Thanks to Rand Hoppe for posting new upgraded Kirby pencil scans over at the Kirby Museum Facebook page. I encourage you to check it out once in awhile. There are always new things being posted there.
For those of you who don’t do Facebook I’ll continue to post some of them here as well. This is page 17 from “Galactus Is Born,” Thor 162, March 1969.
Using film terminology, this is a great example of Jack Kirby as the uncredited Writer/Director of this page: Jack is like a movie director telling you the story with his visuals; he is the writer of the story using text to tell Lee what is happening in his story in the margins. For example, notice in the final panel Jack writes that Galactus feels the urge for cosmic energy, and Lee includes that information in a word balloon. Lee just uses different words, like “living energy” instead of “cosmic energy.” I could pull a homeless guy off the street and if he followed Jack’s directions he could easily add captions to this page.
If you consider Lee’s text was written after Jack wrote and illustrated the story (so for the sake of argument please ignore Lee’s word balloons for a moment) I’ve said before that in this phase of the process Jack Kirby is the Principal Author of this page, and of this story. Jack is the writer and artist of his penciled stories.
When Lee adds captions, I believe Lee does deserve a writer credit and an editor credit. Therefore, Stan Lee is the Secondary Author of the story, in the same way I would be the Secondary Author if I added word balloons to this page. So the accurate credits on a story like this should read:
Jack Kirby: Writer/Artist
Stan Lee: Writer/Editor
If the True Believers in the 60s were confused by these credits, Lee always could have clarified the division of labor in his monthly Bullpen Bulletins. This is an accurate, fair, honest, chronological way to express the division of labor in the Kirby/Lee collaboration as opposed to the published “Smilin’ Stan Lee and Jolly Jack Kirby Production” credit which is completely misleading especially considering Lee’s pattern in the early 1960s of listing himself as the Writer/Editor and Jolly Jackson as nothing more than a “Penciler.”
Quite frankly, considering the frustration he must have been feeling around this period, and the passion Jack had for his work, one has to wonder if Jack found the “Jolly Jack” nickname kind of annoying, if not insulting.
Luckily we have a few Kirby pencil scans like the one at the top of the post with margin notes intact, so after looking at a page like this, although I certainly don’t expect Marvel to ever change the credits on the Kirby/Lee stories, anyone who knows anything about the subject of comics history will know there needs to be a HUGE asterix next to the credit boxes in all of the stories Jack Kirby worked on with “Smilin’ Stan.”
Here is the published page.
There is a lot of spectacular art in this story. The published version is vastly superior to the reprints — this is one of those rare books where the printing is pretty solid throughout this book. At least in the copy I used to own and the scans I have.
Thanks to Rand Hoppe and Tom Kraft for scanning the pencil photocopies and for sharing them with us at the Kirby Museum Facebook page. To me, sharing those kinds of source documents online is one of the best ways to set the record straight when it comes to giving people accurate information so they can reach their own conclusions when discussing the Kirby/Lee authorship debate. Stan Lee and Marvel may never acknowledge Jack Kirby as the creator of his 1960s characters and the Principal Author of his stories, but as long as scans like this are floating around on the internet… anyone with half a brain who sees them is going to know the truth.