Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Gary Friedrich vs Marvel Comics: It Begins - Opening Appeal Brief

Right on time, here's the opening brief for Gary Friedrich, as filed in his appeal against the recent victory of Marvel Comics and the Ghost Rider character.  As expected the appeal is relying on the ambiguity of the Marvel contracts, in particular the retro-active contracts that Marvel had their freelancers sign in 1978.  If you believe Friedrich, those contracts were signed under some duress, with Friedrich stating in his deposition that, "I was given an agreement at that time by Sol Brodsky and told that if I wanted to continue to work for Marvel that I would have to sign it."  That claim of duress isn't isolated to Gary Friedrich, other creators have said the same thing, some, such as Don McGregor, walked from Marvel instead of signing it back in the day, however for Friedrich it was a double blow - he signed the contract and stopped getting work at Marvel.

There is one minor fact that has been missed, a loophole that might come in handy at some stage. At one point during Friedrich's deposition he was asked the following question: "Q. Are you aware of whether any other freelance writer of Marvel comic books owned the rights in any of the characters or stories created by that writer," in relation to the period of 1971 to 1978.  The answer was no, and Marvel's lawyers accepted that, for the understanding in this case is that everything produced by Marvel in the 1970s at least, belonged to Marvel and was duly copyrighted.  This isn't the case.  In 1978 Marvel published The Silver Surfer, a graphic novel which contained a copyright legend naming not Marvel, but the books authors - Stan Lee and Jack Kirby.  Importantly it falls on the cusp of the work-for-hire contracts, but a savvy lawyer might well be able to argue that Marvel did indeed produce work that was owned not by the company, but by the authors from the time period of 1971 to 1878.  Unfortunately this news might have come a bit late to be of any use to Gary Friedrich, but the battle isn't over yet.



It's a small loophole, but it might be a dangerous one for Marvel...but, as it stands, the overall negative publicity that this case has generated for Marvel must surely be biting.  The Brief addresses the contentious demand for $17,000 from Friedrich by Marvel, and challenges Marvels demand that Friedrich not profit from his status as the creator of Ghost Rider by pulling forth arguments about Friedrich's right to earn a living, as he has done in the past, by exploiting the Ghost Rider character by selling signed merchandise (merchandise, it's worth pointing out, was either donated or outright purchased by Friedrich).  It might be too late for Marvel to settle the case quietly, but it could still save a lot of face by simply doing the right thing by it's creators - as it stands the stance towards it's old creators the Marvel Comics of 2012 has a lot in common with the DC Comics of the 1960s and '70s.  That this is the case is more the shame - in a perfect world lawsuits such as these wouldn't be necessary as the creators would be sharing in the profits - even 1% of the gross would be more than enough for most. After all, if they won't hire the creators to work, then they do owe them a debt for giving them the means to make an empire - after all, even George Lucas shared the profits for Star Wars amongst the cast and crew.

In the meantime, here's the Opening Brief, and watch this blog for a few explosive documents from this case in the coming weeks, if not days...









































































69 comments:

Kid said...

Dan, although the 1978 Surfer book attributes the copyright to Stan & Jack, it also clearly states that the Surfer is a Marvel-owned character, so perhaps it's not quite the loophole to benefit Friedrich as you suggest.

Mikeyboy said...

He is merely pointing out the ambiguity of the copyright and it's holdings. It's a contradiction of terms. In contracts there can be no confusion during contract negotiations and or of said binding agreements. Once a loophole has been established is can be used in litigation.
But...is that enough of a loophole?

Kid said...

Actually, Dan essentially stated that the book assigned copyright to Stan & Jack, NOT Marvel. Strictly speaking, it assigns copyright to Stan, Jack AND Marvel, and Stan and Jack's copyright is by the permission of Marvel, the owners of the copyrighted character. Therefore, as I said, even if it is a loophole (which is arguable) it is probably not enough of one to benefit Friedrich. Incidentally, forgive my pedantry, but the accepted phrase is 'contadiction in terms', not 'of'.

Mikeyboy said...

Thank you for clarifying...but that is not how I used the phrase...In fact I did not use a phrase...I was merely using words and not popular collaqialisms and or legalese....btw lol ya spelled a word wrong there....but I won't harp on that due to the fact....that I am not perfect either. Just pernting somethin' out. But... I like your style and ...we are obviously on the same page...but different wavelengths.

Barry Pearl said...

3 items: Marvel would still own the trademark to the Silver Surfer making it impossible for Lee and Kirby to promote any product without cooperation.

2. A Marvel arrangement with Lee and Kirby (and Lee was an Marvel employee is a separate issue and probably would not be allowed in as evidence of anything. Marvel relationship with Lee and Kirby is allowed to be different than theirs with Friedrich and probably not relevant.

3 The big thing: there is often a misunderstanding of the word duress, the legal definition and the normal one.

Duress is commonly used to describe pressure, even undo pressure to get someone to do something. You have Friedrich stating: "I was given an agreement at that time by Sol Brodsky and told that if I wanted to continue to work for Marvel that I would have to sign it."

Well, that’s not duress. That is Marvel being tough but legal.. Marvel said if you don’t follow our conditions, you are out. And honestly, if you’ve worked enough you get stuff like that

Duress is when you threaten harm to life or property to get someone to do something. Threatening them with being fired, is not duress, it’s pressure. The Golfather putting a gun to your head is duress.

“duress n. the use of force, false imprisonment or threats to compel someone to act contrary to his/her wishes or interests.” And “Duress also exists where a person is coerced by the wrongful conduct or threat of another to enter into a contract under circumstances that deprive the individual of his or her volition.”

Threatening to fire someone is not wrongful conduct anywhere, unless you are asking them to do an illegal act.

Kid said...

Mikeyboy, you're right, but it was a typo caused by me not hitting the key hard enough, not because I don't know how to spell the word. Just for you, here it is in full...'contradiction'.

Mikeyboy said...

I know that KID. Don't sweat the small stuff. I love that last commentary.

Daniel Best said...

Well, we can argue the semantics Barry, but Brodsky telling people to sign or they'd not get work isn't exactly the nicest way to reward staff who've been loyal for years. It's not a wonder that many have claimed it as being duress.

The fact still remains, Gary signed the contract and didn't work at Marvel again. That's a shame.

Daniel Best said...

Oh, and in regards to the Surfer deal - while it's true that Marvel own the character, Lee and Kirby own the actual work in that book. That was the point that Marvel's lawyers were putting to Friedrich - was he aware of any time when any book appeared with a creator's copyright. The answer was no, but clearly, the answer isn't as accurate as could be.

Kid said...

Dan, just out of interest, do you know whether the reprint of the book a few years ago again credited copyright to Stan and Jack? Could the original copyright tag have been a mistake perhaps?

Also (assuming it wasn't a mistake), as the original book used the Surfer with Marvel's permission, is the copyright of the story any use if Marvel had decided not to allow future reprintings? The point being that, if the owner of the character in a story doesn't belong to you and you can't use the character without the owner's permission, then surely, in effect, it's redundant.

Perhaps it was just Marvel's way of saying that THEY wouldn't reprint the tale without Stan and Jack's agreement, which they'd be unlikely to withhold if there was money involved?

Any thoughts?

Barry Pearl said...

Dan, you wrote, “Well, we can argue the semantics Barry, but Brodsky telling people to sign or they'd not get work isn't exactly the nicest way to reward staff who've been loyal for years.”

Danny, I am never going to argue with you!!! I am not saying what Brodsky did was nice, just that it’s not illegal or unusual. The legal term for duress doesn’t work here. I’ve had bosses ho have said similar things, do it “their” way or find another job. (only when I was younger)

And Gary admitted that he, on drugs and alcohol, went on a year voyage in a car with a friend and no one was able to get in touch with him. This was not Marvel saying that, it was Gary.

Barry Pearl said...

Oh, one more thing. Please tell your blog that I am a robot and I find putting in all those letters annoying.

