Monthly Archives: May 2012

Avengers Weekend Part 9 – Comics Sales

Thanks to Edwin for passing along this link discussing the effects of the motion pictures on the sales of the comics.

‘The Avengers’ likely to be no marvel for comic book sales

(excerpt)

A string of blockbuster movies released by Marvel Studios the past four years has given Captain America and his crew enough cachet to hawk everything from apparel to action figures to insurance.

Ironically, however, the characters’ popularity isn’t selling the comic book format that birthed them to a new generation of fans, according to local comic book sellers.

Movie releases do cause temporary upticks in sales, according to Dave Autzen, manager of Reader’s World, 1830 Stevenson Drive. But the buyers readily fall into his normal customer demographic: 20- to 40-year-old males.

“My customers are men who’ve been buying a number of years,” Autzen said. “They started in high school or college and have just kept buying since then.”

Mark Kessler, owner of Recycled Records at 625 E. Adams St., agreed.

“We aren’t expecting to see a lot of new faces, a lot of 8-year-olds coming in saying, ‘I need the Avengers’ set,’” he said. “If that was the case, they would have been in here for ‘The Hulk’ last year.

“Popularity in comic books isn’t what it used to be.”

Avengers Weekend Part 8 – Kirby Credit

While you all are at the new Avengers movie, I’m here doing the first “live” broadcast of Kirby Dynamics where I’m spending a few hours doing some Stan Lee month housecleaning as well as discussing the new Avengers movie.

Here’s another link just sent in by a fan:

Jack Kirby gets ‘Avengers’ movie credit

Avengers Weekend Part 7 – Kirby’s Avengers

Here’s some samples of art from Jack’s Avengers run. Some wonderful material in those books. Marvel should put out a “Jack Kirby Avengers” collection with just Jack’s Avengers books, and commentary by historians and associates. I just picked a random page from Avengers # 1 – 8 to remind people Jack worked on the book for 8 months and really set the tone for the series and established the foundation for that property.

So everybody have fun this “Avengers Weekend,” and don’t forget who created the characters you love so much and that bring you so much joy.

Avengers 001 - 06

Avengers 002 - 01

Avengers 003 - 09

Avengers 004 - 04

Avengers 005-10

Avengers06-06

Avengers v1 007 (12)

Avengers v1 008 (02)

Avenger Weekend Part 6 – The Marvel Death Clause

I was on the ditkokirby yahoo forum a few days ago, and we were arguing about something. I remember… a guy said apparently it was my fault some people quit the old Kirby-l yahoo forum. For example, one day I called Marvel “PhotoKopiers” (the “K” was a play on the Kirby Kult Koncept — guys in that forum loved creating terms for Kirby with “Ks” in them), and by PhotoKopiers I meant Marvel was just cranking out Jack’s ideas like a xerox machine.

Well, Tom Brevoort claimed he was REALLY upset by my comment, so he quit the forum (My guess is Tom realized he’d lost his cool a few times talking to me and if he wanted to maintain his calm and collected Marvel shill persona, he probably better stop dealing with fans like me who instead of worshipping him, ask him tough questions). So to this day, people are STILL mad at me for my PhotoKopier comment because I deprived them of the presence of their beloved Brevoort at Kirby-l.

Anyway, during that conversation a few days ago on ditkokirby, the legendary Tom Brevoort chimed into that new conversation. After his comment, I told Tom, “You seem to have done pretty well for your self, so you’re welcome,” then I asked him: “How much money did Jack’s family get for his 1960s Marvel creations over the last 10 years and how much money did you make in the last 10 years?”

At least I think that’s what I said, I got kicked off the forum about 10 minutes after that. Maybe my question was rude or I violated some other rule, but I’d genuinely like to know. How much does a guy like a Brevoort who is a major player for Marvel Comics make over a 10 year period. Does Marvel pay a guy like him millions? A nice 6 figures a year?

Aside from the chump change they gave Jack’s family for the so-called “rejected” FF book (that Lee rejected wholesale to teach Jack a lesson in 1970), did Jack’s family get even  a penny for something like his Avengers creation in the last 10 years?

Am I picking on poor sweet Brevoort by asking such a question? If so, sorry. I don’t mean to be disrespectful, I hear he is a really sweet fellow. But is there anyone at Marvel who answers these types of questions, or are the salaries of employees and royalties for older artists either none of our business or top secret? I mean aren’t they raking in billions? Surely everybody working for Marvel must be driving around in a pretty nice car.

One time on Kirby-l we asked Brevoort about royalties on reprints. Brevoort told us (I’m paraphrasing) that after a Marvel  artist like Jack who worked for them back in the 1960s has been dead for a certain amount of years (I think it was 3 or 4) they cease receiving royalties for stuff like those Essentials phone book reprint packages. So apparently (and this was back in line 2005 or so, so God hopes they’ve changed this) Marvel has what I called “The Marvel Death Clause” — once an artist like Jack has been dead x-number of years, they no longer exist in the Marvel Universe, at least the Marvel Universe that writes checks. After you are dead x-years, no more royalties for your grieving family.

