (Letter from David Fleischer to Marc Toberoff, Au.26,2010.) The Court was told of this while this motion was in sub judice. Marvel's admission is deeply troubling in light of Marvel's earlier (repeated) insistence that the Kirby's accusations about retained artwork were "baseless."

  2. rodrigobaeza says:

    Thanks for this very well-argued rebuttal to Shooter's version of events. (And nice catch on the "kangaroo court" quote!)

    The "trapped on Groundhog Day" feeling is understandable, since Shooter seems to be recycling older articles and posts for his new blog (as I pointed out a couple of weeks ago on http://bit.ly/elsdK2, his current Kirby posts are based on message board posts from 1998.) Despite grudgingly admitting to some inaccuracies whenever they're pointed out to him, for some reason he still sees fit to repost the same version of events time and time again.

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  4. bchat85 says:

    What's your point? That Shooter has a fuzzy memory on events from over 20 years ago? Who doesn't? That he decided during that point in his career that he wasn't about to bite the hand that feeds him? If Shooter, while EIC at Marvel, had decided to say "Yeah, Jack's getting screwed", he would have lost his job because no owner is going to put up with that type of behavior from an employee. Sure, he would have had the respect of the fans, the Kirby's, many creators and you, but how would he have paid his bills?

    "I speak for Marvel Comics. Although I do not set all the policies, I have a great voice in setting the policies, and they’re not currently doing anything that I do not agree with." – Of course Shooter is going to say that in a public forum. At the end of the day, they were the ones paying his bills, not you, not the Kirby's, not the fans. It just boggles my mind how you want to paint him as some sort of villain when all he was doing was being a model employee in a public forum. You have no evidence of what he said to his superiors behind closed doors. Shooter does, so when he says "such & such", I'm going to believe him.

  5. AustinEnglish says:

    "not the Kirby's"
    "being a model employee"

    being a model employee in a company that owes its success to kirby. he was 'paying the bills' thanks to the properties kirby created.

  6. NDRNATE says:

    If your boss is ripping people off and you publicly support his or her actions, then you're not a model employee so much as an accomplice.
    It's not that his memory is generally fuzzy, it's that it's strategically fuzzy.
    Finally, if you consider Kirby's foundational role in his company, then Kirby was, in a not insignificant way, paying his bills.

  7. Shooterlies says:

    All of Shooter's blog entries reek of an "I was always perfect and everyone else was sub-human" delusion. He wrote an editorial during the Kirby controversy celebrating his own refusal to seek profits from Karate Kid even though he created him as a minor because he would never ever want to go against the company which had so generously given him work as a teenager. It just wouldn't be right. Everyone reading it knew it was his way of telling Jack to sit down and shut up and take whatever treatment Marvel chose to inflict on him. An interview with Kirby published in an early Jack Kirby collector shows Jack's contempt for Shooter, stating that Jim stutted around Marvel like the Prince of England or something like that. To hear Shooter tell it, Kirby and he were best of friends with nothing but good will between them. Right. Shooter's blog is interesting reading, but as John Byrne has often stated, he's awfully good at fiction.

  8. Alixopulos says:

    I don't think anyone would hold JS to what he said while he was a salaried employee. The point is he continues to make the same statements now, when his job is in no way on the line.

    If his memory is faulty (and I think GG shows quite a few errors of fact) he could just say so. I doubt anyone at this late date would hold it against JS, who is a storied figure in comics history, for flubbing some dates. But instead he makes some pretty bold statements of fact, and I'm going to compare his words with Groths, who was also there at the time. That seems reasonable.

    What is not reasonable is assuming there are these shadowy higher-ups who hold evidence that exculpates Marvel/Cadence, even though they never seem to step forward and provide that evidence. You'll go old and grey waiting for that horse-shit to start smelling like champagne.

  9. spurgeonsofmuncie says:

    i imagine Gary's point is that Jim Shooter is making false claims on several matters in order to make himself look better. We can't know what Jim Shooter said behind closed doors — maybe it's like that old SNL sketch where Ronald Reagan does dottering photo ops in public but when the oval office door closes he's a man of action and bold decisiveness — but we can look at what he said about public events, and doing things like being six years off on when a panel took place shouldn't exactly inspire folks with confidence over the characterization of material we haven't seen yet.

  10. patford says:

    The real sticker here is the, "Kirby sued Marvel in 1979" falsehood.
    Rodrigo called Shooter on this in 1999, just as Mark Evanier, and Gary had earlier. As documented by Rodrigo Shooter backed off and changed his story from "Kirby sued Marvel" to "Kirby threatened to sue Marvel."
    Yet here is Shooter in 2011 again claiming Kirby sued Marvel, and going into detail about the "discovery" phase of the lawsuit.
    The other thing that sticks out is Shooter putting his words in the mouth of Frank Miller.

  11. Shooterlies says:

    Interesting that Shooter had a Captain America drawing by Kirby as some kind of "symbol" of their friendship but had it stashed away for years (if not decades)– like he stashes away the truth..

  12. patford says:

    Another interesting thing mentioned by Shooter in an earlier blog post was he once held a Kirby presentation drawing for Spiderman in his hands while visiting the Marvel offices in 1969.
    It was always Kirby's habit to create "pitch-pages" containing art, and text when promoting new characters to a publisher.
    Kirby's daughter Susan recalls seeing Kirby working on a presentation drawing of the Fantastic Four prior to Kirby starting work on the first issue. She recalls the incident because her father told her the female lead (Sue) was named after her.
    Only one Kirby character presentation drawing from the Marvel era has been made public. A drawing of "The Boomerang" containing large blocks of text (written by Kirby) describing the characters background and origin was published in TJKC.

  13. sabincalvert says:

    I really don't understand why he can't just own up to the fact that everything wasn't rose colored at that time. I do feel sorry for the guy (I think he is sometimes over-villified) but why can't he simply own up to what happened and move on? I have so much more respect for people that can acknowledge past mistakes and learn from them than this megalomaniacal restructuring of autobiography. Jack Kirby had too much class and too much self-respect to dig around in the dirt with Jim Shooter, which is probably why Shooter wants to insert himself into every picture on the side of what's right.

    The whole thing is truly a metaphor for how artists are treated in the business of comics.

  14. I'm surprised by this hit piece, Groth has always been so fair and honest about Shooter.

    Oh, and Islam means peace.

