This will be my last post suggesting the Kirby Museum create an archive for Kirby original art scans (to supplement the current HD scan archive) submitted by students, fans and collectors.
Here’s a random image from my files. It’s a poor scan but you can see the wear of the paper on the edges. You can see the white-out. Note the 2 red Captain America titles in top. It gives you a feel for what the original art looks li. The whole image is all on one board. This thing must look spectacular in person.
This is a photograph of that beautiful Captain America 2-page spread I posted here recently. Wouldn’t the Kirby Museum want this scan and encourage readers to send in scans like this?
People photoshop their scans so notice this image below has been changed. I would assume by the owner of the art.
Both of these scans can have value. Marvel may never publish this image in black and white. Art like this can end up in some billionaire’s vault never to be seen again. Why not take advantage of the fact that comic art is changing hands right now and people are sharing their images? Collect and catalogue it in 2013 so if a future student of Kirby in 3013 wants to discuss this image, boom, scans like these are in the Museum archives to compare and contrast with the published art.
Okay, that’s it for my suggestion. I’ll post a few move 60s covers, then wrap up the 70s Captain America run.
I used to listen to Howard Stern during the 90s and he would always argue with his staff, especially his management. But it was all in good fun. So this isn’t me fighting with the Kirby Museum, I’m just kind of asking what I consider to be a legitimate question and giving my opinion. I’m certainly not trying to be rude. The day suggestions are considered rude, we are all truly doomed.
I love the Kirby Museum, or more specifically I love the potential of the project, and maybe no one even agrees with me on this but I’m going to post this “image deleted” image for two more days (today and tomorrow) because I still suggest the Kirby Museum should collect online and collector scans of Jack’s orignal art. If I’m running a Picasso Museum, and a fan sends me a low-resolution scan of a Picasso piece never seen before wouldn’t I be an idiot not to accept that scan? Why not post it on the Picasso Museum site so people could see it; and encourage other people to send in such scans? Am I nuts here?
Below is just a tiny sampling from a few of my folders containing some random scans I gathered in the early 2000s from auction sites and fans. Wouldn’t it make sense to collect these things in case this art is never scanned again? Wouldn’t it be great if the images were organized so people could bypass google and find them at a Kirby Museum? Who knows if all of this stuff will ever surface again? The quality is not great on a few, but they can still be useful to future Kirby students.
I certainly hope people don’t think I’m attacking the Kirby Museum. Quite the opposite, I’d like to see it grow and become bigger and better over the years. And looking at the Museum’s Facebook page, it ain’t like 1000 people are agreeing with me so I suspect the interest in collecting scans of Kirby’s art is pretty much infinitesimal. It’s just a suggestion. I’ve posted over 1300 posts here so you’d hope I cold be forgiven for making a suggestion. Here’s a comment from Facebook:
Patrick Ford: My thought is the Kirby Museum should devote most of it’s resources towards making available the wealth of material they already have. This includes thousands of scans of the stats and photocopies which reproduce Kirby’s pencils before they were inked, as well as nine boxes of papers donated to the Kirby Museum. Any outside contributions are trivial compared to making those photocopies available to all.
I agree 100% with that. I suppose maybe there are copyright issues where showing a whole book could create problems? I also gather there is a plan in place where eventually the Museum will start showing more of their scans? Obviously having all of Jack’s pencil scans up and indexed would be a great resource for fans and students. My only guess is that once they are up and everybody who wants them can upload them, then they won’t have as much potential value. In other words, if the Museum puts all the pencil scans up then less people might buy TJKC, or less people might buy a special book on the pencil scans. etc. I’d love to see all those scans too, and it’s kind of a shame because many people have wanted to look at them for decades, but my guess is the people who made those scans own the scans so they probably want to be careful before simply dumping them all on the internet. That does make some sense to me, but ideally I think the scans all should be available to Kirby students and fans.
I also wish somebody could track down Ray Wyman and work out a way to get him to release all of his audio interview footage with Jack. I think he has like 40 hours or something? Maybe more? I know the publishing industry is tanking right now but I wish TwoMorrows or someone could give him some kind of deal where Wyman can make some money for his work and we could listen to those interviews. There’s got to be tons of interesting stuff in them and what a shame it is that it’s 2013 and that material still hasn’t seen the light of day; and it may be decades before it does and by that time nobody may care.