And my brother, Aaron Stack, feels the same way!

Daniel Best said...

Barry - it's funny, I had someone tell me to do something that was morally wrong or I'd be at risk of losing my job - I refused, took it further and, hey presto, I'm still working.

You're right about Brodsky - it was no different really to how DC treated their staff - like cattle - in the '50s and '60s. And there were more than a few writers and artists who refused to sign, walked and still worked at Marvel in the future. Gary signed and didn't work for them.

As for Gary's deposition - watch this space...

Kid - I'm not sure if the reprint carried the same notice. I was always under the impression that it was a concession from Marvel to get Kirby to work on the Surfer once more, that he could own the copyright. However, according to Greg Theakston's Jack Magic Vol II, when Kirby finally left Marvel in the late '70s he still owed them money - according to them the book made nothing of note. Hollywood accounting I suspect.

I'd love to see if the reprint has the same copyright notice. If it did mean that Stan and Jack couldn't reprint the story without Marvel's permission due to the fact that Marvel owned the characters - such as the Surfer and Galactus - then surely the opposite also applies? hat being Marvel can't reprint a STORY that BELONGS to Stan and Jack without their permission? And what of Ardina? She was an all new character that Stan and Jack introduced - surely that copyright notice would mean that THEY own it, not Marvel?

Such a mess...

5b40697e-dc26-11e1-803f-000bcdcb8a73 said...

I love your site and I check for updates everyday. I think for the most part you give a very fair assessment of creators and their legal matters. I also loved when you called out Mark Evanier. He is probably the most subversive and self serving individual that has ever worked in the industry. You have drawn considerable heat from the ignorant Kirby fanatics. I do question if you have perhaps grown too close to this case.

I think one of the biggest problems fans have with these types of lawsuits is that they attempt to apply morals and values into the legal system and business world. Sometimes we get caught up in the notion of black and white. Right or wrong. There is not one shred of proof that he created the Ghost Rider on his own and that he has any claim to the character. Just like with the asinine Kirby case. These people in many ways dug their own holes. The biggest reason that work dried up for Gary at Marvel was because he was chronically late and there were alleged reports of substance abuse issues. I love this hobby and have enjoyed it for almost fourty years. I just wish I could log on to one of these websites without reading about another creator or his heirs suing for something they have no claim. They have made bad financial decisions and now they are after a quick money grab. They employ some morally bankrupt ambulance chaser. I know it is easier to vilify these major corporations, but I wish the fans would research the creators and people that represent them before making ridiculous comments. We live in the information age. We have more knowledge at our fingertips than ever before. There is no reason to post ignorant statements.

Daniel Best said...

Fair call. However your comments would carry more weight if you signed them with your name.

In this case, which I feel is far stronger than the Kirby case, there is the anecdotal evidence to support the claim that Gary did create Ghost Rider. If he didn't, as you claim, then who did?

Despite Disney's stance otherwise, characters are not created by a company - people create them. They are owned by the company.

Kid said...

You're right, Dan - Marvel wouldn't have been able to reprint the tale without agreement from Stan and Jack. However, as I suggested, S & J would hardly have refused, considering the fact that, not being able to publish it themselves without Marvel's permission, the only way of even having a chance of making any dosh from it would be to let Marvel do it. That's why the copyright tag is essentially worthless, and wouldn't really help Friedrich's argument.

The copy I bought of the book was remaindered, but, like yours, it was a second edition from the '70s. (Not the fairly recent reissue.) If it didn't make any money, then why publish a second edition? As you suggest, 'Hollywood' accounting.

You're also right about the situation being a mess. Maybe one day someone will be able to clear it up. Let's hope so.

Barry Pearl said...

Danny, even in my book I go over this. I am NOT saying GF didn't invent Ghost Rider, but Roy Thomas, even thirty years ago said that he was one of the creators:
Roy Thomas: “I had made up a character as avillain in Daredevil — a very lackluster character —
called Stunt-Master...a motorcyclist. Anyway, when Gary
Friedrich started writing Daredevil, he said, “Instead of
Stunt-Master, I’d like to make the villain a really weird
motorcycle-riding character called Ghost Rider.” He didn’t describe him. I said, “Yeah, Gary, there’s only one thing wrong with it,” and he kind of looked at me weird, because we were old friends from Missouri, and I said, “That’s too good an idea to be just a villain in Daredevil. He should start out right away in his own book.” When Gary wasn’t there the day we were going to design it, Mike Ploog, who was going to be the artist,
and I designed the character. I had this idea for the skullhead,
something like Elvis’ 1968 Special jumpsuit, and so forth, and Ploog put the fire on the head, just because he thought it looked nice. Gary liked it, so they went off
and did it in back office for three hours.”

Danny, people get mad us because we try to use facts, not rumor.

Now I cannot say, for sure that Thomas and Ploog did most of the heavy lifting, all I can say is they said they did.

Daniel Best said...

I'm not mad Barry - just annoyed at the nameless commenter - unless that was you, in which case I shall withdraw my annoyance.

In the coming days I shall be posting the full depositions of both Gary and Roy - and yes, they are at odds with each other.

a8aa3e4e-dc38-11e1-8292-000bcdcb5194 said...

Mr. Best I apologize for not posting my name on my comments. I have never posted on your site before and that was a mistake on my part. I sincerely apologize if I offended or annoyed you. That was certainly not my intent. I am a huge fan of your website and I love the fact that in the past you have always been fair in what you have posted. It just seems like in this case it is a little more personal. That just comes from a neutral party from the outside looking in.

You asked who did create Ghost Rider? It is listed as Gary Friedrich, Roy Thomas, and Mike Ploog. Who created what? It really does not matter. The character was created for the sole purpose of Marvel comics. Everybody working on it knew it was for Marvel comics.
You are correct that people create and not corporations. What you did not mention is that people create for corporations. Which is what happened in this case. They knew the rules and who owned what. Should the rules be changed now because they have made bad life decisions? We cannot make up the rules as we go along. That is not how the real world works.
Dennis O'Neil named the Transformer Optimus Prime. Jim Shooter created the backstory of the Transformers and the whole concept of the civil war between the Autobots and Decepticons. I have never heard either of them cry and moan over not getting credit or trying to sue Hasbro. How many toys do you think Hasbro sold with their ideas? How many millions did the Transformers movies make? Look at Larry Hama and G.I. Joe? There is no Joe franchise without him. Yet, when he is asked about working, molding, and creating that franchise; his response is always "It was just a job."

Those are examples of pure professionals. I guarantee you that more people in this world know Optimus Prime and Snake Eyes than they do Ghost Rider. The people we are talking about are commercial writers and artists. They will create and write about anything if there is a steady paycheck in it for them. Marvel has actually been very lenient with Gary. Something that I do not think has come across in your postings. Gary started this legal mess. Gary has no one to blame but himself for the financial shape he is in.

I once again apologize if I annoyed or angered you. I am a huge fan of yours. I just wish we lived in a society where people accepted the blame for their actions.

James Howell

Barry Pearl said...

Danny, I think some people, no one here really, don’t understand or accept the work for hire concept and want to renegade things retroactively. If a character was a success they want a lot of money and credit. But if the product fails, they are not rushing in to give financial support to the company. In fact, that’s a bit of what the Judge said in the Kirby case, Kirby took no risks, but now his family wants a reward.

I no authority on the Superman case, you are! But Siegel and Shuster tried to sell Superman to the comic strips for years and failed. When DC got the property they were able to sell it to the comic strip syndicate, and to the radio show and to the movie serials and to the lunchboxes and breakfast cereals. That sort of marketing takes time, money and talent, none of which Siegel and Shuster had or were successful in. Yet many people today want to throw those efforts away and say Siegel and Shuster did everything.

Now, the Kirby people say the same. (wait until my next blog!) That he was responsible for everything. Remember when Kirby needed an agent, Jack Schiff to sell Sky Masters he didn’t want to give him any money because Kirby felt Schiff did nothing. All he did was sell the strip, Kirby drew it.

