Robot 6

Confirmed: Jack Kirby’s heirs want a piece of Spider-Man

Amazing Fantasy #15

Amazing Fantasy #15

Spider-Man is, indeed, one of the Marvel characters listed in the 45 copyright-termination notices sent last week by the heirs of Jack Kirby.

With Sony Pictures among the list of recipients — along with Marvel, Disney, Fox, Universal and others — it seemed likely that Kirby’s four children were seeking a portion of the copyright to the wall-crawler (Sony holds the movie rights to the character in perpetuity). Now The Hollywood Reporter’s Heat Vision blog confirms that after reviewing termination notices for Spider-Man and the Fantastic Four.

Wait. Didn’t Stan Lee and Steve Ditko create Spider-Man? Well … yes. However, Kirby was clearly involved in the early stages. The nature, and extent, of that involvement isn’t quite so clear.

As Borys Kit and Matthew Belloni recount at Heat Vision, Lee initially approached Kirby to help develop the concept and draw the initial story in 1962’s Amazing Fantasy #15. For one reason or another — Lee has said he didn’t like Kirby’s muscular, or “too heroic,” take on Spider-Man — Ditko was tapped to draw the story, with Kirby providing the cover.

But some accounts assert that Kirby contributed elements from an unpublished character called Silver Spider that he developed in the 1950s with longtime collaborator Joe Simon. Others say Silver Spider became The Fly, a character created by Simon and Kirby for Archie Comics’ Red Circle imprint.

According to the Heat Vision report, Kirby’s heirs seek to recapture a share of the copyright to characters and story elements that appeared in Amazing Fantasy #15 — Aunt May, Uncle Ben, Flash Thompson, etc. — plus characters and concepts like J. Jonah Jameson, the Daily Bugle, Chameleon, the Tinkerer and the Lizard, most of which debuted months later in issues of The Amazing Spider-Man. (The Daily Bugle first appeared in Fantastic Four #2.)

If the Kirby children are successful, they would reclaim their father’s portion of the copyright to key characters and concepts from the Marvel Universe as early as 2017 for the Fantastic Four. In most cases, that would seem to mean co-ownership with Marvel, as Lee agreed to waive claim to any of the characters.  With Spider-Man, one-third ownership could be possible if the Kirbys were to prevail yet the judge recognized Ditko’s interests.

Although Disney asserts it “fully considered” the potential copyright claims before it launched its $4-billion purchase of Marvel, this move by the Kirby children surely complicates matters. If nothing else, it provides additional fuel for those who already had criticized Disney for wading into a tangle of licensing agreements that could prevent the House of Mouse from making movies based on Spider-Man, the X-Men, Fantastic Four and other central Marvel properties for years (last link via Dirk Deppey).

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91 Comments

We could end up with a situation where the only character Marvel fully owns is Marvelman. Wouldn’t THAT be a hoot. ;-)

That would be really ironic the most legal tangled comic book character(Marvelman) for the past decade plus, is the only one Marvel has full stake in.

I hope something nice comes out for the Kirby’s, they get at least Silver Surfer out of all this.

im not a lawyer but i kinda feel like kirby doesnt have much of a claim to spiderman…however x-men, silver surfer, all of the myriad others……

HAHAHAHHAAHAHAHAHAHAHA, YAH RIGHT KIRBY KIDS!!!!

Spider-Man? Kirby wasn’t a Spider-Man guy. That much is crystal clear.

The lawyers are the REAL problem here, telling those Kirby kids they should get e piece of Spider-Man, even when pops had nothing to do with it. Funny how Kirby created almost everyone BUT the best and most important Marvel character.

Can a Comic company Go a week without any major legal Hootenanny.

Oh please, what a cash grab. What a bunch of leeches… I didn’t know drawing a cover was the same as “creating an entire character”. Get a job ya bums. :P

This easily shows it’s a “cash grab” and should be thrown out. We don’t want LAWYERS screwing with our comics!!!

Maybe I’m in the minority here but he only one who deserves to profit from the creation of the Marvel Universe is Stan Lee. Yes he did have the aide of numerous artists to visualize his creations and even supply greater input than that, but without Stan there would be nothing!

It’s definitely strange they would try to get a piece of Spider-Man. I wonder if it’s because Spider-Man is such a popular character and brings in major dollars for Marvel. I wonder if they’ll go after some of his DC characters as well.

Am I the only one that finds it annoying that all of these descendants who did none of the work on any of these characters are always trying to get money for them. Yes, some creators got terrible deals and should have gotten more money. These people are not the creators, they’re just related to them.

“Maybe I’m in the minority here but he only one who deserves to profit from the creation of the Marvel Universe is Stan Lee. Yes he did have the aide of numerous artists to visualize his creations and even supply greater input than that, but without Stan there would be nothing!”

Why are Lee’s contributions more important than Kirby’s or Ditko’s or Heck’s?

Kirby definitely has some claim to the Fantastic Four, and though the Spider-Man claim seems dubious, it is documented that he did the early design work, but Lee didn’t like that he drew him so muscular since he was supposed to be a teenage boy (almost ironically, Spidey’s really muscled nowadays…) which is why he had Ditko do the actual issue. It wouldn’t really surprise me to find out that Kirby had drawn half the book, when Stan pulled it and gave it to Ditko.

I think the real danger though is the claim that Kirby’s family definitely has to the characters of Hulk, Iron Man, Thor and Captain America. Iron Man’s a Hollywood commodity now, Hulk did pretty well (and was a great movie) considering the Ang Lee fiasco, and Thor and Cap are the next two big Marvel movies. These are the ones they have access to. Spider-Man, they KNOW they can’t get right now. Fantastic Four, they KNOW they can’t get right now. But those four are the ones they are trying to build a franchise around.It’s not going to be very good for Disney if they throw a bunch of money at a franchise and then have a chunk of that money taken from them after the fact…which is when it would happen.

Say Disney puts up $100 million to make a Captain America movie; that seems to be a fairly cheap rate for a big Hollywood actioner recently. Say it makes $200 million…not outside the realm of possibility at all. That’s a net gain for Disney/Marvel of $100 million. That’s definitely enough to do a sequel, and if you’re smart lock up all your principals for a third after that. So now they’re filming the sequel, and the rights kick in; say they lose half. Now, in the middle of paying for this big sequel for this franchise they’re trying to build, they half to pay out half of that $100 mil to somebody who didn’t do any of the work or foot any of the bill. That makes things a lot less palatable if you’re the guy signing the checks.

This is the stupidest thing EVER!

strangerthantruth

September 22, 2009 at 1:12 pm

Its True. Kirby did create Spiderman. Its blatantly obvious by looking at the cover to th FLY comic book. Stan Lee just tweeked it, realized it was gonna be a huge hit, and had Ditko draw so he could claim the character was his. Stan Lee is a thief.

