Saturday, 18 August 2018

RAMPAGING REPOST: STAN, JACK, OR STEVE - OR WAS IT ALL THREE?



I sometimes feel sorry for STAN LEE.  Not that he needs my sympathy by any means, but it must be hard to constantly be on the receiving end of concerted attempts to diminish or deny even the slightest bit of creative input from him on anything he ever worked on with JACK KIRBY or STEVE DITKO - or anyone else for that matter.

There are some diehard Kirby and Ditko fans who maintain that their artistic heroes were responsible for everything good that ever came out of MARVEL in the 1960s, and that all Stan did was edit the pages and dialogue them.  Notwithstanding all the redrawn Kirby pages which seem to suggest that Stan's involvement was far more than that.

However, just for the sake of argument, let's imagine for a moment that both Kirby and Ditko created all the characters they worked on and were responsible for all the plotlines, leaving Stan's contribution as no more than scripting the tales from Jack and Steve's margin notes.  Got that notion fixed in your head?  Good.  Now consider this.  Nothing that either Jack or Steve worked on after Marvel ever had the same kind of impact as the body of work they produced while collaborating with Stan.  That would suggest that Stan's involvement, even if only 'mere' scripting, was the 'secret ingredient' that had a disproportionate effect on the finished result.


Stan Lee, in effect, was the vital factor that transformed many competent but ordinary comicbooks into the dynamic Marvel masterworks that so many people fondly remember today.  Had Jack and Steve scripted their own strips, it's extremely doubtful, going by their few later limited achievements, that Marvel would have become as successful as it was in its glory years.

Who came up with the idea of THOR?  Jack said Jack, Stan said Stan, and LARRY LIEBER (Stan's brother) said Stan (with input from himself - the names DON BLAKE and URU, for example).  But does it matter who came up with the initial concept?  Surely it's what's done with it that matters?  How it was 'dressed up' and first presented to the public in JOURNEY Into MYSTERY #83.  The finished result was a product of Stan, Jack & Larry, so in that sense all three can legitimately claim to be co-creators of the character.  (Larry hasn't ever made such a claim as far as I know, but I noticed he was credited alongside Stan and Jack on the recent Thor movie.)


Take DOCTOR STRANGE.  Critics of Stan seize on his frank comment that the then-upcoming mystic master's first appearance was "Steve's idea" as proof that Ditko created the character and not Lee.  However, even ignoring Lee's obvious input to the 'DR. DROOM'-type origin a few issues later, it's clear that Strange is nothing more than a reworked Droom figure (by Stan and Jack - and actually inked by Steve), so SD can hardly be said to have come up with anything new, merely regurgitating Stan's original concept.  Certainly, regardless of who first came up with the idea, Doctor Strange - as he is perceived by the comics buying public today - is as much a creation of Stan as he is of Steve.

That's why it's simply much easier (and no less accurate) to say 'by Lee & Kirby', or 'by Lee & Ditko', because the nuts and bolts of exactly who did what is probably much more complicated and may never be known.  One thing's for sure - all three creative titans were never better than when working with their respective collaborators, their body of work providing a perfect example of something being greater than the sum of its parts.

'Nuff said.
     
Image copyright MARVEL COMICS

53 comments:

Barry Pearl said...

When discussing Stan Lee, Jack Kirby and Steve Diko, I like to ask what is the most important leg on a three Legget chair? They all contributed in different ways perhaps but they all contributed. It is mostly years later that people are complaining and these people were not there. It is sometimes forgotten that Stan Lee also create a great comics with people such as Don Heck, Joun Romita, Gene Cooa, John Buscema and Dick Ayers.

Also I try my best not to make it a contest. You see, when I read these comics a half a century ago I cared about the stories and the art. I didn’t know about the behind-the-scenes stuff and I really didn’t care to a certain extent. I don’t care if the guys who made my car hates his voice. And I don’t care if my mailman hate the cart he drives in just a long as I get my mail on time

No one was working for this company with a gun pointed to their head. They work there. Simply because they got paid. I really enjoyed those comics and I do believe they should get the credit they deserve. But it was really none of my business how they conduct their business so long as they got what they expected.

Colin Jones said...

Stan Lee is Marvel Comics and Stan created Marvel UK for which I'm eternally grateful.

Kid said...

Actually, a three-legged chair isn't much good to anybody, Barry, but I know what you mean - a three-legged barstool. You're right, it shouldn't be a competition, but, unfortunately, rabid Kirby and Ditko fans have turned it into one with their insistence that their idols did everything and that Stan did next-to-nothing. You're also right about Stan doing some great comics with John Romita and Gene Colan, etc., but that doesn't suit the die-hard Lee haters, who just ignore it. They're off on their own little planet.

******

We should all be eternally grateful to Stan Lee, CJ - and his collaborators of course.

Michael Hill said...

When discussing Lee, Ditko, and Kirby, I like to remember that all of Lee's creating started when Kirby handed in the finished pages. Then Lee (allegedly) created the dialogue and creatively filled in the credit boxes. Lee signature appears on none of Kirby's "monster" stories, so that leaves him out of creating Droom/Strange as well as Ant Man.

Kid said...

Actually, you're wrong - and here's why. Presumably you subscribe to the notion (as I do) that Steve Ditko co-created Spider-Man because he designed the costume and made various other contributions, yes? Ditko believed that an idea is only an idea until it is 'realised' - that is, 'made flesh' (or in a comic's case, completed and published). In like manner, we must accord the same recognition to Stan's contributions to Dr. Strange and the Silver Surfer, namely because the comic-buying public's perception of them is based not just on their visual image alone, but also their dialogue, motivation, and characterisation. And that was down to Stan.

We all know that Jack's and Steve's self-scripted later strips were a dry read regardless of how many good ideas lay behind them, and the thing that set Marvel apart from other comics in the '60s was the way they read. Kirby's and Ditko's work prior to (and after) Marvel was usually always well-drawn, but the thing that made the difference to the Marvel stuff was Stan's scripting. And, of course, as editor, it's extremely likely in the case of the monster tales that Stan told Kirby what kind of stories he was looking for in each individual issue - it's almost a certainty that Stan gave the monsters their names. And most of the monster tales are from before 'The Marvel Age' anyway, so aren't really relevant to who created the FF, Thor, Hulk, etc.

