Alan Moore’s Stan Lee and “Jolly Jack” Comments

Re: Alan Moore’s Stan Lee and “Jolly Jack” comments.

As you might notice I tried to go through some stuff in the mailbag today. One thing I wanted to add in reference to Alan Moore’s comments on Kirby/Lee was this: First, I think Moore is unquestionably a brilliant guy and a remarkable writer. I have tremendous respect for that guy and what I’m about to say isn’t a criticism, because I don’t have any criticisms for him, but I want to make a couple comments.

First, I don’t recall Stan Lee ever saying “I created Captain America.” Lee certainly might have said that (Lee claims he created everything else) and Moore may be making a joke (Lee claiming he created Cap would be completely over-the-top in terms of it’s absurdity), but I just don’t recall seeing that exact quote from Lee — I’ve never seen Lee take his peculiar brand of megalomania and egomania quite that far (although Lee takes credit for everything that happened to the Captain America character after Lee claims it was his idea to bring him back in the 60s, while some comics experts think that was Martin Goodman’s idea or even Kirby’s suggestion). If anyone has a quote of Lee claiming to create Captain America alone, please send it in.

I never saw Lee say that, but I do think Moore’s point about Lee just adding the “Thees and Thous” was spot-on: clearly if you examine Jack’s original art, Jack wrote the stories with images and margin notes, then Lee added captions (and we have several quotes where Lee admits this), it’s just that Moore using Thor as an example of a character Lee claims he created alone (as opposed to Cap) would have been a better choice.

Also, Moore’s comment about Lee saying, “In my opinion, Ditko created Spider-man,” is a little off. The problem Ditko had with Stan Lee was the fact that Lee said “I have always considered Steve Ditko to be Spider-Man’s co-creator…” Here’s a link to an article where I discuss that.


So I think Moore’s wording might be wrong, but his overall point is again spot-on. Lee was unwilling to simply say “Steve Ditko created Spider-man.” Lee always has to add a caveat, something that muddies the waters like “I consider.” Lee acts like giving Ditko and Kirby what he calls a “co-creator credit” was some sort of charity on his behalf. Many experts suggest Lee does this based on this advice from his lawyers: never admit Kirby and Ditko created major characters, instead simply say, since Ditko is such a sweet guy, you are personally willing to consider him a creator since that might make him happy, but in reality Ditko and Kirby are not legally and historically the creators, you (Smilin’ Stan Lee) are the sole-creator of all the major Marvel characters (excelsior!).

So although I think Alan Moore may have got a few of the minor historical details wrong (which happens frequently, people send me emails pointing out errors I make here all the time), he still makes a lot of great points. It’s great to see a creator/writer of his caliber and stature taking the time to comment on the Kirby/Lee creator/authorship debate. High profile creators like Alan Moore who aren’t afraid to criticize Marvel and Stan Lee are few and far between in the comics biz because obviously if they step on the wrong toes that can make it harder for them to get work for a company like Marvel-Disney. Alan Moore is a true maverick and as a Kirby fan I’m proud to know Moore is also a guy who isn’t afraid to stand up and tell the truth about the Kirby/Lee partnership in the 60s. He may have got a few of the details a little wrong (and I may have my facts wrong) but his heart was in the right place and on behalf of Kirby Dynamics I certainly thank Alan Moore for all the great things he’s said about Jack Kirby over the years.