Um, Rob? You need to bone-up on your comics history…without Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko, Stan Lee would be nowhere. One just has to look at all of the characters that he has created since he stopped working with Lee and Ditko to see where the real talent was; they did much, MUCH more than “visualize his creations” – I’d go far enough to say that he did little more than put words in their mouths…and sometimes, that was too much.
As for the case itself, to quote Tom Spurgeon: “If I thought I deserved 1/1500th of Spider-Man, for the sake of my family I’d likely file whatever needed to be filed to get it and I can’t imagine anyone not living off of a healthy trust fund or from a very peculiar and rigidly constructed set of ethics who wouldn’t.” It has been acknowledged that Kirby did play a part in the creation of Spider-Man…whether it was a big or small part is up to smarter people than us to find out.
Lawyers have been “screwing with ‘our’ comics” since these companies decided to go public. don’t kid yourself.

Crap. I meant “One just has to look at all of the characters that he has created since he stopped working with KIRBY and Ditko to see where the real talent was…”

“Why are Lee’s contributions more important than Kirby’s or Ditko’s or Heck’s?”

Given that, Lee would often let them do everything but the dialogue (the least lauded part of those stories), meaning they essentially DID THE ENTIRE STORY, they aren’t.

Re: Nicholas — I wouldn’t argue that Stan Lee didn’t benefit from collaborators as talented as Kirby and Ditko, but come on — a lot of those early Marvel issues wouldn’t be nearly as much fun or as memorable without Lee’s flowery text and terrific character work. Stan Lee was one of the writers in the medium to actually give his characters “character”, and unlike the industry output from that era, his work holds up.

Have a good day.
John Cage

While I’m inclined to think that it will be near-impossible to actually prove Kirby had any involvement with the creation of Spider-Man, it may simply be the AF15 cover and interpretations thereof they’re claiming copyright to.

I am sorry, but this is all bull. I love Kirby’s work. I love Stan Lee’s work. I think they deserve respect and credit for their work, but Marvel, well Disney now, owns those characters. Kirby, Lee, Heck, Ditko, should all be honored for their work. They should be compensated. If it wasn’t for their ideas, then Disney wouldn’t have put down four billion to have access to all of Marvel’s characters. But at some point, you’re just being greedy. While I think that out of honor of what Jack Kirby contributed to Marvel, compensate his family. Let’s be honest though, where were they when Roger Corman was making the Fantastic Four movie? Where were they when the first Captain America movie was being made? I didn’t see Jack Kirby or his family out there talking about rights then because those movies were huge flops. Captain America was slated to be released in theaters but went straight to video. Fantastic Four wasn’t even released on a View Master! But now that there is major money involved, Kirby’s family wants to talk about creator rights.

There’s no case for Spider-Man. They could have gone for anyone else int the Marvel library and maybe have won a buck, but Spider-Man?

This sickens me.

Just a bunch of greedy kids looking for a payday.

The descendants of Matt, Mark, Luke, and John are going to hire the lawyer next to get paid for all the back profits they should be getting from the New Testament.

And there’s your proof – money-hungry, capitalistic morons. And once again, those on the side of these leeches are blind, bleeting sheep who have no idea what they’re talking about. The lawyers are sharks, con-artists, and will say anything they need to to get the cash.

“Stan Lee is a thief” – Oh, really? And what hot-shot blog did you copy/paste that sentiment from, hm? Because Kirby was hired to draw a COVER, he created Spider-Man? Because Lee was inspired by another creation, so he “tweaked” it and made a new one? Come on! That’s the most pathetic excuse for an argument I’ve ever seen! So you’re saying the Estate of whomever created Zorro should then be given the copyright to Batman, whose original concept was clearly inspired by Zorro?

Every single person who was ever inspired by something else, created something else entirely from that idea and was a success with it, should have to pay-back the family of the person who inspired them? Really? George Lucas must pay Isaac Asimoff’s family, Eastman & Laird have to pay Marvel because their Foot Clan were parodies of The Hand, etc.

That is blatant Stan Lee-bashing for the sake of Stan Lee-bashing, which I seriously doubt anyone on here formed that particular opinion on their own. Kirby came-up with his own plans for Spider-Man, which were never used. Some of his design work for The Fly were borrowed, but clearly that character’s costume looks nothing like Spidey’s finished product, and besides…Designs are one thing, how about the actual CHARACTER? Did The Fly have an Uncle that was killed? Did he have an important message about power and responsibility? Was he just a kid in high school? No. That was Ditko and Lee, Kirby designed an amazing cover, but that’s the extent of it. The fact that he was the one that drew the damn thing should tell you people how much Jack cared about his Fly design being “stolen”.

Did anyone ever consider the fact that maybe Kirby was a bitter, jealous old man when he left, made even more bitter when after he landed at DC, he was treated with about as much respect as an Intern? You think maybe, as I’ve mentioned before, his memory was in decline for his remaining years, and these bitter-old feelings tended to surface more thanks to “reporters” eager to get some juicy stories, a fact which has pretty much been confirmed since his death?

All I know is, on one side I see a company and a man, Stan Lee, who in his 70’s-or-older is still out there as excited as ever about the product, participating and generally being a positive voice for the Industry as a whole. Then I see Kirby’s Family, not giving a damn about the characters or the fans that love them, demanding a piece of the pie they had nothing to do with. Again, before the Superman lawsuit, they didn’t CARE about Jack’s legacy or what he contributed, all they care about is that now they believe there’s money to be made, damn you and damn everyone else.

Oh, and to lovely nicholas who said Kirby/Ditko were the real talents? Yes, because the Kirby-written “Fourth World” was SO successful, but that Spider-Man and X-Men stuff that Stan WROTE? Whatever happened to those characters?

Jesus, it was Alex Ross who started that lame-brained concept…Unappreciative goof should be black-balled.

“I didn’t see Jack Kirby or his family out there talking about rights then because those movies were huge flops.”

The window for termination of copyright wasn’t open then.

Hey, I gave a friend of mine the idea to ask out this girl I went on a bad date with. Four years after, they’re getting married. If they have kids and those kids become successful, should I ask them to buy me a house since I was the one who hooked their parents up?

I’m just curious as to why Kirby did not sue the crap out of Marvel while he was alive?

I agree that he absolutely deserved to get a financial piece of the characters he brought to life, while he was alive, but this all seems like it’s just a greedy lawyer who could care less about his clients and just wants to cause enough ripples so he could pocket some cash in a litigation suit.

It’s funny how they are suing for the really popular heroes and not anything else. Why wouldn’t they sue DC for all the characters Kirby created for them? I’m assuming because they don’t generate enough money that is worth their notice. I think it’s just greed, pure and simple.

They wouldn’t know what to do with the characters if they were to reclaim them. And then all comic book fans would bitch about it and then Kirby’s legacy would be dragged through the mud.

These people should get real jobs and stop looking for handouts. My father instilled that lesson in me a long time ago and I’ve never looked back saying “woe is me.”

Let’s not forget for a moment that this is first and foremost a visual medium.If you see a comic for the first time what will get you to take notice of it??? Words on the cover OR the art on it??? And if you want to go one step further will you take time to look at a new book you never saw before if the hero has not a great look? Probably not!!! Sure that after seeing the art,what will probably make you come back for more will be the writting but how many books with a good team of writer/artist did lose a lot of business after losing the artist (without the artist being replaced by another good or great one)??? Publishers try from time to time cheating by giving us only a great writter WITHOUT a great artist but what wins everybody over is a great writer/great artist team-up!!!!! So even if Mr.Lee is a great creator you MUST NOT forget that without equally if not greater imaginative minds on the art (Seeing as most of the time the artists came with a big part of the look of each hero) he would not be there in the first place!! It IS a cooperative effort between artist/writter and MUST be considered as much!!!!