I also wish someone would release Theakston’s video interview of Kirby. I remain baffled why someone hasn’t packaged that as a DVD or just dumped it onto YouTube. What’s taking so long? I watched it like 10 years ago. It’s been around for decades. Watching that video was one of the most positive experiences I’ve ever had since I started studying Jack. Probably the most positive. You really get to “meet” the guy. Granted, it’s not the greatest interview — Greg does an okay job but he doesn’t follow up on a lot of interesting threads, and kind of prevents Jack from following his own stream of consciousness, and the video quality is pretty poor — but it’s a remarkable video document. You get to hang out with Jack while the sun goes down, he bounces around from subject to subject, he talks about the beginning of his career, he shares a lot of great anecdotes and touches on all sorts of topics, his war stories are great. It totally humanizes Jack. It shows he’s just a regular guy and he has lots of interesting opinions on everything under the sun. Theakston told me there is another entire 2 hours somewhere on Jack’s time at Marvel but one of his associates has that. You’d hope Greg and comics fandom could track that down and share it. And where is Evanier’s book anyway? I love Evanier so I hate to say this, but if the book came out tomorrow, I don’t know if I’ll ever have time to read it. I just wish somehow everyone involved could have gotten that project out there while interest in Jack was at a high point. You can always do a second edition. Tons of authors are doing that, constantly updating their books over time. That’s the wave of publishing’s future.
I love certain aspects of Kirby fandom, but it really is a shame that so many people are dragging their heels in terms of sharing audio, video, and research they’ve gathered. Over the last few years when Jack’s family was fighting Marvel was the time to put this information out there and help put forth the idea that Jack was more than Stan Lee’s drone. I fear as the euphoria of these overrated movies wears off and more and more people who collected comics in the 50s and 60s pass away, interest in Jack Kirby may begin to fade, and if you release the material mentioned above now, it may simply get buried in the already massive pile of digital garbage.
Matthew Short: I’m a librarian, and my area of specialization is digital libraries. Like the Museum, we also have strict digitization guidelines to ensure the integrity of our data repositories. Most of the projects I’ve worked on have not accepted user contributions, and the few that do also have strict submission requirements — for good reason. When you’re building a repository for long-term preservation, it’s all about trust. What is the researcher looking at? Can they trust that the scan is a faithful representation of the original page? And who owns the rights to what is being scanned? We have such strict guidelines so that those questions can always be answered. The one or two projects I’ve worked on that have accepted user-contributed submissions have always been a huge headache, requiring much more work in the long-run than if the library had done the digitizing themselves. No matter how simple and straight-forward we try to make the submission process, more than half of the contributors have trouble following directions. If I had to guess, this is why the Museum is not accepting user-submitted scans. That said, does poor provenance and poor scanning make a digital object worthless? Not necessarily, but it really depends on what you’re trying to build (is it going to be a trusted digital repository, or something else?) and the resources that you have available (can you afford to do the sourcing you talk about above Sherlock?). It’s a tough call.
Thanks for the comment. I recently exchanged emails with the DIrector of the Kirby Museum and he expressed similar thoughts on the subject. I agree with both of you. He also expressed he is working on a lot of other projects. So I’m not criticizing the Museum, I’m just making suggestions and really just reflecting on as you call it the concept of the modern digital library.
So here’s my opinions, and lets make it clear, I’m wrong almost all the time so I don’t claim anything I say here is the right thing to do. First, I’ve been suggesting the Museum at least accept online scans and archive them for almost 10 years now. An archive with those scans doesn’t have to be online. Dump the art into an external hard drive. I suggest a Kirby Museum would be a good organization to do that.
I’d still post the art online because billions of people are posting art online. That’s what I do here. The internet is really just a big experiment. But at least gather the information. Decide what to do with it later.
Secondly, yes, I see the logic in having an archive where the Museum staff make the scans — this can assure quality, authenticity, and relative accuracy of the scans (although you never know when you are scanning a forgery) and provenance — but there is no reason not to accept scans from other people who make scans themselves or find them online.
In the future copyright laws may be different and you won’t have to track down the person who scanned the artwork to ask for permission to use the scan; in 2000 years surely that will be the case. It’s up to the researcher to examine the art, and if he/she wants to publish the image in an article he/she can be warned the source of the scan is unknown and clarify that in the article. You just write “source of scan unknown” next to the scan if you are doing hardcore research.
Finally, it’s 2013, we have no idea how the digital age will evolve. So for a Kirby Museum to not collect 1000s of Kirby images you can access with google doesn’t make sense (to me personally). But I see your point; I just see an opportunity being lost if a lot of Jack’s original art ends up in a few private collections where the owners are not interested in sharing the scans. All of the art fans have sent me and I’ve posted here will be lost if my blog goes down or it gets deleted (which eventually will happen, nothing lasts forever, especially weblogs). Just file the images here and any images supplied by collectors and fans away on a hard drive somewhere. Let future students debate it’s value.