  15. Alixopulos says:

    nice #fail at concern trolling

  16. seanx40 says:

    Jim Shooter lied about something? Wow, what a surprise. That horse is long dead. Not even fun beating it anymore.

  17. patford says:

    One aspect of this issue which greatly appeals to me is it allows people to identify where they stand.
    As someone with absolutely no trust in Shooter, it gives me as much pleasure to see the name tags of those people who defend Shooter, as it does to see the names of those people who think he's an unrepentant liar.

  18. bodkinsodds says:

    This is basically just a foggy aside, but when I was maybe 13 or 14 years old Jim Shooter came to a comic convention in Vancouver. At the time, there was some controversy having to do with Jim Shooter's having said, "Let's trick the little fucks." As I recall he was referring to the Marvel readership and somehow the comment leaked out, so someone in the Vancouver Comic Book Club got a bunch of buttons made up with his quote on them, and we all wore them to the convention. Does anyone else remember this?

  19. mrgrab says:

    Do you believe what Shooter says so specifically about a lawsuit and discovery process that didn't actually take place? Or is that just another fuzzy memory?

  20. theseditionist says:

    The tragedy is that Shooter wasn't a completely lousy editor-in-chief. He actually did a little good lost amongst the bad and the idiotic. Of course, the blog is now suffused with suffocating self-agrandizing.

    But speaking of real issues and idiocy, has TCJ come out with a position vis a vis the Kirby estate's attempts to regain the copyrights they never had? (You know, the lawsuit that Neal Kirby, in his arrogant deposition, did much to undercut.)

  21. ronfontes says:

    First, I want you to know that I bear no love for Marvel. I view my employment there as Time in Hell with some very good things mixed in that almost compensate for the torture. I hate to tell you this, but I worked in Special Projects at Marvel from 1982-1985, under Sol Brodsky and Johnny Romita (the Nicest Man in Comics). Here's what REALLY kept Marvel from returning artwork: Old pages were stored in a Brooklyn warehouse which was FLOODED around 1983. Decades of artwork was actually destroyed and could not be returned to anyone at all as it was just so much soggy paper residue. That is why the Marvel Masterworks series was repro'd from faded plate negatives and had to be touched up by the likes of Phil Lord et al. I'm really surprised in all this time no one has revealed this fact. I strongly remember the day of the flood because Sol and others were pale with shock. I also have to add, great as he was as an artist, Jack Kirby was a lousy businessman who cut bad deals. See TALES TO ASTONISH by Ronin Ro. Unfortunately, creative talent does not go hand-in-hand with good business acumen. In case you haven't noticed, arrogance and egotism runs rife in the comics industry, just as it does in the film industry. Artists have been notorious for being self-aggrandizing pricks throughout history. If they were normal people with realistic self-images, they wouldn't be artists at all. Shooter is just a man. He's a prick, he's a good guy, depends on circumstance and who you talk to. We're all flawed fools. So back off the jackass' corpse you're beating. It was all long ago, and besides the King is dead.

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  23. Dan Nadel says:

    Hi Ron,
    I'm curious about your source for the 1983 flood. I wasn't aware of it. Was this something you witnessed? Or only heard about in the office? Who reported it? Did others? Ro's book is not the best, in terms of factual accuracy, but, sure, Kirby was the not best businessman. And I don't think this is a dead horse — it's very much alive, as it relates to enormous properties in play now, and, of course, to Shooter's own ongoing blog.

  24. patford says:

    Ron's comment is at a minimum overstated.
    He says decades of original art were destroyed in a flood.
    Marvel began returning original art in 1974, so only artwork done before that time would have remained in the warehouse. As reported in TCJ #105 Irene Vartanoff inventoried the original art in the warehouse (in Manhattan) in 1975. She makes no mention of any original art from the 1940's, and only a small number of pages from the 1950's are mentioned.
    Actually as far as I can tell the really bad businessmen are all working in areas of high finance.
    If you want to just look at Marvel then the best example of a bad businessman would be Martin Goodman. Goodman put himself in the bad position of having to rely on DC owned Independent News distribute his comics in the late 50's. Later Goodman sold Marvel Comics to Perfect Film for an amount Jack Kirby described as being less than the value of Ant-Man. Later Goodman started a new comic book company (70's Atlas) out of spite, because Perfect Film didn't make Goodman's son Chip the new publisher at Marvel as promised.

  25. Shooterlies says:

    I agree that it would be a dead horse if not for Shooter's blog. If he's making yet another attempt to change history and lie about Kirby, it's more than appropriate to call him on it. Shifting the blame on Kirby and creating false allies for himself is pretty slimy and deserves attention, no?

  26. JeetHeer2 says:

    “Jack Kirby was a lousy businessman who cut bad deals.” This is a classic “blame the victim” argument on par with “She was raped because she wore a short skirt.” If we look at this historically its clear that only a very small handful of comic book writers and artists from the 1930s to the 1980s had contracts that gave them an ownership stake in valuable property: the ones that come to mind are Eisner with the Spirit (which was in any case a comic strip/comic book hybrid), Bob Kane with Batman and William Moulton Marston with Wonder Woman. Virtually every other cartoonist that created a valuable comic book character or title had no ownership stake in their creation: Bob Finger as co-creator of Batman, Siegel and Shuster as creator of Superman, Harvey Kurtzman as the mastermind behind Mad, all the other EC artists and writers for their work on EC, Steve Ditko as co-creator of Spider-Man and Dr. Strange, Carl Barks as creator of Uncle Scrooge, John Stanley as the cartoonist who made Little Lulu and Tubby into rounded characters, not to mention the vast army of journeymen and journey women who crafted comics like Gil Kane and Joe Kubert.

  27. JeetHeer2 says:

    One could argue that all these cartoonists (Siegel, Shuster, Kurtzman, etc.) were “lousy” businessmen who lacked “good business acumen.” But isn’t it odd that he comics industry attracted so many “lousy” businessmen? Isn’t it more accurate to say that the comic book industry (which was pioneered by sleazy pulp publishers and gangsters) was systematically set up in a way to exploit artistic talent? Kirby’s great tragedy was that his skill set made him a great comic book artist in a period where publishers treated their talent like dirt.

    If Kirby had been a smart “businessman” he would have left comics in the 1950s like his partner Joe Simon and gone into advertising art. Or Kirby could have followed Alex Toth’s lead and gone into animation in the early 1960s (which is where Kirby ended up, in any case, in the 1980s). But if Kirby had done that, then the world would have lost the Fantastic Four, the Hulk, Thor, etc. etc. Really the entirety of the Marvel age in the 1960s aside from whatever Ditko would have cooked up (if Marvel even stayed in business long enough to ask Ditko to do superheroes).