As for Stan's signature not being on certain stories, well - neither Jack's or Steve's names are on Dr. Droom's origin, so what does that prove? Nothing. Although Larry Lieber scripted Thor's debut, Stan provided the plot, but his name isn't on the strip, so it's therefore possible that he only signed the tales he scripted, not the ones where he just suggested basic plot ideas. That being the case, the absence of his name on a strip doesn't necessarily rule out some creative involvement on his part. After all, he was the editor.

Do you have a problem with Joe Shuster being credited as a co-creator of Superman? Not many people do, but 'all' he really did was draw the character as Jerry Siegel described him. However, both men are regarded as co-creators because the published strip - as it first appeared to fans - was the result of both of them. Similarly, on that basis alone, even if we were to accept your idea that Stan never originated any of the Marvel heroes, he should still be regarded as co-creator - as the finished strips were the result of Stan and Jack, or Stan and Steve, or Stan and Don, or Stan or whoever.

You've failed to make your case in my view, and your claims seem to be prompted by nothing more than a rabid prejudice against Stan Lee.

Unknown said...

Most Kirby and Ditko advocates never had a problem with acknowledging Stan Lee's contributions to Marvel. Their and my problem with Lee was that he would seldom acknowledge the creative contributions of Kirby and Ditko. Lee apologists act as if the man always gave his artists their due. After years of boxes saying "written by Stan Lee. Drawn by Jack Kirby" the best that Lee ever did was a Lee/Kirby production" Anyone who had followed the comics over time would assume, like I did at the time that nothing had changed and that Kirby was still only drawing Lee's stories. Kirby's crafting of stories included the creation of scores of characters that he has never gotten proper credit for creating. To this day, when I tell anyone that Marvel artists plotted the stories, people are surprised to hear this. Why then should anyone here be surprised that Lee is still resented for the unfair advantage that he took over his artists.

Norris Burroughs, author of Kirby Kinetics published in The Jack Kirby Collector

Michael Hill said...

Kid, while reading your comments on Barry's recent post I was really wishing you had just read some of the material you're so quick to dismiss. You seem to have no knowledge of Ditko's essays (he wrote at length and frequently about Lee, his memory, his "creative crediting", his relationship with Goodman). In the same way I re-read Lee's outrageous claims before arguing against them, you really should brush up on Ditko's writing and Kirby's interviews. Heck, even knowing Lee's claims would help: Lee flatly denies the fact, attested by both Ditko and Kirby, that Ditko told Lee that Kirby's Spider-Man story ripped off The Fly. Instead of addressing this discrepany, you immediately move the goalposts to say Kirby brought someone else's discarded character. Your man Stanley denies knowledge of the pre-existing but unused character (that Kirby had reworked and made his own), so it's a bit disingenuous of you to say you support Lee's account.

Kid said...

NB (or is it Tony?), what you're missing from your opening statement is that the problem they had is acknowledging the full importance of Stan's contribution. Admitting that Stan 'did the dialogue' is not quite the same thing as admitting just how essential that was to the finished product. And you're also missing out the fact that Stan, certainly in the early days, consulted with Jack and Steve on plotlines and story directions, etc., so even though they added a lot of stuff themselves, Stan was still the overseer.

And I believe that Stan DID give the artists their due. Right from day one, Stan acknowledged that Jack was as much the writer of the stories they worked on as he himself was, and that the Silver Surfer popped up in the FF with no prior knowledge by Stan. Think about that - the Surfer was at one time his favourite character, yet he made no attempt to rewrite history, and readily and fully acknowledged that Jack had originated the character on his own. Does that seem like the action of a man determined to steal credit?

Even with Dr. Strange, he readily declared that it was Steve's idea before the character had even appeared. However, it may just have been Steve's idea to do a strip about a sorcerer; the name, the incantations, the dialogue, the characterisations were all down to Stan. It's pretty obvious that Stan came up with the origin, Steve didn't seem too concerned about his genesis. Had Steve scripted the series himself, it would have been a one-dimensional strip with stilted, plodding dialogue - and probably a short-lived series because of it. The evidence for that? Any story that Steve ever wrote after leaving Marvel.

What you're missing is that Marvel comics were a success because of the style of scripting. Before Marvel, Kirby comics had always looked like Kirby comics and Ditko comics had always looked like Ditko comics, so what was it that made their Marvel strips take off in the way they did? The answer is Stan lee. Although they would still have been just as visually striking, the mags would have read the same as any other publishers' products - it was Stan who gave them an appeal that had hitherto been lacking.

So Stan gave his artists credit from the earliest days, but more than that, he also gave them a freedom to do what they wanted (under his guidance), and that was a freedom that they welcomed, and probably even insisted on. Although he acknowledged his artists' contributions to plots, as the guy who commissioned the stories and had story conferences with his collaborators, as well as writing the words in the characters' little pink mouths, he thought of himself as the writer. I don't believe it was a deliberate attempt to misappropriate credit, it was mainly an expedient excuse to name those involved in the mags.

Kid said...

Well, MH, you're being a tad presumptuous in thinking I haven't read them, I've read several, and though he mentions Stan quite often, it's not in the most flattering of terms. It's been brought to my attention that someone called Pat Ford said I'd claimed that Steve never mentioned Stan, and then referred to these selfsame essays, saying that Steve mentioned Stan a lot - just not in the way I'd have liked. In actual fact, that's not what I said - what I said was that Stan credited his collaborators more often than they ever seemed to credit him. The fact is, they DIDN'T 'credit' him, regardless of however many times they mentioned him.

And I've noticed that you likewise have a way of distorting the facts and not addressing what you can't deal with. I've read Kirby's claims, and even he doesn't tell the full story. It was Jack Oleck and Joe Simon that came up with a Spiderman/Silver Spider idea that eventually became The Fly. C.C. Beck was the original artist, but Joe gave it to Jack to redraw. Simon never claimed anywhere that Jack had a hand in the original premise, so for Jack to try and sell the idea (as his own) to Stan was more than just a bit naughty. I'm not 'moving the goalposts' as you claim, but relating Joe Simon's own account.