GF, in his own words, was an alcoholic and a drug addict. Worse, I spoke to an artist he worked with and he, frankly, could not do his job. The artist is a good, honest guy, who told us in some details HIS experiences with GF. And he had no sympathy for someone who left him in the lurch all the time.

PS I would do nothing on your site anonymously. I would send you a private email, which I have.

Did you get my Aaron Stack reference? he was machine Man, a robot.

Daniel Best said...

Barry - I got the Aaron Stack reference - I love Machine Man. Great character, all too under-used.

Gary's flaws at the time are all too obvious, and he never shied away from listing them in his deposition. However if we were to apply substance abuse as a negative against creators then we'd never look at anything Wally Wood ever did, amongst others. I know quite a few people who've regaled me with stories of drug use amongst Marvel and DC artists and writers in the '70s and into the '80s, so Gary wasn't alone there.

James - no harm done. I get a bit shirty when people do comment without leaving a name but if you're prepared to sign things then great - glad to have you on board and, by all means, if you don't agree with what's been said then definitely speak up. I don't intend to have a blog for sycophants and I love a good debate.

With Ghost Rider, well, Roy, Mike and even Stan have said that Gary brought the character to Marvel - so, technically, it wasn't created for Marvel under work-for-hire. The argument here is if the contract that Gary signed in 1978 gave them Ghost Rider, and if the cheques that he signed, with the legend on them, also meant that he signed it over. The judge said yes...

Barry Pearl said...

Danny, my point really is not about GF mental health, that is a discussion for another day.

I am just saying that he didn't make himself available for more work, he went on that road trip.

He also worked in a profession not know for giving credits rights. If you didn't get it in writing you were screwed and foolish.

James Howell said...

Thank you Mr. Best. Like I had stated in my earlier post; I am a huge fan of your site and what you post. I do not think I even disagree with anything you have said. I think you have the best site as far as covering the industry. I also do not believe you have any sort of agenda. I have also noticed more and more sites look to yours. You have broken more stories than just about anyone else in the last few years and they seem to just follow your lead. I have had some trouble posting on your site, but I certainly do not mind signing my name. That was just an error on my part. I also have really enjoyed how you have covered the Kirby trial. Especially when all of the other comic related sites seem to march to the same old, tired, beat. They cannot come up with much more than Kirby good! Marvel Bad! Has there ever been another individual that has benefited from the passage of time like Jack Kirby? He was know as a terrible artist through out the industry for most of his career. Even while he was with Marvel in the sixties. At that time Marvel was basically a mom and pop operation. Not the mega-corporation it is today. Stan took a chance on Jack. Stan gave him the nickname King. In a time when other companies did not give writers and artists credit, Stan had the people working for him listed. Stan always made sure they had credit. As much as it will burn up the Kirby family, Jack would have pretty much faded with time it not for the fact that Stan put Jack’s name on those early books. Stan was the editor at the time. Everything went through him. He knew Jack could produce his work on time. Jack had already burned bridges at DC. He seemed to do that a lot. With Marvel’s success it paved the way for Jack to get a very nice deal at DC. I have read comments in the past about Jack’s “Fourth World” after he left Marvel. They failed to mention what a huge failure it was at the time. It was not until other writers and artists took those characters that they gained some level of success. When it did not work out with DC once again { what a surprise} he went back to Marvel. With a very nice deal. He was allowed to write, draw, and edit his own books. They did terrible. Critically and sales wise.He was known by another name at this time. Jack the Hack.

James Howell said...

Anyone that would scream that Kirby was such a creative person should truly read the things he has written. Wonder if you will still feel the same. Once again everyone was against him. The big two had screwed him over again and again. Even though Kirby was not much of a writer and artist, he seemed to live in this fantasy world where he created everything and everybody was trying to take advantage of him. They had stole his work. He created everything. Did not matter if he was even working for the company or had anything to do with the character. Kirby had even claimed in an interview that he created Superman. He was a stickler for credit. Much like Rob Liefeld. Never mind the other artists that worked hard to breathe life into these creations. Kirby did it all in his mind. Then he screamed and cried about the return of his artwork. No one cared about the original artwork until the seventies. When the collectors market turned white hot. It was worthless up until that point. There are reports of companies using it to soak up spills in the office. It was given away to anyone that would take it. Work that in today’s market would go for considerable amounts of money. Most younger readers do not understand that for much of the comic book mediums life cycle, it was considered throwaway entertainment. Kids bought them for a dime. Read them. Then traded or tossed them away. The collectors market would not come until the seventies. Much is made of Jack Kirby’s battle over the return of his artwork. Much less is made about the actual facts. Kirby’s artwork would have been returned much sooner if his lawyers had not attempted to strong arm Marvel. Any time you get an attorney involved with a dispute, things are going to get messy.Much has been made about the fact that Marvel asked him to sign a release form different from everyone else. What is not reported as much is the fact that Kirby insisted on it. He also wanted it to say in that paperwork that he would get full credit for everything he worked on. He wanted Stan Lee and Steve Ditko’s names taken off of their creations. Replaced by his. Because much like Rob Liefeld….Jack Kirby was a stickler for credit. I am also going to have to start reading Barry Pearl's blog. Anyone that tells the actual truth about Kirby is okay in my book. The Kirbys stand to profit greatly if they are allowed to rewrite history. The fact that Jack worked under a work for hire agreement. The fact that some of the characters they are listing in their lawsuit he had nothing to do with. The fact they want to do away with creator credit for the individuals that worked hard and laid the groundwork for the comics we know and love. It does not seem as if the truth really matters to them. All they seem to really be concerned with is great big sacks of cash and a great big smudge on the history books. I urge everyone that read this to do some research and find out the facts. Do not let some people wash away the true history of comics. I also urge people to read some of the past interviews of Jack Kirby. Also check out the depositions given in this current Kirby lawsuit. I also would like people to dig up how Kirby was always wanting to sue someone. Including Johnny Carson. I guess the fruit does not fall far from the tree.I have never read an article where Stan Lee does not mention Kirby’s work. Not once. Never does he say I created everything. Never does he say me, me, me! I did it all. With no ones help. If it is out there I would love for someone to send me the link. Now read what Kirby says in his interviews. As much as some people love Kirby’ work and will always make excuses for him. The bottom line is that he was the Rob Liefeld of his time. Terrible writer….check. Terrible artist….check. Going from place to place and always blaming others on why he was showed the door….check. Taking credit for someone else’s work…check. If it quacks like a duck….

James Howell said...

I did not write that to praise Stan or to bury Jack. I just stated facts. It does bother me the way the Kirby fanatics attack Stan Lee. Stan is nearly 90 years old. What do people get out of attacking an old man? Much of that blame and the fountain of misinformation can be laid squarely at the feet of Mark Evanier. This year he wished Stan a happy birthday and then attacked his memory. Mark stands to really profit if he attacks Stan's memory. I also love how he is always making comments about Jack to make himself seem relevant. I especially like how he made a statement that Kirby had predicted years ago how big Comic-Con would become. I guess not only did Kirby create the sun, moon, and stars; he was also Nostradamus. Evanier was also hosting a panel at Comic-Con this year when someone came in impersonating Stan Lee. They had fake Stan creating characters that he would get sole credit. That is a nice little dig against Stan. Yet, I have never read that Stan took sole credit and did not mention the artists that worked on the characters. Ironically Jack, Mark, and his heirs allege that Kirby created everything on his own with no help. Reading Mark's depositions and the different interviews he has given through the years; I am surprised he has not been charged with perjury. Some people may not like what I have posted, but they are the facts. They may not fit into certain peoples agenda, but they remain the facts. I have enjoyed some of Stan’s work. I have also enjoyed some of Jack and Rob’s work. Rob helped to create a lot of characters also. Deadpool and Cable are probably two of the most popular comic book characters created in the last twenty plus years. Most of his characters have thrived with other writers and artists. Supreme by Alan Moore was pretty good. I just think it is very interesting how much of history has been altered to fit others needs. For much of Kirby’s career he was not a well respected artist, writer, or creator. Now people comment that he was the only one that put any work into the Marvel and DC universe. I hope that perhaps with my comments people will do some research and look into the true history of the books we know and love. If Jack was truly the only one to work on those books, if he truly did those with no help from anyone else. Why did he not make a big fuss when they first hit stands and all of these other people were credited for his work? He certainly was not one to hold his tongue. I really would like for people to research the true history of comics and see how things really happened.