  28. patford says:

    Jeet is correct and within the context of the times Kirby was a better businessman than most.
    He stood up for himself as best a man with a family to support could afford to do and still work in the industry.
    In fact because Kirby asserted his rights, the same people who label him as a bad businessman, also describe him as a malcontent.
    Shooter for example is claiming that Kirby was a bad businessman, because Kirby wouldn't behave as Marvel wanted him to. That is a bizarre argument.
    He moved from company to company when the vast majority of his peers were forced out of the industry.
    He had enough sense not to sign the work for hire agreement Marvel forced on it's employees in 1979, and refused to sign the outrageous "Four Page Agreement" in exchange for the "right" to store eighty pages of his original until such time as Marvel chose to take them back.

  29. JeetHeer2 says:

    One final comment on Kirby’s business skills: he was smart enough to team up with Joe Simon, and the two ran a very successful studio for a decade and a half until the collapse of the comics industry due to external causes (changes in distribution and the anti-comics scare). As mentioned, after the end of the Simon/Kirby partnership Kirby did try to escape the comic book industry on a number of occasions: by doing a comic strip in the 1950s (Sky Master) and by going into animation in the 1980s working for Ruby-Spears. The most damning indictment of the comic book industry I can think of is that Kirby was far better treated as an anonymous artist at a second string TV animation company than he was by any comic book publisher.

    While working in comics Kirby moved from publisher to publisher in the hopes of better deals (i.e. going back and forth from DC to Marvel in the 1970s). Rather than a "lousy" businessman he was given a bad set of cards and dealt them as best he could.

  30. patford says:

    I thought this comment was illuminating:
    "Artists have been notorious for being self-aggrandizing pricks throughout history."

  31. superggraphics says:

    This is a modern day version of Groth's witch hunt against Shooter and nothing more than a bunch of HooHah! Recycled opinions that have no substance or basis in fact whatsoever. It is all just opinion, nothing more, nothing less. Some things should just die or go away, and this is one of them. That Shooter can't remember every detail exactly is an egregious complaint. I have a near didactic memory and it still is not perfect.

    George E Warner

    End Part One

  32. superggraphics says:

    This well has been gone to so many times that I am amazed there is still some water left in it. No one including Groth was there when the events being discussed went down, but I know first hand that Kirby never had a bone to pick with Shooter personally, and that is a fact. If like others you want to slam the guy to drive traffic to your failing business, writings and diatribes, please feel free to do so. I'm waiting for John Byrne and Peter David to show up and weigh in on this again (boring). James C Shooter is alive and well writing new exciting adventures for the Gold Key Heroes, and chooses to enlighten people with his current blog posts, not condemn them. And yes, a lot of his posts are from previously transcribed material (did you bother to read the disclaimers informing you of that?). This whole thread is mindless, a total waste of time, and gives credence to the notion that some people (like Groth and others here) should not be allowed to have access to a computer or the internet.

    George E Warner

    End Part 2

  33. DanielJMata says:

    What the fuck does your thorn about religion have to do with this?

  34. Tim Hodler says:

    Let's keep unrelated religious stuff out of this, please.

  35. Shooterlies says:

    So only Shooter and his defenders have the right to use the internet? In his blog so far, Shooter has condemned Tom DeFalco, Marv Woflman, the Marvel executives who got him fired and especially Jack Kirby (for supposedly pursuing unwarranted legal action for characters he had signed away, thus blocking the return of both his artwork and everyone else's), The "fact" that Kirby had no bone to pick with Shooter is belied by Kirby's own statements in more than one interview. He seems to have seen the same arrogance that those of us with our blinders off can easily discern. I'm sure it won't be long before Shooter resurrects his lies about the late Mark Gruenwald trying to block Mike Carlin's promotion (they were best friends- funny how Mark isn't around to dispute Shooter's story) as well as continuing his "everything I ever did was above reproach and everyone else was scum" stories.

  36. patford says:

    You have to love the attempts to turn this issue into a matter of interpretation.
    Groth (as well as others in the past) have nailed Shooter on unambiguous falsehoods, and Shooter's fans storm in as if there is something to debate.
    It's terribly amusing, and predictable. Their strategy isn't to dispute the obvious facts, but to try and turn the issue into a discussion about Groth's dislike of Shooter.

  37. alanstrend says:

    Hi George,
    You wrote: "No one including Groth was there when the events being discussed went down"

    From Shooter's blog:
    "I attended a panel at the San Diego Con, misleadingly titled, which turned out to be a Marvel-bash-fest MC'ed by Gary Groth. I don't remember the year. '79? '80? Thereabouts. Groth opened with a diatribe against Marvel and its horrible unfairness to Jack. Then he turned the mic over to Jack."

    I guess Groth was just there in Shooter's opinion.

    Jim Shooter's obvious agenda since being ousted from Marvel and failing in every other comics related endeavour is to rewrite his legacy. Thank God this champion of creators rights is "writing new and exciting adventures for the Gold Key Heroes" while that slapdick Groth is publishing world class cartoonists. I have no doubt Dark Horse and Shooter will make a mint producing these "new and exciting adventures" and they'll make sure that Paul S. Newman, Matt Murphy, Russ Manning, Otto Binder, Frank Thorne, and Gaylord DuBois or their respective estates share in the bank-breaking profits.

  38. patford says:

    Yet another predictable and amusing aspect of many of the comments made by Shooter's fans is how obvious it is they haven't even read the Groth articles.
    Shooter is spreading inaccurate statements, he's done so in the past, was called on it back in 1999, backed off, and is now repeating the same misinformation again.
    And aside from the "Kirby sued Marvel" misinformation, you have a whole host of bizarre statements from Shooter concerning the 1985-86 Kirby panels. Among them Shooter saying the panel with Kirby, Moore, and Miller blindsided Kirby, Moore and Miller when it turned towards the original artwork dispute. Not only weren't the participants "blindsided" they were there for the purpose of discussing the original art dispute.
    Miller had earlier written a scathing 6 page article published in TCJ #105. http://www.comicartfans.com/NewsPiece.asp?Piece=5http://www.comicartfans.com/NewsPiece.asp?Piece=5http://www.comicartfans.com/NewsPiece.asp?Piece=5http://www.comicartfans.com/NewsPiece.asp?Piece=5http://www.comicartfans.com/NewsPiece.asp?Piece=5http://www.comicartfans.com/NewsPiece.asp?Piece=5

    Miller from the top of page page four of the article hardly sounds like a hesitant advocate:

    "Kirby suffered horrid mistreatment at the hands of Marvel Comics. Jack Kirby was never honored by Marvel Comics except with devalued hype. Marvel has never shown gratitude to Kirby, or acknowledged that without his talent the company would never have flourished."