Kirby did some great work and some not so great work. It was his job, plan and simple. He got paid for it end of story.
It took the work of thousands to make those caracters the big success they are now. Kirby got paid for his part just as Stan did.

If the Kirby kids want credit and money, maybe the should also work and create there own and go from there.

“It’s funny how they are suing for the really popular heroes and not anything else. Why wouldn’t they sue DC for all the characters Kirby created for them?”

1. The Kirby children aren’t suing; they’ve issued notifications of copyright termination, as the law specifies they do.

2. It wouldn’t be very practical, or particularly smart, to spend the time and money to try to reclaim copyrights for properties that don’t have much monetary value.

3. The terms of Kirby’s three-year DC Comics contract not withstanding — I don’t know what it specified — works created in that 1971-1975 period wouldn’t be eligible for copyright termination until at least 2028.

I’m of a split mind about this. I do think it’s fair for the Kirby heirs to seek some kind of royalty at the very least, if Marvel is making all of this money from Disney… if Stan’s getting millions so should they.

But I do think the Spider-Man claim is a little ridiculous. Aunt May and Uncle Ben, actually, appeared in a Ditko-drawn Strange Tales before Spider-Man started, anyway.

I guess the plan is to go for everything they can get, so when Marvel makes concessions, Spider-Man is off the docket but there’s still a lot of other stuff they can claim…

Terrell and others are speaking without really knowing the facts. The reason the families are only coming forward now, as opposed to 20 years ago, is simple: They couldn’t, for legal copyright reasons. Now, they can. So they are. And that’s their right. Don’t scorn them for it–but more importantly, don’t scorn them without knowing what you’re talking about.

So NO Mr.Lee you are NOT the sole creator of all these heroes and villains!!! And YES Mr.Ditko (And to a lesser degree Jack Kirby) IS as much the creator of Spider-Man than you are!!! And NOT because you say that IF it can make Mr.Ditko feel better you agree to say that he is the co-creator of Spider-Man (Saying it so we feel you almost give co-creator mention to Mr.Ditko as a charity gesture,letting us know first that you feel in your heart of heart that YOU are truly the sole creator of Spider-Man).What a cheap way to go,I REALLY am ashamed of you Mr.Lee!!! And I sincerely hope that Mr.Ditko will also try to get a part of what is truly his in the first place (But I sincerely doubt it!)!!!!!

More uninformed rants from people who don’t understand what this case is about. Some of them even think it’s a lawsuit.

Hundreds of people who had nothing to do with the creation of these wonderful characters have made millions of dollars off them. One may even make a billion. That’s not greed, right?

However, if the children of one of most important creators want the share to which their father was legally entitled, that’s greed?

I don’t understand that definition of the word greed. If you get nothing and want something, is that greed?

Kirby always claimed that he proposed the basic idea of Spider-Man. I wasn’t there when it happened and neither were any of you. You don’t know that it isn’t true. If the heirs can’t prove it, then they’ll drop Spider-Man from the filing. What’s the big deal?

I would like to see all these anonymous people who think they know what’s in the hearts of everyone tell us who they are and how they know these things. It’s easy to sling mud and make unsupported claims when you’re anonymous.

These arguments against the Kirby family are ludicrous.

They are basically filling the appropriate paperwork to revert character rights for which the Kirby estate is entitled to. (Unless the deal made in return for Kirby’s original art precludes this, which we don’t seem to know yet.)

You can make a more a far more convincing argument as to the real wrong that Disney has done to the copyright system in the US with their extreme support of the Sonny Bono copyright extension act.

Look in the end Disney will write a check to the Kirby family, because that’s simply the way Hollywood takes care of such issues.

strangerthantruth writes…

“Its True. Kirby did create Spiderman. Its blatantly obvious by looking at the cover to th FLY comic book. Stan Lee just tweeked it, realized it was gonna be a huge hit, and had Ditko draw so he could claim the character was his. Stan Lee is a thief.”

Hahahahahahaha! The cover looks like a Kirby cover because Kirby drew it! But Ditko designed the look of the character. And Lee came up with the core concept — the concept that was completely groundbreaking at the time. An outcast teenager filled with angst gets great power. He then proceeds to let his ego get the best of him and use the power for himself. This in turn indirectly causes the death of his beloved uncle. He then realizes that with great power comes great responsibility and he sets out to do good. But he still has to balance his not very good social life and fiscal standing and sick aunt. The spider part, while great fun, was the least relevant part of the idea. And once you had characters based on bats, and cats, picking another animal (ant man anyone?) wasn’t such an original move.

Then Killing Strike writes..

“So NO Mr.Lee you are NOT the sole creator of all these heroes and villains!!! And YES Mr.Ditko (And to a lesser degree Jack Kirby) IS as much the creator of Spider-Man than you are!!! And NOT because you say that IF it can make Mr.Ditko feel better you agree to say that he is the co-creator of Spider-Man (Saying it so we feel you almost give co-creator mention to Mr.Ditko as a charity gesture,letting us know first that you feel in your heart of heart that YOU are truly the sole creator of Spider-Man).What a cheap way to go,I REALLY am ashamed of you Mr.Lee!!! And I sincerely hope that Mr.Ditko will also try to get a part of what is truly his in the first place (But I sincerely doubt it!)!!!!!”

I assume you are referring to the Ditko documentary where Lee makes it clear that while he’s happy to say he considers Ditko the co-creator of Spidey, at heart, the original idea was his and so on some basic level he created the character. I find it hard to disagree. Was Ditko integral in bringing Lee’s vision to life and adding a million important things to it? Of course. It was a great collaboration and we’re all the better for it.

Similarly, did Ditko create Dr. Strange? Yes. He plotted and drew the first issue and gave it to Stan to add dialogue. Would it have worked as well without Stan? Probably not. Steve’s dialogue is pretty awful (try reading Mr. A.) Just like I’m sure Stan’s drawings would be.

In Alter Ego issue 74, the Stan Lee issue, they reprint an interview Stan did with Ted White (from a movie fanzine called Castle of Frankenstein from 1968.) And in it he goes more than out of his way to talk about the contributions of Jack and Steve and how important they were to making Marvel successful. But in non-fanzines, in magazines and newspapers that came out around that time that wanted to put a colorful character at the center of their article, the articles would give all the credit to the showman that is Stan. He didn’t write those articles. He didn’t choose how they presented the facts. Much like when a hit movie comes out, the director gets all the credit (critics love the auteur theory.) Even if the director didn’t come up with the story or premise that got people into the theaters they get the credit for it. And similarly is a movie line is quoted, its usually attributed to the actor who delivered it, and not the writer. Both the director and actor add tons to the original script, but they didn’t create it. They interpreted it.

As time went on, and Ditko did the plotting too on Spidey, that was no longer the case (that he was interpreting Stan’s ideas) and at that point Stan was more often than not interpreting Steve’s ideas (and in the F.F. Jack’s ideas) But in the original creation it seems it was Stan’s. (And given how many books Stan was writing he had to work this way, and he wisely gave geniuses like Kirby and Ditko room to go nuts.)