Also, what you're missing is that if Stan knew about The Fly, Steve wouldn't have needed to tell him about it, so that being the case, in the intervening years it's no stretch to accept that Stan just forgot about Steve's intervention. Also, the fact that Jack dusted down the Silver Spider for re-use doesn't rule out that it may have been in response to Stan's request for a Spider-type character.

In your world, everything that Stan says is a deliberate lie, and everything that Jack and Steve said is gospel truth. You have an obsessional aversion to Stan that borders on the irrational. As for failing to address discrepancies, you have the crown in that department. It's a fact that Jack once claimed to have created Superman, and Frank Castle's Punisher, as well as saying he designed Spider-Man's costume, yet you not-so-neatly sidestep around these glaring testimonies to Jack's ailing memory, preferring instead to accuse me of invented fantasies. You're even contradicting yourself: you say that Jack and Steve both claimed that Jack's Spider-Man pages ripped off The Fly - which is exactly what I said - but you accuse me of moving the goalposts for saying it (and at no time did I use the word 'discarded'). Can't you at least be consistent, instead of contradicting yourself in the same sentence?

How you can accuse me of being disingenuous when you have that particular trait sewn up is an amazing feat of self-delusion.

Michael Hill said...

Kid, I find many of your historical details simply made up. Lee as editor told Kirby exactly what he wanted in the next monster story? Science fiction and fantasy were not Lee's strong suit: he was content to give Kirby free rein while he was busy with Two Gun Kid, Patsy Walker, Patsy and Hedy, Wyatt Earp, Gunsmoke Western, Kid Colt Outlaw, and Millie the Model, all books that contained stories Lee signed in December 1958 and January 1959, while Kirby and Ditko debuted in Strange Worlds 1 and Tales to Astonish 1 with stories unsigned by Lee. Kirby's version of events is simply more believable than Lee's claim to writing the monster stories (something to which it didn't even occur to him to lay claim until 1998 -- look it up).

I don't subscribe to your notion of Spider-Man creation. Kirby brought the idea, Ditko refined it and Lee filled in the balloons: Kirby and Ditko are the co-creators and Stan Taylor pointed out exactly what survived of Kirby's original costume in the final product. When Lee saw Dr Strange getting positive feedback, he got more involved; he decided it wasn't his cup of tea and handed control back to Ditko. He couldn't even be bothered to dialogue them all.

We don't all know that "Jack's and Steve's self-scripted later strips were a dry read." As you can imagine, some believe Lee's dialogue was terrible and that Kirby was hands-down the best writer in comics history. Lee's overbearing contribution was present in abundance in the '60s, but as Chris Tolworthy writes, Marvel's sales increased from standard Lee sales levels in the late '50s to standard Kirby sales levels with the addition of Kirby; Lee's net impact was nil. These are numbers you can verify.

Lee never properly credited his creator/writers... he fooled you but he didn't fool them: he told the world they were artists. He signed his name to the work they created and wrote (and yes, he filled in the balloons), and took their writing pay. After Kirby's departure in 1970 (under the ownership of Perfect Film & Chemical), Lee began writing the Tale of Stan Lee, by which he stole credit for Kirby's creations.

Kid said...

Made up? Well, I guess that's a handy way of not having to address those historical details. And when it comes to the monster tales, I was merely suggesting a possibility, not making a dogmatic declaration - unlike yourself, in just about every statement you make. I certainly think it's entirely possible that Stan occasionally said to Jack "Do one about a giant ant (or whatever) in the next issue, Jack." However, what you're ignoring is that however these monster tales were produced, it doesn't necessarily (or automatically) reflect the manner in which the superhero mags were brought into being.

You don't subscribe to 'my notion' of Spider-Man's creation? But you've just confirmed that you do in your previous comment. You said that both Jack and Steve claimed that Kirby's version of Spidey was a reworking of The Fly. And it's a fact that The Fly was a renamed version of Silver Spider, who was a reworked version of Spiderman (no hyphen), created by Joe Simon and his brother-in-law Jack Oleck. The details are in Simon's book The Comic strip Makers. Or is Joe Simon a liar too? I'm beginning to see a pattern here (that's not quite accurate - I detected the pattern a good while back): Anytime anyone says anything that disagrees with Kirby, then it's a lie.

And you're still ignorantly missing - or willfully ignoring - the point. The same reasoning by which you ascribe co-creator credit to Ditko for Spider-Man must likewise be granted to Lee as co-creator of Dr. Strange. NOT to do so is nothing more than a stubborn refusal to acknowledge Stan's creative contribution because you have a bee in your bonnet about him.

As for Lee's dialogue being terrible and Kirby being the best writer in comics history, it's hardly borne out by the facts. Jack's '70s DC stuff (with the sole exception of Kamandi) were short-lived affairs that never got beyond 18 issues (at most), because his scripting just didn't gel with the fans, whereas Stan's scripting was responsible for the success of 'The Marvel Age'. What was that you were saying about 'made up historical details'? These are the facts, man! And how can you say that Lee's net impact on Marvel sales was nil, when he was editing, overseeing, contributing, and scripting the tales that Kirby produced? You have to figure in Stan's involvement in those mags; to do otherwise is to completely ignore one of the pertinent factors. Can't you see what a ridiculous assertion that is? It's interesting to note that sales on the FF and Spider-Man are said to have increased after Kirby's and Ditko's departure from the mags. Another inconvenient fact for you to ignore.

And back to the credits. Stan WROTE the words so he was credited as the writer; Jack DREW the pictures, so he was credited as the artist. Did he do more than just draw? Sure, and Stan mentioned that numerous times in interviews at the time and later, but the credits were an expedient (and quick) way of naming those responsible for producing the mag, without going into exhaustive detail. Just about everybody's heard of the 'Marvel Method', which proves that Stan was never shy about explaining how the tales were produced.

I'm afraid your anti-Stan rants, plus your elastic and erratic reasoning, do you no favours and don't aid your case. And I'm still waiting for you to address specific points about Jack's memory. You say that he didn't have a bad memory, history says that he did. How else do you explain him claiming to have created Superman and The Punisher? Mark Evanier relates the first claim (though he says that Jack probably didn't mean to say it), and I forget for the moment who made the other claim, but it's recorded historical fact that he made the claims.

