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Online reaction has been noticeably subdued by a judge’s ruling last week that the family of Jack Kirby has no to claim to the copyrights of the characters he co-created for Marvel. Maybe it’s because a lot of people who’ve followed the case were disappointed but not exactly surprised. Or maybe, because the decision was in Marvel’s favor, there wasn’t outcry from the those readers whose chief concern is whether they’ll continue to get their monthly adventures of the Avengers and the Fantastic Four uninterrupted. Maybe both.
But Stephen R. Bissette, long an advocate for creators and creators’ rights, hasn’t been quiet. No, over the weekend the artist, perhaps best known for his collaboration with Alan Moore and John Totleben on Saga of the Swamp Thing, called on fans to draw inspiration from the woman who, dressed as Batgirl at Comic-Con International, increased pressure on DC Comics to address the number of female creators and characters in its September relaunch. (DC at last responded with, “We hear you.”) In short, he wants them to make next year’s Comic-Con “the least comfortable event Marvel or any fleeting participant in any product, movie, videogame, or anything derived from Jack Kirby’s Marvel legacy, should ever attend in the history of comicbook conventions.”
But the convention is nearly a year away. Bissette suggests that, in the meantime, fans should start by “simply pulling the plug on all individual support for any and all Kirby-derived Marvel ANYTHING (comics, movies, videogames, merchandizing). Now. Today. […] TELL THEM what you’re doing, and spend what you would have spent on Kirby-derived Marvel product on other product from other companies in their store.” He continues:
Speaking only for myself: I’ve had it.
I’m done with Marvel and all Marvel Kirby-derived product, period. No movies (I was planning to see Captain America this weekend; that’s forever off the table), no more comics from their Kirby legacy, nothing.
Bringing greater public shame/pressure to bear may or may not yield results, but removing further investment in their exploitation of the Kirby legacy—which is, undeniably, 85%+ of Marvel’s pantheon—will send a message.
It’s not hubris (I know my nickel isn’t anything of consequence), and it won’t mean a thing if I’m the only one doing it, but I’m doing it.
If more do it, it WILL mean something.
It’s a lengthy post, one well worth reading, in which he reveals he received a $45,000 check from Warner Bros.’ 2005 Constantine movie for a character he co-created 20 years earlier, and “can’t help but wonder why it is Kirby never saw anything close to that in his lifetime. I wonder why it is that DC’s comparatively progressive treatment, revising work-for-hire contracts willingly over time to take better care of its creators, isn’t being waved in Marvel’s legal team’s faces.”
(via The Comics Reporter, who has additional commentary)