Ultimately, this really doesn’t even matter. Who knows if future students will want to study fuzzy scans of Kirby art or HD tiff files of Kirby art. For me just having the discussion is thought-provoking and conceivably important, mainly because this is such a unique time in the history of information exchange. We could have this same debate about any online Museum.
To address your response as a whole, I don’t think we have any idea how information will be studied or exchanged in the future. You could see a massive crackdown by a company like google where you have to pay them a fee to use every image on the internet, you could have some sort of fee system in place where the artist receives royalties; or the system may go to the other extreme where everyone has equal access to all information and citing the person who scanned an image will no longer be an issue. So I can see not archiving scans at the Museum if there is a legitimate fear of lawsuits or of controversy, but I personally see no reason for the Museum not to at least actively gather online scans and catalogue them offline for future use.
Thanks for your comment.
A few more things to add, and the first one doesn’t necessarily have to do with archiving scans. I have a bunch of friends who are tech geeks, and they were telling me in the near future, comics fans (if there are any left) are going to be able to make almost exact 3D copies of comic book original artwork. The digital 3D printers of the future will be able to duplicate the pencil, the thickness and quality of the ink, the masking tape, the white-out, everything.
This could have a huge impact on the future of comic original art; I won’t go into all of the ramifications, and obviously the number of people who will want 3D facsimiles of a piece of original comic art will probably be infinitesimal, but if you are a student doing a presentation on Kirby art in the year 3000, chances are you will be able to hand out a 3D facsimile of a large art page from X-Men # 1 (for example) if you have the right source scan. The kids will be able to touch it and feel the graphite and the thickness of the ink, see how big the page is, feel the frayed yellow edges, and they may gasp in awe at the first appearance of the legendary characters created in the early 1960s by an American artist named Jack Kirby.
In terms of me suggesting the Kirby Museum collect online scans of his original art from fans. If I lived during the 1700′s I’d advise the George Washington Museum to collect anything they can get their hands on about George Washington for future posterity. Any letters or articles or anecdotes. Anything. Just set up an emailbox and ask people to send the stuff in. You never know what you will get. Dump it on a hard drive if there are fears posting the material will be a hassle. And, sure, try and do due diligence on getting the sources accurate and have a reasonable criteria for submissions, but focus on just collecting the information before it’s gone. That’s my advice for the Kirby Museum. 100 years from now everyone who met Jack will be gone. We kind of have an obligation to gather everything we can now if we feel studying him may be be rewarding for future generations.
And I’ll end this on the same drum beat I’ve been repeating for a decade, instead of a temporary pop-up Museum in NYC, maybe spend the money on interviewing Jack’s living associates. If you can afford film use that. Sinnott, Royer, Romita, Ayers, Lee, and many more people who knew or worked with Jack are still alive. To me comics fandom, comics historians, and comics Museums should be focused on documenting these peoples recollections. Granted, you don’t want to hassle them, but future comics students can look at Jack’s art for 10s of thousands of years, we only have literally maybe another 10 to 20 years left to get the reflections of the people who really knew him. Maybe another 50 years to talk to the people who met him. So I still suggest the Kirby Museum consider putting together a documentary film on Jack’s life. That would be a great way to promote the Kirby Museum and Jack.
More People Making More Millions on Kirby Creations.
Thanks to a reader for sending in this scan. As I said yesterday, I think the Jack Kirby Museum & Research Center should actively work to collect and archive scans like this. There’s information here. For example Jack signed the page “to Phil,” and he signed it in the final panel. This is not earth-shatteringly important information, but if this image is removed from whatever website it was on and it is not scanned again — this original art might not be available for future Kirby historians to examine. A future researcher could even try and track down Phil and see if he has a story to tell about meeting Jack.
Why isn’t the Museum collecting nice scans like this on the website? Copyright fears? How about giving us an official reason why this isn’t a priority. If copyright is the problem, why not at least set up a super secret offline file. Just have fans send in the images and dump them into an offline Museum file. For example a future Kirby student might want to write an article about this story. Wouldn’t it make sense for a Kirby Museum to at least try and make it possible for them to use this image? What possible reason is there not to do that? Is it because I’m asking? Has Kirby fandom become so dysfunctional that if I (Satan) ask for something the reaction is not to do it no matter how much common sense it makes?
