My latest post was about the image above, which is self-explanatory. I tend to agree with Steve's view on the matter (though I think he's being a tad pedantic, because I believe that whenever Stan described himself as the creator
, he was thinking more of the original idea, not so much the actual published product itself), but it seems at odds with something he (Steve) once said in an interview by GARY MARTIN
concerning CAPTAIN ATOM
(in The COMIC FAN #2
, 1965), which was this:
Gary: Who originated Captain Atom?
Steve: Someone at Charlton Press. Don't know exactly who as I just worked out costume, etc.
(In case you were wondering, writer JOE GILL
created the character.) Now, if we regard the word 'originated' as a synonym for 'created' (as it's usually used), then it occurs to me that Steve's above-illustrated definition of 'co-creator' status can be viewed as somewhat inconsistent with his earlier statement. Even if we give him the benefit of any doubt and assume that he believed there was a fine distinction between 'originated' and 'created', he surely must've recognized that Stan was using the latter word in a synonymous way with the former. After all, Stan never claimed to have drawn the character or designed the costume, and more often than naught went to great pains to give Steve credit and to praise him for his contribution to (and development of) the 'finished article', so Steve surely wasn't so obtuse as to mistake Stan's intention? He must've known in what sense Stan was using the word. And if he didn't
see the distinction, then I'd say we're surely justified in wondering whether he missed it in Gary Martin's question too. (Whether Gary intended to make that distinction by his use of the word or was using it synonymously is unknown. To me
at least - he
Think about it for a moment. Here, Ditko seems to be downplaying his contribution to Captain Atom, saying that he "just worked out costume, etc."
as if it were no big deal. He certainly doesn't appear to be laying claim to co-creator status in the good Captain's case, so why the seemingly opposite view in regard to SPIDER-MAN
, where he goes to great effort in reminding us that he designed the costume? Sure, he did more than that, but the idea existed pre-Ditko's involvement.
I think Steve's problem was the same as Jack's, in that they both resented the attention and adulation (to say nothing of the money) that was given to Stan in what they saw as on the back of 'their' efforts. Neither of them ever quite appreciated that Stan's plotting (at least in the early days) and scripting, to say nothing of his leadership and direction - plus the friendly mood that permeated the early Marvel mags' letters and Bullpen Bulletins pages - were all enormously instrumental in their success. It was the way they read
, not just
the way they looked
, that distinguished them from their competition and garnered acclaim and popularity. "Which 'creation' has the highest value, word or image?"
someone asked on that other site. In Marvel's case, it was both
, but that probably requires further explanation.
Both Steve's and Jack's visual storytelling, before and after Marvel, always looked just as impressive, but their solo efforts never made quite the same impact as their collaborative Marvel work in the '60s. It was their time at Marvel that created their reputations and secured their legendary standing. Why was this? To me, the answer is obvious - Stan Lee!
And if it was Stan's input that made the difference, then it's fair to say that his was, arguably, the greater contribution - at least in the effect
that it had. His input enhanced the work of Ditko and Kirby, as theirs did his, but his enhanced theirs more. Remember, comics are not just pictures, they're words too, and Stan's words made a powerful impression on Steve and Jack's art. They, however, could never quite see it.
So was Stan intentionally trying to rob any of his collaborators of their due and deserved status on the odd occasion that he focussed more on his own achievements? I don't think so. In fact, JONATHAN ROSS's
TV programme, In SEARCH Of STEVE DITKO
, although cited by the anti-Stan brigade as evidence of Stan trying to hog full credit, doesn't necessarily prove their case. It's clear to me (mainly because he said so in JR's documentary) that Stan regarded whoever came up with the original idea as the 'creator' - the 'originator' - and that was Stan. He wasn't denying that Steve's contribution to the finished, published product was instrumental in defining the character as known to the comics-reading public, he was only saying that the original idea was his.
But what about his much later testimony in court when he seemingly claimed sole creatorship and said that he exaggerated Steve's and Jack's involvement to make them feel included, to feel good? I think we have to remember that, by that time, Stan had endured years of rabid Ditko and Kirby fans (and Jack himself) denying him any creative input at all into any of the many MARVEL
characters and was understandably on the defensive. Also, the Kirby family were claiming that Jack had created everything and Stan had created nothing, so he was only responding to the Kirby family 'in kind'. In Spidey's case, I feel that it was quite legitimate for him to emphasize that he'd come up with the original idea - and I believe that's all he really meant when he said that he created Spider-Man - he did! The idea
for Spidey - the one which led to the Spidey that we know - came from him
Remember too that he was by that time a vulnerable, confused old man with a failing memory (not that it was ever good), and doubtless had huge pressure put on him by the Marvel/DISNEY
attorneys, who probably prepped him in what to say. A sense of loyalty to the company who'd employed him for most of his life may also have been at the root of him overstating the case. However, don't forget that Jack had done the same thing himself, often claiming that he'd created everything at Marvel (even Spider-Man) and that not only had Stan never created
anything, he'd also never written
anything. Steve wasn't quite so bold, but he did tend to downplay Stan's input in favour of highlighting his own. And it's easy to see (and understand) why - he felt he'd been robbed of his due credit because Stan got more attention (even though Steve claims he never wanted any), so it looks as if Stan reacted in a similar way when it seemed that he was being denied any credit at all. You can't kick Stan here without also kicking Steve and Jack at the same time if you're going to play the 'blame game'.
Anyway, my most recent efforts to counter the anti-Stan sentiment on that other site led to me being banished from it - without warning and despite some unbiased members 'liking' my latest post. It seems that any viewpoint that runs counter to the 'accepted' one (i.e., that of the site owner and a few cronies) won't be tolerated for very long. I
may be the one nicknamed 'Kid', but I've found that it's very often other people who behave like petulant children whenever someone suggests an alternate point of view to their own. Independent thought is frowned upon in those kind of places, which is ironic in this instance as it's apparently something that Steve Ditko encouraged.
In conclusion, I'd like to make it clear that I appreciate Stan, Jack, and
Steve, but I refuse to deify any of them or regard them as saints. Just like their creations, the creators also
had feet of clay.
Someone published the above comment and link to this post on that other site a few hours ago. Seems he was trying to make a point, but as nobody has ever joined that site (or any other that I'm aware of) and insisted (or even suggested) that fans of Ditko's post-Marvel work need to appreciate the work he did with Stan, it seems somewhat redundant. He's making a comparison that, as far as I can see, has no basis in fact. (The typical 'straw man' argument.)