I wondered: who came up with that idea? And who came up with the number? How do you decide on something like that? How does one say, “In 4 years we stop giving Roz Kirby and her family a tiny percentage of the sales on Jack’s FF Essentials reprints?” Books that contain 100% Kirby art!

Pretty chilling glimpse into corporate America if you ask me.

And I’ve seen some argue, “Why SHOULD Merry Marvel give an old Marvel hack like Jack Kirby any royalties on anything? Why give him charity. The don’t owe him a dime! @#$% him! He’s DEAD! Screw him and his family. He got paid by the page, that was his problem.”

I joked, and this is a morbid joke so be prepared, what if a family was able to keep an old Marvel artist alive on life support even if their brain stopped functioning? How would the Marvel Death Clause handle that scenario? Do old Marvel artists stop getting royalties after their brain stops functioning, or when their heart stops beating. Does the official “Marvel Death Clause Countdown” kick in the moment a Marvel artist dies?

God, how must that make an older Marvel artist with health problems feel to know their family, wife, kids, grand-kids, will all get cut off after some arbitrary number of years pass that some guy in Marvel accounting came up with. Pretty crazy considering the billions Marvel is raking in.

Anyway, my guess is aside from maybe making a few bucks on the Simon/Kirby Captain America character, Jack Kirby may have received a grand total of  $0.00 last year in royalties for his 60s creations and his reprints from Marvel.

Whereas you have to think every single person working for Marvel must be making a small fortune, especially the big shots like the Vice Presidents and all the lawyers. And I know “that’s life” and that’s capitalism and I don’t begrudge anyone working for a living, I actually respect a lot of the artists at Marvel they are all really talented people — and all the wonderful people who work hard deserve all the money they make — but fans like me wonder… I ask the question:

Not passing judgement, just wonder, does anyone at Marvel wanna comment? If you are a fan of Jack Kirby, meaning you really love the man and his work, if you work for Marvel, do you feel the least bit of guilt when you cash that big paycheck every week?

Avenger$ Weekend Part 5 – $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$

‘The Avengers’ Stuns With Worldwide Total Of $500+ Million

(excerpt)

The Avengers, which opened to massive foreign box office totals before storming the domestic box office with enormous opening day receipts, appears poised to finish this weekend with a global box office topping $500 million.That’s after only twelve days in release (the film opened April 25th in foreign markets). Some are now predicting the Marvel Entertainment/Disney superhero team-up film could finish the weekend with the biggest domestic opening in history, north of the$169 million record-holding opening of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2.

Let’s look at the figures so far.  In foreign box office, The Avengers is currently at $304 million. That’s not counting Russia or China, where the film opened this weekend coinciding with the domestic release. In North America, the film took in $18.7 million in midnight showings alone, and appears to have brought in at least $65-67 million on Friday alone.

That domestic total means a $60 million Saturday and $50 million Sunday would give The Avengersthe highest-grossing domestic opening weekend of all time — and those numbers are almost certain to come true, if indeed we don’t see potentially even higher numbers as some are predicting. That would give the film a total of about $474 million worldwide as of Sunday, without counting the totals from Russia and China. It is therefore almost a foregone conclusion that — barring a major flop in those markets and a massive Saturday-and-Sunday drop domestically — The Avengers will easily top $500 million globally at the close of business this weekend, and might even get closer to $550 million if domestic, Russian, and Chinese receipts are even bigger than expected.

Avengers Weekend Part 4 – Ditko and Creation

Re: Stan Lee Week

Here’s a link to a nice, concise little article on some of the evidence we have for the creation of Spider-man:

“Who Really Created Spider-Man?”

There was  a scan of the piece of artwork Jack had that said “Spider Man” on it on the old Kirby-l forum, but I don’t think I have that. If anyone has that scan of the Simon/Kirby Spider Man logo, please send that in. That may be the moment of “creation” for the Spider-man character if you buy into Lee’s philosophy that naming a character means you created it.

For the record, I think the credits for Spider-man should be “Lee/Ditko and Kirby,” or something like that. If Jack pitched the name, and came up with concepts like wall-crawling and web-shooting, and Jack contributed the aunt/uncle, the kid/science geek, and science as the element of transformation, I think Jack does deserve to be mentioned or to use Lee’s language “considered” a creator/co-creator when discussing the real history behind the character. Lee’s “I saw a fly on the wall story” is clearly fiction.

Avengers Weekend Part 3 – Ditko and Creation

Re: Stan Lee Week

Although Spider-man is not an Avenger, I think Ditko’s comments speak to the “Marvel Method” creation process. This was the main quote I wanted to pull from this article earlier in the week:

Ditko: The Mystery Behind the Man Article (2002)

Ditko’s validation came in the form of “Tsk, Tsk #1″ and “Tsk, Tsk #2,” blendings of prose and pictures released by the artist in 1999 that question the “factual grounds” on which some people-Lee, predominant among them-”talk, write and claim that Spider-Man is a ONE-MAN creation.”

Lee responded via an open letter: “I have always considered Steve Ditko to be Spider-Man’s co-creator…From his very first panel, Steve created and established the perfect mood for Spider-Man…So adept was he at story-telling, that Steve eventually did most of the plotting and illustration while I, of course, continued to provide the dialogue and captions.