Also notice the watermark. Remember I joked about that happening to Jack’s art yesterday? As you can see: it ain’t no joke — I’ve seen a lot more Kirby art scans showing up with watermarks, some of them are incredibly invasive. I suppose that organization could email me and complain about me using their image. That’s happened to me a couple times. A few years ago I posted one of Jack’s very early comics strips and I compared that to Jack’s “Hot Box” story to show how Jack had grown as a penciler/inker. Someone complained about that pretty fiercely. He accused me of “exploiting” Joe Simon, he claimed that I was “stealing” from Joe Simon, and he demanded I remove the pages immediately or he was going to personally call Blogspot and make sure they booted me off the site. I thought the individual who made those accusations was wrong but to honor the great Joe Simon (and more specifically I didn’t want to accidentally offend Joe) I took down most of the art. I found it ironic because Jack wrote, illustrated and inked the art, so it was a shame to me this individual would so harshly criticize me for simply trying to celebrate Jack as a great penciler and inker.
I had another reader write in and he accused me of “behaving like Marvel” when I posted a piece of his Kirby tribute art here. He said I should have researched the piece, tracked him down, emailed him, asked his permission to post it, and I should have been sure to clearly credit him by first and last name. He compared what I did to Marvel screwing Kirby. I gave him my sincere apologies; told him I’ve gotten literally thousands of Kirby scans from fans, collectors, historians, and file-sharers so I don’t know who the scanner is for probably 95% of them or where they got the scans (there could be hundreds of people along the chain); and I offered to remove the image immediately; I added that his name was clearly written on the bottom of the artwork nice and big so I felt he was accurately credited. He just asked for a clearer credit on the piece and a link to his website, so I added it.
This Captain America page was sent in by a reader so I don’t know for sure what the source is. Meaning I don’t know who scanned it or what website it was on. If I was the New York Times I would try and track down the scanner (the person who hit the button on the photocopier), and clearly the watermark is a pretty good clue.
Unfortunately this a a ghetto operation, so I’m just going to post it. If the “owner of the scan” has a problem: email and I will make it disappear.
I suppose it should go without saying that this page exemplifies two things: (1) my comment yesterday about people watermarking Jack’s art in the future. It’s happening already. I’ve seen some collectors plaster their whole names on the whole page. They claim it is to avoid “piracy,” to keep “thieves” from sharing the images on weblogs like this, but more specifically it helps them to promote their multi-million dollar comic book art business by putting their name on Kirby masterpieces — many of which were stolen! And let’s face it, putting your logo all over Jack’s priceless art is an ego trip: “look at me! Look at my comic book art collecting company name on a piece of Jack Kirby art! I own Kirby art worth millions of dollars!”
(2) I’ll repeat one more time (only because I’ve been making this request for about a decade now) I suggest the Kirby Museum considers actively working with fans and collectors to collect and archive ANY Kirby original art scans regardless of quality. This is a beautiful page. One of my favorites. Collecting scans like this would be very easy to do. Just set up a photos file on the Museum site and encourage fans to share what they find. Fans might enjoy contributing to Kirby’s legacy. Why box those potential supporters of the Museum out?
You might be amazed at what people send in. Do I think this will happen? Probably not. The powers that be have decided not to collect scans like this for reasons unknown to me for several years now. Actually, let me make a prediction. Here is my prediction:
The Kirby Museum will NOT work to collect and archive scans of Jack’s art unless the scans are made by Trustees of the Museum using their scanner. (Maybe using reverse psychology will work?)
Actually, you know what I’m going to do? I’m going to delete this image. There… it’s gone. It was at the top of the post. It was a beautiful Kirby page. Wonderful Royer inks. Gorgeous Donna Maria image. Here is a taste of the page.
If the Kirby Museum doesn’t start collecting images like this, which would be a breeze, pages like this one day might be lost forever.
In fact, for the next week, I’m going to do my Andy Warhol imitation again and I’m going to post that “image deleted” image six more times (I’ll do like Warhol and use different colors — that’s “fine art!”) Maybe that will finally make my point? Or is that method annoying? Overkill? Is there a logical reason for any kind of a Museum not to want to have a page like this by the artist in it’s esoteric or exoteric archives? One thing is for sure, future Kirby students can’t accuse me of not trying.
Here’s the famous Heritage Auctions scan of the Captain America # 108 cover. A great example of how scans of Jack’s art have been circulating online for about 10 years now. It’s ironic that a company like Heritage can show entire Kirby books or stories whereas here at Kirby Dynamics I can only show a few pages so as not to violate Marvel’s copyright of the material. Doing a quick Google search I retrieved the scan above from the Bleeding Cool website; another example of how Jack’s art is being shared all over the internet. I’ve seen this scan pop up in many forums, and I’ve had fans who exchange Kirby scans even send it to me. Also a good example of how a search engine like Google will probably serve as the main media gatekeeper of the future. You may see a day where you might have to pay a small fee every time you use Google to find a Kirby image and another fee if you click on the image or upload it.
