Thanks to all the people over on the Kirby Museum Face Book page for making several solid comments on my recent posts concerning Stan Lee. Obviously you all can go over there and check them out, but I thought all involved made some excellent points so I’m going to post them here as well:
“Why I Discuss Stan Lee” comments:
Paul Mason: I was always someone who felt Lee was a great ‘Editor’, who was able to harness the best from his stable of artists (especially, Kirby-a virtual work horse), bounce early ideas/concepts from, he was very good at giving the characters a unique voice, adding sub-text, and quite clearly, he was a great “salesman”.
But when it comes down to it, there was a mammoth amount more sweat, creativity and man hours put down in those books/characters by Kirby than Mr Lee or the corporation cares to admit- that’s shockingly sad, and creatively criminal. In my honest opinion, Kirby’s contributions (and in Spider-man’s case, Ditko) should not be a “mainstream” secret, with Mr Lee being considered Marvel’s Walt Disney in the eyes of the movie going public.
Sorry for all the words. I enjoy every post made by the Jack Kirby Museum, and I look forward to reading your posts for your opinion 🙂
Ron Good: I love Jack’s work, and I love Stan’s work. I think both men did great work separate from each other. BUT judging from the comics I’ve read, I feel that Jack and Stan’s best work was when they were working together at Marvel. Obviously, Jack poured more sweat into those books. However Jack Kirby and Stan Lee were a great collaboration of artist, writer, and editor. Jack Kirby should absolutely get more acknowledgement in mainstream media. I guess the job falls to us, the fans, to spread the word about Jack in forums such as this. God knows you’ll die of old age before you get any truth from the mainstream. I have a great respect for both Jack and Stan. And I’m a “Kirby Kultist” and proud of it! I enjoyed your article, Rob.
Joe George: Why is it the FF origin story is near identical to the COTU? Why is Kirby’s Spider-man almost identical to the Kirby and Simon’s THE FLY?
AND why is the first Iron-Man story a knock-off of Kirby’s Green Arrow origin story THE WAR THAT NEVER ENDED?
“My Interview Questions for Stan Lee, Part 1” comments:
John Coyne: If I were Stan Lee I think I would get up an quietly leave the interview once you started throwing around the word liar. Grilling, as you mentioned, is not a good way to interview someone and expect answers. It still amazes me that people who were not there in that room seem to the “truth” more than those who were. Later in life, as we know, Jack made lot of claims of character creation that were not true ( and I am certainly not calling him a liar for that!) Also, the sign on Stan Lee’s door in your piece speaks volumes of the one sided perception of the interviewer. Not good journalism.
Ravi Swami: @ John Coyne – true, but then this is largely hypothetical , & unfortunately Kirby isn’t around to give his side of the story, which somewhat negates the point of the piece.
It only really highlights the primacy in most peoples (& copyright lawyers) minds of writers (eg Lee) over artists (eg Kirby) – a writer will say they write stories & that stringing a bunch of images together in a sequence isn’t storytelling, which of course is BS.
Joe George: Lee was almost certainly asked most of your questions during the December 2010 deposition of Lee conducted by Marc Toberoff. It’s a matter of record Lee does have a contract paying him 1.2 million dollars a year, and it contains a clause which says he my do nothing which could assist in any way a challenge to Disney/Marvel ownership of the characters.
The much touted synopsis was found by Marvel Editor Roger Stern in Lee’s desk at the Marvel offices in the early 1980s. Kirby said any suggestion he had ever seen the synopsis was (quote) “An outright lie.” Both Steve Sherman and Mark Evanier say Kirby told them any synopses were written by Lee after Kirby had delivered pages to the office, and told Lee what he had planned for the next issue. Any brief notes by Lee on the original art (1958-63) were written down by Lee as Kirby explained the plot on the art boards to Lee. Evanier says Sol Brodsky confirmed Kirby was generating the stories in the early years.
Mitchell Sternbach: I agree that the sign on Stan Lee’s door in the piece indicates a one-sided perception. I’m not sure what the exact truth is- I’m quite sure Kirby’s contributions have been minimized, but Lee has been getting a raw deal, too. He was more than a salesman- it’s usually obvious which dialogue is his. Kirby probably created most of the concepts and plots. Jack was not great at humanizing the characters via dialogue, and I suspect that there was also a third element- that of the two men reacting to each other. If you doubt Lee’s abilities- just check out those works that Kirby was not involved with on a month-to-month basis. No artist was better than Kirby, and I always hoped to see Lee’s name listed as writer.
Gerhard Schlegel: when I was a kid, the greatest Team on Earth where Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, when I grew older I realised Stan Lee takes all the credits for himself. Now, for me, the greats Team on Earth is Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko. Maybe Stan Lee did not care for my feelings, but he disappointed me very much. Maybe, if you read in 100 years in some kind of wikipedia about Stan Lee, there is written, he was the biggest cheater in Comic History. If I would be Stan, I would not like to be remembered like this. Well Jack is death, but Stan has the chance to do right to Steve Ditko and make his peace. But that, unfortunately will never happen. (Gerhard form Germany, sorry for my bad English)
Richard De Angelis: Thanks for sharing this piece. It leaves little doubt as to the truly collaborative nature of the Kirby/Lee partnership and the contributions Kirby made to shaping the Marvel universe from its very inception. I shared the post on the Week of mourning for Avengers co-creator Facebook page calling for an opening week boycott of The Avengers movie in honor of Kirby’s legacy to comics.
Jason Zorn: it’s a shame their relationship came to that….when Lee/Kirby were doing FF, Cap America, Thor (the 3 titles which seemed best suited to their partnership) there was no one better. the first 100 or so of FF are the best comics ever
“My Interview Questions for Stan Lee, Part 1: Comments” comments:
Joe George: Steve Duin a reporter for the Oregonian quotes Lee as saying Kirby, ” either lost his mind, or he’s a very evil person.”
Greg Theakston quotes Lee as calling Kirby a “son of a bitch”
Lee: I wrote the Origins of the comics for Marvel I think I even put it in my introduction, and he read that. He didn’t say anything then. But with the Hulk I wanted something that was a combination of the Frankenstein Monster and Jekyll and Hyde, and I’ve said that to people over and over again. And I read an interview with him somewhere, and he said, “I’ve always liked Frankenstein and Jekyll and Hyde, and I wanted to do it.” And the son-of-a-bitch read that I had written it and it somehow became part of his–you know, how d’ya–
The origins book was published in 1974.
Here’s Kirby in early 1969 (a year before he stopped selling his freelance creative work to Marvel) talking to Mark Herbert.
Kirby: “I created the Hulk, and saw him as kind of a handsome Frankenstein. I never felt that the Hulk was a monster, because I felt the Hulk was me.