Thanks to a reader on Facebook for commenting on my post where I examined the front page of Stan Lee’s website. I hope Luke doesn’t think I’m picking on him in this reply. I have gotten hundreds of letters like his over the years (and read thousands of them on private chat forums where the writers are afraid to post their remarks on the public record, or they post their comments on public forums using lame pseudonyms), so I commend Luke for sharing his comment in public and for doing it using his real name. I’m going to use his letter as a sort of archetypal letter I get all the time to clear up a few things. Here’s his whole email, I’ll break it up point by point below.
Luke Mosher: I find it really sad that the Kirby Museum can’t be about how great Jack Kirby was and not about putting someone else down. It seems childish and petty. I really want to support you guys but you make it so hard. This is not how professional societies like this are supposed to conduct themselves. You guys just come off as surly bitter people with a chip on your shoulder. You get more bees with honey or whatever.
Let me start by saying, Luke is certainly in the majority. I have received hundreds of emails, and read thousands of them from people saying that the Lee/Kirby comic books had a tremendous impact on their childhood and on their lives. They love Stan and Jack. Stan and Jack are father figures to some people. They want to remember Stan and Jack as they saw them in their childhood imaginations, as buddies working together in the bullpen, creating their beloved 1960s comic books. They imagine Lee jumping up on his desk and acting out all of the roles of the characters, and Jack busily scribbling notes so that he can then accurately transcribe his Leader’s vision.
When I came to this subject in 2000 I knew nothing about the topic of Jack Kirby. Over the last 10 years or so I’ve learned a lot by discussing the subject with comics fans, comics historians, comics pros (most off the record since they want to work for Marvel) and Jack’s associates. I’ve come to the conclusion that Jack Kirby was heavily involved in the creation of all the 1960s characters, and from 1960 – 1963 Jack wrote pretty much all of his stories using visuals, then from 1964 – 1970 he used visuals and margin notes.
That means Stan Lee is a total fraud. In my opinion of course. And I am still allowed to share my conclusion in America right now. But that could change. Google, Facebook, Microsoft, Apple, Disney, or whatever Mega Coproration they evolve into may flag criticisms of Stan Lee as hate speech in the future and I may end up in a prison as a “terrorist.” But for now, I still have the right to goof on sweet ol’ Saint Stan Lee. And he deserves a good tongue lashing. What he did to Jack – pretending he created all those 60s Marvel characters alone – is one of the biggest cons of the 20th century. So to quote Steve Martin:
“Excuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuse me” for poking fun at Stan Lee’s truly, truly pathetic, mind-boggling rip-off of a website. A website that, of course, totally fits Lee’s lifelong pattern of being a junk peddler.
Okay, let’s get to Luke’s email.
Luke Mosher: I find it really sad that the Kirby Museum can’t be about how great Jack Kirby was and not about putting someone else down.
Here’s my take on this. First of all, I don’t speak for the Kirby Museum. If you follow my weblog you’ll notice I’m actually quite critical of the Museum at times, and I can tell you for a fact I don’t speak for anyone involved with the Museum at all. I don’t even know it they like me or like my weblog. I’ve literally never heard a peep from anyone on their board of trustees commenting on what I have to say. They may love me, they may hate me, I have no idea whatsoever.
They have let me use a few HD scans from their archives which I really appreciate. They seem like good folks. But what I do is totally separate from what they do. Understand though, I support the Museum 100% and my goal is to bring traffic to the site — right now I bring about 10,000 hits a month, which ain’t a lot, but it’s my tiny way of supporting the Museum — but when you comment on Kirby Dynamics, it’s not fair to refer to what I write as “The Kirby Museum.” The Kirby Museum allows me to have a weblog on their website.
The Museum does allow me a pretty good deal of freedom of speech which I find commendable. You’d hope a guy like Kirby would’ve appreciated something like that. If the Museum censored material like my posts on Stan Lee? I would stop doing the weblog immediately and go back to blogspot. So although I appreciate your comment, and trust me I’ve gotten literally thousands of comments like that over the years via private email and on the old Yahoo Kirby-l discussion forum, my point all along has been that Stan Lee is a public figure and right now we have the right to compose satire about public figures and criticize public figures. That’s what I’ve been doing for a decade in terms of my Stan Lee “rants” which are almost always pieces of satire. I’m blown away by Lee’s hypocrisy so I joke about it. I know of no other way to examine Lee’s behavior other than laughing at it. If the day comes where goofing on Stan Lee of all people is verboten, then everything Jack Kirby fought for during the Second World War will have been for naught.
It seems childish and petty.
Two things. One, that’s what satire is. It’s silly. How can you not laugh at that Stan Lee webpage. If I did like a serious somber analysis of Stan Lee’s website I’d sound like a fool. That website is HILARIOUS! I mean, Stan Lee cologne? Can that possibly be real? That has to be a joke, right? But y’know what, from studying Stan Lee over the last 10 years? I think that website is real. It fits Lee’s modus operandi. Lee has been doing this exact same thing for 50 years now. He stamps his name on anything and everything he thinks will make him a buck (sadly that included Jack’s 60s stories and art so unfortunately Jack doesn’t get the credit he deserves for that material, and Lee’s lies make it almost impossible for Jack’s family to pressure Marvel into giving Jack’s Estate any kind of fair settlement).
This is a long reply, and I know Generation Tweet has about a 1 minute attention span so I’ll break this up into five posts.