    From Groth's article:

    Jim Shooter: "When it was Frank Miller’s turn to talk, though no more fervent advocate for creators’ rights exists, he seemed reluctant to jump on the bandwagon. He even likened the proceeding to a “kangaroo court.” Ask Frank. He saw me in the audience and asked me to speak!"

    Groth: Shooter was in the audience of this panel, and was at one point graciously given the floor; among other things, he said: “I would be embarrassed to be up there on that kangaroo court, speculating on my — Marvel’s — reasons for doing what we do, speaking about things you obviously don’t know about.”

    Oooops. Shooter actually attributed what he said to Frank Miller!

    Oh, and among those other things Shooter said from the audience was this gem: “I speak for Marvel Comics. Although I do not set all the policies, I have a great voice in setting the policies, and they’re not currently doing anything that I do not agree with.” Which tends to belie Shooter’s assertion in his April 1 post that “From my point of view, no one on this planet fought harder for Jack and his interests than me, ever.”

  39. inochi_3919 says:

    Shooter’s white washing of his role in this systematic corruption is very human. He’s human after all, wow. It reveals perhaps a guilty conscience, a sense of shame at participating in the theft and destruction of Kirby's legacy at Marvel, if not by malice then by negligence or cowardice. I wondered why he even bothered since Kirby is not the focus of much popular interest right now and maybe never will be again if he ever was. And so while trying to rewrite history he only digs a deeper hole of infamy for himself for those who know and remember. But God forbid that Shooter should be honest enough to use the defense that he was merely trying to protect his wife and kids just to survive. He was doing his duty. He was being a loyal company man.

  40. inochi_3919 says:

    A better rationale for one's failings and misdeeds in a corrupt society. I once quit a job, walked out when I discovered the crookedness of it. Though I didn’t despise this person, another employee told me he wouldn’t quit because he had to eat, too. I felt sorry for this person because of the dilemma capitalism creates between doing the right thing and making money to survive at someone else's expense. But who is honest enough to make that defense outright? I remember Paul Auster’s revealing discovery as a privileged person who didn’t have to work for a living because of inheritance that the conditions of work for many was uncivilized. And yet we’re supposed be civilized, a society of free persons should not mirror a jungle, the survival of the fittest and the cruelest, yet paradoxically it does. I would prefer the freedom of survival on my own terms in nature than the hoax civilization of debt slavery. Nature’s indifference and challenge is never humiliating or self defeating as the cant of men who steal, lie and enslave others–in nature one is alive to the fullest, life and death is exhilarating.

  41. inochi_3919 says:

    But I don’t believe Kirby was a smart business man, and I think some of it is Kirby's own fault like it is for all of us. We can't seem to do anything better than be entrapped and enslaved to this system. What was done to Kirby is being done to every lowly worker right now but who cares. The only difference is Kirby was a talented artist so we are outraged. Maybe he could’ve been a smart business man if he wanted to. Kirby was a self taught intellectual and perhaps a frustrated writer with a chip on his shoulder. He told Romita he wanted to write more and have others flesh out his concepts at DC. It might’ve been the smartest thing he should’ve done, that and perhaps staying at Marvel to become its art director.

  42. inochi_3919 says:

    Kirby was neurotically obsessed with science fiction and superhero comics as an art, a profession and he was artistically very ambitious. He wasn’t naive about the corruption he participated in, he gambled in it and lost to a degree, his failure is greater than his fame or success because his gifts were immense: he could’ve been an artist on the level of Kubrick if he was lucky or was able to figure a better way out. I know someone in a similar circumstance right now where the money is good enough that the risk is too high in breaking away from the company sooner than later. Kirby took the money rather than fight for his rights to his work.

  43. inochi_3919 says:

    He also resented editorial interference in his work. The key problem at DC in the end. One example of this is his inability to tolerate changes to his faces for example. The Barda face by Royer was in fact a better more beautiful face than Kirby’s. Yet he took considerable offense it seems the way he responded to it. Even some minor cover changes asked for by Lee bothered him yet from a design stand point they made sense, to me anyway. Kirby was more of an artist and therefore more of an individualist than a business man, though they share certain qualities in common except when they are the serfs to bosses. Kirby struggled all his life it seems with asserting his personhood, in an almost Billy Budd way his story speaks eloquently of the plight of the individual. He speaks of this at one point http://www.sheldorftribute.com/2009/10/19/shel-sp

  44. inochi_3919 says:

    Jack. Yeah, I got close to it because, uh, uh, because I was driven that much by wanting to, uh, do anything to, uh, become a person. I, I never considered myself a person. You couldn’t where I was.
    SHEL: What were the circumstances?
    KIRBY: Because you were not a person unless, you know, uh, unless you did something.

    It's always about class and money in the end and education. Kirby never forgot where he came from and this is the source of an underlying tension between Lee and Kirby, Lee like a royal benifits from the family connection to wealth and power. To Kirby he got his position not by talent or effort but by a relative's marriage to the boss Martin Goodman.

  45. ChanceFiveash says:

    "since Kirby is not the focus of much popular interest right now and maybe never will be again if he ever was"

    I think interest in Kirby's work is VERY high right now and has been the past few years. Pretty much all of his post S&K DC work is in print (with more forthcoming)…one HUGE volume of S&K volume from Titan…3 S&K books from DC..about 95% of his 60's and 70's Marvel work is in print…

  46. DanielJMata says:

    If he just said he was doing his duty as a company man now, AFTER his job at Marvel, people would understand that he didn’t want to lose his source of income. But, now he’s just repeating the same old slop it seems for no real gain whatsoever. Why? Does he want to look like a jackass now and forever?

    And to say that Kirby is of no real interest is a GROSS. He has always been a major influence on everyone from Frank Miller to Seth to Gary Panter. Collections of his work with anybody are constantly being put out. Reflections of his work are constantly being posted. Kirby is probably the most influential man to ever be in the business.

