Monday, 31 October 2011

KIRBY'S GHOST - PLANKS AND MOTES (A MORALITY TALE)...



A while back, over on DANIEL BEST's blog, he reported the fact that
GREG THEAKSTON had claimed in the second volume of his JACK
KIRBY biography that Kirby did not draw his recreations of MARVEL
covers in the early '90s and that they were ghosted by other hands. This
naturally has raised some interesting questions. For example, would Jack
and Roz have allowed pages to be attributed to him and sold for high
prices if he hadn't produced them? For that matter, would Marvel
or SOTHEBY'S?

Theakston's claim has
naturally set tongues
wagging as to who may
have been involved in
creating these pages if,
as he asserts, it wasn't
Kirby. (And that's
important to remember -
if.) As far as I'm aware,
there is no evidence to
support the participation
of any particular
individual, but I'm not in
full possession of the
facts (or what passes as
facts) in the matter.

Naturally, when
such rumours take root
(and there seems just
no way to stop them),
there is always rabid speculation amongst groups of fans, and, even
if no one is publicly named, people tend to form their own ideas as to
who might have been involved. There is only a relatively select group of
people who would even be considered capable of such work, and doubt-
less all of them were regarded at some stage as potential candidates
amongst those given to conjecture on the matter. It is in that context
we must now consider what comes next.

On Dan's post, he
related the relevant
facts and indulged in a
bit of speculation. He
considered the different
possibilities and concluded
that, if (remember that
word?) the pages were
ghosted, he had been led to
believe that MIKE ROYER
may have been responsible.
He made it clear, 'though,
that his personal belief was
unconfirmed - and at no time
did he state that Royer, if
he had actually drawn the
covers, would have known
they would be passed off
as being exclusively
pencilled by Kirby.

In short, all Dan may
have meant was that he
regarded Royer as the
best qualified to produce
the work, without
necessarily ascribing to
him any fraudulent intent
or design. That is an
important aspect to
remember. 

HARRY MENDRYK
from the JACK KIRBY
MUSEUM website
immediately went on the
attack, accusing Best of
not only slandering Royer,
but also of charging him
with fraud. Now, while
deliberately misrepre-
senting the work of one
artist as that of another undoubtedly gives rise to legal and ethical impli-
cations, that doesn't necessarily mean that the one who produced the
work knew it was going to be sold on that basis.

If something is advertised as an original piece of a particular artist's work
without the actual artist's prior knowledge or consent, then he's hardly
guilty of any wrongdoing in those circumstances. And, at the risk of
labouring the point, I can see nothing in Dan Best's post to the contrary.

Mr. Mendryk is not pre-
pared to allow for any such
possibility, or to give Best
the benefit of the doubt.
Indeed, such subtleties
as I have expounded here
seem lost on him. Did
Mendryk investigate the
matter? Did he ask Best
to elaborate, or to say
precisely what he meant?
No, he immediately
accused Best of smearing
Royer's reputation, and
attributed  meanings and
motivations to Best's words
that are certainly open to a
different interpretation.
Why didn't he check first?
In this regard, he seems at
least equally as guilty of
the exact same behaviour of which he accuses Best.

As far as I can
see, all Dan has
done is report a
pre-existing story
and add his thoughts
on the topic. In so
doing, he has gener-
ated comment which
has made people
aware that Mike
Royer rejects any
suggestion of being
involved. (There are
links to this in the
comments section.)
In reporting the
already well-known
rumour, Best has
effectively put an
end to one specu-
lative aspect of it.
Mike Royer says he was not involved, and I'm perfectly happy, in the absence
of any evidence to the contrary, to accept his word. I doubt I'm alone.

As I said on Harry
Mendryk's blog, although
it's obviously better if
unsubstantiated rumours
never start in the first
place, once they're doing
the rounds, it's often
advisable to subject them
to the spotlight of truth and
let them wither under its
glare, rather than allow
them to fester in secret.
Mr. Mendryk has recently
deleted our discussion -
I leave it to individuals to
draw their own conclusions
as to why. However, I
consider my observations
worthy of consideration,
which is why I publish
them here.

I should add that I do not presume to speak on Dan Best's behalf - my
only purpose (which springs from a desire for fairness and impartiality) is
to show that people who live in glass houses should perhaps think twice
before throwing stones.   

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hi Gordon, just wanted to thank you for the disc. Looking forward to it ( a lot ! ). Hope you got your Marvel Firsts trade.70's vol. 1 in January.
Thanks again.
Best Jim

Kid said...

No bother at all, Sir. Yes, got the '60s vol of Marvel Firsts. As I say elsewhere, it's everything that Origins Of Marvel Comics SHOULD have been. Looking forward to the next volumes.

Best regards,
Kid Gordie.