From: Eric Stephenson of Image comics

Here’s an email making the rounds someone just forwarded to me:

From Eric Stephenson of Image Comics:

YOU’RE WITH STUPID NOW

James Sturm wrote a great piece about why he’s boycotting the Avengers film for Slate, and while I recommend reading that, what I really want to bring people’s attention to are the moronic remarks in the comments section. It’s essentially the incoherent rambling of people with no sense of history and no sense of right or wrong, people content to mindlessly carry water for the all-too common notion that we should all just lap up whatever shit comes down the pipe.The comment that best sums up the relentless ignorance and negativity for me is this one:

“Wait, so we should boycott Marvel because it acted like a company?

“I feel for the Kirby family, but if I boycotted every company that did everything anti-ethical I’d be, like, living in a hole in the ground and trying to weave clothing out of bark. No corporation is clean, period.”

Except… that’s not exactly true. In fact, I’d argue it’s quite far from the truth.

While I certainly don’t adhere to Mitt Romney’s mistaken notion that corporations are people, too, I likewise don’t buy into the belief that all corporations are inherently evil. It’s not a black and white world, and there’s good and bad on both ends of the spectrum. What’s more, there’s are stark differences between evil and greed, between malevolence and irresponsibility. I would never argue that Marvel is evil, but as I’ve noted in the past, I think the fact Jack Kirby has never been rightfully credited or adequately compensated as the co-creator of many of Marvel’s most popular characters is not only reprehensible, but incredibly irresponsible.

Beyond that, though, this ongoing resignation to blindly accept things as they are, no matter how bad, is both frustrating and disturbing. Once upon a time, the United States was a country that celebrated individual achievement, yet in this thread of comments, we have dozens of people not only defending Marvel’s historically poor treatment of a man who literally saved the company for all but certain doom, but denigrating him in the process. There is absolutely no respect or compassion is shown for a man who worked himself up from poverty to follow his dreams. No sympathy for a man who literally survived the battlefields of Word War II and then returned home to become one of the greatest figures in the history of American comics, only to be treated so shabbily by the company he helped transform from sinking ship to soaring titan.

At one point – and I’m paraphrasing here – someone says he never cared for Kirby’s artwork, so who gives cares if Marvel gave him a raw deal. There are people arguing they Kirby knew the deal when he “signed up” to work for Marvel, seemingly unaware of the fact that Stan Lee knew the deal as well, but was somehow rewarded differently. One commenter goes so far as to repeatedly insist Kirby was not involved in the creation of characters like The Avengers at all, despite the fact there is ample evidence to the contrary.

Remarkably, there are other, even less informed opinions aired in this thread, and it’s something of a testament to just how pointless comments sections seem at times. It’s just people talking to be heard, regardless of the fact they clearly don’t understand what they’ve read and have nothing of value to say. It’s a sad commentary not just on Internet culture, but on our society as a whole when people wear their ignorance and intolerance almost as a badge of honor. Mob rule by a bunch of people in “I’m with stupid”shirts, all so willfully clueless they never stop to think the person next to them is wearing one, too.

“Wait, so we should boycott Marvel because it acted like a company?

“I feel for the Kirby family, but if I boycotted every company that did everything anti-ethical I’d be, like, living in a hole in the ground and trying to weave clothing out of bark. No corporation is clean, period.”

What utter bullshit.

I addressed this somewhat in an earlier post, but seriously, when did we become such a cowardly society? When did we decide nothing is worth fighting for? That there is no right and no wrong – that morals, ethics and manners are essentially meaningless?

I don’t think boycotts are the answer to every problem, but you know what? I don’t begrudge people like James Sturm or Steve Bissette for advocating them. Boycotts can be effective, and a lot of good has been done, not just in this country, but around the world, when people have come together to their voices heard. Meanwhile, name a single great advance that was the result of cynical fools shaking their heads in contempt while someone else stood up for what they believed to be right. Nothing ever changed by just sitting back and accepting bad behavior.

And from my perspective, buying into the notion that Stan Lee was the sole creator of the Marvel Universe is encouraging bad behavior. As Sturm points out in his piece, Marvel was not a one-man show. Jack Kirby co-created those characters. Steve Ditko co-created those characters. But Lee received much better treatment than either of them, and with Marvel’s full support, has engaged in more or less re-writing an important chapter the history of comics. And I don’t say that as someone with an ax to grind with Stan Lee – it would be stupid to suggest his contributions were not valuable, but it’s equally dumb to perpetuate the lie that he did it on his own.

I grew up reading nothing but Marvel comics. I still have tremendously warm feelings for a great many of those characters, and remember many of those stories with incredible fondness. Marvel’s books fill my shelves, and over the course of the last year, I filled an entire spinner rack with the comics from the ’70s that first inspired my intense love of this medium. But I don’t buy Marvel comics today, and I won’t be seeing The Avengers. Not because I’m boycotting it, but because, for all the good feelings I have for those characters and comics of my youth, I have even more respect for Jack Kirby. Without him – without the characters he created and helped create – I wouldn’t be in this business. And more than likely, neither would Marvel.

Sadly, not many people grasp the full scope of Marvel’s poor treatment of Kirby and his family. Even fewer seem capable of comprehending the ridiculous lack of respect for a figure central to Marvel’s ongoing success. Not everybody lives and breathes comics, though, and I understand that, but if that’s the case: Why feel compelled to fill the comments section of an editorial seeking to explain the situation with so much ignorance?

Agree.

Disagree.

Whatever.

But at least know what you’re talking about. And don’t condemn people for having principles, or wishing to see a decades-old wrong made right. It’s just stupid.