Robot 6

Quote of the day | Scott Kurtz on Marvel and credit to Jack Kirby

“Jack Kirby worked for Marvel until 1970, and then he returned for another three years in 1975. But since then. in the 30 some-odd years since he left Marvel, hundreds of creators have added to the mythos and stories of the characters that Marvel owns and Jack helped create. Hundreds. And many of them added integral aspects to these characters which are just as important to their legacy as Jack and Stan ever did. Take a look at Walter Simonson’s run on Thor and tell me that he doesn’t deserve as much credit as Jack or Stan when it comes to the lasting mythos of that character as a modern day super-hero. Or how could you have the Tony Stark we saw on screen in Iron Man without David Michelinie and Bob Layton’s ‘Demon in a Bottle’ run on Iron Man in the late 70’s?

Nick Fury was co-created by Stan lee and Jack Kirby. A fictional WW2 army hero. He was reintroduced later as a cold-war spy. A Jack Kirby creation. But then Jim Steranko got a hold of him and transformed him into something else entirely. Steranko injected 60’s pop-culture and sensibilities into the character and his book. Fast forward to 2000, when Marvel decided to reboot their entire universe in a separate line of books called the ‘Ultimate Universe.’ In 2002, Mark Millar and Bryan Hitch launched The Ultimates which reinvented the Avengers. A team assembled by a very different Nick Fury, modeled with the actor’s permission after Samuel L. Jackson. You tell me. Are any of these guys even the same character? Or are they different characters with the same name?”

Scott Kurtz, on renewed calls for proper credit, and compensation, for
Jack Kirby’s contributions to the Marvel Universe

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Comments

39 Comments

The man speaks truth!

Mightygodking has a rather excellent rebuttal to this tosh on his site.

While these are excellent points, the weight of initial creation far exceeds that of later tweaks and revisions.

Incidentally, I never thought I’d see Scott freaking Kurtz, as all people, acting as a corporate apologist.

That sound you just heard is a can of worms being popped open.

That’s sidestepping the point, not addressing it. James Bond wouldn’t be who he is without the movies but does that make it okay to stop crediting Ian Fleming? Only in comics is this excuse used to short change original creators.

I split with many when it comes to the compensation question but I’m strident about the credit.

It wouldn’t kill anyone to give Simonson, Steranko and Millar a special thanks in the credits either.

Money aside, name checking the authors is just proper footnoting.

Yeah, fuck Jack Kirby! What did he ever do except create the playground for others to play in? He gets TOO much credit if you ask me!

Ugh. Welcome to comics folks. It doesn’t get any uglier.

And who the hell is Scott Kurtz?

Kurtz would be singing an entirely different tune if it was his co-creations that he wasn’t getting any credit for…

There is nothing ugly about his post, he is not saying “Fuck Jack Kirby”, he is expressing a well thought out opinion that is just as valid as all those that are claiming Marvel Comics is a heartless, evil corporation. Although I’m guessing if you don’t know who Scott Kurtz is you probably didn’t bother to read the entire article either.

A house without a foundation cannot exist. And it was Jack Kirby (along with Stan Lee and Steve Ditko) who laid down the foundation for the majority of the House of Ideas. Nearly everything that came afterwards was built upon that vital groundwork.

He makes some good points, but if you’re going to credit Stan Lee then you also have to credit Kirby. You can’t have one without the other.

I could be wrong, but I’m pretty sure none of the key comic creators related to the Avengers film were denied credit. I do recall seeing a list of them in the end credits, and Jack Kirby was there unless I was seeing something. So Marvel isn’t denying Kirby his co-creative credits for there billion dollar franchise. They are denying the creative entitlement to Kirby’s heirs, but that’s something else entirely.

Just checked elsewhere and yes, Jack is credited. So let’s keep this discussion focused on creative entitlement which isn’t the same thing as creative credit. One ensures rights. The other ensures acknowledgement.

I never understand this reasoning.

When you say “Nick Fury looks more like the Millar/Hitch version than the Lee/Kirby version,” the conclusion I draw from that statement is not “therefore Jack Kirby’s family shouldn’t be compensated”, it’s “therefore Millar and Hitch should be compensated.”

Anyhow, couple of tweets on the subject that I thought were rather good:

http://twitter.com/evandorkin/status/204759394083287044 :
So, others worked on The Avengers et al after Kirby et al. That’s your answer? Really? Buildings without foundations collapse, assholes.

http://twitter.com/KurtBusiek/status/204760745093767168 :
Speaking as one who worked on AVENGERS after Kirby, @evandorkin — I couldn’t have done it without someone creating the characters and book.