Dean, in one breath you complain about how “hundreds” of people who had nothing to do with the creation of these characters have made a ot of money from them, and yet in the next breath you see nothing wrong with other people, Kirby’s descendants, who also had nothing to do with the creation of these characters, getting money from them.

How can you justify such a hypocritical position?

There’s nothing hypocritical there at all. Countless people have made tons of money off characters that Kirby created or cocreated. I didn’t complain about that. It’s just a fact. None of the people here now slandering the Kirby family have ever had a problem with that.

Then along comes Kirby’s family trying to claim the share that Jack should have had all along. Suddenly, all these anonymous people are outraged. How dare Jack’s family try to take some of those profits away from Disney and Sony and all those companies and executives who had nothing to do with the creation of X-Men and the Hulk?

That’s who they’re defending. If the Kirby family doesn’t get any money off all this then it goes to people none of us have ever heard of. It goes to people who had nothing to do with creating some of our favorite comics. It means that someone who had nothing to do with creating the characters will make 20 million instead of 30 million.

I think a lot of people have gotten very rich off those characters over the years and many more will make millions off them in the future. I think Kirby should have been one of them and since he isn’t here, his share ought to go to his family like he always wanted.

I made a typo in the above. I meant to write that if the Kirby family doesn’t get its share, someone who had nothing to do with creating the comics will make 30 million instead of 20 million.

Wow. First the Siegels and Shusters and now the Kirbys. Will these people STOP!!?!?!??!

They really have ABSOLUTELY NO CLAIM to Spider-Man. he didn’t help create the character, Steve Ditko did.

I’m all for writers and artists getting whats rightfully theirs, but the Kirbys seem more like opportunists than anything.

When it comes to the Kirbys, the Joker said it best. They are like dogs chasing cars. Once they catch one, they won’t know what to do with it.

So … Spider-Man’s the car?

What I want to know is, which kids are these? If it’s Kirby’s twice removed cousins on his sister’s side, then I say this is definitely a ‘cash grab’. However, I can only assume Kirby himself would be thrilled to know that his own children and grandchildren could finally benefit in a HUGE way from all of his hard work.

I’m sorry but I think this is ridiculous. Jack Kirby had very little to do with Spider-Man so why the crap would his family deserve a penny? Is it just coincidence that Spider-Man is Marvel’s most popular character? I think not. They have a shot at other titles but not this. I see where your coming from Dean and you are right when you say many of the early writers & artists were done wrong….but to me it get’s to the point where I have to ask when does it end? How many more cases will we have in a couple years? The problem I have with Kirbys family is that I doubt any of them has even read one of Jack’s comics. I think they saw wat the Siegal’s got and deceided to take a shot at it. If im right then honoring Kirbys memory has nothing to do with it….they just want money. Now you may say it’s not right for me to guess their intentions but the fact that their going after Spider-Man shows you alot. Any real comic book fan could tell you that Stan Lee and Steve Ditko created that book.

Well, which Kirby kids are these? If these are his own children and grandchildren, I can only assume that Kirby himself would be thrilled to see them finally benefit in a HUGE way from all of his hard work.

The Kirby family in this case is Jack’s four children and two grandchildren. I met one of Jack’s daughters at one of the annual Kirby panels at San Diego. The person here saying that they have no interest in Kirby’s comics doesn’t know what he’s talking about.

Any good father would want their kids to have a better life than they did, and work hard to provide for their kids. I’m disgusted at all the cynical bulls**t being posted here, comparing Kirby’s own children to a pack of wild dogs. Kirby no doubt loved his kids and worked his ass off to provide for them the best he could. He probably wasn’t motivated to co-create the Hulk etc. to please a bunch of aging fanboys. It’s more likely that he did it so he could provide for his family. So In a way, you can thank those kids for all of Kirby’s creations.

I think we could solve all of these issues very easily….stop allowing dead people without dependants to pass on their money. How much less would we all have to pay in taxes while we’re alive if anything left over when you died was turned over to the state? While the parent is alive they can use their money to give you all sorts of advatages such as high end educations and cushy positions in their company etc. Once they are dead you should no longer benefit from their liquid estate. Period. I know this is a more complicated issue than I am making it out to be but there is certainly a way to get closer to what I am talking about and further away from all of these free rides that children of rich people receive.

The idea that these kids are entitled to anything is a joke. The argument has been made on this board that other people profit off of the characters so the Kirby kids should too. What isn’t stated there is that those WORK FOR IT!!!! Sure they didn’t create it but they promote it, market it, continue to draw it, run the company that publishes it or any of the other hundreds of jobs required to keep the creators character in the public eye. Again….they WORK for their money. These kids haven’t done a thing and I am shocked at all of the people that would defend them.

In our current legal environment can they sue for money? Absolutely. Does that mean they deserve it? Absolutely NOT!!!!

I would also add that going back and acting like they got ripped off is a joke. THEY RIPPED OFF THEMSELVES IN EVERY INSTANCE. No one held a gun to the heads of these people. They didn’t respect their own creation enough to hold out for more money. Can I blame them? No. Do I feel sorry for them? Yes. Are they entitled to re-write the contract they signed because what they sold a character that was turned into something far greater (through the work of thousands of people who didn’t create it BTW)? NOT A CHANCE!!!!

I have 2 kids of my own and when I am done raising them and release them into the world you better believe they will know how to earn off of their own hard work not retroactively off of mine. If not then they will struggle on their own just like everyone else has to.

This is BS. Period.

Given Kirby’s insane workhorse career, I’m guessing he taught his kids the discipline of hard work. Too bad they didn’t really get to enjoy the full benefits of that hard work growing up, though. Kirby made good money in comics. He had the highest page rate in the industry for many years, and I don’t think he ever went without work. But meanwhile, his creations were already making millions of dollars in merchandise and film, even back in the ’70s.

And btw, I have kids too. Parenthood doesn’t end when they turn 18. You’ll see.

money grubbing leechs. The Spiderman claim is proposterous.
as for the rest, I want 3 things to happen

1 : I want Joe Simon and Stan Lee to comment on this, since they cocreated these characters

2 : I want the Kirby family to sue DC, after all, Darkseid, among other things.

3 : I want Marvel/Disney to just settle. Yeah, I personally believe that these kids are nothing but money grubbing leechs, but considering the claim, and considering the lawyers, and considering what happened with DC and Superman, I think M/D should just settle, give them a percentage for the origional works, not the current stuff, and give them a movie percentage. It’ll save a ton of drama, and heartache, and annoyances.

you know what. Maybe I should sue the United States for some land from the Louisiana Purchase. Considering I am one of the decendants of Mayweather Lewis, I am entitled to millions of American Dollars because of what they mapped out! *Leech Leech Leech*

I’m amused by the sheer number of psoters here who scream “Kirby had nothing to do with the creation of Spider-Man!”. Did they even read the post?

Why are people pissed about heirs getting in on this? A creator rights victory is a creator rights victory, and I can’t think of anyone in the comics industry who deserves to be taken down a peg, okay in this case, ruined more than Stan Lee…

This better get to trial, considering the fact that we can’t count on Ditko to ever set the record straight in a meaningful way…

If Stan Lee, underoath, has to describe his actual role at Marvel in the 60s and in effect derail the train of delusion he’s been riding on the American public regarding the creations of Kirby, Ditko, Wood, & countless other artists it would be true justice for American comics as a whole and I wouldn’t have to groan everytime someone attributes him as a creator of anything other than “Ravage 2099″…

Take it to em’, Kirby-Kids!