Al said...

Daniel, what's going on? I thought that only humans were allowed to post comments on this blog. Where'd the chimp come from?
Tarzan needs to get the laptop away from Cheetah, the drivel I've read in some of these posts.

Michael Hill said...

Dan, you do your site a disservice by letting this vitriolic bile stand. I've seen you delete comments for lesser offences. You need to prove your alleged impartiality: not only is it not okay to attack Stan Lee, it's not okay to attack Jack Kirby.

Michael Hill said...

No alcoholic or substance abuser is allowed to give evidence against Lee or Marvel in the court of Danny Boy. Dan, I can't help noticing James Howell and Barry discredited Friedrich on these grounds before you joined in, then added Lee fan Wally Wood for good measure. I can't wait to see when cigars get added to the list.

James Howell said...

I see the Kirby fanatics have chimed into the discussion. Never let it be said that they let little things like facts get in the way of their reality. For one thing I never spewed bile or attacked Kirby. I stated facts that Kirby fanatics refuse to acknowledge. The Liefeld comparison is my own, but it is a fair comparison. Look at the artwork Rob did on Captain America and compare it to the "King's" work. Compare some of Rob's and Kirby's interviews. Compare their history. Also read what I stated about Gary. No where did I say that he could not give evidence because he is a substance abuser. I was stating that he had drug and alcohol problems that made him unreliable. He missed a lot of deadlines. That was why he was taken off Ghost Rider. That was why he was no longer given work at Marvel. Do Kirby fanatics ever read the facts before shouting and condemning? I also enjoyed the post that said my comments should be taken down. A true Kirby fanatic would censor someone that did not spout their brain washed agenda. You have to love them. Also everything I said about the "King" can be verified by multiple sources. Look it up. Provided you can read before posting. I know that is expecting a lot when dealing with a Kirby fanatic.

Daniel Best said...

Woosh! Now the fun starts. Allow me to address this, in order.

Al - you're entitled to your opinion, as is James and anyone else that comments here. All I ask is that people sign their names to their comments. Anonymous comments will be deleted - which is why I removed that functionality. We don't all agree - hell, I don't agree with a lot of what James has said, but there you go.

Michael - I agree. It's not ok to attack either Stan or Jack, and I expect you to leap in there and defend him, as I'm about to do shortly. As for the substance abuse statement, if you read what I said, my point was that if we're to ignore what Gary has said because he's admitted that he was an alcoholic, then do we ignore anyone who had a substance issue? It's well known that Wally Wood - a giant amongst artists and one my personal favourites - also had an issue with the bottle. It doesn't make his talent and achievements any less valid, as Gary's creation of Ghost Rider is no less valid.

Let's get in there.

Michael Hill said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Daniel Best said...

James. Jack was already the King before Stan gave anyone a nick-name. Stan just made it public really. Without Jack Marvel Comics wouldn't be anywhere really, the same as without Stan it'd be a far lesser force than now. It irks me that the likes of Joe Quesada gets a nice bonus for the success of films like Iron Man, Avengers and the like, while Jack's family get naught. That's not right on a moral level - it's not how I'd run the company, but then I'm not part of the Mouse.

The only comparison that anyone can really make between Jack Kirby and Rob Liefeld is that both were popular with the masses. Other than that there's an entire universe of difference between the two men. Kirby created original characters, Liefeld's characters are all thinly disguised derivatives of other people's works. Supreme? Shaft? Youngblood? Please!

I would argue the point about Cable and Deadpool being the most popular characters of the last twenty plus years. Hell, even Spawn got a movie, as did Mystery Men, Men In Black and others. For the record - The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles are easily more popular than not only both Deadpool and Cable combined, but all of Liefeld's 'creations' combined. I really don't rank Liefeld as a creator, certainly not a writer and barely as an artist. And, in regards to Cable, I think you'll find that Louise Simonson did the bulk of the work in the creation of that character...but that hasn't stop Liefeld from claiming sole credit.

Jack Kirby needs to be recognised, by Marvel, on the books, officially, as the co-creator, and, in some cases, the sole creator of a lot of their characters. I don't blame him for being bitter - even Joe Simon devalued his contributions to the creation of Captain America.

With Gary, I can't help but think that a deal could have been brokered, but that's not how the Disney Corp works these days - everything is owned by the company and nobody, other than the company, has ever created any of the characters, other than Walt Disney's Mickey Mouse...

Daniel Best said...

Michael - I know the comments you were referring to. The only reason I deleted them back then was because people did not sign their names to them. If you want to attack Stan, then, by all means, go ahead. Just sign your name to the comments.

Michael Hill said...

Dan, attacking Stan won't solve anything. I don't mind signing my name and I wonder if James Howell is a pseudonym for someone I know or if someone is having us on.

Daniel Best said...

Mike, I have no idea if James Howell is his real name or not - I don't vet the comments to that extent. Just so long as we're clear though, if the comments have a name then they'll remain.

As you'd be aware, as recently as a few months back, comments were left under the guise of Anon attacking everyone except for Jack Kirby (including attacks on me). I have a good idea who the people were, once I removed that ability the attacks stopped, but then restarted on other blogs. Amazing really. Those people are free to comment here, but they'll have to leave their names, something they refuse to do.

I'm all for free speech and I don't expect everyone to agree with my views, or what I write. I do my best to remain impartial, but the truth is that, no matter what I write, people interpret it as they see fit and see whatever bias suits themselves.

And I agree - attacking Stan, Jack or even Wally Wood won't solve anything in the long term, but there it is.

Michael Hill said...

Dan, I think it's Barry and Kid tag-teaming you for the purpose of eliciting a response from "Kirby fanatics" (hey, it worked). I appreciate your thoughtful response to James, but I regret he took the focus away from the Friedrich case. I'm saddened that people like Barry can so easily rationalize away the personal tragedy in favour of the corporation.

James Howell said...

Mr. Best I can assure that my legal given name is James Howell. I am more than willing to send a copy of my drivers liscense to your email. That is too funny. Daniel I agree that Louise Simonson did the heavy lighting on Cable. That was part of my comparison to Kirby. They both had no problem talking sole credit for work that was a collaboration. They were both self taught commercial illustrators. I do not think either one ever read about or understood anatomy. Ever article or interview I have ever read that concerns where Kirby got his nickname clearly states that Stan gave it to him. Stan gave everyone that worked with him nicknames. If you can direct me to any reliable information that disproves all of those other articles I would love to read it. I also state that Cable and Deadpool are two of the most popular creations of the last twenty plus years in comics. I did not state that they are the most popular. Spawn is a good one. Even though his popularity has cooled quite a bit in the last twelve years. The Turtles and Men in Black are a bit more difficult. In other mediums they are huge. Not sure their comics ever out sold Cable and Deadpool. There is no way I will be convinced that Mystery Men is more popular than Cable and Deadpool.

James Howell said...

I also want to clearly state that I do not have a problem with commercial writers and illustrators reaping financial benefits from corporate creations. Is it fair that Joe Quesada has made more money from Marvel than Jack Kirby? No. Is there anything in life fair? No. Is it fair that my young daughter struggles with rheumatoid arthritis? No. The difference is Joe has it in his contract that he gets those huge sums of money. Jack did not. Whose fault is that? Jack has been dead for eighteen years. Is it fair that his heirs are suing for characters that he only helped to create? Their are some names on their lawsuit that he did not have a hand in creating. If by some miracle they did happen to gain control of all of those characters, is it fair to all of the people did work on creating them for Marvel? Would it be fair to Marvel's stockholders that have invested a ton of money into the company? Before someone halfway reads this post I am in no way, shape, form, or fashion defending Joe Quesada. I do not think Perry Mason could win that case.