  47. inochi_3919 says:

    ChanceFiveash, I’m skeptical that Kirby as a celebrity is attracting greater interest. I don’t see the numbers at the Kirby Museum page. And Mark Evanier's King of Comics was a big disappointment to me. I’m not sure it helped Kirby in the long run, superficially abridging his larger biography. But I’m thinking of Kirby himself more than his comics or characters. Not even in a commercial sense by the people who do owe Kirby some consideration. You’d think they’d know about Kirby, Lucas, Spielberg, Cameron and others or take an interest in him. Kirby says so much about popular American culture as a kid from the slums, as a veteran, as an entertainer, as a family man, as a senior citizen forced out of the industry he helped build. Who knows maybe it’s better he remains a concern of fandom and Kirby partisans but I could be wrong but I’ll bet the current trendy interest in his reprints if not in his legend as the King of comics won't last. He's America's industrial answer to J.R.R. Tolkien!

  48. inochi_3919 says:

    Kirby was or ought to have been the inspiration to some of these movie directors seeing that their movies are realizing aspects of his comics special effects and visual action. I suspect Lucas was inspired by some themes in Kirby's New Gods. Howard got a really fine biopic made about his life and love and I think Howard was even more obscure in terms of the larger public than Kirby was at the time. Even after that awful Milius adaptation of Conan. And look at Harvey Pekar, a street fighting man not unlike Kirby albeit of different generations. With the Disney Marvel team-up we’re even less likely to see a big budget film that doesn’t white wash this history and maybe it will be mostly about Stan Lee, though an honest 'realistic" movie about both of them and the 60’s would be fascinating. Maybe it's going to take some sort of indie project.

  49. ChanceFiveash says:

    Well, Kirby being a "celebrity" has never been in question…he never has been popular beyond the comic book community….and rarely has any comic book creator been. But within those confines he's very much in the minds of a lot of comic readers today. Otherwise so much of his lesser known work would not be in print if it did not sell. Corporations are not in this just to keep great artists in print.

  50. inochi_3919 says:

    >He will be and perhaps always remain the idol of commercial fandom. And that's what I don't want. I want his story, an honest account of his life and struggle to be better known by a wider working class public. But that is unlikely. Kirby’s fate is related to the fact that he influenced mostly other artists while most non-partisan fans fell in love with the characters and the Marvel voice and not with any particular variation on the Kirby style, general fans didn’t really miss him when Buscema, Trimpe, Romita, Colan, and Smith etc. drew the characters he designed, at least in my opinion, from the research I’ve been doing. But if his reprinted books sell and more people take an interest in his life all the better. He deserves to be better and more widely known but not for superficial, commerical reasons.

  51. superggraphics says:

    I don't know what blog you are reading but it isn't the same one I'm reading. Shooter praises Mort Weisinger, Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, and Steve Massarsky (who railroaded him out of VALIANT). Yep, mean spirited for sure. My comment as far as Groth not being there with Jim and Jack referenced the private conversations that Shooter and Kirby had, never referring to anything that happened publicly. Never read anything bad Jack had to say about Jim taken in the proper context and still haven't. Is Shooter a saint? No, but then who among us are? Did he have problems with people who worked with and for him? Sure. Who doesn't? I missed seeing Shooter's condemnations against DeFalco, Wolfman, Carlin, and Gruenwald. To the other comment about Jim not paying out potential profits from the Gold Key line to the original creators or their descendants, that would fall on Classic Media, not Dark Horse or Shooter, as they (Classic Media) hold the rights to those properties. I know that Frank Bolle has no problem with what Jim is doing with Doctor Solar. I missed the I'm above reproach and everyone else is scum comments by Jim as well. Are you sure we are reading the same blog? And I never said that only Shooter and his defenders have the right to use the internet, only that misinformed opinions and witch hunts can be conducted by anyone who has that access. You have the right to attack and criticize Jim Shooter just as much as I have the right to defend him. And last, you should go back to Jim's blog and read Peter David's comments concerning the Kirby controversy. “30” George E Warner superggraphics From: notifications@intensedebatemail.comTo: superggraphics@hotmail.comSubject: Shooterlies replied to your comment on Jim Shooter: Groundhog Day in the Land of the Apocryphiars

  52. Peter Kaprelian says:

    Happy Easter, True Believers!

  53. alanstrend says:

    I guess if I was the staunch defender of creator's rights that Shooter wants to be seen as I would ensure that any creators whose characters I would hypthetically profit from would receive a fair share of those hypothetical profits. As the writer/packager of those creations (properties) I could refuse complicity with the current right-holders until such time as payment to creators would be negotiated.

    "Hypothetical" because we all know the Gold Key line won't make a profit unless SpikeTV decides to broadcast the long-awaited 12-part miniseries "Doctor Solar – Man of the Atom" (or whatever the hell he's called) in 3D.

  54. Peter Kaprelian says:

    Was he even EAC in 79 -80? How does a guy get so glib that half a decade of his life is blurred? There are drunks with better memories than Shooter . I don’t think anyone in 79-80 knew who Miller or Moore was beyond their friends, family and Neal Adams.

  55. ronfontes says:

    Mr NadelI only tell the truth, so you'd better believe there was a flood.I had work to do in my broom closet “office.” What I saw was Sol and Johnny freaking out while talking to Reggie and Nestor from the mailroom, who were sent to the warehouse in Brooklyn. Sol told me that there was a flood. I did not run off to Brooklyn to “personally witness” something that was not under my job description; what could I do, weep and wail? It's not like the Louvre was destroyed. It's not like the East River was going to give back anything.I just heard back from Johnny, trying to get the actual date: Actually, there were several floods, a couple of fires, rats, mold and thefts that wiped out a lot of old art. Johnny got back “less than 55%” of his work. If you have bought any old Marvel artwork, you may have bought stolen goods.I think Ro's book is VERY accurate, and I was there: I have talked to a lot of oldtimers, like George Roussos, John Tartaglione, Martin Goodman and others. Hell, I even talked to Kirby in 1972 in Nashville. I used to speak to Stan Lee on a fairly regular basis in the course of my job. Ro cites magazine articles, television interviews…in fact, his book is loaded with verified facts, not emotional opinions.Here's something else to get straight: Shooter was NOT the Boss. He was Editor-in-Chief of the funny books. Jim Galton and Mike Hobson were the honchos in charge, acting under orders from Cadence Corp in the 1980s. Martin Goodman was still around, too. Shooter did not dictate company policy, hell, he got fired when he confronted management with certain indescretions. The guys you have a beef with are all suits and shareholders with no public faces.As for the “property” issue: All of those artists sold their work to the company as work-for-hire. They knew they were selling their work. They took the money and paid the rent. No one can predict the success or failure of any of this stuff: It's all hit-or-miss and most of it is miss. Most of the older guys would rather have been newspaper comics artists or magazine illustrators. Comic books were slumming, last-resort work.If you think they got screwed, well, yeah, they did. So did Michelangelo. So did Van Gogh. I've been screwed but good, and they don't even kiss you. You can debate this all you want, but it doesn't change the nature of crapitalism. I'm working for one good guy publisher who is utterly ethical and for another “enlightened” smalltimer who doesn't want to pay spit. Most of the aspiring smalltimers think artists should work for free. Check out digitalwebbing.back to peon wages,Ron Fontes