To all the haters bashing the Kirby family as no talent money grubbing leeches your missing the point- Jack Kirby was NEVER compensated for the EVENTUAL NET WORTH of the characters he outright created or collaborated upon. His kin have every right to go after a piece of the pie Jack baked then for a fair price but was later found to have a MUCH higher value. He provided a modest upper middle class lifestyle for his family working practically seven days a week, 12+ hours a day. For other’s profit to vastly exceed Jacks estate for his own labor is just criminal.

Spurgeon called it when he referred to the bulk of the Kirby family-bashing responses as a “heady combination of fear, fanboy entitlement and comics boosterism” (http://www.comicsreporter.com/index.php/more_on_kirby_heirs_copyrights/)

Also, the Kirby family cannot file reclamations on the DC characters yet. As noted previously by Kevin and by Nat Gertler here (http://www.gertler.com/nat/tv/?p=1425) “…the most notable Kirby’s DC creations (the Fourth World material, The Demon) are too new for them to be legally reclaimed this way yet.”

Someone said “I see where your coming from Dean and you are right when you say many of the early writers & artists were done wrong….but to me it get’s to the point where I have to ask when does it end? How many more cases will we have in a couple years?”

It ends when all the legal claims have been made and handled. The court is not going to say gee, comic fans are getting upset about all these writers and artists getting their rights so we’d better stop allowing that. The Kirby family has every legal right to do what they’re doing. Rights do not stop because someone thinks too many people are getting the chance to fight for what is rightfully theirs under the law.

How are you hurt by any of this? The comics are still coming out. No one has cancelled a Marvel movie. This may all get settled in a few months and the only thing that will change is that some of the money that characters Kirby helped start will go to his family instead of to Disney. I do not see why it matters to you or anyone where the money goes.

On the DC side, Challengers of the Unknown would be eligible for a copyright reversion. If the process works as I remember (eligible after N years, and every Y years thereafter), then several of the characters he worked on during the 1940’s (Guardian and the Newsboy Legion, Manhunter [unless that was actually a revamp, like his Sandman work), Boy Commandos) would also be eligible at some point.

As someone pointed out, lawyers aren’t doing this for free, so there’s got to be some expectation that the copyrights retrieved have some significant market value. I would think that the Challs are a concept that is very movie-friendly – four talented individuals in different areas of endeavor come together after seemingly miraculously surviving a plane crash, and investigate the odd corners of the world. A little bit A-Team, a little bit X-Files/Fringe, maybe a little bit Indiana Jones.

However, would DC fight to retain the copyright? They’ve published Kirby’s CHALLENGERS work in two formats in the past ten years(Archives, Showcase), and a third format’s certainly a possibility (an Omnibus with trade dress to match the Fourth World, Demon, Losers, and Sandman books). However, nothing much new in recent years, though DC probably has a new proposal to revive the concept (if not the characters) at least once a year.

All the people posting attacks here on the Kirby family are anonymous. How about if some of you who feel so strongly about this show the courage to sign your real name and tell us what you do for a living? I work in a bookstore and I’m attending college.

I’ve seen the original cover that Ditko did for AF 15 printed several times, marvel tales 137 comes to mind,and its by Ditko.Kirbys was a reinterpetation of it, Im sure after lee asked him do do one also, in its place.I seem to recal reading, that what Kirby submited, was basicly the fly#1 with a few alterations. I find both lee and Ditko have some class over any ownership of the characters, but if alive, I dont think Kirby would. He got rather bitter in his last years, and had to many trying to ignite a conflect with him ,Lee and marvel.

To Big Money BG:

“All I know is, on one side I see a company and a man, Stan Lee, who in his 70’s-or-older is still out there as excited as ever about the product, participating and generally being a positive voice for the Industry as a whole. Then I see Kirby’s Family, not giving a damn about the characters or the fans that love them, demanding a piece of the pie they had nothing to do with.”

Stan Lee was receiving a million dollar a year salary from Marvel, for doing pretty much nothing but representing the company. He got paid 7 figures, which is why he was “still out there as excited as ever about the product”. You pay me a million dollars a year and I’ll go out and promote Nascar for the rest of my life, that’s all I’m sayin’.

“In 2005, Lee filed a lawsuit against Marvel for his unpaid share of profits from Marvel movies, winning a settlement of more than $10 million.”

So there’s that, too.

I’d love it if the Kirby family gets a million a year payout the Stan does. That seems fair to me. For as long as the characters are in use. Compared to the four billion just paid, its nothing.

And for all of you Lee-backers, get a load of this almost-damning clip of Stan…

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p4z7xuDhMeg

Kevin said: “Why are Lee’s contributions more important than Kirby’s or Ditko’s or Heck’s?”

I agree with that, although I think the Kirby connection to Spidey is bullsh*t. Still, it’s interesting that you don’t see Stan trying for the same copyrights/cash grab that the Kirby family is. I haven’t seen any heirs of Ditko (if there are any) trying this either (at least not yet). Now, I realize that Stan’s well-compensated by Marvel… I’d say the families of Ditko and Kirby probably deserve something similar (though I don’t think the Kirbys should see a nickel for Spidey), insofar as the law allows that they do.

It sort of irks me that descendants who had nothing to do with the creation of the characters can do this, but the law says they can. Disney has deep pockets, so they can/should probably settle with the family. Pay ‘em off, get it done with, move on if you can.

Wow, this could be a mess.

I think we should look at what will be happening in the Superman case, because I think that one is going to be a big problem for DC and may end badly for everyone.

“Still, it’s interesting that you don’t see Stan trying for the same copyrights/cash grab that the Kirby family is.”

In 1998 Stan Lee signed a new contract in which he assigned all character rights to Marvel. He receives a salary of up to $1 million a year and 10 percent of movie and television profits (Lee later sued to get his share of those profits, and Marvel settled with him in 2005 for $10 million).

“Big Money B.G” said, responding to me:
“Oh, and to lovely nicholas who said Kirby/Ditko were the real talents? Yes, because the Kirby-written “Fourth World” was SO successful, but that Spider-Man and X-Men stuff that Stan WROTE? Whatever happened to those characters?”

well, considering that Jack’s Fourth World characters/concepts have been integrated into the DC universe with almost no change from how they were when they were originally created (and have become more and more “important” as the years go by, and the X-Men book featuring the characters written by Stan Lee (originally) was canceled, I’d say that that, once again, Jack was the real talent. The X-Men were not popular until Giant Size X-Men #1 completely changed the team…featuring characters NOT created by Stan Lee.

And while I admit that I love the Lee/Kirby FF run, and the Lee/Ditko Spider-Man run, I can tell you: Lee’s dialogue is unbearable – if the books didn’t look like they do, they’d be just like every other bad 1960’s super-hero book…say, like the pre-Claremont/Cockrum/Byrne X-Men.

Um…the X-Men book that was originally

Please ignore the last sentance; I need to do a better job of proofreading before I hit “publish.”

Wow! I really do need to give some respect these other posters who also think that history is important. Big ups, fellow purists!