Time for you to retreat and regroup I think. You're not doing too well so far.

Norris said...

Kid, Stan Lee may have said several times in interviews that Kirby and other Marvel artists co-plotted their stories, but that was never said in relation to Kirby in all the years of credit boxes placed directly on the page. It doesn't matter what Lee may have said to a reporter or in casual conversation at a convention or elsewhere. What matters is that every story that Kirby plotted and drew for Marvel says some variation of "plot, Stan Lee, Art, Jack Kirby". That is what people saw in print and that is what people remember. Today and only as a result of the impending threat of a lawsuit, Kirby is referred to as co-creator. it is supremely significant that this credit was not given in good faith, only under duress. Also important is that the Silver Surfer is probably the only character that Lee ever gave Kirby credit for creating. That leaves out scores of characters that Kirby almost certainly created single handed while crafting stories on his drawing board in his home.

Norris Burroughs

Kid said...

What you're again ignoring, especially when you refer to Kirby 'single-handedly crafting stories at home', is that Stan and Jack often conferred on the 'phone on plot and story direction, so Stan usually still had input, which rightfully earns him the credit of co-creator. And again I repeat, even if we allow, for the purpose of discussion, that Jack and Steve originated every single idea on their own, in the same way that Ditko deserves credit as co-creator of Spider-Man for the visual realisation of Stan's concept, then Stan likewise deserves the same credit on characters he imbued with soul and personality, etc. The actual idea is not fully realised until it's fully completed (according to Ditko), and as Stan dialogued the characters, he breathed into them the 'breath of life' just as much as Jack or Steve did.

As for your comment about the lawsuit, that's putting your own spin on things. Marvel was winning the 'work for hire' argument on that score, and had the Kirby family been confident of success on appeal, would they have settled out of court? It was probably cheaper for Marvel to do so rather than pay huge legal fees just to own what they already had, but had the Kirbys actually won, the sky would've been the limit in how they could actually profit from such a decision. They chose not to go down that route and gave up trying for a knockout.

As for what it said in the credit boxes, if Stan had input in any stories that Jack drew, then it wouldn't have been fair on Stan to credit only Jack for the plot, but I agree that the credit boxes could've been more specific. That's why they eventually read 'By Stan Lee & Jack Kirby' because that covered the fact that both men were responsible for the result. Jack probably earned more than any other Marvel artist per page, and the occasional raises he received were intended to compensate him (to some degree) for his story contributions. I believe that Stan took the writing credit because he wrote the words, so in his mind he was the writer, he wasn't deliberately trying to steal credit from Kirby.

Anyway, Ditko and Kirby left Marvel and what happened? Did Marvel come to a juddering halt as a result of their absence? Nah, their circulation increased and they went on to become the largest and most successful publisher of comics in America, if not the world. And that happened under Stan's watch - without Kirby and Ditko. That's a significant fact that some people should remember.

Michael Hill said...

However, what you're ignoring is that however these monster tales were produced, it doesn't necessarily (or automatically) reflect the manner in which the superhero mags were brought into being.

This is where I believe Kirby. He said this to Gary Groth, and he said it on an earlier occasion to Steve Sherman. Goodman was shutting down the comics operation. The furniture was being moved out. Kirby got Lee to arrange an audience with Goodman where Kirby pitched a "blitz" of characters, including The Fantastic Four, Spider-Man, The X-Men, Thor, and The Hulk. Goodman parceled them out over the next few years. The late 1961 publication dates bear out Kirby's story: Goodman put the shutdown in motion; he was convinced to give the FF a chance while his printing contract ran out; the comics operation went silent for over a month (cover dates September 1961); Goodman decided to gamble on Kirby's superhero blitz.

Or is Joe Simon a liar too? I'm beginning to see a pattern here (that's not quite accurate - I detected the pattern a good while back): Anytime anyone says anything that disagrees with Kirby, then it's a lie.

...much like anyone disagreeing with Lee from your standpoint. Steranko called Simon a swindler, and Simon's Comic Book Makers is loaded with falsifications. Sherman and Evanier wrote recently they never knew Kirby to lie. Who told us Kirby lied? Well first it was Stan Lee, and then it was Roy Thomas: the fate of Marvel's intellectual property depended on it. As for your comment to Norris about the Kirby family settlement, it was Marvel who had their backs up against the steps of the Supreme Court, and not settling would have had implications not just for Marvel, but for entire industries including music. Marvel knew their case was a gamble, and they couldn't not settle.

NOT to do so is nothing more than a stubborn refusal to acknowledge Stan's creative contribution because you have a bee in your bonnet about him.

The bee in your bonnet permits you to disregard the many accounts of any Marvel freelancer who suggested Lee was a lying thief. Keep in mind that's why Wood, Ditko, and Kirby quit.

As for Lee's dialogue being terrible and Kirby being the best writer in comics history, it's hardly borne out by the facts. Jack's '70s DC stuff (with the sole exception of Kamandi) were short-lived affairs that never got beyond 18 issues (at most), because his scripting just didn't gel with the fans, whereas Stan's scripting was responsible for the success of 'The Marvel Age'.

First, nobody ever said good = commercially successful. The fact that at your age, you believe Lee was a good writer just tells me that a. you're not a discriminating reader or b. you haven't read the stuff in decades. Second, read up on affidavit return fraud (Bob Beerbohm wrote about it in Comic Book Artist). The direct market evolved out of a situation where distributors were fraudulently selling cases of specific comics to dealers without reporting the sales. The targets of the dealers' speculation? They included Kirby (New Gods, Forever People), Adams (Green Lantern/Green Arrow), and Smith (Conan). Bad comics all? Didn't connect with the readers? Or connected too well?

Michael Hill said...

And back to the credits. Stan WROTE the words so he was credited as the writer; Jack DREW the pictures, so he was credited as the artist.

Kirby created the characters. Ditko and Kirby wrote the stories. Lee added the words. Aside from Ditko and Kirby, Lee had documented run-ins with Ayers, Goldberg, Wood, and Orlando over plotting without pay.