Al said...

Stan Lee being a 90 something year old man didn't keep him from giving his self serving testimony in the deposition in the DisMar/Kirby case, did it? And he's been speaking out for fifty years with his propaganda, now it gets returned to him on a tiny part of the internet. Excuse me while I go cry for poor ol' Stan.

Al said...

In addition, if the Kirbys won, it would be like the Superman case, where concepts or copyrighted works created by Siegel and Shuster would be owned by them. Nothing that Kirby didn't create would be awarded to him. And, that a judge deprived the estate of the opportunity to argue their case before a jury stinks. DisMar had the case moved to New York where a corporate ass kissing federal judge would be more likely to rule in their favor.

James Howell said...

I remember reading on John Byrne's website a discussion about Jack Kirby. John is a huge Kirby fan and he was basically posting about how Kirby did not get enough credit when he was alive and now that he is dead he gets way too much. Before anyone posts to call me names and demand that I get banned from posting those were not my words. I did not even post a reply to the discussion. When Kirby was helping to start the Marvel Universe as we know it he had already burned his bridges at DC. Marvel was a mom and pop operation and they were small timers. At that point in time DC actually distributed Marvel's books. Does anyone really believe that Kirby would have rather worked at Marvel at that time? Making a lot less money for a smaller operation. Also at that time the editors at DC made fun of the artwork at Marvel. How it was so ugly. As much as people want to argue this point, Kirby was not considered a great artist at this point in his career. He was not an A level talent. Do not believe me? Please just look it up and do some research. It is a fact. I know people want to make out that Kirby came out of the womb as the "King" but that is not the truth. He goes back to DC in the late sixties. The editors there thought he would bring that Marvel magic. If they had really wanted to Marvelize their books they would have grabbed Stan Lee. Kirby flopped at DC. The Fourth World flopped. A lot of the characters he worked on had to have their faces redrawn because he was such a poor artist. His Superman looked more like Captain Caveman. His work was critical and commercial failures. DC once again shows him the door.

James Howell said...

Kirby goes back to Marvel in the seventies. Everything he works on is a flop. His books are the worst sellers among all of Marvel titles. Before anyone starts calling me names or posting that I should be banned, please look it up. These are facts. They are not part of the Kirby agenda, buy they remain the facts. I did not want to get too much into the legal matters. Our judical and business systems seldom make sense. We try to impose right and wrong on them. Stan Lee pretty much states in his deposition the same stories he has said for many years. The Kirby interviews would be all over the place. Anything could have came out of his mouth. Hence the statement he makes that he created Superman. Also if you would read up and do some research the two cases are completely different. There really is no comparison.

Daniel Best said...

Kirby in the '70s at Marvel was hamstrung and victimised by a certain editor. The whole "Jack is a Hack" campaign can be tracked back to this one guy. He undermined the Devil Dinosaur project - a book that was aimed at kids and was maligned by adults - and effectively made Kirby's mind up to not renew his contract.

I still can't agree with you on the Liefeld thing - he's nowhere near the creator that Kirby was. To date I can't think of one Liefeld project that has become a major motion picture - Deadpool popping up in the Wolverine flick aside.

James Howell said...

It was in the seventies that Jack would be known by another nickname. "Jack the Hack." Once again before anyone starts calling me names or demanding that I be banned from posting; I did not give him that name. At that time I was just a kid and did not even write to my favorite comics. If you doubt what I am posting, once again just look it up. It does not hurt to do a little research. I realize that in some things it comes down to personal tastes, but in no way, shape, form, or fashion could Jack Kirby ever be considered a great writer. He was not even a good writer. No one was ever going to mistake him for Tolstoy. I am going to make this easy for the Kirby fanatics. I know they have a hard time processing information. Leo Tolstoy was a Russian author. He wrote War and Peace. Before any of the Kirby fanatics start posting, he did not steal the idea from Kirby. Just by posting that the Kirby heirs will probably try to sue for the rights to War and Peace. Before you say that is crazy; the Kirby heirs are suing for other characters that Jack had no part of creating. These are all facts. I know they do not fit into the Kirby agenda, but they are still facts. I would love for someone to connect the dots for me and show how Kirby went from being a joke in the comic industry to being the creator of the universe. He was the joke of the industry. A lot of comics people dissed Jack for many, many, years. I would also love for the Kirby fanatics that always say that Stan screwed Jack out of receiving proper credit, to explain why Stan gave him credit in the first place. It is pretty much an industry fact that Stan was the first to give his creative people credit in the books. DC did not do it until much later. I would love an answer to that one.

James Howell said...

It was in the seventies that Jack would be known by another nickname. "Jack the Hack." Once again before anyone starts calling me names or demanding that I be banned from posting; I did not give him that name. At that time I was just a kid and did not even write to my favorite comics. If you doubt what I am posting, once again just look it up. It does not hurt to do a little research. I realize that in some things it comes down to personal tastes, but in no way, shape, form, or fashion could Jack Kirby ever be considered a great writer. He was not even a good writer. No one was ever going to mistake him for Tolstoy. I am going to make this easy for the Kirby fanatics. I know they have a hard time processing information. Leo Tolstoy was a Russian author. He wrote War and Peace. Before any of the Kirby fanatics start posting, he did not steal the idea from Kirby. Just by posting that the Kirby heirs will probably try to sue for the rights to War and Peace. Before you say that is crazy; the Kirby heirs are suing for other characters that Jack had no part of creating. These are all facts. I know they do not fit into the Kirby agenda, but they are still facts. I would love for someone to connect the dots for me and show how Kirby went from being a joke in the comic industry to being the creator of the universe. He was the joke of the industry. A lot of comics people dissed Jack for many, many, years. I would also love for the Kirby fanatics that always say that Stan screwed Jack out of receiving proper credit, to explain why Stan gave him credit in the first place. It is pretty much an industry fact that Stan was the first to give his creative people credit in the books. DC did not do it until much later. I would love an answer to that one.

James Howell said...

Daniel when I was talking about the popularity of certain characters, I was really meaning more about comic book sales. Cable and Deadpool are very popular and I believe there is a Deadpool movie coming soon. I do agree that Liefeld's contribution to both characters was minimal at best. Of course he is a stickler for credit. LOL. Not sure how much I will buy that Kirby was sabotaged. He had been in the industry a long time and he certainly could of had the editor removed if that was the case. One of the comparisons I draw between Rob and Jack is both created a ton of characters. How original the characters were is besides the point. Most of Jack's creations only worked in a competent writers hands. I remember Peter David once drew the comparison between the Silver Surfer and the Black Racer. Everyone knows the Silver Surfer.

James Howell said...

I also personally feel that Kirby was a much more creative person than Rob. I would never say that they were exactly the same. There are some striking comparisons. Besides the many I have already listed they have both been ridiculed by fans and fellow creators alike. For both their writing and their artwork. They also have a rabid fan base. They both were able to sell books on just their name. I am not sure that Image would have taken off without Rob. Just from the things I have read concerning their history. I have always thought Kirby would have been a perfect partner at Image. Most of them were not great artists and forget about their writing skills. They could all display a certain energy in what they put on the page. That was Jack's greatest strength. Image was the perfect name for them. Style over substance. Do you think that twenty years from now some fan that was twelve when Youngblood 1 first hit is going to be screaming that Liefeld was the greatest ever and everyone ripped him off? I know I have been off topic with much of what I have posted. I know Gary is in pretty bad shape. From what I have read he is indigence and his health is bad. I met him at a comic book store a while back. He was sitting at a table with some copies of Ghost Rider and almost no one was going to his table. It is sad that more fans do not know the history of the business. Unless their is evidence that I have not seen; I do not know how he could win this case. I certainly do not see him being the owner and sole creator of Ghost Rider. I would like to see Marvel throw some money his way. Just to make his remaining years comfortable, but that would be trying to impose morals and values on a business.

