Robot 6

Conflicted about The Avengers? Here’s your solution

Many comics fans are struggling right now to find a workable position to take on the issue of creators’ rights. On one end of the spectrum are folks who have no problem boycotting everything Marvel and DC Comics do until past and present creators are treated fairly. On the other end are those who simply don’t give a crap and are all for corporations doing whatever they’re legally entitled to. Somewhere in between though are those of us who are torn between wanting to see creators treated fairly and being really super-excited to watch The Avengers. What are we to do about that?

My insistence on seeing a film seems really freaking petty when Chris Roberson is willing to give up work over these issues, but at the end of the day, I know I’m gonna go see that damned movie. My not seeing it won’t make a bit of difference to Jack Kirby’s family — and besides, what did Robert Downey Jr. ever do to me, anyway? And yet … Chris Roberson.

Fortunately, Jon Morris has an awesome solution. “So how about this?” he writes. “You’re probably going to go see The Avengers and, judging by the early reviews, you’ll probably enjoy it. How about — as a thank you to the creators who brought you these characters in the first place, who gave you something to enjoy so much — you match your ticket price as a donation to The Hero Initiative?”

Morris is a genius, and we should do what he says. I know I will, and not just my ticket price, but that of my wife and son, who are big fans of the Marvel movies. If you can afford to, maybe consider doubling your ticket price for a donation, just to cover someone else who doesn’t know about the creators’ rights issue or hasn’t heard of The Hero Initiative. The point is, if you care about creator rights, but don’t think that boycotting is the answer for you, donating however much you’re comfortable with to the support of those creators is an excellent idea.



Finally – an intelligent proposal suggesting something constructive instead of another ranting blog post against Stan Lee, DC, Marvel etc. I was not conflicted about seeing The Avengers, but will make a donation to Hero Initiative all the same. Thanks Jon and Michael.

I’m not going to be seeing the Avengers movie. Not because of this -creators rights- stuff but only because I have zero interest in it.

ditto what Skott said

talmidge mcgulliger

April 30, 2012 at 9:17 am

I applaud creators taking an ethical stand when it comes to having their name attached to a company they don’t agree and of course Jack deserves compensation but saying that just paying for to see the movie is somehow disrespectful to the original creators who aren’t getting credit is nuts. Is it disrespectful to the blacklisted writers when I got see a Warner Brothers movie? Is it disrespectful to the segregated African American leagues when I go see a major league baseball team? I donate to the hero initiative every time I go to a comic con and sometimes when I read about a creator in need it’s insulting to insinuate I should do it out of a guilty conscious because I went to the damn movies.

This is a fine idea by itself. I’m not sure that I buy into the idea of it as an “indulgence” for those who feel like purchasing tickets to the Avengers film will be an ethical “sin,” but 1) I don’t personally have the desire to see the movie so I’m not in a position to judge directly, 2) the world isn’t perfect and 3) I don’t think this makes the world appreciably worse in any way, while it obviously does involve a small but thoughtful step toward making it better. If that also makes people feel better, good enough, right?

Good enough.

nathan daniels

April 30, 2012 at 9:21 am

Excellent idea, and I will consider doing that. I was not conflicted, though. I applaud Roberson for taking the stand he felt he needed to take, but I don’t agree with everything he said. Still, my hat is off to him for putting his employment and livelihood on the line like that. He seems to be a great guy. The Watchmen characters are owned by DC, not Moore, and he signed the contract. As long as he uses public domain characters for his own purposes, then he’s basically doing the same thing he accuses DC of and doesn’t have a leg to stand on,as far as I’m concerned. While I think DC should own Superman out right, I do believe they should make a HUGE payment and an an annual royalty to the Siegel/Shuster estates, and do the same for the estates of Bob Kane, Bill Finger, Charles Moulton, Jack Kirby, and a few other of their major creators. And Marvel should definitely be doing the same for Kirby’s estate.


