Robot 6

Could Stan Lee’s garage contain a treasure trove of Silver Age art?

Fantastic Four #12

To promote its pop-culture memorabilia series Hollywood Treasure, Syfy has released video from Comic-Con International of an awed Stan Lee as he’s shown the complete original artwork from Fantastic Four #12 — pages he’s likely not seen in 47 years.

The footage, which clocks in at more than 12 minutes, is interesting for a couple of reasons. First, and most obvious, is Lee’s genuine excitement about the art and his admiration for the work of collaborator Jack Kirby. As he pores over the pages he realizes the notes aren’t Kirby’s but his own, which were usually erased in the production process.

Second, and by far the most interesting, is the suggestion that Lee’s garage could be the mother lode of Silver Age original art. Toward the end of the video, after Lee has gone, host Joe Maddalena tells his associates: “This is a great start to a great relationship. His guy was telling me — I said, ‘Does he have any artwork?’ He goes, ‘Boxes and boxes in the garage.’ I said, ‘What do you mean, garage?’ He goes, ‘Storage units full.’ I said, ‘Well, supposedly I’ve heard him say he doesn’t have anything.’ The guy said, ‘Storage units full of artwork.’ He goes, ‘He has no idea what he has. He’s never looked at it’.”

Maddalena, owner of Profiles in History auction house, hopes (naturally) to gain access to the art for appraisal. Watch the video after the break. Hollywood Treasure airs Wednesdays on Syfy.

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29 Comments

Wait, so the original art that Jack Kirby spent so long to get back was in Stan Lee’s “shed”… This isn’t going to end well.

I agree with Blue Saint.

If Stan does have this art and said/did nothing when one of his collaborators he admired wanted it back, he is a real dick.

I don’t think that the artwork shown in the clip is Stan Lee’s. That said, the idea that he has tons of original art, given that he was EIC at a time when Marvel didn’t return art, makes me wonder if any of the art was obtained at a time when no one realized original art’s value, and if the ownership of any of the art he has is a little cloudy.

On the other hand, I’m sure every comic artist on Earth has tried to gift Stan Lee with art, so who knows?

Before people race to judgment, perhaps we should wait and see what this is all about. True, if there is art that a co-collaborator had asked for and Stan did nothing or even thought “hey, now that you mention it, I may have some of your stuff”, then I will have lost a lot of respect for him. Having said that, It almost seems to be in fashion to bash Stan. Let’s give ‘The Man’ the benefit of the doubt people.

While I agree that we shouldn’t rush to judgment, on the face of things it doesn’t look good.

Not judging, just speculating. After all, his “guy” says, “He has no idea what he has. He’s never looked at it,” so it doesn’t sound like Stan has a meticulously crafted spreadsheet detailing his original art collection that he could consult when (hypothetically) deciding to screw over former collaborators.

And Blue Saint, for all we know that could be boxes and boxes of original art featuring Stan Lee Media characters.

I am not even saying Stan did anything on purpose, if anything he probably just packed the art up back in the 80′s when he moved out West never giving it a second thought. It is just going to look really bad if there happens to be any Kirby art in there.

I think I will not judge the man based on a secondhand reported statement from “his guy”.

http://robot6.comicbookresources.com/2010/03/kirby-heirs-sue-marvel-and-disney-for-stake-in-characters-profits/

“Lisa Kirby, serving as trustee for the Rosalind Kirby Trust, also alleges that Marvel didn’t return all of Jack Kirby’s original artwork in its possession — a bitter dispute that goes back decades — despite its claims to the contrary. The company’s alleged efforts to conceal the art are characterized as “willful, wanton, malicious, and oppressive, and justify the awarding of exemplary and punitive damages.”

Greg Finkelstein

November 5, 2010 at 10:21 am

This makes me sick if true. Kirby needed that artwork for his family’s livelihood and it was sitting in some garage… Come on. Show some respect for your collaborator… Or admit you’re wrong and hand it over to the family.

“It is just going to look really bad if there happens to be any Kirby art in there.”

Agreed. No matter what the ultimate truth is.

Greg, unless I’m mistaken, the FF artwork featured in the video is not Stan’s.

You’re right, Chad. It was assembled (presumably over a span of years) by a collector, and merely shown by Joe Maddalena to Stan Lee.

Besides, Isn´t Stan Lee entitled to some of that artwork? He was writer of it, afetr all. It doesn´t mean Stan Lee stole it, maybe Marvel gave him those after they started returning art. In any case, the information is not complete.

@ipm: i’m sure he was entitled to some of the artwork. Probably 50%.
But assuming he actually has a “shed full” of Kirby pages (which i don’t believe he does) he would have gotten way more of the remaining pages than Kirby, who got i believe less than a hundred pages back.

Just an odd thought: Is it 100% certain that the “he” referred to (who supposedly has all this tons and tons of artwork) is Stan Lee? Could the “he” be referring to the person who they got those original FF pages from?

Why would Stan Lee be entitled to Jack Kirby’s artwork?

Didn’t comic pros once (and maybe still) have a thing where the various members of the creative team would get a few pages from each book they worked on together? Not sure if that convention survived the increased interest in original art.