How else do you explain him claiming to have created Superman and The Punisher? Mark Evanier relates the first claim (though he says that Jack probably didn't mean to say it)...

Never happened, but you can take that up with Mark. Who are we kidding? You don't even source your quotes ("I forget for the moment who made the other claim"), so you're not going to take up anything with Mark. Kirby created The Punisher in Fantastic Four 49; trapping him into admitting a lack of knowledge of a subsequent character whose creator or editor couldn't be bothered to come up with an original name just tells me the motivation behind the question. Do you know who else never read the published comics? Stan Lee. In fact, Thomas says Lee didn't even look at the pre-publication comics he was supposed to be editing.

I'm going to pack it in here because it's an argument that can't be won. You're going to continue to employ the strategy you accuse me of using, twisting my words and creating a different set of points to which you'll respond. It's your blog so you'll always get the last disingenuous word. Nobody I know ever said "Lee did nothing." Lee's input had a tremendous effect on the finished comics, but he did his dirty work, his vandalism, after the pages, plotted and drawn, were turned in. I'll say that Lee was not the co-creator beforehand of Kirby's creations (Spider-Man, FF, Thor, Sgt Fury, X-Men, The Hulk) or Ditko's (Dr Strange).

I'll leave you with this. It contains some relevant points and is impeccably sourced.

http://kirbymuseum.org/blogs/effect/2015/07/25/according-to-kirby-1/

Kid said...

THIS is where you believe Kirby? You believe Kirby on everything and disbelieve anything else by anyone else that contradicts him. We've all heard the fantasy that the furniture was being moved out and that Stan was supposedly crying when Super-Jack turned up to save the day. Kirby later regretted and recanted on certain aspects of the infamous Groth interview, after Roz Kirby, when it was pointed out by Greg Theakston (I believe) that some of the things she and Jack had said were doubtful, proclaimed (to the best of my memory) "So what? If he can lie, then we can too!" And the few years it took for Goodman to 'parcel out' all these characters was hardly the kind of long-term gamble that he'd take while he was supposedly losing money. Goodman jumped on trends, he didn't create new ones, and if things happened the way you assert, Goodman would have been only too well aware of Jack's worth to the company and not treated him as expendable in the way that he did.

And you're wrong again! I'm not claiming that everyone who disagrees with Stan's version of events is a liar (do you just make up these ridiculous assertions as you go along?), I'm saying that Jack's memory was as unreliable as Stan's, and that the best way to regard each man's contribution to the success of Marvel Comics should be more balanced. You just dismiss as being made up or a lie everything that doesn't fit your obsessional belief that Jack was the one and only man who deserved any credit. And I don't think that Stan or Roy ever accused Jack of actual lying, they merely disputed the accuracy of his memory on occasion. Hell, they both even disputed the accuracy of Stan's memory on some things, which strikes me as pretty even-minded.

Regarding the court case, it had already been found in Marvel's favour as far as I understand, and if, as you claim, they were on such shaky ground, the Kirby family wouldn't have settled out of court when they could have had it all had they pursued their appeal right to the end. Nothing about your claim makes any kind of sense. People who believe that their cause is just and that they're going to win don't settle for second best. In Marvel's case, they were concerned about how their stance looked to the comics-buying fans, so part of their move was a public relations exercise. "Look what nice guys we are - we gave Jack's family a whole pile of money and we'll give him credit as co-creator of certain mags in the future." What did they lose by doing that? They still rake in the lion's share of any revenue from Stan and Jack's co-creations, and they save on legal fees defending a case that could have gone on for years with countless more appeals. For them it was a win-win situation.

Kid said...

As for why Wood, Kirby, and Ditko quit, that was because they seemed to believe that they were doing all the heavy lifting, but the continued and increased success of the strips they worked on after their departure proves that they were mistaken. They may not have got what they thought they deserved, but they got extra money for their story contributions by way of an increased page rate. There'a usually a budget for comics and it probably couldn't accommodate the trio's expectations to the degree that they wanted, but they were well-recompensed by the standards of the time.

And I have to laugh at someone who believes that Jack's tin-ear scripting made him the best writer in comicbook history, saying that I'm not a discriminating reader. What time does the nurse come round with your medication? Better ask her to increase the dose methinks. And there's the old excuse for the failure of Jack's DC mags being trotted out yet again. Funny how his Marvel stuff sold all right without speculators taking advantage, isn't it, but his DC work was a target for it. It probably happened to a degree, but not to the degree that is claimed. Why, it's now being asserted by some people that Jack's DC sales were actually quite respectable according to sales reports , so you can't have it both ways. Which was it? Pick one and stick with it.

Right, have to go out for a while, I'll respond to anything I've missed when I return.

Michael Hill said...

Kid, seriously? If I'm going to believe Kirby, I wouldn't believe the TCJ interview? He never regretted nor recanted, he only lived another 4+ years. Are you talking about the phone call Theakston allegedly made to Roz, threatening legal action on behalf of Lee against a guy he characterized as his father? Lee wouldn't have been allowed near a courtroom by his handlers, especially since Kirby was telling the truth. The TCJ interview is the closest thing the world has to an accurate account of what happened at Marvel in the early '60s, and Kirby had said the same thing in many previous interviews.

Kirby, Ditko, and Wood quit because they were writing stories for Lee and he was stealing the writing page rate. Wood was interviewed by Evanier and said that he told Lee that if Lee was going to take the writing pay, Lee could write the story. Lee demoted Wood to inking, Wood couldn't make a living that way, so he quit.

Really, nothing more from me unless you care to discuss the linked article I posted which addressed all of these points.

Kid said...

Right, where were we? You don't and can't know what characters (with the exception of the Silver Surfer) that Jack threw into the mix after a discussion with Stan. And a character doesn't realy 'exist', hasn't been completely 'created', until that character has a name, a personality, a way of speaking, a motivation, etc. Stan added most of that. True, Jack's notes guided him to some extent, but Stan fleshed them out, and Jack's notes may have been referring to things discussed with Stan earlier. So you're not really justified in ruling Stan out in my estimation.