Now, now. I would agree if Lee and/or Ditko tried to get the rights for Spider-Man, but Jack Kirby?

Lee claims that he had the original idea of a teen with spider-based powers and submitted it to Kirby. Joe Simon says that Kirby gave Lee old pages from their (Simon and Kirby) “Spiderman” character which eventually became the Fly (moreover he says those pages were not from Kirby, but C.C. Beck!). Eventually he is taken from the project and replaced by Steve Ditko, who dumps quite literally EVERYTHING but the basic concept (teenager with spider-powers, which Lee claims it’s his idea) and does the Spider-Man we know and love. Kirby eventually draws the cover, a last minute replacement of the original Steve Ditko cover which STILL exists and has been reprinted many times.

So who created the darn thing? It does not look it was Kirby to me, that’s for sure!

His estate can get the Fantastic Four, the original X-Men, the Hulk, Marvel’s Thor, Silver Surfer and all else, but the Spider-Man claim is preposterous in my opinion!

Best,
Hunter (Pedro Bouça)

I think that if I created a money making legacy that I could predict my family live comfortably of off, I would pursue it.

The point of Jack working so hard all those years was to provide for his family.

If the law gives them the opportunity to realize some of the profits on what Jack created then more power to them.

“Still, it’s interesting that you don’t see Stan trying for the same copyrights/cash grab that the Kirby family is.”

Stan is still on the Marvel payroll receiving 7 figure amounts. He also was a staff employee when he and Jack created the comics so his legal situation may be different.

Maybe it isn’t. Maybe he will file the same kind of claims. The Kirby family has only announced that they will file for copyrights on Fantastic Four when the copyright comes up for renewal in 2013. Stan has plenty of time to file for the same thing. He may be waiting to see what happens with the Kirby family before he does.

I haven’t seen any heirs of Ditko (if there are any) trying this either (at least not yet).

Steve Ditko has no heirs because he is still alive.

He may also be watching to see what happens.

I think it’s funny how people are freaking out about the Kirby’s intention of terminating the copyrights to certain Marvel characters. If the Kirby’s are successful, you’d think the money was coming directly out of their pockets. The money will come from several major companies and not from the fans so relax. Granted this legal matter could delay movies and might possibly have Disney/Marvel reconsisder making some movies because of profit sharing. Although, the whole purpose for the Disney purchase was to exploit the characters. I don’t think that any settlement will alter their plans too greatly. Last point that has been mentioned by another person, what would Jack want? He would, of course, want his children to benefit from his hard work. Let’s look at this in another way. If my mom dies should I not be able to inherit her house? I never made one mortgage payment but shouldn’t I get a share of her assests? If Jack was alive he would certainly be issuing the terminations of the copyrights. I just hope Disney/Marvel is smart enough to agree to a settlement in a reasonable amount of time.

The way things are in the legal world, what seems to be a great precident setting victory, can easily be overturned by a judge. I speak of the supes heirs victorywhich in turn, would reflect on this case.. Anyway, this could go on, for many, many years, costing many millions of bucks in legal fees, and in the end, end in agonizing defeat for the Kirbys.Disney has some of the best lawyers in the world,and the deep pockets to pay them.They could drag this out so long, that all of Kirbys kids die of old age.

Joshua Nelson writes that the clip from the Ditko documentary is damning to Lee. I see it as a pretty clear argument that Lee is right. The core concept of the book was his. Ditko added to it in huge ways. It may very well have been a failure with another artist, as Lee admits, but it would still be his concept– his idea. Like the core concept of the Hulk was his — and it was initially a failure, even with Kirby’s awesome art.

To make a ridiculous comparison, I enjoyed the Kenneth Branagh filmed version of Hamlet quite a lot. He directed and starred it, but he didn’t create the character.

Then nicholas writes…

“Big Money B.G” said, responding to me:
“Oh, and to lovely nicholas who said Kirby/Ditko were the real talents? Yes, because the Kirby-written “Fourth World” was SO successful, but that Spider-Man and X-Men stuff that Stan WROTE? Whatever happened to those characters?”

well, considering that Jack’s Fourth World characters/concepts have been integrated into the DC universe with almost no change from how they were when they were originally created (and have become more and more “important” as the years go by, and the X-Men book featuring the characters written by Stan Lee (originally) was canceled, I’d say that that, once again, Jack was the real talent. The X-Men were not popular until Giant Size X-Men #1 completely changed the team…featuring characters NOT created by Stan Lee.

And while I admit that I love the Lee/Kirby FF run, and the Lee/Ditko Spider-Man run, I can tell you: Lee’s dialogue is unbearable – if the books didn’t look like they do, they’d be just like every other bad 1960’s super-hero book…say, like the pre-Claremont/Cockrum/Byrne X-Men.

Um…the X-Men book that was originally”

Lee’s dialogue might be dated, but at the time it was groundbreaking. It provided immense characterization and turned what had always been one-dimensional archetypes into two-dimensional characters (I’d argue Claremont then showed you could make them three-dimensional.) And he provided the original core concepts for the main characters of their titles (with the exception being Dr. Strange.) This changed as time went on, of course, as the books were popular and the artists started writing the plot too as Stan got too busy (he was writing almost the entire line.) The artists added a ton to these core concepts, that’s why its a collaboration, but the original ideas were Stan’s. Not sure why that upsets people so much.

Your argument that the New Gods surviving and becoming more important over time makes little sense. The Fourth World books all got cancelled. There’ve been several attempts to publish new versions of them over the years (the ones by Byrne and Simonson being the best) but all have failed to catch on. Most of the core concepts that Lee came up with for the Marvel line — heroes with human flaws — have survived as monthly books. And yes, all these core concepts were made much better by his genius collaborators who are entitled to dough from Disney.

The idea that Lee had little to do with the books and was just a dialogue writer is idiotic. As is the idea that Ditko or Kirby were unimportant.

Like I said above, I hope the Kirby estate gets a good million a year for as long as Disney is making money off his work.

Its amazing how little some of you know the history. Thanks to those who replied who did!

Greg Theakston wrote a detailed history on the who’s and why’s of the creation of Spider-Man and why many hands were involved and why Ditko deserved the majority of the credit but not it all.

And Kirby did fight Marvel over his art, but had no legal standing when alive to fight the copyright retrieval. Now his heirs do.

Listen up all of the children of any comic creators. Your father or mother created the characters as a work for hire. You, the children did not create anything or was involved. This is the biggest BS I have ever seen. I hope the judges get some sense and not rules for the children that did not do anything and are just greedy.

Haha, awesome! Suck it Disney!

Man reading the vast amount of uninformed comments here is enough to make my head split in two.

Lets bullet point a few things here.

* Everyone here who is wasting their breath calling the Kirby family leeches and money grabbers and all of these other derogatory names are doing nothing but defending the vast corporations that took advantage of Jack Kirby and hundreds of other artists over the decades.
Why would you defend a company? That is as ignorant as not wanting to fix Healthcare so that the Insurance Companies (who have zero to do with medicine other than adding to the overall cost) can still make huge profits off of your suffering. Ignorant.

