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Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Marvel Worldwide, Inc. et al v. Kirby et al - Jack Kirby's Notes!

Several dozen documents and testimonies were released today in the from the Marvel vs Jack Kirby's estate court case, including declarations from Dick Ayers, Gene Colan, Joe Sinnott, Jim Steranko and Neal Adams, but those will follow this posting.

Amongst the many documents and attachments are some absolute gems, including the first document here - a note that is labeled 'a true and correct copy of handwritten notes signed by Jack Kirby'.  But this is more than just an undated note, if you read it carefully you'll find Kirby detailing what level of involvement that he had in the creation of several of the Marvel characters, from Captain America through to the early days of Marvel, the Fantastic Four, Spider-Man, Hulk, Thor and Sgt Fury.  And therein lies a hidden beauty of such a court case - the little gems that evidence brings forward into the public eye.  Documents such as this are generally coveted by a select few, or the one, and are rarely seen.  In a way it's kind of sad that it takes a court case to bring such documents to the light, but at least they do finally surface.  And although the note is undated, I'd hazard a guess and say that Kirby possibly wrote this back when he first began to battle Marvel over his art returns (and more on that soon - something that might spin some people out).

Click on any image to bring up a larger image.  Go ahead, it's fascinating reading.


And further to that, here's what part of the case is based upon - I don't think I've seen one of Jack Kirby's cheques before this court case, but here you go. On the rear of the cheque is the then standard wording that Marvel placed upon the bulk of it's cheques - Dick Ayers' pay cheques from the 1970s have the same wording, and Ayers signed them where he should, but Kirby apparently didn't.  No matter what else, this case is proving to be very, very interesting.
  

And finally, another big document.  This is the remnants of Joe Simon's attempt to reclaim the copyright to Captain America.  This document, drafted by Marvel and signed by Kirby, saw Kirby relinquish his rights to Captain America for the princely sum of $1.00.  I do suspect that Kirby might have gotten a lot more than that, but, for paper purposes, that's generally the amount stated in such cases.  In what must be a bit of a blow for the Kirbys, section 5 of the document clearly states that Kirby did do work for hire for Marvel, and indeed also Timely, and as this was signed by Kirby one suspects that he did read the document beforehand.



More to come...

3 comments:

Kid said...

What I find interesting about this is that, just like Stan, Jack had a bad memory and his accounts can't really be relied upon to be totally accurate.

Case in point: he says he drew the cover to AF #15 (and thus designed the costume) and this was then given to Steve Ditko to develop the character. However, it's long been accepted as fact that Steve's cover came first and that Jack's version came afterwards when Stan rejected Steve's attempt. Steve Ditko confirms this. Also, the logo on the splash page to AF #15 has clearly been lifted from Steve's cover.

This tends to render Jack's later reminiscences so long after the events as somewhat unreliable.

borky said...

Looking at Jack's payslip, I was thinking, $9000 ain't too grubby but then I saw the words NINETY DOLLARS NO CENTS.

Somehow it was those words NO CENTS that cut my heart out - here they were, getting works of genius, but they were determined their creators weren't going to get away with so much as one cent too much.

I understand times were hard, and comic sales were poor, but that was then and in the present age when they're using the works of those same pitifully paid titans to make billion dollar revenue movies and TV shows, you'd think they could for once abandon the petty every cent counts mentality and finally justly reward true literary and artistic giants like Stan Lee, without whose foresight in the likes of the X-men, (by keeping the title going with reprints until it finally caught fire), there'd be no present day TV and movie revolution, never mind - k-tching! k-tching! - cash jackpot!

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately, Kirby's memory cannot be considered completely reliable so long after the fact. Ditko claims to have designed the Spider-Man costume and drawn his rejected cover for Amazing Fantasy #15 before Kirby did the revised version. This contradicts Kirby's account and makes perfect sense as there would have been no reason for Ditko to produce a cover if Kirby had drawn his first.