And there you go with the 'never happened' again. Yes, it did happen, and the reason I can't quote 'chapter and verse' is only because I'm not as anal as you and don't make notes every time I read something relevant to the subject. Mark Evanier's comment about Superman was made either on his blog or in the Kirby Collector (or both), and the Punisher thing may have been on Jim Shooter's blog. (What's that? He's a liar as well? What a simple world you must live in.) Incidentally, when Jack claimed to have created The Punisher, he was asked if he meant the Frank Castle Punisher and he said yes. Was he lying? No, that's not what I'm suggesting at all, but maybe age and illness had addled him somewhat and he was confused. However, the fact remains that his memory was not as infallible as you would have everyone believe. Incidentally, being able to refer to someone who has the same opinion as you hardly lends any authority to your assertions, and you're dreaming if you think it does. Interestingly, it was Stan Lee who came up with the name Punisher for Frank Castle - and that's a fact that a little research on your part will verify.

And it's rich of you to accuse me of twisting words and creating a set of different points - things I haven't actually done, whereas you've done it in abundance. You still haven't fully addressed the Spiderman/Silver Spider/Fly point I raised earlier, nor explained how you can seemingly agree and disagree with me on it at the same time. You accused me of moving the goalposts, even though I had specifically addressed the point you were trying to make. It's hardly my fault if you can't comprehend exactly what YOU're saying, never mind not understand me.

As for not even looking at the 'pre-publication comics he was supposed to be editing', that may have been the case on occasion after Roy had joined the Bullpen, but he probably delegated that task to Roy or someone else. Yes, I think you should 'pack it in'. You've done nothing but demonstrate that all you're concerned with doing is bullying everyone else into accepting your point of view, a view that appears to be based on an unhealthy obsession with vilifying Stan Lee.

Also, your attribution of the creation of Marvel's Spider-Man to Kirby (when his version was a Fly rip-off based on a Simon and Oleck character) robs Steve Ditko of his due credit for his contribution. And look how contradictory you are. You've already rubbished Stan's input as being detrimental, now you're saying that it had a tremendous effect on the finished comics. Then you contradict yourself again when you say that Stan's tremendous effect was vandalism.

Kid said...

You are, of course, perfectly entitled to believe that Lee wasn't a co-creator before the pages were turned in (and that may even be true in some cases), but then you have to also conclude that Ditko wasn't a co-creator on Spider-Man until Stan 'turned in' the idea to him. You can't have it both ways. See how contradictory you're thinking is? No, you don't, do you? The fact is, none of the characters truly existed in the form in which they became known to the comics-buying public 'til each man had added their contribution. Stan's input elevated Kirby's and Ditkos's comics above mere professionally drawn and competently told tales that would've been largely indistinguishable from their competition had it not been for Stan's involvement. However, Stan was the commissioning editor and it's a verified fact that he had story 'conferences' (well, chats) with his collaborators on numerous occasions, so it's entirely likely that Stan had more input into the 'act of creation' that you care to admit.

Who can say, but perhaps the truth lies somewhere between both our points of view? However, we'll never know for sure. What I know for sure though, is the fact that together they were great, and they all deserve the credit for that.

Kid said...

In answer to your comment in the middle of my responses (which must have come in while I was typing mine), Jack later regretted being goaded by Groth into making his remarks, and backtracked on his claim that Stan had never written anything in his life. Of course you'll believe Kirby - you always do, that's why you're argument is all over the place. And I think you'll find that Stan WAS allowed near a courtroom by his 'handlers' when it later came to a court case as to whether Kirby worked under what later became known as the 'work for hire' policy. So yet another statement by you that is not borne out by events.

It may certainly be true that Wood, Ditko and Kirby quit because they BELIEVED that Lee was 'stealing' the writing page rate, but that doesn't necessarily mean that their belief was justified. Being the creative people they were, they probably insisted on being able to (largely) do their own thing, which would've put Stan in a spot. He was still doing the actual writing (scripting) and it was his brilliance at this that made Marvel mags stand out from the competition, so surely he deserved his pay? At the same time, as I said, he did give Ditko and Kirby increased page rates to recompense them to some degree for their extra contribution, so he was at least trying to do the right thing.

I haven't yet read the linked article (unless I already read it some time ago), but I'm in no hurry. You see, I'm not gripped by a compulsive obsession to prove everybody else wrong and myself right on any given subject. Perhaps you should take up a hobby? (I mean another hobby apart from bashing Stan Lee.)

Norris said...

Kid, I just wanted to take exception to your sarcastic comments to Mr. Hill taking his medication. Is it really necessary to go to that level in a civil debate? Looking at Mr. Lee's deposition, we clearly see that he is stating unequivocally that he created the characters alone, while Mr. Kirby states the exact opposite. It is obviously a question of one person's word against that of another, so who should we chose to believe? In my case, i would believe the word of a man who has the track record of over forty years of consistent creativity over that of a man who has virtually no viable concepts to speak of outside of those that he worked on with said "Artists". Again, I am still strongly of the opinion that when one is co-plotter, it is grossly insufficient to reduce that person's contribution to "Artist". Again, this is far from simple Lee-bashing. i have absolutely no reason to engage in that sort of childishness, and I have no desire to deprive Mr. Lee of his co-plotting credit. I'm just using deductive reasoning here. You assert with some degree of confidence that Mr. Lee conferred with Mr. Kirby over the crafting of every story. What makes you believe that assertion other than Mr. Lee's word alone? Can you possibly entertain the notion that Mr. Kirby most often worked as he said he usually did, alone in his home at his drawing board? Again, I am not attempting to deny Mr. Lee credit where it is due. You assert that After Mr. Kirby left Marvel, the company continued on successfully. Well, I was buying those comics in the early 70's, and I could not help but notice that the well of creativity seemed to have suddenly dried up. All at once, bold new concepts were few and far between. We had endless reappearances of tried and true villains and guest stars. Where had Mr. Lee's much vaunted skill at plotting and innovative concepts suddenly gone? As far as the law suit is concerned, settling was obviously the sensible thing for the Kirby family to do, since they probably lacked the money and resources to carry on fighting against a mega corporation with endlessly deep pockets. The notion that if they had been in the right they should have carried on fighting is ludicrous. At any rate, there is no point in continuing this discussion as we will probably never see eye to eye. The stories and the records and words of both men speak for themselves and we are free to come to our own conclusions based on them.

