Barry Pearl has recently posted an article Jack Kirby Takes an Auteur Detour. Pearl is a fine comic book scholar which makes this particular post so surprising. Surprising because he gets so many things wrong. In the comments section to his post Barry says that
The first time I had heard the term “Auteur” applied to Jack Kirby was at the NY Comic Con in 2011 when there was a seminar on that subject.
Actually that was my first time as well. It was a great presentation by Arlen Schumer along with panelists Rand Hoppe, John Morrow, J. David Spurlock and Michael Bonestell. There is a summary of what would be presented here. It is too bad that Barry Pearl did not review this summary.
Perhaps he would not have stated that they were advocating Kirby as the actual and sole creator. No, Schumer and all the panelists that I can remember gave credit to Stan Lee as well. By no means was there a claim that Kirby did it all by himself.
Or perhaps then he would not have stated that the Jack Kirby as Auteur concept takes credit away from other creators. No it was explicitly stated that the term auteur could also be applied to Steve Ditko and any of the other artists who worked under the Marvel Method.
I could go on and on about the various inaccuracies in Pearl’s post. He has presented a straw man version of the theory of Jack Kirby as Auteur. He then uses this straw man to try to make the case that a movie director was not the proper analogy for what artist like Jack Kirby were doing. But with all the distortions about the auteur theory and what happens in movies it is small wonder that Pearl gets it all wrong and ends with:
In collaborative media, auteurs need not apply
But the idea of a film director as auteur is based on movies that are very much a collaborative effort.
I have a lot of respect for Barry so I wonder at what prompted such an inaccurate post. Perhaps Pearl’s post was not a response to Schumer’s theory but a distorted version of it by someone else. I no longer follow any Kirby list as they all seem to attract Kirby Cultists. It is not the extremes of their positions that bothers me so much as their lack of manners in their avocation (name calling and disrespect for alternate views). I can easily envision the use Kirby Cultists would make with a distorted version of Kirby as Auteur. But it would be unfortunate if Barry’s post was a response to a distorted version of the Auteur Theory because the true version is worthy of much thoughtful discussion.