“I write this to ensure that Steve Ditko receives the credit to which he is so justly entitled.”

Lee’s effort only made things worse. Ditko rebuffed his “I have always considered…” line in The Comics, saying: “‘Considered’ means to ponder, look at closely, examine, etc. and does not admit, or claim or state that Steve Ditko is Spider-Man’s co-creator.”

I agree with Ditko. Why can’t Lee just say “Me and Steve created Spider-man,” why does Lee always have to qualify everything. It’s amazing how Lee clings so tenaciously to his story he created Spider-man alone, and his “consideration” of Ditko as a co-creator comes off as Lee committing an act of charity. Of course the ironic thing is that Jack  Kirby may have (or probably) pitched the name to Stan, which ironically is how Lee defines creation. Remember, to Lee naming a character is creation. So by Lee’s definition if Jack pitched the name “Spider Man,” Jack created Spider-man? Right?

Avengers Weekend Part 2 – Kirby Credit?

I don’t really follow the fan press too much so I missed this. Apparently someone asked Stan Lee why Jack didn’t receive credit in the Avengers movie. There was some hoopla, but in the end I guess Jack does get a credit. And it’s nice Jack gets a credit, but I’d rather see his family get some money. Here’s the article:

Stan Lee On The Jack Kirby ‘Avengers’ Credit Controversy (UPDATE)

The Huffington Post  |  By  Posted: 04/24/2012 5:19 pm Updated: 04/25/2012 2:10 pm

(excerpt)

Not surprisingly, Jack Kirby’s co-creator credit appears nowhere in the promotion of “The Avengers.” His fans have expressed outrage over the way his contributions to the movie’s very existence are being swept under the rug. Stephen Bissette (co-creator of“Constantine,” and noted “Swamp Thing artist) called for a boycott of Marvel comics and merchandise, while James Sturm, co-founder of the Center for Cartoon Studies,also published an essay explaining his decision to boycott the movie. Many fans have followed suit, arguing that while Disney and Marvel have no legal obligation to acknowledge Kirby, their actions are completely lacking in ethics.

During an interview to promote both “The Avengers” and his new documentary“With Great Power: The Stan Lee Story,” Moviefone asked Stan Lee himself about his take on the Kirby controversy. His response is below. (The full Stan Lee interview will run next week.)

Fans of Jack Kirby are concerned that his name appears nowhere on the credits of “The Avengers.” What’s your take on their concern?
I don’t know how to answer that because in what way would his name appear?

His name isn’t mentioned anywhere in the film production as a co-creator.
Well it’s mentioned in every comic book; it says “By Stan Lee and Jack Kirby.”

But it doesn’t appear for the film itself; and his fans feel he should get that recognition, with the movie exposing his work to a whole new audience. 
I know, but you’re talking to the wrong guy because I have nothing to do with the credits on the movies. I’m credited as one of the executive producers because that’s in my contract. But Jack was not an executive producer. So I don’t know what he’d be credited as. Again I know nothing about that, I have nothing to do with the movie’s credits. You’d have to talk to whoever is the producer of the movie. Is there anything you want to ask me about the documentary because I thought that’s what I was supposed to be talking about.

Avengers Weekend Part 1 – Kirby Boycott

I’m going to have a little fun this weekend and do the first “live” broadcast of Kirby Dynamics. I will try and tie up some of the loose threads I have here for Stan Lee week and talk a little about the new Avengers movie. If I understand correctly it comes out today. 🙂

All my friends with little (male) kids are taking them to see the movie. It’s like Christmas for many of them. It’s amazing how popular these movies are right now. I think at some point you’ll see the popularity curve go down, but apparently not yet.

A bunch of people asked me to go to the movie, but I don’t know about anybody else, I like watching stuff on HDTV when it’s on cable. I like being able to pause the movie and do other things while it’s playing. So I’ll wait. I mean is there really anything that “must see” in the movie? I assume all of Jack’s characters exchange snappy wisecracks then defeat a bad guy/bad guys, right? I can wait ’till next year to see that.

I’m not a big “boycott” guy because I don’t know if that sort of thing really does any good, but it is interesting to see there are some people out there who aren’t going to the movie because Jack doesn’t receive any money from the movie. Here’s some links passed along by readers and a few I came across.

James Sturm Boycotts ‘The Avengers’ Film over Marvel’s Treatment of Jack Kirby

Why I’m Boycotting The Avengers
Because Jack Kirby has never been given the credit he’s due.

Boycott The Avengers?

Honoring A Fallen King
What of the House That Jack Built?

“Avengers” boycotters assemble online

Boycott the Avengers? A Slate writer discusses why Marvel’s troubled history with artists has led him to boycott the upcoming project, despite his love for Mr. Whedon.

Here’s a site advising against the boycott:

5 REASONS BOYCOTTING “THE AVENGERS” IS POINTLESS

Here’s a site calling for credit for the Kirbys

Marvel Entertainment: Give credit and royalties to Jack Kirby and his family.