I don’t know if Stan is “the guy” that they’re referring to, or if Carlos is “the guy”. Carlos appears on the show prior to their meeting Stan, as the current owner of the art. The host says something similar PRIOR to meeting Stan… “This guy doesn’t know what he has.”

Before everyone starts jumping to conclusions….

I’ve been in Stan’s garage, and his shed, and his storage rooms, and most of his closets when I worked with him to sell his collection through Heritage. Yes, Stan had some art (the painted covers to SPECTACULAR SPIDER-MAN #1 and #2, the cover to AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #69 were the best pieces), but no Kirby, as I recall. To the best of my knowledge, Heritage sold the bulk of his value several years ago in a series of very well-publicized auctions. He likely has a bunch of original art from the SPIDER-MAN newspaper strip, but that’s most likely about it, unless he’s uncovered a treasure trove since I was there. Most of the Silver Age Kirby art that’s out there now came from the Tony Christopher collection that came to light about ten years ago, not from Stan. The FF #12 art that was seen on Hollywood Treasures wasn’t his, it belongs to an unnamed collector. Give the Stan-bashing a rest.

I know there are plenty of people out there who are ready to believe the worst about Stan at the drop of a hat, but after working with him and spending time with him, I can honestly tell you that there is no bigger fan of Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko on the planet. Stan didn’t deny Kirby his artwork, Marvel did, and to make an equivalency between Stan and Marvel, especially at the time of the artwork conflict when Stan was already on the West Coast, is ridiculous.

Just trying to provide some actual facts in response to the rhetoric.

@Elflord666:
back when publishers started returning artwork they used simple 50/50 splits between writer and penciller. Sometimes the inkers were included as well, making it 1/3 each.

This was despite that writers propably never touched the pencilled pages. But on the other hand inkers, colorists and letterers were left out most of the time as well.

I don’t know how it’s done today.

But anything is better than cutting up pages to hand out single panels to young visitors (as was done occasionally at DC in the 60s).

I don’t know why, but I can’t help to remember that someone donated the originals or Amazing Fantasy #15 to the Library of congress not long ago. Could it be related?

@Gnubeutel: Nowadays the artwork is usually split 2/3 for the penciler, and 1/3 for the inker. NOTHING for the writer. Which is your source to tell that back in the days when they started to return the artwork, it was split 50/50 between the writer and the penciller?

At one time in the eighties Marvel split artwork between the writer and the artist. I remember a story about Craig Russel getting the art for a Dr. Strange story he did, noticing that all the balloons had been pasted over the original art, and him scraping them off, dumping them in a paper bag and handing it to the writer saying “Here’s your share.”

Well, in fact, the ballons were the letterer’s share. The manuscript is the writer’s share.

@Ferran Delgado:
I read a lot of Back Issue, Comic Book Artist and similar magazines, but i can’t point out a source article to back up my statements. It’s just what i remember.

Just to clarify some mis-conceptions here.
As an art dealer who has been selling art since 1976, I can say the art was NEVER split 50/50 between the artist and writer. From late 74 to sometime in early 1979, the writer received only 2 pages per book. The balance was divided 2/3 penciller, 1/3 inker.
As far as P. Craig Russell’s Dr. Strange annual art, Craig received the entire issue back. When Wolfman complained he didn’t get his 2 pages, Craig removed the word balloons and sent them to Wolfman. No way was Russell giving Wolfman any art when Wolfman didn’t draw it.
Since the book was late, the word ballons were pasted down.
Kirby recieved more than 1000 pages from Marvel, not 100.

Thanks, Mitch.

Although I’m still shocked about the 2 pages that the writers received with no reason, imho.

Anyway, this hardly explain why Lee had the couple of Spectacular Spider-Man covers and the SPM #69 cover, unless they are gifts from Romita Sr. I wonder what John has to say about it, and if he had knowledgement of it. Only these three covers are worth more than 100k.

Mark Evanier reported Kirby received roughly 2000 pages from Marvel.

As reported in TCJ #105 at the time of Irene Vartanoff’s inventory of the original art in the Marvel warehouse the art for Fantastic Four #1 and #2, Hulk #1 and #2, Journey into Mystery (Thor) #83, and Amazing Fantasy #15 was missing.
Last year an anonymous donor gave the original art to Amazing Fantasy #15 to the Library of Congress. The donor, who was described as a man by the LOC curator, declined to have the art appraised, which meant the donation could not be used as an income tax deduction. The donor also told the LOC he had more art he might wish to donate.
Irene Vartanoff is quoted in TCJ #105. The quotes are from her, but her source is Brodsky.
“Covers were in big demand as incentives to doing business with Marvel. They sent 30 or 40 pages to Japan to help solidify business deals. Stan was always saying, ‘Oh, send me some Spider-Man pages.”
“Brodsky wouldn’t allow the issue-by-issue listing to fall into anyones hands. The art would have disappeared.”
Vartanoff added Brodsky warned her not to show the inventory list to Stan Lee, “I avoided showing the list to Stan Lee, out of concern he would requisition art for himself, or for people he wanted to give the art to.”

Recent activity Kirby Estate/Toberoff vs. Disney/Marvel can be seen here.
http://dockets.justia.com/docket/new-york/nysdce/1:2010cv00141/356975/
Note depositions are flying.

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