Michael Hill said...

Dan, thank you for your well-measured and reasonable response to James Howell at 8:05:00 AM. I find it sad that he chose to direct attention away from the despicable treatment of Gary Friedrich to slag Jack Kirby.

James Howell - John Byrne's website sounds like a fine place to gather evidence. In response I submit to you two documents, both first-hand accounts and both by one of the principals: Mister Miracle #6 and Jack's interview with Gary Groth.

Al said...

James, don't know if Kirby gets too much credit or not, that's a matter of opinion. It's also my opinion that Lee gets too much credit also, and it's on a continuing basis as he still makes convention appearances and promotes his own view. Which is his right. I don't believe in fighting a lie with a lie, I believe in fighting a lie with the truth, as long as Stan is out there
shading the truth, to be as kind as I can, in his direction, I'm going to state what I consider to be the truth re: Kirby's creative role in things.

James Howell said...

Micheal Hill, I am going to try and explain this in the simplest way I know how. It has become pretty obvious that your reading skills are not very sharp. You seem to even have a problem reading your own posts. I am going to directly quote you as I respond. First you state that "Dan, you do your site a disservice by letting this vitriolic bile stand. I've seen you delete comments for lesser offences." Those are your exact words. Then I respond how the Kirby fanatics always want to censor someone that does not march to the Kirby agenda. Then you state that you never said that. Then you deleted that quote. You have no idea what you are saying. Then you state "No alcoholic or substance abuser is allowed to give evidence against Lee or Marvel in the court of Danny Boy. Dan, I can't help noticing James Howell and Barry discredited Friedrich on these grounds." I never once said that Gary could not give evidence because he had substance abuse issues. Gary makes out that they promised him work and then reneged after he signed those papers. I state that the reason work dried up for him at Marvel was because of his substance abuse issues. If you cannot produce in a timely manner they will replace you. Drugs and alcohol do not even factor into that decision. The companies lose money when the books are late. Period. Then you state that "John Byrne's website sounds like a fine place to gather evidence." If you had actually read my post; at no time do I list John Byrne's statement as evidence. I stated that John is a huge Kirby fan and in his opinion Kirby did not get enough credit for so long and now he gets too much. Byrne is a huge Kirby fan. He has worked on a number of Kirby projects. Do you understand the difference between evidence and opinion? Would you like me to define them for you. Everything is right here in front of you and you cannot take the time to actually read it.I know the Kirby fanatics have a hard time processing information. perhaps if you pull your head out of the Kool-Aid punchbowl and grabbed a copy of Hooked on Phonics. Alos if I was you I would not try to use that Gary Groth interview as evidence to support your cause. Groth has an agenda and that interview has been widely ridiculed and discredited by historians that do not have a dog in this race.

James Howell said...

Al, I feel as if you are a reasonable person; so I am going to attempt to reason with you. I do not think anyone that has posted on here has any reason to call either Jack or Stan a liar. I am pretty sure that no one here was in the room when Stan, Jack, Steve, Don, Sol, Larry, or anyone else that was with Marvel in those early days, were working on the books. Stan's recollections of those early days have stayed pretty consistent through the many years. Jack is no longer here to give his side of the story. He has been dead for eighteen years. Jack's interviews were not consistent. They could be all over the place. That makes Stan's more reliable. You could make the arguement that Stan has told those stories so many times that he believes that is what really happened. I am just not sure we could prove that either one is a liar. I did not want to deal in personal issues or speculations. It has long been rumored that Jack suffered from a very faulty memory at best and early forms of Alzheimer's and dementia at worst. I can neither confirm or deny those allegations. I have never read his medical records. As far as the issue of who is over rated and who is under rated; to me it is very easy. If you truly believe that Jack Kirby is the greatest creator of all time and you think he did everything by himself,then you are over rating his work in the industry. If you believe he created the entire early Marvel universe by himself, with no help from anyone else, then you are over rating him. Not only that you are delusional. If someone believes that Stan created the early Marvel universe by himself, then they are over rating his work at Marvel. If they do not believe Stan had a steady hand in all of the books then they do not know anything about the publishing industry. They certainly do not know anything about the collaborative effort it takes in the comic book industry and they show their ignorance by posting uninformed opinions.

Michael Hill said...

Jeams, your posts lead me to believe you like to hear yourself talk. I'll be honest, I have a low tolerance for that kind of BS and although I've started to read each of your posts with good intentions, I typically stop when I reach the first piece of misinformation. As I've told Barry, prefacing a statement with "huge Kirby fan" or "one of the world's biggest Kirby fans" does not validate the statement to follow or even prove impartiality. You may not misrepresent my deleted post to say something it didn't; I didn't deny or retract anything in previous posts. I deleted it because I was unduly harsh on Dan (for leaving your garbage intact) in light of his response to you. The "discrediting" of the Groth interview doesn't mean it shouldn't be re-read with a fresh set of eyes... I'm not a huge fan of Stan Lee and I know Kirby was the creative force behind Marvel. I have no doubt you'll have a voluminous response to this, but I no longer feel compelled to participate (and I won't be reading any more of your libellous nonsense).

Al said...

James, I can call Stan a liar because he admitted it. He stated in his deposition that he praised Jack as a cocreator because it made Jack feel good, not because he felt that Jack actually was. To me that's an admission of lying to both Jack and the public.

Michael Hill said...

Al, don't go trying to hold Stan to the same standard as Jack. Kirby's a liar because Greg said so; Lee is above reproach.

James Howell said...

Michael Hill, you have wrote that I love to hear myself talk. Do you understand the difference between talking and writing? How about the difference between reading and listening? I know I am reaching on this because it has become painfully apparent that there are many things you cannot comprehend. I also find it extremely ironic and hypocritical that you would say that I have misrepresented your statements. You have twisted, turned, and manipulated almost every one of my posts. I took your words directly from your posts. You whined from the very start of my posts that you wanted them removed. Then when I replied that in true Kirby fanatic fashion that you wanted to censor what does not add to the Kirby propaganda; you specifically stated that you were not trying to censor me in your now deleted post. Maybe I just took for granted that you knew the meaning of the word censor. You even admit that you have not read through my posts. Of course that does not stop you from posting about something you admit you did not thoroughly read. Before you try to twist, turn, and manipulate that statement here are your exact words. " I typically stop when I reach the first piece of misinformation." I have extensively researched comic history in general and Jack Kirby in particular over the last twenty something years. Everything I have said is the truth and be confirmed through multiple sources. If I may quote Jack Nicholson to describe you and the other Kirby fanatics "You cannot handle the truth!" I also noticted that you stated that you "know" that Jack Kirby was the driving force behind the early days of Marvel. Wow! This changes everything. I had no idea that you were in the room when Jack and Stan were working in those early days. I feel like such a fool debating you over this subject. This changes everything. I assume that you have been added to the Kirbys witness list and you will be giving your deposition soon. I cannot wait until Mr. best posts it. Your knowledge will enlighten so many. Here is your exact words. " I know Kirby was the creative force behind Marvel." Do you realize that statement is the very meaning of arrogance and ignorance? I also want to state that I bear no hard feelings toward you. I had hoped to have an intelligent discussion with the people that post on here and possibly get them to research actual comic book history. Al called me a chimpanzee. I found his statement to be crude, silly, and sophomoric. Not to mention the heavy, racial, overtones it implies. Even with him saying that I still attempted to reason with him. I am going to give you some friendly advice. Pull your head out of the Kool-Aid punch bowl. Come out of your parents basement. Walk outside and get some fresh air. Hopefully it will help you to achieve some clarity. Try to open up and expand your mind. Try to get some information from different and reliable sources. You will get the truth from a politician before you get it from a Kirby fanatic.

James Howell said...

