“Kirby’s dead. I don’t see why his family deserves a thing, they didn’t draw shit for marvel.”
The above quote was taken from comments section of a recent CBR article on Marvel Comics suing Jack Kirby’s family to stop their copyright reversion claims. Now, I’m not going to get into the detail of the claim and suit as that would take an article of its own, just suffice to say that even after he’s dead Marvel still treats Jack Kirby like crap.
Make no mistake, without the team of Lee & Kirby in the 60’s Marvel comics as it stands today would probably not exist, and if it did it certainly wouldn’t be the number one publisher in the market. Without Kirby’s huge creativity and great productivity the “Marvel Age” of comics would have died before it got started.
So how does Marvel’s treatment of Kirby (and other creators) and the above quote tie into how Marvel is behaving in the last year or so? Well, Marvel as a company is interested in making money for its shareholders, now that’s fine as long as they provide value for money and treat their past creators well but in both instances they are failing. They charge $3.99 for 22 page comics and they don’t pay royalties to Kirby and others for reprinting their work. They pack special issues with worthless backmatter like Cup o’ Joe columns and Ares’ War plan but they rarely give proper Creator Credits (see Captain America: Who Will Wield the Shield, the recent Tales of Asgard series and many more). And why do Marvel comics act this way? We know they want money right? So the question is how do they think they’ll get away with acting this way? In my opinion the “Kirbys dead” quote leads one to the answer to that conundrum: Its because the Fanboys allow….nay encourage Marvel to act in such a way. (And I don’t consider CCW readers to be fanboys (or girls), if you appreciate what CCW stands for you are way above the level of fanboys)
The fanboys show through their actions that they will buy any $3.99 drek that Bendis or Loeb or Millar will serve up to them with a big inane grin on their faces and they’ll thank Marvel for the privilege. They will allow their wallets to be pillaged by the likes of a $3.99 Dark Reign: Zodiac mini-series because they will buy anything that Marvel will tell them to. They will spit on a dead creator and his family because they think that getting some copyrights back and receiving a few royalties will stop their precious company from putting out more ponderous crap like Captain America: Reborn, yet another unnecessary 5…no sorry 6 issue miniseries (did the story suddenly get 1/5th better? …no I didn’t think so) with which to rip off the fans. Why should Marvel try harder when the fanboys are willing to just sit there and take whatever crap is dished out.
And the ironic thing? From every interview I’ve read (and I’ve read many) that Jack Kirby gave, one thing that shines through is that he cared about the fans, he wanted to tell good stories that had a positive meaning even if the protagonists had to suffer through it, he didn’t go for cheap fanboy fan service like ripping a female characters head off or sexually assaulting a female hero. He was better than that but hey if that’s what the fanboys want that’s what Bendis, Loeb and Marvel should give them right?
Instead of taking the high ground and trying to keep the price of comics at a standard $2.99 (you know the recession and all that?), Marvel does the opposite and rips off the stupid fanboys with a 33% price increase because they know that they’ll take it. They flood the market with crappy $3.99 miniseries to try and force the Distinguished Competition off the shelves. Instead of giving good quality back-up stories like their main competition did, they give you more house ads for more overpriced crap and smiling’ Joe will slam anyone that complains on his Cup o’ Joe column because you know “paper costs go up and uh ink and stuff yeah…*hey Tom do you think they’ll believe this crap I’m comin’ out with*”
Sadly Joe, there are all too many Marvel Zombies that will believe it and will keep buying it…until they lose their jobs at the Kwikie-Mart and have no money left to feed their habits. Actually, one could safely say it is an addiction. Even for me, I gave up smoking 11 years ago and it was easier than quitting Marvel comics. I had 15 regular Marvel titles on my pull list at the start of 2009 and I’m down to 3 at the moment and 2 of those are Hickman titles. Comic collecting really does have similarities to an addiction and the craving is strong enough that the weakest of fanboys out there will support Marvel no matter what.
“Kirby’s dead” indeed. I don’t think the King would care for the current actions of Marvel editorial and the business practices of Marvel as a whole. Well ,Joey Q and Dan Buckley, Kirby is alive in the hearts of those who still like good comics. You don’t have to have read a Kirby story, as long as you still care about comics and like to read good stories that ordinary people can afford then the spirit of Kirby, Buscema, Everett and all the other greats still lives on.
That brings us to the last week or so and how this piece came about. When I saw the press release that Marvel was suing the Kirby family I mailed Jose the article with the subject line “Its like marvel wants me to hate the company even more”, an emotional reaction for sure but I like to think that I care about the history of comics and the creators that made them. I think all comics fans should care because if we can’t appreciate the past how can we appreciate the present?
Shortly after the news of the lawsuit Marvel comes out with this promotion where retailers could send in Blackest Night comics in return for a crappy Deadpool cover variant of Siege #3. Then Tom Brevoort comes out with his stupid twitter comments about how Marvel are “thinking of the retailers”…like hell they are, I mean who in their right mind would believe horseshit like that? It’s insulting to anyone with half a brain to even utter something so preposterous. Luckily there are still some out there with half a brain (or more!) and this publicity stunt looks like its going to rebound on Marvel as another sign of their shitty business practices. (And on the topic of Deadpool….just how overexposed is that character? How can there be 3 regular titles for him and Agents of Atlas can’t sell? Well, ask the fanboys, eh? Even though I don’t like him as a writer and absolutely hate his art I hope that Rob Liefeld is getting shitloads of royalties for it.)
So, in addition to over-priced comics and useless mini-series we now get Marvel treating a creator’s family like dirt and a douchebag promotion aimed at a another company justified by weasely words from an editor.
Bit by bit over the last year Marvel has destroyed my trust in the company. I wouldn’t mind if it was just some stories or artists I didn’t like but it’s the business practices of the company towards its fans and creators that I dislike and trust is a hard thing to rebuild. So what can Marvel do?
Make good comics that take more than 2 minutes to read.
Make them at a reasonable cost.
Treat older creators better.
Stop acting like dicks.
Simple, eh? Will it happen? Well , I’ve got my doubts right now but I think at some stage it will have to.