Marvel vs Jack Kirby Transcripts

21st Century Danny Boy Dan Best is continuing to post transcripts from the Marvel vs Jack Kirby’s estate court case. I don’t agree with Best’s personal commentary on the Kirby/Lee subject in many cases which I think tends to be very biased towards Stan Lee, but I do appreciate Best taking the time to publish the transcripts so that readers can read the material for themselves — and I encourage you to ignore the pundits and reach your own conclusions on the topic. Evntually I’ll pick this material apart myself when I have the time to do so thoroughly. Again, thanks to Best for taking the time to make this available to all of us.

Part I, Stan Lee’s testimony

Part II, John Romita

Part III, Larry Lieber

Part IV, Roy Thomas

Part V, Mark Evanier

Here’s some excerpts from Mark Evanier’s interview.

Excerpt One:

Q: Go back. Do you agree with Mr. Lee’s statements that the Fantastic Four, at least in part, came about as a result of discussions that Mr. Lee had with Mr. Goodman in connection with the idea of coming up with a group of superheroes?

MARK EVANIER: My understanding is that Mr. Goodman said to Mr. Lee, “I see DC Comics has some very decent sales on what is called the Justice League of America. We should try a comic like that.”

Mr. Lee, in many interviews, said as I related, that Mr. Goodman had played golf with Jack Leibowitz, who was the head of DC Comics at the time, and that Leibowitz had bragged about the sales of Justice League, and that that prompted Mr. Goodman to come back from the golf game and say, “We should – we should create a comic like that.”

Mr. Lee has told this story on many occasions. Mr. Leibowitz, when he was interviewed, said he never played golf with Goodman in his entire life. So based on that, I tend to disbelieve at least that part of Mr. Lee’s story.

Q: So you think Lee is just lying about it?

MARK EVANIER: No, I think he just is being casual about the record.

Q: Have you seen the document that is — I guess was it a plot outline — a document that I guess it has come to have the term “synopsis” with regard to the first issue of the Fantastic Four?

MARK EVANIER: Yes, I have.

Q: And are you — when did you first see that

(break in transcript)

QUINN:: Mr. Evanier, just to close this particular loop, so it was your understanding, with regard to the Fantastic Four, that Mr. Kirby and Mr. Lee sat down beforehand and discussed the plot and the storyline, before it was published, before — let me rephrase that.

MARK EVANIER: All right.

Q: Was it your understanding that Kirby and Lee sat down to discuss the plot and the storyline before Mr. Kirby actually began to draw the characters?

MARK EVANIER: Yes, that is correct.

Q: Okay.

MARK EVANIER: I actually didn’t —

Q: I’m sorry —

MARK EVANIER: I didn’t finish my answer before the break there.

Q: Go ahead.

MARK EVANIER: You were asking me why I thought that the synopsis had followed a meeting with Jack’s giving his input.

Another reason is that the storyline of Fantastic Four is very similar in a number of ways to a comic Jack had done previously called the Challengers of the Unknown, very similar structure to the characters.

It feels an awful lot more like Jack’s earlier work than anything that Stan had done to that date. So I find it very difficult to believe that Jack did not have input into the creation of the characters prior to the — that synopsis, whenever it was composed.

And, also, I have the fact that I talked to Stan many times, and he told me — and he said it in print in a few places — that he and Jack had sat down one day and figured out what the Fantastic Four would be.

Q: And they discussed the plot before they actually — the drawings were done?

MARK EVANIER: They discussed the plot before the alleged synopsis was done also.

Q: And was it your understanding, with regard to these other characters — and we can go through all of them, or just we can get a general understanding – that this was typically what was done, that Lee and Kirby would sit down together, discuss the plot, discuss the storyline, and then Kirby would go and draw whatever he was going to draw?


Excerpt Two:

MARK EVANIER: I believe that the characters — let me put it this way. I believe that the properties Fantastic Four, The Hulk, Thor, several others here, the overall properties were co-created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby.

Q: And what opinions or conclusions did you reach as to how that co-creation process worked?

MARK EVANIER: My understanding is that the two of them would sit down. They’d bring in rough ideas they might have had apart, throw them back and forth like any collaboration. Jack would offer ideas for characters. Stan would offer ideas for characters. Some ideas would get discarded. Some ideas would get expanded upon. And then they would emerge with some idea of what Jack was going to go home and draw.

Jack would draw the story. If it was 20 pages, he would draw 20 pages of material. He would bring it back. Assuming that Stan didn’t — assuming that Stan was happy with what Jack brought in, Stan would then write the copy, the dialogue, the captions on the pages. And then the work would proceed from that through lettering, and inking, and coloring, and publishing.

Q: Now, do you have any evidence or did you reach any conclusion or have an opinion as to whether Kirby had created or co-created any of these characters prior to when he returned to Marvel in 1958? And we’re focusing on these particular characters.

MARK EVANIER: On which particular characters were you focusing on?

Q: The ones you mentioned.

MARK EVANIER: The ones I mentioned? I believe Jack had previously done, in some cases, antecedents that were a starting point. He came in with ideas that were then later shaped with input from Stan.

(break in transcript))

MARK EVANIER: Jack’s original pages of Spider-Man were not used. Then Steve Ditko did it. However, Jack maintained that he created Spider-Man.

Q: And so this would be a circumstance, for example, where — maybe I’ve got this wrong. But put aside what he maintained. What did you conclude as to the creation of Spider-Man? Did you find Mr. Kirby’s version more credible than Mr. Lee’s, which is in clear conflict?

MARK EVANIER: I don’t find them completely in conflict. I find certain areas that overlap. And in this particular — this is — you’re kind of asking me for what could be a very long answer here, if you want to go through the whole thing.

Q: I don’t know. That’s a good question.

MARK EVANIER: Because I’ve spent hours discussing this with people. My version that I reported on, written about, of the creation of Spider-Man allows for certain he said/he said variations. There are, however, certain parallels in the stories and the accounts that I find indisputable.

Q: So you’re taking an amalgam of different facts and versions and choosing to try to make them consistent in such a way that you reach a conclusion?

MARK EVANIER: Well, when I report on this, I try to separate what is conjecture from what is, I believe, indisputable. And I leave it — well, when I have written about this, I generally leave it to the reader to make certain decisions about the process.

I think that there are things you can say about it that are obvious. I think there are things you can say that are simply common sense, because I don’t think that either Stan’s or Jack’s accounts exactly match the physical evidence of the printed comic that resulted.

But I think it is possible to come to a scenario of how Spider-Man came to be that allows for the fact that at various stages there’s the Stan Lee version, and the Jack Kirby version, and they could in some cases both be true based on interpretation of certain words, certain verbs.

It’s something when I have written about it I’m very careful to try and not take — not to say either Stan’s version was completely correct or Jack’s version was completely correct, because I don’t think either one of those tells the entire story. But they are not – it is wrong to say that they are in complete conflict.