Al, when I stated that I do not think anyone on here can call any of Marvel's founders liars; I was referencing the fact that none of us were present when they were working and creating. You state that you can call Stan a liar because he testified that he praised Jack because it made him feel good. Not because it was the truth. I do not have his deposition in front of me; so for the sake of this discussion I will take your statement as fact. To take that statement and call him a liar is like splitting hairs. I am sure we have all told someone something to make them feel better. Even if it was not the truth. So that statement makes Stan a liar in your eyes. Fair enough. For the purpose of full disclosure will you also be posting that Jack Kirby was a liar? In his many interviews he contradicts himself numerous times. Will you also be labeling Kirby a liar for his many indiscretions, or will you be giving him a pass on his many statements?

James Howell said...

Mr. Best,

I have stated that I am a huge fan of your site and I have followed it for some time. I am not sure if this is the place, but I would like to ask you a few questions if I may. I am a huge fan of Norm Breyfogle's work. He is my second favorite Batman artist. Right behind Jim Aparo. I always enjoyed the way he made Batman's cape as if it were alive. His version of Gotham city was a dirty cesspool. As it should be. I know you are friends with him. Under any circumstances do you ever see him becoming the regular artist on a core Batman title again? I am not talking about Batman Beyond. Of course that is a start. Could you ever see him working on Prime again? Do you think we will even see Prime published again? Could you ever see the rights to Prime end up in Breyfogle's hands? He is an awesome character. I would love for you to write about the early days of the Ultraverse and even a nice piece about what happened when it was sold to Marvel. There are so many conflicting reports as to why Marvel does not use those characters. I know I have read that the Ultraverse characters were works for hire and Marvel owns them free and clear.I have also read that if Marvel uses those characters they would have to pay the creators 10 percent of the sales. Marvel denies that. Do you know the real story. I think the Ultraverse line were some of the best comics published in the nineties. They had some of the best writers and artists working on their books. What a concept. I also know that Marvel acquired Men in Black when they bought Malibu. Do they still own the rights to that franchise, or have they somehow reverted to Lowell Cunningham? I did not see the latest movie and I have tried to get some information concerning ownership.

Al said...

James, I'm willing to call Jack Kirby a liar for some of his comments in that famed Comics Journal interview. I don't know that as a rule Kirby was a liar. I think that Lee putting himself as "writer" on many stories constitutes a lie as I don't consider just writing dialogue on a story, while the artist, whoever that artist might be, doing the plotting, visualizing, designing of characters, etc., means that the writer had done what I call writing. It means that the artist has done the writing, and that therefore Stan calling himself the "writer" does therefore constitute a lie, unless along with that the artist is also credited as writer or cowriter.
Stan ultimately gave Ditko co-plotting credit at Ditko's insistence, and called his stories done with Kirby a "Lee/Kirby" production. I doubt that he would ever have done this had the artists not complained about his lying on the credits, and insisted on finally being given some kind of credit. How many stories prior to this meek, reluctant crediting of Ditko and Kirby did Stan do dialogue only with Ditko and Kirby doing most of the creative work until Stan finally did start crediting them as being more than just an "artist" for those stories?
I don't know, but that doesn't mean Stan is entitled to any benefit of the doubt. He isn't going to ever get it from me, the well has been poisoned for me, permanently. I don't intend to apologize to anyone for this view, as I think it is the correct one.
You can state your own views, that's fine. But for anyone, even if it's John Byrne, now to complain that Kirby is getting too much credit, strikes me as being idiotic. Stan puts forward his version of events for fifty years now, and still continues to this day, and it's Kirby getting too much credit? If Byrne says or thinks that, he's and idiot. And so is anyone else who thinks that.
'Nuff said?

James Howell said...

Al, I want to start off by saying how much I admire your honesty and your opinion. I do not think you have to apologize for what you feel is right. Part of the problem is that we do not know exactly who did what in those early days. The records are not exactly clear. I am not prepared to call Kirby a liar for the simple fact that I do not know what his mental state was when he gave that Comics Journal interview. I did not want to deal with speculation, but there have been so many rumors that he was mentally ill in his later years. I think if they had known then how big Marvel was to become they would have made sure things were a lot more clearly credited. If you piece together a lot of those early interviews and even from the recent depositions; it is really hard to tell who created what. It seems as if everybody just jumped in to help one another get the books out and everything stayed at a frantic pace. Through the years Stan's interviews stayed pretty much consistent, but the arguement can also be made that he has told himself those stories so much that even he believes that is what happened. Jack has been dead for eighteen years. His stories could be all over the place and he certainly cannot tell his side now. Ditko wants no part of it. He is not telling his side of how things happened. When he did do interviews he pretty much stated that a deal was a deal and he knew what he was getting into when he started. He was paid for his work and that was that. Heck and Lieber have been pretty much ignored for their part of those early days. That is a real shame.

James Howell said...

I would never say that John Byrne's opinion is idiotic. Especially when it comes to this subject. Like I have stated before; he is a huge Kirby fan. He has worked in the industry for many years and he has more knowledge on this subject than we ever will. I know he has worked on some Kirby projects. I also remember reading that he wanted to do a Kirby tribute book, but decided against it when it was going to turn into a slam against Stan. I believe he has a huge amount of respect for both men. He had also put both men on the cover of Fantastic Four 236. It was the 20th anniversary issue of the book and editorial took Jack's likeness off. I think that is still a sore subject with John. I cannot discredit Byrne's opinion and from what I have read and heard, I believe there is a lot of people in the industry who feel the same way. When I first started posting here last week I discovered Barry Pearl's website. It is very well written and I urge any comic book fan to check it out. I have been going back and reading a lot of his previous posts. Barry has certainly done his homework. I will touch on his posts just a little. In one of his posts he talks about the Kirby followers trying to make out Jack as the auteur of the Marvel universe. How the Kirby followers have just ignored how Kirby even states in his early interviews how Stan did the majority of the plotting in those days at Marvel. How Jack states how much input Stan had in those early days. You would think that puts to rest the stories that Jack did everything by himself. It also touches on one of your points that Stan only did the dialogue after the plot and artwork were finished. That may even be true. After Marvel exploded and there were more and more books; I can certainly see Stan having so much on his plate that he gave more control to the other people working there. That does not mean he did not have a hand in creating those characters. I will also repeat what I have already stated. Stan was pretty much the first to give the people working for him credit. He did not have to list Jack, Steve, or anyone else. If he was so intent on screwing everybody, why in the world did he list them to begin with? We could even go into how the law looks at it. When it is work-for-hire the corporation created it. They really do not have to put anyones name on it. Which brings me to another point. Bob Kane created Batman in 1939. For the sake of the discussion I am not going to get into the Bill Finger situation. Bob Kane is listed as the sole creator of Batman. He got a pretty sweet deal. Why did no other comic creator do the same when he was working for the companies? Kirby had been around a while when he was working on the Fantastic Four, Hulk, Thor, and the others. He knew the industry. If he was truly doing everything himself, why did he not negotiate a better deal for himself. It had been over twenty years since Bob had created Batman. For that matter why have so many creators not done the same?

Daniel Best said...

Woosh! Well, that's getting...interesting. "The Court Of Danny Boy"? No such thing and I'm amused to bits that anyone would even think that it exists. If I was half the zealot that people consider me to be then I'd remove any comment I don't agree with or, better yet, disable the comments feature completely as a way to control what appears and what doesn't as a few others have done on their blogs. I don't do either (oh, with the exception that I mentioned earlier), even though I don't agree with some comments. Such is life.

I'd not consider Byrne to be an expert on Kirby and Lee - he has a lot of second hand info, but, remember, his views are his - he once wrote that Siegel and Shuster deserved nothing from DC as they sold Superman and that as that. Mind you Byrne made millions (as he admitted in court) from that very same character. Excellent artist, good writer, but a bit silly at times.