  56. patford says:

    Jim Shooter 3/28/2011
    "…moved to a State of the art warehouse."
    "Shortly thereafter, Marvel moved from 575 Madison to 387 Park Avenue South. We also got a secure, fireproof storage facility in Astoria."

  57. patford says:

    Ron: "Old pages were stored in a Brooklyn warehouse which was FLOODED around 1983."
    Jim Shooter: …moved to a state of the art warehouse in Astoria…"
    Astoria is in Queens isn't it?

  58. Pingback: Photo Funnies « sans everything

  59. i loved your comment on society which is unfortunately true.you are quite a philosopher my friend-peace.

  60. Allen Smith says:

    Well said, George. Completely wrong in every respect, but well said. I see a future for you as a propagandist.

  61. Allen Smith says:

    In rereading Gary’s article, I now see that he wasn’t playing fair with Shooter. Gary had the nerve to bring up actual facts, no way Shooter could contend with those.

  62. patrick ford says:

    Contents of TCJ #111 now in the archive.
    scroll forward from the link for five pages of coverage.

    Lee’s 1986 version of his deposition testimony, “I’m Jack’s biggest fan…I created everything, Jack was just an illustrator.” is included.

  63. JediJones says:

    If he would prefer to go live in a jungle, why doesn’t he put away his laptop and do it? Unless it’s not really a better option at all and this is just mindless, meaningless pontificating. Capitalism provides society with astonishing wealth, abundance, power and freedom. The idea that you’re making money at “someone else’s expense?” Perhaps it’s literally true, in a good way. The consumers are voluntarily paying you to produce something they want. Which is just one of many ways that capitalism creates freedom.

  64. JediJones says:

    This article is such a pointless, petty bashing fest. If you’re passionate about an issue or a cause, why don’t you focus on that, instead of attacking an individual? It’s pointless because we all know Jim Shooter did not set the policies at Marvel. There isn’t anything you cite here that proves Shooter’s actions are anything but inconsequential in the dispute between Marvel’s owners at the time and Jack Kirby. This is like writing an article saying the President’s Press Secretary is to blame for all of his policies while you barely mention the President himself.

    The endless nitpicking about Shooter misremembering minor facts is where the pettiness comes in. So Shooter forgot the exact years some events occurred. Since when did this become such a crime against humanity? You spend much of your time harping on the fact that Kirby never filed a lawsuit, but what exactly is the substantive difference between that and having his lawyers in constant communication with Marvel? It’s a difference without a distinction. The implied threat of a lawsuit was always there. Sure, we never launched a nuclear missile at the Soviet Union, but I don’t think it would have gone over well to tell them, don’t worry, we’re just pointing them at you but we don’t intend to fire them.

    The only substantive point in this article is the different, longer document Kirby was given to sign for the return of artwork. That’s certainly noteworthy and was followed up on in the comments on Shooter’s blog, where they say Kirby’s lawyers demanded a more specific document. It’s also obvious that this dispute wouldn’t have occurred unless initiated by Kirby’s side, since no other artist had similar problems.

    Your assertions about what supposedly did NOT occur behind the doors of Marvel’s have NO credibility. How could you possibly know what discussions did NOT occur between Marvel and Kirby’s lawyers? You’ve proved that negative to yourself perhaps, but you’ve failed to do so to your readers. Both Shooter and Peter David offer firsthand testimony on Shooter’s blog that the demands you refer to actually DID happen. So should I now write my own blog detailing in great depth on how dishonest you are? Or would that just make me look petty, spiteful and self-aggrandizing?

    As for the larger issue of creators’ rights, I find it amusing that someone posted Kirby should have gone into advertising instead of comic books. Last I checked, advertising agencies do NOT own the characters they create for companies. Or has the creator of the Noid sued Domino’s Pizza for back royalties? Has the guy who played Mr. Whipple sued Charmin for the rights to his character? I don’t know what artist first designed the Hamburglar, nor do I know if McDonald’s has returned his artwork. It is absolutely ridiculous for creators to be suing companies over characters they created as work-for-hire just because those characters happen to become more popular than they originally imagined. It’s also an insult to the subsequent creators who spent years creating new stories, developing and updating those characters, as if their contributions amounted to nothing. An agreement is an agreement. 20th Century Fox agreed to give George Lucas merchandising rights to Star Wars, and that agreement stands. Why is the comic book industry one of the few that is so dysfunctional, unrealistic and doesn’t follow the same rules everyone else does?

    The bottom line is Jim Shooter’s blog is open for comments. I haven’t heard anyone claim that any comments they’ve tried to post there have been deleted. It would do a better service to his readers if you posted any corrections directly on his blog so we could immediately find out there was a factual error made. It would be more useful than your wall of text containing a kernel of relevant detail buried somewhere deep inside.

  65. Paul Slade says:

    Curious, though, that all of Shooter’s innocent “misrememberings” turn out to be so self-serving.

    If you received a bank statement full of mistakes, you might conclude the bank was incompetent. If all those mistakes just happened to favour the bank at your expense, you’d be justified in thinking it was dishonest too.

  66. Dino C says:

    Despite the attempts at distraction, what is all comes down to is Shooter wrote several inaccurate statements about the Kirby situation and Gary Groth used facts and research to refute those statements and present a clearer picture of the sordid affair. The ill conceived arguments to excuse Shooter do not do him any favors.

  67. ja says:

    Curious, though, that your comment as a whole turns out to be so completely assuming that Jim Shooter is nothing but a liar.