Hey Zito, they did give them credit in the movies. In The Avengers in the credits, they give thanks to Millar and Hitch. And in Thor, Simonson is in the movie himself.

Great article. It pretty much sums up my feelings on the whole situation.

Stan Lee makes cameos in all those movies too. He has to be. Marvel treats him (contractually) just like any other old hired hand, and if it weren’t for his constantly stoking and profiting off of his own celebrity, he’d be as out of luck as Kirby and Gary Friedrich.

Suffice to say, if someone found a loophole to legally let them make a PVP movie and not give Scott Kurtz any money for it, he’d be pissed too. He’d probably be pissed even if they took creative liberties, changed the race of a character or two, and got Joss Whedon to direct it. He’d probably be pissed even if they put his name in the credits. Because one line at the end of a movie just doesn’t seem to compare well to $1,000,000,000 box office take, does it?

Kirby didn’t even get a line at the end of the movie.

Sell It Like It Is

May 22, 2012 at 11:50 am

I have to admit – it’s food for thought

Something in the back of my head says, “If it wasn’t created in the first place, how would anyone have something to improve upon”

Scott’s quote also naively ignores the question of why the Kirby heirs should not get one dime from a billion dollar movie. That’s a big detail to ignore Scott.

How does saying Walt Simonson and Mark Millar deserve some compensation along with Jack Kirby make Scott Kurtz a “corporate apologist” or whatever else you guys are calling him?

If your answer is anything other than “it doesn’t,” I recommend taking inventory of your beliefs and bringing it all back to reality a little bit.

He isn’t saying that Kirby should be denied credit, nor that Jack’s contributions were meaningless. The fact remains that the Avengers movie is not a literal recreation of Jack Kirby’s work. The characters have changed and evolved over the decades, and the version that is on the screen is the result of a combination of the creative work of many people, not just one (or two). Stan and Jack’s contributions may have been first, and therefore most important, but at the same time, if the Avengers comic had ended with Stan and Jack’s run there would be no Avengers movie.

Sell It Like It Is

May 22, 2012 at 12:14 pm

@Joseph

He’s deflecting attention away from Kirby’s contribution – and therefore whitewashing the creator’s rights issues that the Avengers movie raises

If he wants to come across as some kind of circumspect voice – then he should be just that, and not ignore a KEY issue in the conversation

I agree with Scott Kurtz’s impassioned plea to encourage proper credit and increased compensation to Jack Kirby, Walt Simonson, David Michelinie, Bob Layton, Jim Steranko, Mark Millar, and Bryan Hitch.

I said this on Twitter yesterday, if Kirby was alive, and he was doing this, I’d be all for him and this fight.

But he’s dead. The magic that was Jack Kirby is dead. It was not inherited by his kids, and IMO neither should anything else. Yes, I’m sure he might have given much of his money to his kids, but he’s dead and they’re fighting for something he didn’t seem interested in fighting for when he was alive.

It bothers me on two fronts, they think they know better, and the idea of them making more off his work than he did when he was alive disgusts me.

I won’t get anything from my parents when they die, I might even lose money on the proposition having to pay for a funeral. What makes Jack Kirby’s kids so great that they get all this money for HIS work?

Jack Kirby knew what he was doing, he created one of the first creator owned super heroes in the 1950s (Fighting American with Joe Simon) he knew that was a possibility. He chose to work for Marvel. His children act as if he was a fool.

This whole thing smacks of greed, and if it was Jack himself, I wouldn’t be bothered by it, he has a right to that greed, he did the work. His kids haven’t done anything to earn money for his work.

Except hire a lawyer.

I think Scott Kurtz is the same guy who made someone take down a fan drawing of Red Skull skull fucking Skull (it was a commission) and then went on to berate the artist at length for being a talentless hack even after he had swiftly and politely acquiesced to Scott’s demand.

What I’m trying to say is, fuck Scott Kurtz.

“What makes Jack Kirby’s kids so great that they get all this money for HIS work?” Because that’s what he would have wanted?

Someone commenting in that Mightygodking article that was recommended pointed out, also, that Scott said this in 2010:

“If you’re a member of an industry that let Dave Cockrum die in a VA hospital after helping give us most of the X-Men characters that comprised three blockbuster films and you get pissy about what Mark Waid said, then you deserve to remain on this sinking ship.”

Jake Earlewine

May 22, 2012 at 1:07 pm

Who is Scott Kurtz? How can this guy say Walt Simonson’s name in the same breath as Jack Kirby? Get out of here. Simonson’s contribution to Thor means nothing. What contribution?