*Jack Kirby is well documented regarding his fallout with Marvel and how they repeatedly deceived him into returning. Giving him more control over his work and whatnot.
The Fact is, that Jack repeatedly returned to MARVEL/DC because drawing Comics was all he could do. He even worked in Animation creating some of your favorite cartoon characters.

*Jack did not live long enough to post the cancellation of copyright notices. So his family is doing it now.

*Jack CREATED 95%of the characters that came out of the 60’s MARVEL boom. I am not talking about Stan passing him a plot, I am talking about how Kirby Drew all of this stuff on his own and put it in front of Stan.
Did any of you know that ALL of Kirby’s pages had extensive notes and plot points written by Kirby in the gutters of each page?
Did any of you know that many times Kirby would turn in fully drawn and plotted books for Stan to script?

*Jack created the characters and looks of the Fantastic Four before the “MARVEL AGE” began. Stan made them a family which in itself was a new concept for comics along with the idea that the characters should have “Feet of clay.” Flaws.

*Jack created practically every Hero and Villain who appeared in FF from issue #1 to Issue #102 by the way FF was responsible for the first appearances of about 75% of the current Marvel Universe.

*The UNIQUE thing about Spider-Man that made him so huge was not that he was a teenager who had personal problems so much as it was the fact that until that moment, a teenager had always only been a sidekick. A vehicle used so the “kids” who read the books could relate to the Superheros.

*None of you, unless you are Mark Evanier have any clue in the least at how involved Jack was in the Creation of Spidey. But I will bet dollars to donuts that his kids probably have all of the original artwork that was used to flesh out the concept of Spider-Man in their possession.

*At DC, Jack wrote and drew Superman and also Jimmy Olson and Green Arrow. But they had Curt Swann draw all of the Superman faces because they did not like how Kirby drew his face.

*The fourth world that Jack created and wrote were concepts so far ahead of their time that people could not grasp some of the concepts. Especially in the very religious 60’s and 70’s. The characters were GODS not Superhero’s therefore there was no moral center that people could relate to. It was all shades of gray which would have been considered Grim and Gritty by todays views.
They all came from Jacks views and questions about religion and the concept of GOD.

*The fourth world creations of Jack Kirby are now so intrinsic to the DC universe that it really could not exist today without those characters within it. (Basically they finally caught up with Jack)

*Jack did work for every Publisher on practically every subject that American comics have done comics for.

* Stan was a snappy writer for his time. He came up with some cool concepts and ideas (ex; It was Stan who came up with the idea of Cap throwing his shield) He even came up with the Novel Idea of characters who were born with thier powers. “The MUTANTS” later called the X-MEN. So he asked Jack to come up with some characters for the book.
Those characters were CYCLOPS, MARVEL GIRL, ICEMAN, ANGEL, BEAST. all created by Jack.

*It was Jack, and not Stan or anyone else who has had the largest impact on comics as a whole yet never received anything for it.
Just a couple of examples.
Jack created:
-The Splash page
-Double page spread
-the Direct Market (during his first falling out with the main publishers Kirby created “DESTROYER DUCK” The first character and book sold in the direct market which did not exist until that moment.
-GODS as comic characters (all FOURTH WORLD Characters)
There are many more things that can be attributed to Jack but you can look them up on your own.

*Many of you who are bad mouthing Jacks kids and say they care nothing for his legacy don’t seem to realize that both his Son and his Daughter have brought some of his lesser known creations back to the public consciousness by releasing many of his early independent unpublished work to the market. Featuring inks and in some cases fully drawn pages from modern major artists.

* The only reason that Jack fought hard to get his artwork back yet but not the characters is because getting his artwork back was the easiest course to take because of all of the legal precedent. Additionally he did not get ALL of his artwork back. Some was supposedly destroyed or given away or just claimed to be missing.

*When Jack came back to MARVEL in the 70’s he created, wrote and drew a lot of books that actually did very well such as 2001: A space odyssey and Machine man.
During that time, many characters were created yet only Jacks seem to have a continual existance in current comics.

So while you sit and knock Jack or his heirs, you have to remember that even though it was Stan who gave Jack the Moniker “The King of Comics”, it was Jacks impact on the industry as a whole that caused EVERYONE who works professionally in the Comics field to respectfully proclaim him as The KING of Comics.
There would be no MARVEL comics without Jack Kirby. No other Artist or creator has ever had the impact that he has either in creation or creative output.

His heirs deserve anything that they can get from the Corporations that have profited billions of dollars off of his genius.

If you people are going to throw your personal and energetic viewpoints into the mix here, at least do yourself and the rest of us a favor by doing some research first.

“Listen up all of the children of any comic creators. Your father or mother created the characters as a work for hire…”

Work-for-hire did not exist as a legal concept until 1976. Nothing done prior to that can be called work-for-hire. http://www.copyright.gov/circs/circ09.pdf

“But they had Curt Swann draw all of the Superman faces because they did not like how Kirby drew his face.”

No, not Curt Swan. Murphy Anderson primarily, but also Al Plastino.

Mike Wedmer; a few corrections:

“At DC, Jack wrote and drew Superman and also Jimmy Olson and Green Arrow. But they had Curt Swann draw all of the Superman faces because they did not like how Kirby drew his face.”

Curt Swan did not re-draw the Superman/Jimmy Olsen heads; it was Murphy Anderson and Al Plastino.

“Jack created:
-The Splash page
-Double page spread
-the Direct Market (during his first falling out with the main publishers Kirby created “DESTROYER DUCK” The first character and book sold in the direct market which did not exist until that moment.”

He didn’t actually create any of those things; the direct market existed before Destroyer Duck; Cerebus was definitely being published at the time (and had been for a few years), and the direct market was in place prior to that. As far as splash pages and double page spreads go, he can’t be credited with “creating” either one.

@ Terrell: “Let’s be honest though, where were they when Roger Corman was making the Fantastic Four movie? Where were they when the first Captain America movie was being made? I didn’t see Jack Kirby or his family out there talking about rights then because those movies were huge flops.”

Yeah, that MUST be it, the reason the Kirby family didn’t seek copyright termination in 1994 was because Corman’s movie was unsuccessful. It couldn’t POSSIBLY be because the Fantastic Four wouldn’t be eligible for copyright termination until 23 years later.

Maybe you should consider reading the entire article before you decide to reply to it.

Mike Wedmer,

Jack CO-created Destroyer Duck. It was co-created by the late Steve Gerber. As a way to protest how he was treated over his co-creation Howard the Duck. His lack of ownership or royalties for the popular character he created.

Nice of you to not mention Steve’s involvement and therefore take away his credit once again.

*SIGH*

And you think what made Spidey unique was his being a teen hero on his own? And not that he was filled with angst and faced everyday problems? We must’ve read different books. But anything to take away from Stan Lee getting credit, I suppose.

Stan’s original pitch for the Fantastic Four has been reprinted. It contains the ideas for the main four characters. Not sure why you don’t want to give him any credit. Obviously Jack had a ton to do with it — and as the book went on, he did indeed do the plotting too — and created a crapload of amazing characters and concepts (he was an imagination machine.)

I never read that Jack came up with all the original X-men characters on his own. Where’d you read that? If it’s true, it’s very cool. I’d heard it about Silver Surfer, and that seems backed up all over the place, but would love to read the X-men story.