    If you read a post full of hyperbolic analogies that just happened to favor a mean-spirited assumption at Shooter’s expense, you’d be justified in thinking those assumptions to be dishonest. Primarily because after JediJones made his logical arguments, you couldn’t be bothered to acknowledge but a one of them.

    Instead, you dismiss any notion that Shooter’s recollections are his, from his own personal experience. That Kirby’s lawyers’ communication could actually be viewed (even in hindsight) as a lawsuit, pending or not. That it was the Kirbys who initiated the need for the long-form art-return document.

    Like you’re holding up the Fox News (lack of) ‘standard’, you won’t ever acknowledge any of these pertinent details. Instead, it’s much easier (and fun for you?) to fall in line with the ‘Jim Shooter always lies’ scenario.

    Shooter being the boogeyman in the Kirby debacle may make sense to you, but it just doesn’t ring true to me. Especially after Gary Groth’s relentless over-the-top hyperbole over the course of several decades.

    I think JediJones makes a convincing argument. Shooter isn’t perfect (neither are you) when it comes to remembering dates. Getting some dates wrong – and (maybe) misremembering not what was said, but who said it twenty-odd years ago doesn’t rise to the level of Evil Intent that Gary Groth always tries to sell to anyone who might still read his words.

    It seems less like a search for the truth, and it feels a whole lot more like the classic ‘Gary Groth villifies Jim Shooter again’ approach.

    If Shooter’s wrong about anything, then sure he should be corrected. To then ascribe Evil Intent to Shooter’s motives is simply wrong, I believe. But I have never felt a malicious vibe from Shooter that I usually *always* get from Gary Groth’s side of the fence.

    I get an allergic reaction to people who are malicious (and who revel in being so). I usually end up feeling that they’re being that way to cover up their own false premises and/or hypotheses. For that alone, it makes me disbelieve Gary Groth.

  68. patrick ford says:

    I am eagerly awaiting Gary Groth’s reply to Jedi Jones.

  69. The Ghost says:

    Another BS witchhunter piece. Am I surprised? No. Gary is still pissed about Jim Shooter’s testimony in all the Harlan Ellison BS.

  70. Gary,

    Methinks you are not too crazy about Shooter…however, we all love Kirby so much; there probably won’t be anything enough done within reason to make amends for an obvious sizable creative and financial slight levied against the King…

    (“verisimilitude”!!! Man, that practically ties one’s tongue into a knot)

  71. Brian Logue says:

    If Groth is going to accuse Shooter of “falsifications” and “misrepresentations of fact,” he might want to get his own facts straight. Taking it in order:

    “[Kirby] refused to work for the major companies under work-for-hire conditions any longer.” Wrong. Kirby did work-for-hire for DC in the 1980s, including the Super Powers mini-series and The Hunger Dogs graphic novel.

    “Marvel did not [return older art] until 1984, when, under pressure from artists, they too began to return older original art.” How does Groth know what Marvel’s motives were? I’ve read through the Journal‘s coverage of this. There’s no mention of this happening because of any leverage exercised by any artist.

    Groth states that a key difference between the four-page document sent Kirby and the standard one-pager was that Marvel ceded ownership of the art to the artist with the one-pager. As such, the one-pager allowed the artist to sell the art. As near as I can determine, the Journal never actually printed the text of the one-page agreement. There is only one mention of the one-pager’s content in this regard in the Journal‘s coverage. It comes from Wendy Pini’s statements in the panel discussion in #105. She said “this clause [barring sale of the artwork by the artist] is in all the release forms: The longer one Jack received, and the shorter version everyone else receives.” It appears Groth is wrong again.

    Groth writes, “Marvel didn’t own the art in the first place — they had never actually bought the original art; they paid for the reproduction rights — so they held hostage artwork Kirby himself owned.” This is also wrong. The original artwork was a collective work produced at Marvel’s instance and expense. As such, it was Marvel’s property. Kirby didn’t employ the inkers and letterers who helped create the final physical art; Marvel did. If he was just selling reproduction rights, all Marvel would have printed was the unlettered pencilled pages.

    Groth seems to think the story of Kirby’s post-1978 dealings with Marvel begins and ends with the Journal‘s coverage of them. If Groth would read what he quoted by Shooter, he would see that Shooter states the ownership claims were made and settled before the issue of the artwork return took center stage. Groth wasn’t privy to what was going on between Kirby and Marvel between 1978 and 1984. Since he wasn’t, and he can’t quote anyone who was, Shooter deserves the benefit of the doubt about this. He was wrong about there technically being a lawsuit, but there’s no reason to think he was wrong about Kirby being in heated negotiations with the company about various matters. According to Mark Evanier, Kirby’s lawyer did threaten the company with ownership claims on at least one occasion.

    “[There was] no demand by Kirby, enshrined in a lawyer’s letter or otherwise, that he receive sole credit for characters he co-created, and no demand that Lee receive none.” Again, how does Groth know? Apart from the four-page agreement draft, none of Kirby’s correspondence with Marvel was published in the Journal. Kirby claimed sole creator credit for the characters he worked on (and, in the case of Spider-Man, one he didn’t) in Groth’s interview with him in Journal #134. Is it really a big leap to assume he might have made the same claims in his dealings with Marvel? Shooter deserves the benefit of the doubt with this one, too.

    I don’t know why Groth is bringing up things like the erroneous credit on the Cannon Captain America movie announcement, other than he just wants to rant about it. Shooter has never made any reference to this. There’s no reason to believe he even knew about the matter.

    I also don’t know why Groth would think Shooter spends time reading Groth’s smear-jobs against him. If someone had likened me in print to antebellum slave masters and the Nazi collaborators who worked in the concentration camps–both of which Groth did with Shooter–I wouldn’t waste any more of my time reading that writer than was absolutely necessary.

    Shooter made a mistake about Kirby suing Marvel. He was confronted about it. In response, he admitted that he was probably wrong. He didn’t delete the comment. Nor did he bury his reply in the original post’s comment thread. He answered the commenter in a new post, which would result in it getting greater attention from his readership. He handled this matter well.

  72. Michael Tags says:

    Interesting to read -here, almost three years after the initial posting- the original (excellent, BTW) article by Mr. Groth and the subsequent torrent of defenders and detractors of Jim Shooter. Equally interesting is that most of the Shooter defenders were regular fawning posters at Shooter’s blog including JediJones, etc.