April 30, 2012 at 9:24 am

Really??? Are there people who is going to punish Disney and Marvel not seeing this picture??? Who they think they are, Marvel and Disney will not see the impact for such behavior… I’m from Mexico and what I can tell you is that this is great movie!!! Go to the cinemas and enjoy a good work!!!!

I’ve got a tangential question:
I don’t really have much interest in seeing the film, but I DO want to get my hands on quite a few Marvel Masterworks that feature work by Kirby. Does the Kirby estate get financial compensation for the sale of his reprinted works?

Also worthy of a donation, specifically to honor Kirby’s legacy… The Jack Kirby Museum (at present an online entity) is raising funds with the goal of having a physical ‘pop-up’ museum from Oct 2012 to Jan 2013. They’re looking at locations in New York’s Lower East Side, where Kirby grew up. This would mean having a physical space that NYCC attendees could visit, as well as tourists visiting NY during the busiest season of the year.

I love Kurt Busiek.

That is all.


Good question. I hope someone answers.

If the answer is no, I’d suggest using eBay or Amazon Marketplace or someplace else where you can get the book used (and cheaper). You won’t be putting any additional money in Marvel’s pocket, but you still get all that goodness.

What I want to see is the people who claim to be boycotting everything put out by a company because of a relationship, however tangential, to their cause ACTUALLY do a full on boycott. Disney has been no better than Marvel, which they now own, so boycott ALL of it. That’s not taking the kids to Disneyland, never seeing a Pixar (or is it Dreamworks, I can never remember which is owned by which), not watching ESPN or ABC, etc. Go big, or go home. ;-)

Matching the ticket price with a donation is a fantastic idea.

I’m just super surprised that there are even people visiting this site who say they have no interest in an Avengers movie. Sure, I know there are a TON of other fantastic comics, and a TON of amazing non-super-hero work out there to enjoy, and I enjoy much of it myself. But… you’re on a comic book site and there’s an extremely well reviewed movie coming out with seven classic Marvel super-heroes, and you’re posting on a comic book site, and got no interest? Not even a little bit of interest? We’re not talking a Ghost Rider sequel. Really? I just can’t put myself in that mindset!

The action of depriving Jack Kirby (and his heirs) his creative rights and royalties actually occurred long before any corporate ownership of MARVEL .. Stan Lee is who is the most to blame. Simply because he has consistently denied Jack Kirby’s co-creation of the many characters they collaborated on. And of course, Martin Goodman .. who sold MARVEL to what became Cadence .. and it has been resold until it ended up being owned by DISNEY.

So .. boycott Stan Lee ..who is the causing of it all. Who is also the one person who could correct it all .. simply by telling the truth.

The way I see it, either you boycott everything corporate, since I doubt there is a major corporation that doesn’t do lots and lots of things wrong, or you live with the fact that capitalism really stinks. Which isn’t to say that you shouldn’t make donations to worthy causes. But just be aware of how things work across the board. After all, every TV show you watch belongs to the studio that makes it and not the creator. Joss doesn’t own Buffy any more than he owns Tony Stark. (Which is probably why we will be seeing more Dr Horrible, since he’s probably fed up with the system at some level, too.)

Also, I will see The Avengers, but I think there are a lot of DC fans like me who are just not into most of these characters, and have viewed the Marvel films with a mix of limited interest, curiosity, and twinges of jealousy that the heroes we love are nowhere near being made into films. I have seen only about half the Marvel films, and can’t say that I care for the characters here outside of Capt America. I am more interested in seeing RDJ and Joss work than anything else.

Why do you guys care so much about this?

Why do you care so little about this?

@Charles and Simon

Why not boycott the entire world??

What a ridiculous argument

Have we actually come to debating the ethics of giving money to a nonprofit? I knew we were shitty but surely we’re not the fucking scum of the earth?