I love the Fourth World characters. Incredibly original at every turn. The DC Universe could easily exist without them. Sorry.

I don’t get people not wanting Jack’s family to get tons of dough either. He had a huge part in the creation of our beloved Marvel universe. Pay the man.

Wow. That’s reaaaaally stretching it. It’s not like there’s a goldmine of characters Kirby was directly inolved in. Why waste time on this goose chase? If anyone Ditko could claim such a thing but he’s all ‘days work for a day’s pay’ and such. This is just stupid greed right here. No reason to go after Spider-man.

Plus Siegel and Shuster both worked on this. Kirby wasn’t working in a vaccum on these characters alone. Not that I think Lee gets too much credit already, but Kirby was not alone in creating these characters. Never mind the dozens and dozens of artists who made later stories that kept them alive and pushed them to where they are today.

I take back what I said about work-for-hire. It existed pre-1976. But the rules were different and it is not as clear what constitutes work-for-hire pre-1976 as it is post. Mea culpa.

Wow what a news surprise! What a bunch of crap in my opinion! Having read a lot about the creation of Spider-Man. It’s clear to me, that a Lee/Kirby Spider-Man WOULD NEVER have been the same as the Published Lee/Ditko version of Spider-Man that we got.

The Spider-Man we know today is a creation of Lee/Ditko, THIS VERSION is the successful one. THIS VERSION is a creation that the Lee/Kirby version never would have been.

Read the Ditko paperback “The Avenging World”. It has various articles about Spider-Man and comic book creation.

Did Lee/Kirby make an undeveloped Spider-Man idea? Yes.

Was the Lee/Kirby Spider-Man idea the same as the Lee/Ditko idea? No.

Key Question: Are there ENOUGH DIFFERENCES from the Lee/Kirby idea to qualify and say that the Lee/Ditko idea Qualifies as a Separate Creation, that stands on it’s own merits? YES!

Bottom Line: What Lee/Kirby made of Spider-Man was an idea that was never fully undeveloped.
The Spider-Man we know today is a Lee/Ditko creation that went a separate way, and stands as it’s own creation.

A Lee/Kirby Spider-Man WOULD NEVER have become the icon we know today.

I find this latest claim to be Kirby Heir GREED and Hubris. They assume that the Kirby Spider-Man idea is the same, and would have become the same thing. Reach the same fame. Become the same character we know today.

Anyone can talk. But I want them to back this claim up with proof, facts, documented evidence. Not hearsay, and just throwing allegations out there.

Brian from Canada

September 23, 2009 at 2:31 pm

All of you miss the point.

Copyright is intended to protect use of a work against profit by others. You can’t use Spider-Man panels or cartoon clips without permission. To use the logo or the symbol is something different: that’s trademark, and it is eternal for as long as the company is active (and a bit beyond that).

When Lee and Kirby were working for Timely/Marvel together, copyright was owned by the company. Hence the “work for hire” concept — they were hired to work for the company, and creation was part of that work. The legal language changed in the 70s when artists in the post-war era began to see real compensation lost to them because they didn’t control the rights.

Especially musicians. THAT is the key point.

You see, Disney was going to lose copyright on the early Mickey Mouse films. “Steamboat Willie” was coming to the end of its protection era and would fall into the public domain — at which point Joe Schmo could alter it and create a new product out of it.

Which Disney didn’t want. Disney couldn’t have. Disney wanted complete control of its characters to prevent adult versions of its characters that were (at least in the late 90s) the poster products for wholesome children’s entertainment. So, they had to do something.

The lobbied Congress. And they did it with friends.

IBM and Disney got an extension added to copyright. BUT the public didn’t care. In fact, they applauded the results — because of a man named Sonny Bono.

Sonny Bono, for those that don’t know, was a musician. He worked with a woman named Cher… you might have heard of her. They even had a few hits like “I Got You Babe.” And being a musician, Sonny knew all about how the record companies were screwing over musicians: until the mid-60s, NOBODY really knew about song ownership.

Music was owned by the companies. And they got the proceeds. And all the musicians got were lousy royalties that came from a long union fight.

So Bono put in a clause that states, before extension, there is a window in which the artist OR their immediate family can ask for the rights back. This means that people like Sean and Julian Lennon could ask for the rights to their dad’s songs, or that Sonny’s kid with Cher would be able to get his rights back that were owned by the record company.

The idea that comics could be involved was ludicrous — until Superman. Superman was created by Seigel and Shuster and sold to DC for an unbelivably small amount. Eventually, DC was shamed into giving their families a royalty check for the years they profited on it, but they were essentially screwed out of cash.

Now Kirby is the next one in line. Kirby’s case is different in two key respects: first, he wasn’t the only one creating these characters, and Lee’s locked his into Marvel for that hefty annual salary, so Marvel won’t have to worry about the loss of the characters; and, second, Kirby did them as an employee of Marvel — NOT as a freelancer in the way that the Superman duo did it.

HOW the courts interpret this, how the courts decide on the penalty (in Superman’s case, it’s only foreign revenues that were split, not North American), is something we still have to see. And unless Kirby is challenging the studios, the films are free and clear.

Because when a $100 million film makes $200 million at the box office in its first two weeks or so, the distributor only gets about $80 million from that — the other $120 million stays in the theatres. Then the distributor gets their cut (which is usually the studio, though in Iron Man’s case is was Paramount) before passing it down to the producer. The producer has to pay certain royalties and expenses from that. It takes a lot more to make a profit.

Kirby’s family has a right to see this as cash owed. How MUCH cash is dependent on the situations involved. (Just ask artists today about Italian reprints.) But it doesn’t say that Lee that wasn’t involved or that Kirby was x% involved — he either was or wasn’t, and will get the appropriate settlement based on that.

Brian from Canada writes “Kirby did them as an employee of Marvel — NOT as a freelancer in the way that the Superman duo did it.”

In the comments section on this story on the http://www.deadline.com website, Kurt Busiek wrote “Kirby was not an employee when the Marvel Universe was created. He was a freelancer.”

Since Mr. Busiek is an experienced professional who signs his name as opposed to an anonymous person who probably has no credentials in the industry, I think there’s a good chance Kirby was not an employee.

Comicbookblogger wrote “I find this latest claim to be Kirby Heir GREED and Hubris. They assume that the Kirby Spider-Man idea is the same, and would have become the same thing.”

A prominent person in the comic book industry wrote me that the Kirby family claim on Spider-Man is not based on this. It is based on an old contract Kirby had with Marvel that acknowledged he had made a contribution to the creation of Spider-Man.

HB wrote “Listen up all of the children of any comic creators. Your father or mother created the characters as a work for hire.”

If that is true then this case will never go anywhere. However if you read the deadline article I mentioned above you will see that the lawyer for the Kirby family is a powerhouse who has won many of these cases including the Siegel Shuster case and many more. I have trouble believing he would take on a case and lend his reputation to one that would get thrown out of court in two minutes.

As Tony Isabella wrote on another site “Just because a publisher says something is work for hire doesn’t mean it is work for hire”.

I would still like to see all these people who are so sure Kirby was doing work for hire quote from the contract that proves that. But of course none of them have seen Kirby’s contract.

Here.

Go read what Steven Grant has to say.

http://www.comicbookresources.com/?page=article&id=23047

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