Although a corporation like Google, or some kind of multi-mega-corporation will in all likelihood control almost all intellectual property of value in the future, during this phase of information exchange, I hope at some point the Kirby Museum archives ALL of the scans of Jack’s original artwork that is on the internet and makes those scans available on the Museum website for future study. It is absurd I need to go to Bleeding Cool to retrieve a scan like this. Tom Kraft has about a thousand pieces posted here: whatifkirby but Tom is focused on HD images that must meet specific requirements. I made HD scans at a local print shop of the 30-or-so pages I used to own a few years ago and I don’t even think my full-size scans met Tom’s requirements because they weren’t tiff files. So I’m not even sure the scans I sent were acceptable. Who know how many other collectors or Kirby fans have art they would like to share.
I wish the Museum would collect ALL scans of Jack’s original artwork even if the quality is not perfect. Jack may have done about 40,000 pages of art. Yes I know maybe 10,000 or so pages are lost, but in all likelihood thousands of pages are still out there and have not been scanned. Or they have been scanned but not as an HD tiff file. It’s possible that a lot of low-resolution scans made for auction sites like eBay may be the only time certain images are ever photographed. When those auctions go down, many of those images disappear. Much of Jack’s original art might end up in massive corporate-owned collections where the owners are multi-millionaires (or multi-billionaires) who don’t have the time or interest in making HD tiff file scans of Jack Kirby original art. A collector could get robbed and then those pages will go on the black market and never surface again. Or a collector could get hit my a hurricane and the art could be destroyed or ruined. We have tornadoes in this country, you know.
Earthquakes happen. Businessmen get busted and their assets get seized. Or there could be a fire; I recall reading 100s if not 1000s of Wally Wood’s originals were destroyed in a fire.
Wouldn’t it be prudent to accept any Jack Kirby original art scan available and archive it? Just put it in a “low-resolution original artwork archive.” That could supplement the current HD scan project Tom Kraft and the Museum are working on.
And forget about natural disasters, how about corporate greed? The day may come where everything has a watermark on it. Isn’t it up to an organization like the Kirby Museum to try and collect all available scans of Jack’s original art before some dealer or collector or corporation plasters their logos all over them?
About a decade ago I sent the Museum the few hundred online scans I had collected (I stopped collecting Kirby art and scans in about 2004 so I suspect I missed a lot of good images that may be lost forever) and I suggested that material be archived for the future. I also suggested the Museum actively seek out this material (and new material) by encouraging Jack’s fans to look for it and share it at the Kirby Museum. I can think of several really wonderful non-HD Kirby scans I’ve seen online that I didn’t make copies of and the pages containing those images are long gone. There is no guarantee future collectors will scan the images again.
I don’t know if the Museum has any plans to archive non-HD Kirby original art scans and make them available or to encourage Kirby fans to look out for new scans. I think this may be a wasted opportunity especially if certain pages disappear from the marketplace entirely or if collectors of the future don’t want to scan their art for fear that HD copies (or any copies) will lessen the value of their property. This is already happening. I’ve encountered many collectors who don’t want HD scans made of their art for fear of piracy. Some collectors also feel owning the rights to the HD images of their art may result in future profits. But they will share low-resolution images sometimes. There is still much to be learned from studying low-resolution scans sent in by fans and collectors, especially images with margin notes that we can read, so I encourage the Trustees of the Jack Kirby Museum and Research Center to consider actively working with fans to archive ALL scans of Jack Kirby original artwork before those images disappear forever.
Thanks to The Comics Reporter Tom Spurgeon for linking to our series on Jack’s 70s Captain America. I don’t know if Tom has a staff of 100s (or how he does it) but his site is I think by far the best single site on the modern comics industry. I’m amazed by how much information he gathers every day, and he does a tremendous job showing that, despite the fact that the economy is hurting a lot of people, you still have 100s if not 1000s of people out there who are making their own quality comics, and there are still plenty of writers, artists and just plain fans that are passionate about the comics medium. I don’t know if Tom makes his living doing the weblog, or if the site is profitable, but one thing is for sure, he’s been doing the whole industry a major service for many years now by researching and promoting comics storytellers. And I think it’s pretty safe to say I agree with Tom, I love Jack’s 70s art as well. Definitely great to see a beautiful Kirby female (probably inspired by Jack’s wife Roz) among all the other images and news about the comics business yesterday.