I wish that, when you clicked the Paypal link to donate, there was a way to put a note in as to why you are donating. It would be cool to hear from THI what effect this idea might have on their donations…

I saw the film on Saturday here in the UK and donated the same amount of the ticket price to the Jack Kirby Museum fund before I went. Hopefully the museum will one day become a permanent memorial to one of the most creative minds ever to have worked in the world of comics. I care about this because there will never be another Kirby and what a shame if his legacy becomes forgotten.

You seeing this movie, or any other movie, is entirely your prerogative and I would never do or say anything to deprive you of that choice. And I also respect your support of the Hero Initiative, which is a very worthwhile charity. So I’m not opposed to what you’re doing. I think your heart is in the right place.

I’m just offput by this self-defeatist language that seems to hold any principled stance or action based on that stance in lesser regard simply because it’s not solving a much larger and more complicated problem outright: “My insistence on seeing a film seems really freaking petty when Chris Roberson is willing to give up work over these issues, but at the end of the day, I know I’m gonna go see that damned movie. My not seeing it won’t make a bit of difference to Jack Kirby’s family — and besides, what did Robert Downey Jr. ever do to me, anyway?”

I can only be responsible for what I do, not what you do. I will act on my own personal principles whether or not anybody else joins in. If I can’t solve a massive problem by myself, I’ll do what I can REGARDLESS. And you “know you’re gonna go see the damned movie”? Action doesn’t happen when someone starts off with the immediate conclusion that it’s futile and they don’t trust themselves to follow through anyway. Again, I applaud your attitude and consideration and I applaud the donation to Hero Initiative even more but the language you chose to frame the terms of your compromise is weak and calls to mind the pathetic “If I can’t instantly win, why bother trying? I’m not gonna do it anyway” sentiment that is echoed by everyone who only cares part of the way on any issue.

Jake Earlewine

April 30, 2012 at 2:38 pm

“Conflicted about The Avengers?” No, I’ve sincerely hated them ever since Bendis got his paws on them.

From the looks of things — Cap’s costume, for one — Hawkeye for another — this movie should be called The Ultimates. Calling it the Avengers seems like false advertising.

It’s a bandaid.

How ’bout a solution to the real problem? A revolutionized culture and industry.

Damian, I’m really glad you thought of that, because I have literally never in my life had that presented to me before. I’ll get started revolutionizing the economy right after I set up my doctor’s appointment and with any luck we should have a just and fair society by the time The Avengers comes out on DVD.

@Chris you ought to burn one and lighten up. Don’t you know by now there are 3 things you can depend on, not 2. Death, taxes, and f*cktards with opinions on the Internet

This is a much better idea than boycotts. Why? Because at least this way something is accomplished. Because the only thing a united boycott amongst comic fans would do…is prove how unnecessary comic fans are to superhero films’ success. ESPECIALLY in this case.

This is great for those of us in the comics media. As someone who makes my living in and around comics, I would love to take a firm, moral stand but I just don’t have the skillset or disposable income that my friend Chris does to tell my employer “I can’t cover the most important story of the year–I feel passionate.” Like you said, that may seem petty but it’s reality and at least this way some good people get some badly needed help out of the deal.

@Chris Jones: Okay! I’ll go get the popcorn!

Like someone said, it’s a bandaid. Hero Initiative is a good thing but Marvel should pay the deserved royalties to Kirby heirs. It’s a charity that won’t help so much just like a personal boycott against Disney/Marvel is inefficacious. A big boycott can be efficient, but it’s something impracticable. Nevertheless, I won’t watch Avengers in consideration to Kirby.

Avengers movie is a great opportunity to defend Kirby’s rights and I think some kind of big campaign protesting against Marvel concerning the way it treated Kirby badly would be more effective. It may not cause immediate financial losses but would scratch the corporation image and for the medium and long-term can cause financial damage. And maybe can help the lawsuit of Kirby heirs.