Kid said...

Well, for someone who, along with Mr. Hill, has a track record of insulting those who don't agree with either of you, I hardly think you're entitled to take exception to anything I say. You can disagree with it all you want, but at least I'm giving you unrestricted access to my blog in order to air your opinions. Your chum has accused me of being disingenuous, moving the goalposts, and calling Jack Kirby a liar - none of which I have actually done. In the face of such thinly-veiled arrogance (some might say hostility), I think I am entitled to puncture Mr. Hill's pomposity by the judicious use of a little levity. You see, I don't think Mr. Hill has been civil at all, so that's another thing we'll have to disagree on.

There are various instances where Jack made claims that don't stand up to scrutiny. People who shared a car home with Lee and Kirby heard them both swap ideas, Flo saw Stan act out scenes in his office when discussing plots, and it's unreasonable to completely dismiss such testimony. I agree that it would have been more specific if the credits had read 'Co-plotted, Written and Drawn by Stan Lee & Jack Kirby', but until Jack made Stan aware of his dissatisfaction with the credits, it just probably never occurred to him that Jack wanted more recognition for his input. However, I don't automatically ascribe sinister or dishonest intentions to Lee as do some people.

And I'm bound to say that I think you're overstating the case in your observation on '70s Marvel after Jack's departure. Jack was just as guilty in going over old ground and using the same themes as anyone else, so the well of creativity had just about dried up quite a while before Kirby left for DC. We'll have to agree to differ on that one as well, but I also read these same '70s comics so my opinion of them is not an uninformed one.

Regarding the lawsuit, it wasn't the sensible thing to do if the Kirby family were on the point of winning. If they had believed they were in the right but were likely to lose, then yes - it would've been ludicrous to continue. That's my very point - they must have thought they were going to lose, especially as everything had gone in Marvel's favour up to that point. Personally, I don't think they were morally or legally entitled to any money (though I don't grudge them it - it was Marvel's to do what they liked with after all), as Jack had sold his rights to the characters outright, and he knew it. If dad sells the 'family silver' for a price he's prepared to accept at the time, what right does his family have to a share of the new owner's property? (Yes, it's a little more complicated than that, but not by much.)

Anyway, I've enjoyed chatting with both of you, despite your pal's often condescending attitude, but you're both probably right to call it quits at this point. You see, I enjoy the work of all three men in this discussion, unlike Mr. Hill, who patently detests Stan Lee.

Excelsior.

Norris said...

Kid, I do appreciate you giving me access to your blog and allowing me to express my thoughts and opinions there. I am curious about your statements about my track record of insulting people that disagree with me. If I have ever done so, I apologize, but I cannot recall any such incident. If you can, please make me aware of the specific case so I can apologize even further. It was never my intent to cast any such aspersions.

Kid said...

More so your pal, Mr. Hill, NB, but I was informed of this by someone who hasn't given me consent (not that I've asked) to mention him, so I'm not at liberty to reveal his name at this present time. I'm sure we all inadvertently given the wrong impression at times in our desire to defend our point of view, so don't worry too much about it.

Norris said...

OK, Thanks for the clarity.
NB

Kid said...

You're welcome.

Michael Hill said...

Kid, I don't care what you call me, but Norris is the kindest, most inoffensive person I know on the Internet (check your secret sources). You owe him an apology for falsely accusing him, rather than "you're welcome" for allowing him to apologize to you.

Kid said...

I think you'll find that you don't call the shots around here, and it's not your place to tell me what you think I owe anybody. See, that's your problem, you think you can dictate to people what they should do, think and believe. Around these here parts, your middle name is 'over the'. And yet again you misrepresent the facts. My 'you're welcome' was in response to him thanking me for 'clarity'.

Christopher Nevell said...

Despite the detailed accounts I’ve been reading here, nothing is ever going to change the perception that we have today. Stan was The Man, Kirby was King and Ditko delighted. Together they were potent. Separated the heights were never quite scaled again. Nothing said here or anywhere else is going to change that.

Kid said...

Yup, CN, as the title of the post suggests, it was all three. The combination worked.

vwstieber said...

It's a little discouraging to see the vitriol in the posts above. I've read Lee's, Kirby's and Ditko's accounts of events and honestly, I don't even feel it's my place to make any judgement except whether or not the published work was any good...and it was damn good.

I personally think of the characters as having the artist's last name as their first name (Ditko Spider-Man, Kirby Thor etc.) and to me, Lee was the fella who (a) packaged and sold The Marvel Age of Comics very well, and (b) made sure the brand became cohesive by forcing cross-overs.

That it did not result in great financial windfall for Ditko, Kirby et. al. is regrettable, of course. But the comics of that particular period stand as pinnacles of storytelling.

The above is only my opinion, to which I'd like to add that, if I had to pick the most objective historical narrator, I'd go with Sturdy Steve Ditko any day of the week.

Thanks for the opportunity to comment without being forced to add anything of value ;)

Kid said...

Yeah, calling Stan a lying thief is extremely vitriolic I'd say. I think each of the three would have had instances of remembering things as they happened, with bouts of remembering things as they imagine they happened, as well as instances of how they'd like them to have happened - such is human nature. The reservation I have with granting Ditko a 100% free pass is that he denied working on Eric Stanton's 'fetish' strips, when it's pretty obvious that he did - as confirmed by Stanton himself. (The pair shared a studio and helped each other out on occasion.) And you certainly added something of value - good manners and a lack of vitriol.

Michael Hill said...

The ultimate in disrespect is the help hired to do the creating and writing telling the founder's brother-in-law's nephew that they object to him putting his name on their work and taking their writing pay.

Kid said...

Are you still burbling on with your one-sided and biased take on things? Saying the same thing over and over again doesn't make it so you know. Now unless you have anything new and constructive to add, no further small-minded and pointless comments from you will be published. Do something useful for a change - go and haunt a churchyard.

Truth said...

Pot.
Kettle.
Black
Kid.

Kid said...

Sadly, like a frustrated child, Michael Hill is still trying to leave pointless comments, but this time under another name. Here's a little hint, Mr. Hill - next time, remember to change the name in your blogger profile as well.