Yet this guy Kurtz is right about Michelinie turning Stark into an alcoholic and giving him some personality.

But he’s wrong, again, about giving Steranko credit for (white) Nick Fury. Apparently this Kurtz fellow never read the initial appearances of Nick Fury, Agent of Shield (Strange Tales 135 on), which Kirby drew layouts for and John Severin finished. (I do believe Kirby drew, completely by himself, the very first appearance of Nick as Agent.)

I believe the heirs of Jack Kirby should be getting paid way more of those billions of Avengers-movie-dollars than anybody else who had anything to do with this movie. Jack Kirby (or his family) deserves more money than any mere actor or any “producer” or anybody else involved with this film, and certainly way more than anybody currently working for Marvel or Disney. WAY MORE.

You should read the article again. He acknowledged Jack drew Fury. He noted that the “super spy” (as opposed to soldier/howling commando) version as we know him was mainly a creation of Steranko, which led into the modern Samuel Jackson version they used in Ultimates and, now, the movie.

Some say Kirby’s heirs don’t have rights on their father’s work and accuse them of greed. Obviously they think Disney/Marvel is a good samaritan without any trace of greed. Holy ingenuity! If their father was ripped-off and didn’t got the due respect and financial compensation from Disney/Marvel it’s clear they must fight for their rights.

How can this guy say Walt Simonson’s name in the same breath as Jack Kirby? Get out of here. Simonson’s contribution to Thor means nothing. What contribution?

Is this supposed to be some kind of satire or just ignorance? I can’t tell.

Whoa whoa whoa

Did someone say that Simonson’s contribution to Thor means nothing? Let’s not say things that we can’t take back.

Bond and Fleming are totally analogous to this, but people in a million years would never disregard Fleming’s initial creation of Bond.

Mike said it best in the third comment: “the weight of initial creation far exceeds that of later tweaks and revisions”

I see Kurtz’s point to some extent. The Kirby battle was lost a long time ago, and hating on the people at the top of the Marvel ladder now for the sins of their predescessors really isn’t fair to them. That doesn’t make Jack Kirby any less screwed over, though, and doesn’t wash the bad taste out of my mouth every time I think about how many millions of dollars Marvel’s making on the work of a man they, as a company, went out of their way to treat very very badly indeed. I won’t go into the laundry list of offenses, but it’s long, and goes way beyond whatever problems I might have with the way the work-for-hire arrangement was handled back in the day.

Where Kurtz’s argument really breaks down for me, though, is when he calls me a cynic for feeling that way. This isn’t mindless negativity at work. It’s genuine moral outrage over one company’s shameful treatment of one of its most important creative lights. So forgive me if I can’t be all sweetness and light on this issue.

Scott Kurtz is wrong from top to bottom.

If Scott Kurtz had read as many words as he has written, he wouldn’t write like such an idiot.

Christian Otholm

May 24, 2012 at 5:35 am

There’s nothing “well-thought out” about this opinion.

He doesn’t understand the difference between theology and ethics (theology might discuss ethics, but actually academic studies of pure ethics falls under philosophy, not theology); he argues from a descriptive and not a normative position in an ethical discussion (other people were screwed too, so it’s okay); he demonizes his opponents for simplifying the issue, when he’s the one reducing his opposition (and their valid and sound arguments) to stereotypes or straw men; he rejects the notion of respondsibility for perpetuating unfairness (Marvel-now isn’t respondsible for continuing the bad behaviour they’re exhibiting now, because the people currently employed didn’t start it); and he couldn’t hold onto a clear red thread, if we tied it to him.

Also it’s hypocritical of him, seeing as he was critizing Marvel for letting Conway die in a V.A. hospital just a few years ago.

This “argument” is only being discussed on account of his high profile and the fact that it fulfills the criteria for newsworthiness (timeliness, relevance, identification, conflict & sensation), not because what he’s saying is intelligent or coherent.

My favorite part of your “well-thought” rebuttal was how you can’t even get Dave Cockrum’s name right. He only created the look of the some of the most popular and enduring X-men. Nice to see that counts for something.

Also he very clearly did not say “other people were screwed too, so it’s okay.” Don’t be mad because he sees guys like you in the Kirby Kult for who you really are.

I bet Kurtz is trying to get some sort of work at Marvel.

I also hope after seeing/reading what a complete ass this guy is to other creators and their legacies that the Harvey Awards stop having him as the speaker. Not a whole lot of professional comic book creators even like the guy. They say he’s a buffoon.

Best thing is, nobody will remember who Scott Kurtz is in a few years. Meanwhile Jack Kirby will always be the king of comics.

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