James - as for Norm and Prime. God, I WISH Prime could make a return, but it's not going to happen. Marvel own those characters now and they have no desire to bring them back. They cite a clause in the contracts of the creators that allows them to claim a percentage when the characters appear, and they're reluctant to pay anyone for anything really. Take it up with Joe Quesada. I know that Norm would draw Prime in a heartbeat if asked.

As an aside, I own a lot of Prime art, and I own all of the art to Norm's Metaphysique series, complete with painted covers and a lot of the promotional pieces. It's beautiful to look at.

Daniel Best said...

As for Bob Kane (I just read that bit). Bob was able to cut a great deal because he sold the character when he was a minor. By the time it was pointed out to DC that the contract was null and void, the character was going great guns. Hence Bob was able to renegotiate a far better deal.

Jack Kirby didn't have that advantage at the time that Bob Kane did. And when it comes down to it, what else did Bob Kane do? Cool McCool? Endless Batman rip-offs - he was a true one trick pony who never gave his co-creator any form of a credit at all - even Stan gives Jack his due and even Jack praised Stan at times. That's more than what Bob Kane ever did to Bill Finger.

James Howell said...

Daniel, I agree with what you said concerning Byrne. Some of his comments can leave you scratching your head. I remember years ago he did an interview with Wizard magazine. In one of the pictures that ran with the interview he had two pistols stuck up his nose. I remember thinking that this guy is nuts. For the purpose of full disclosure I have to admit that I am a huge John Byrne fan. Growing up in the seventies and eighties he was my Jack Kirby. Of course I do not blindly follow Byrne. I would never make excuses for some of the things he has said and done in the comics field. There are only a small handful of creators that I would pick up a book because their name was on it. He is one. I used his opinion because I think it is a valid one. He is a Kirby fan and I think he means it in the sense of Kirby as the auteur. There are a number of people that have worked in the industry that dismiss Kirby as doing everything. That the early Marvel universe was his sole vision. I point once again to Barry Pearl's excellent post. When Kirby had a good writer to keep him focused; he could produce some good work. When he was on his own; his work could be all over the place. Also people in creative fields will have hits and misses. Some will be singles and some will be homeruns. There will also be a lot of foul balls. There is just nothing to suggest in comic book history that Kirby did everything and everybody else just snuck their name in the credits. It is not fair to the people that worked on those stories and characters. That is what I believe makes him over rated in certain circles.

James Howell said...

Daniel, that is so awesome that you own so much of Breyfogle's original artwork. I seem to remember you had once posted about purchasing some of his original Batman card art. You had even came across some nimrod who had colored a piece of it. Some people. I do not have any original Norm artwork, but I have a Prime figure that has sat on my desk for many years. I have not asked Quesada about why Prime is left to wither on the shelf. Not sure if I was starving that I would even ask Joe for directions to the food court. I did come across an interview where he states that money is not the issue. His direct quotes are "Let's just say that I wanted to bring these characters back in a very big way, but the way that the deal was initially structured, it's next to impossible to go back and publish these books. There are rumors out there that it has to do with a certain percentage of sales that has to be doled out to the creative teams. While this is a logistical nightmare because of the way the initial deal was structured, it's not the reason why we have chosen not to go near these characters, there is a bigger one, but I really don't feel like it’s my place to make that dirty laundry public." I think that entire situation would make for an excellent post.I had kind of hoped that perhaps there was some way Prime and the other Ultraverse characters would revert back to the original creators. Maybe some kind of loophole or clause where if the characters were not used over a certain amount of time. We discussed in an earlier post about the meaning of the word fair. I would love for someone to break down how in the late eighties and early nineties artists like Liefeld, Larson, and McFarlane got so much attention and adulation. Those guys were treated like rockstars at the time. Yet, I do not believe Norm every received that level of attention. I know they worked at Marvel on Spider-Man and the X-Men family of books, but Norm was at DC and working on Batman. Batman was huge at the time. The difference in talent is huge. Those guys could not fill Norm's inkwell. I also would like to see you post on the recent legal and creator battle over the Walking Dead. The Bob Kane situation has always intrigued me. Has there ever been anyone to commit a greater scam in the comic book industry than Bob Kane? I know Kane's father had worked in publishing and that had helped him to secure a good deal. It just seems like more people in the industry would have learned from that example and tried to get a little more put in writing. Maybe not such a sweetheart deal, but something in print.

Barry Pearl said...

James,
Thanks very much for your comments about my post. I appreciated it. I should have another one up on the subject in a month or so. I have a series going now.

I don't join in here because I would wind up discussing the matter, again, with some of the same,uninformed insulting people who are on other lists who cannot accept the observations of others.

Daniel Best said...

Barry - It makes me sad that you feel you can't comment here due to the words of a few. I'll work on that for you, as your comments are valued - you know your stuff and I always enjoy reading what you have to say. Hmmmmmm

Daniel Best said...

James - I also grew up on Byrne. My golden era of comics was seeing Byrne on X-Men, Avengers and the FF, Simonson on Thor, Miller on DD (before he lost his marbles - both Miller and DD), Budiansky and Simons on Ghost Rider and more. Call Shooter what you will - and many do - but he spotted talent and let them run with ideas when it suited him. Having aid that, Byrne as a writer/artist is almost light years removed from Byrne as a person (the stories I could tell you!). When he makes his judgements I take them with a grain of salt.

Norm Breyfogle is a giant of an artist, one of the best that's ever graced Batman. Jim Lee's Batman is a over muscled guy, Norm's Batman is sinister, a creature of the night. Lee's Batman wouldn't scare many by appearance, Norm's Batman would terrify the shit out of anyone. And that's how Batman should be - he should be able to make people piss their pants by his shadow alone, not by popping up and belting them. That should be the last resort.

There's lot of Breyfogle on this blog for a very good reason, and I'm overjoyed that he's back at DC drawing the Bat once more.

The Walking Dead - yep, I'm looking into that, along with the Archie/Ken Penders situation, which is very, very interesting indeed.

James Howell said...

Barry, I am the one that should be thanking you and Mr. Best. Words cannot express how much I appreciate that you guys try to put out the truth about comic book history. You guys are like islands in an ocean of hype, lies and propaganda. Anybody that reads your and Daniel"s work and thinks you two have an agenda is a closed minded individual. The waters of comic book history are muddied enough without so called "historians" trying to further their own agendas. It has really had me down for the past ten years or so where it seems like so much propaganda has been passed off as truth in the comic book community. I also share Daniel's regret that you do not feel as if you can join in the discussion on these boards. There needs to be more intelligent and well thought out opinions and the well researched facts you bring to the table. Please do not let the ignorant blowhards keep you from telling the truth. True comic book fans need you now more than ever.

James Howell said...

Daniel, I agree completely with everything you just stated. I had just posted on another board last night that in my humble opinion the true golden age of comics were the seventies and eighties. Just from being a long time reader of your site I believe we grew up in the same era. I love almost everything Byrne has worked on. Especially his work at Marvel. His Alpha Flight run was even pretty good. With that being said I do not think I would ever have him over for dinner. I would put Miller's run on Daredevil and Simonson's work on Thor against just about anything. If only we had comics that good today. I am also a huge Jim Shooter fan. He has an understanding of the medium like almost no one else. He is extremely under rated and he was not run out of Marvel because he was doing a poor job. He just did not know how to play the politics of the time. I could go on and on about Norm. I have been a Batman fan for as long as I can remember. When he first came onto the book it was such a breath of fresh air. The months leading up to the most recent Batman movie had me going back and reading my back issues. I agree with everything you said concerning his Batman. Look at the way Norm's art flows from panel to panel. His Batman is a creature of the night. His Batman also had a lighter side. He would even smile from time to time. His version of Bruce Wayne was equally as impressive. He added some true psychopathic criminals to the rogues gallery and I cannot say enough about his Gotham city. I truly believe he is the the only artist to make Gotham come alive. To make it an entity. A force. Whenever I read his Batman I truly feel as if I am walking down those dirty streets. Then he easily translates to the bright, shiny, heroic, Prime. Not many artists could make such a seamless transition.