    Writing as someone who has read Shooter’s blog posts off and on for a few years and also has a great knowledge of Marvel creators and creations from the time of Shooter’s reign as Editor-in-Chief, I find Jim Shooter a detestable person. His retelling of history is often blatant, shocking and at times nauseating.

    Outside of his re-imaginings of the Kirby saga and Marvel’s licensing agreements, Shooter’s continued hateful references to Bill Mantlo is a prime example of what a warped person he is. Mantlo is now in a vegetative state and cannot defend himself; a situation similar the deceased Mark Gruenwald (referenced in a post above). This allows the apocryphiar Jim Shooter to change everything involving Mantlo to meet his whims with no pushback from someone who remembers the truth. Just look at how Shooter has referred to and treated Mantlo on his blog. I also read an article on Bill Mantlo in the online magazine “LifeHealthPro”:


    After a few pages with respectful quotes from Chris Claremont, a further section was written that began with the following introduction:

    “But Bill’s writing was not perfect, and nobody knew that better than Jim Shooter, Marvel’s editor-in-chief and the guy who worked most directly on overseeing Mantlo’s work. Shooter became a comic industry legend in his own right during his nearly 12-year stint with Marvel, from 1975 to 1987. More than any editor before him, Shooter worked to make every Marvel title inhabit the same overall setting, creating a universe of thematically linked titles in which characters and storylines could easily cross over from title to title. Fans often refer to Marvel comics produced under Shooter’s watch simply as the Shooter era. More than a few of them contend that the Shooter era is the high point of all Marvel publishing.”

    What then follows is a shameful and hateful recounting of the professional career of Bill Mantlo by Jim Shooter. I would recommend it to be read by anyone who is on the fence about Shooter’s character or mentality.

  73. Having just had this entire thread pointed out to me yesterday by fellow researcher friend Patrick Ford, i wish to add in blatantly well after the main discussions went down that:

    1) there was no flooding of Marvel original art work as some guy Ron tried to introduce in to the mix. Marvel art was wholesale being stolen as early as 1969. That was the year I bought the complete book of Xmen 58 among many other pages by Adams, Ditko, Kirby, Swan for $5 a page at the St Louis World SF Convention from two guys went on to become major writers and editors in the biz. The disappearances of original art work from Marvel,DC, etc began long before a lot of the public seems to be aware of.

    2) Jim Shooter, for what ever it is worth, back in the day in a no-win situation, was always referring to the “suits upstairs” as in he was following orders from the owners of Marvel. This falls in to lines of “job retention”. That said, and this is where there are legit gripes by those on the receiving end, the style of execution of said orders from owners is where Shooter fell down. Near absolute power begats corrupt mentality many a time, so the age-old adage goes. Same goes for Stan Lee seeking his own “job retention” from having to placate corporate bosses who would fire some one not doing their bidding.

    Just a thought or two while also being very sympathetic to those creators who’s real lives were disrupted in said processes/

  74. James Van Hise says:

    Stories about stolen early Marvel art turn up more and more. Recently I read a post from someone who worked in a comic book store in NYC in the 1970s when someone came in and offered for sale all of the original art from X-Men #1, #2 and other early issues. Of course the biggest story was a few years ago when someone donated to the Smithsonian all of the interior original art pages from Amazing Fantasy #15, some of which can be viewed on line and can be viewed in person if you get special permission ahead of time. Supposedly 30 years ago Jim Shooter was told that some of the stolen art was going to be offered for sale at a local convention, but he admitted that he couldn’t do anything about it because at the time Marvel had no official inventory where they could prove the art was ever in their possession. In 1976 I actually saw a page of original art from the origin of Thor from Journey Into Mystery #83 being offered for sale at the San Diego Comicon, but the person wanted $800 for it, which was high at the time because (it’s hard to believe now) but no comic book collectibles were worth $800 in 1976, not even Action Comics #1.

  75. Ralphe Ostrander says:

    “no comic book collectibles were worth $800 in 1976, not even Action Comics #1”

    Is this true? What’s the Overstreet value for the book for that year? Did Chuck Rozanski sell the Edgar Church Action #1 within a few years of acquiring it?

  76. Henry R. Kujawa says:

    You know, it must really be a tragedy to “peak” before you graduate high school.

    But at least he had some talent as a writer, and editor, despite how impossible he was dealing with other people.

    Which is more than I can say for the guy who CAUSED all of this problem in the first place, who spent more than a decade stealing CREDIT AND PAY. The company has spent decades since compounding his lies, in order to hold onto Copyrights & Trademarks.

  77. Allen Smith says:

    Shooter as a writer was never more than a hack. Whatever his other flaws may have been. I was dumb and gullible enough to buy the first Secret Wars series when it came out, which just proves the old adage, there’s a sucker born every minute.

  78. James Van Hise says:

    To give you an idea of how cheap comic book collectibles were in the 1970s, at the 1973 New York Comic Art convention I saw a double page X-Men spread by Neal Adams being sold for $60.00. In the early Russ Cochran Graphic Galleries, Prince Valiant pages were $400. A Frank Frazetta painting (a nice one) was offered for $1200, which was a top price in those days. When I moved to California in 1978, I was in a comic book store in Los Angeles and they had stacks of original art from 1960s Marvel comics for $25.00 a page, including Kirby Captain America art from Tales of Suspense, and this was when Jack couldn’t get his own artwork back from Marvel.

  79. Dar says:

    “Kirby then demanded as a condition of accepting the artwork that he must be given sole credit as creator on all the characters he co-created with Stan, and that Stan must specifically receive no credit”

    He said such things in interviews as well.

    So, 100% believable.

  80. jaykayDX says:

    Whether you like Shooter or not (he seems to have angered so many people there’s little chance of him being an angel), his blog is one of the most detailed and insightful I have ever read; he always – ALWAYS – has copies of memos, receipts and some sort of evidence that corroborates his accounts – while all I see on his detractors blogs are hearsay and vitriol. And while Shooter himself comes off as cold and lacking people skills, his detractors come off as completely vitriolic, self aggrandizing egotistical jerks. There was one guy who virulently attacked Shooter whose blog is just one big ego stroke; I actually wanted to punch the dude after reading it! As a pervious poster said, Groth comes off as petty, malignant and biased – NOT a good look. Oh and if someone’s lawyer threatens to sue you, you can take it for granted you’re going to wind up in court – So I’m pretty sure that Shooter (AT THE TIME) thought they were being sued. No thanks Gray – I think I’ll take Shooter’s blog over yours …..

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