1) I donated to the Hero Initiative because it’s a solid organization not because of hatred of corporate machinations.

2) I am uninterested in the Avengers film as my tolerance for big dumb action movies is slowly dwindling.

3) I have decided to completely boycott both Marvel and DC, not just because of their corporate tactics, but because of a definite overall decline in quality over the past 20 years. In the capitalist system, the only way to make our voices heard is with our wallets. Purchasing the product and complaining on the Internet about it will do nothing. Not spending a single dime on low quality puerile sophomoric comics will stand as my message to Marvel and DC.

4) I came to this decision not in a moment of crisis, but over years of slowly drifting away from the Big Two, as I dropped titles due to poor management (Superman, JLA reboot, Countdown) and poor storytelling (Civil War, House of M, etc). When the comics I purchase have been totally retconned from existence, I question the need to continue reading. DC’s reboot was a perfect place to drop everything.

5) I’m sad to not follow creators I respect and enjoy (eg Hickman, Nicola Scott, Gail Simone) but I must maintain my position in its totality.

@Chris, or anyone else for that matter: if you did have the opportunity, how would you revolutionize the culture and industry, besides granting ownership rights to creators? Let me know on my blog if you have the time and care to. ;)

Damian, judging from your blog I hope you become a multimillionaire and get to that Greek island soon.

Otherwise, it will seem that you have turned yourself into some sort of Fast Company story-bot to very little purpose, and I suspect that a new, real understanding of those “people who were intentionally limiting themselves, content with making a living” will be very, very painful for you. If that day should come, please remember that existence is not a completely binary choice between Mark Zuckerberg and the abyss; I’m sure that this will sound like “loser” rationalization, now, but just keep an open mind.

On the other hand, if you never need to consider any alternative possibilities, do enjoy your island.


I went to your blog to try and contact you, so that we didn’t clutter up the Robot 6 comments, but there was no option to do so. So, I’ll make this quick.

Wow! Those are very interesting comments. Seriously. And to think you came to them after what was likely a scant look over my blog. I’m not 100% sure what you are getting at though. Feel free to contact me on my blog. I’d like to hear more.

I should offer one counterpoint here though. Making money is a secondary goal, for me anyway. It doesn’t sound like “loser” rationalization if someone is content with making a simple, honest living. However, IF that same person has dreams, aspirations, passions, visions, talents, and/or the potential to make a difference in the world for the better and they still “intentionally limit themselves,” that does sound like “fear-based” rationalization. Aiming for the stars, but ending up atop a skyscraper, or even much lower, is a fine existence to me. Never aiming high, is not.


You outlined pretty much how I feel and act towards comics currently

I agree with outofideas. Were there like buttons on here, I would have liked the sh@t out of your outline.

I’m an artist myself, and I can barely afford to buy my ticket to see the movie in the first place. I’m sorry guys, it’s just not viable for me to dish out more cash.

Here’s a better idea. Though I LOVE the HI, I think Kirby is the one who’s getting the short end.
Why not donate some money to his estate and family. Jill Thompson is on board. Check it out.

talmidge mcgulliger

May 1, 2012 at 1:40 pm

As much as Jack is great and his kids deserve some compensation from the people making money of their dad’s work they are full grown adults and I haven’t heard anything about them being in need. The hero initiative helps people who need help right now. The Kirby’s don’t need your money but there are people who do. I appreciate Buck For Jack’s intentions but it’s a little misguided.

Josh Flanablahblah of iFanboy tweets “The first sentence of this article is simply not true. The majority of comic readers aren’t phased at all. Pros are.”.

Obviously his reading comprehension skills are poor. The word used is “many” not “majority”. Hey Josh – way to miss the point of the article.

In the spirit of honouring a good idea: Is there a Canadian organization doing the same work up here as the Hero Initiative does in the States?


Thanks! It’s a tough decision, but one I stand by. Glad to know there are others who feel the same.

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