Michael Hill said...

You're mistaken, and that's the third time you've falsely accused someone on this post. Norris is called Norris, not Tony; Norris hasn't badmouthed you anywhere; and I haven't posted here under anything but my full identity.

Kid said...

Now you're lying - you posted a comment under 'Truth' and when I clicked on it, it went to your profile. I'll add it shortly (it'll pop up above my previous reply) and take a screen grab before you can delete it. As for Norris, his first comment bore the name 'Unknown' at the top of it, and there's another 'Unknown' who adds the name 'Tony' to the foot of his comments. I therefore wondered if it was the same 'Unknown' and whether perhaps 'Tony' was a middle name. And I never claimed that Norris had badmouthed ME, I just said that, according to what I've been told, the pair of you have a track record for insulting people, although in Norris's case, I'm quite prepared to believe it's maybe unintentional. In your case however, you're just a nasty-minded, unpleasant little liar. As to how many times you've falsely accused me on this post, well - frankly, I've lost count.

Norris said...

Hi Kid,
Just for the record, the only reason that I initially posted as unknown the first time was that being a noob I didn't see the box wherein to enter my name or url. I have no idea who Tony is.
Peace,
Norris

Kid said...

No worries, NB. I wasn't ascribing sinister intentions to you, but another 'Unknown' had recently posted on another blog, but 'signed' his comment 'Tony' at the foot of it. You signed yours with your name, but because I assumed that 'Unknown' was a chosen profile name, I wondered if you were both the same person. Pax Vobiscum.

Michael Hill said...

Again, I didn't post that. I haven't used my blogger account in years and will be deleting it to prevent further abuse. Aside from calling you out for your lack of research, I've kept my part of this discussion civil. You've turned yours to personal attacks, some of which are based on false information from your spy. Read the Museum article or don't, but I'm done here.

Kid said...

Again with the lies. Your credibility has been shot to pieces. How could you remove it if you didn't post it? And I see that you've now withdrawn your profile so that people can't see your name, Michael Hill, when they click on the name 'Truth'. What you haven't taken account of is that when people click on the name 'Michael Hill' in your comment directly above this one, that profile has also been removed. Whichever name was clicked on, before you withdrew it, it was the same profile at the end of it, created on the same month of the same year with the same number of views. Or are you seriously asking us to believe that it's pure coincidence that Truth's profile and Michael Hill's profile (which were the same profile remember, under your own name) were withdrawn at the exact same time?

And how can you claim that you haven't used your blogger account in years when all your comments are sent via your blogger account? You stand exposed as the liar are you are. Civil? You don't know the meaning of the word. You accused me of being disingenuous, of moving the goalposts (when I had addressed your specific point), and now you accuse me of lack of research. I'm fully aware of the research - I simply don't draw the same conclusions from it as you do, because your conclusions are not the result of research, but rather the reverse of that. In short you interpret the 'research' in such a manner as to justify your pre-existing assumptions.

Yes, you ARE done here - and quite a few other places as well I'd imagine.

Michael Hill said...

Listen, pal, Google bought Blogger before I even had an account. My email address shows up on my comments because I post using my email address. You should be able to tell that I haven't used the Blogger account in years. I haven't lied once in a comment on your blog. Should we be guessing who typed in "Truth" and fraudulently supplied the url of my blogger profile? It wasn't me, and I don't particularly care what you or your several friends think of me.

Kid said...

Utter nonsense. You've been caught out in a lie, and now you compound your 'felony' by lying yet again. Why would anyone go to the bother of doing what you say (if it's even possible) in order to insult me? Access to your profile has now being removed from comments by 'Truth' and 'Michael Hill' and you're the only one who could have done that. Everyone now sees you for the liar you are, who is so desperate to win an argument (which you lost by the way) that you'll resort to any shady trick that you think will give you the upper hand. You have absolutely no credibility whatsoever. Toodle-pip, old bean.

Michael Hill said...

You know as well as I do that all that was necessary to make it appear that "Truth" was coming from my unused account was to add it as the url. I told you in advance that I was going to remove the account so it couldn't be used again. Was it really necessary for you or one of your friends to resort to identity theft to win an argument?

Kid said...

Actually, I know no such thing, nor am I sure that it's even possible. However, IF it is, how would you know that? And you keep describing it as your unused account, but all your comments are accompanied by the Blogger symbol, which in my experience, you have to sign in to in order to submit a comment via it. And you still haven't explained why someone would go to all that bother merely to take a mild dig at me - surely they'd simply have submitted their comment anonymously. Or are you now asking us to believe that there's a conspiracy to discredit you? Get real, man - you've been caught out, pure and simple. Or are you really that desperate to portray yourself as some kind of martyr because of your views on Stan Lee?

vwstieber said...

Regarding the Ditko-Stanton work relationship, you all have probably seen the post in the link below?

http://fourrealities.blogspot.com/2008/08/interminable-examination-of.html

Worthwhile reading, for sure.

Cheers all !

Kid said...

Sorry for the delay in replying, VWS, I got distracted elsewhere. Thanks for the link.

Dave S said...

There's an interesting pout on CBR today about how the Marvel Method worked in the 60s, with short humour stories from various annuals mostly written by Stan - all very self-deprecating and generous in the way they depict the Marvel Method as being a collaborative process. They certainly don't give the impression of Stan being an attention-hogging maniac!

Really enjoyed reading them too, the art on the Romita story is great, and its fun to see John Buscema drawing something so different from his usual work.

Kid said...

I remember a story in the first Daredevil Annual, where Stan has Gene Colan saying something like "Why don't you try dreaming up these stories yourself for a change?", so clearly Stan wasn't against taking a little pop at himself while acknowledging that Gene contributed to the plots. I'll take a look at that CBR post, DS, ta for that.

Dave S said...

The Colan story is really fun too- even though its a humourous story set in Stan's office, Genial Gene still makes it look like a private eye's office in an old crime film! What an artist that man was .

Kid said...

When I jumped across to CBR, I was pleased to see that very story, DS. I have the actual issue, but it's years since I read it. And Stan rips the p*ss out of himself - what a guy!

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