Friday, July 29, 2011

Goodbye, Marvel

Marvel Comics vs Jack Kirby Decision: Marvel Wins by Colleen Doran.

My willingness to purchase Marvel Comics products, especially derived specifically from Jack Kirby creations, has always been something that has made me a little uncomfortable.

Their record is barbaric.

Even if you agree with the courts on the legal issue, they've still stifled his creator credits on books based on characters and ideas that came from his pencil. The movies based on his characters and ideas snuck by with "thank you" credits and even now are praised for a small print credit acknowledging his work in creating the comic books that the stories are based on rather than the characters and ideas themselves.

It seems a sniggling point of difference, but, of course, if was really such a sniggling point, Marvel themselves wouldn't go through so much trouble to make the credits as they're written.

Stephen Bissette suggested a boycott, "In the 1990s, fandom impacted Marvel sales with a loose 'boycott' of Marvel titles over their gouging of the market with multiple covers, etc. Organized vertebrate fandom could deliver a hammer blow to Marvel again, over something of merit and meaning—the Kirby legacy, which informs damn near the whole of Marvel."

I was already there by the time I read that. I think that was the first thing I thought. I tweeted Disgusted by Kirby v. Marvel decision, but that was after calming myself down from writing "Fuck @Marvel!".

But seriously, fuck Marvel!

I could wish I'd come to this after getting to see Thor and Captain America: The First Avenger, but not enough to try to imagine a way to cheat. I'm more glad it came after Kimberly Rae got herself Captain America pajamas than I am disappointed about it coming before I saw those movies, for whatever that's worth.

Honestly, I can't say I believe there's any chance of a boycott working.

If there's anything geeks are good at, it's coming up with excuses to not deny themselves the things they want.

Not to mention there are an awful lot of people like those described (and quoted) in Kirby Lawsuit Dismissed Part 2 by Robert Steibel, "One of the things I’ve never understood is the hatred I’ve seen directed at Jack and his children over the Disney/Marvel vs. Kirby matter. I can understand the feeling that Marvel/Disney legally owns all of Jack’s creations, and I can also understand fans who want to get more Marvel movies and toys so they feared the lawsuit might slow down that process, but I don’t get the ferocious anger I’ve seen directed at Jack’s family on various internet chat sites. It’s almost as if a significant part of the population needs someone to direct their rage at."

Comic book geeks find it easy to choose the corporation over than the human beings that create their favorite characters. In a strange way I think the Stan Lee portrait of the Marvel Bullpen along with the works Kirby himself cranked out made it possible for a corporation to somehow itself be The Source. I can't be bothered to decide if that's ironic.

I hope someone or something helps Marvel see the light and they find a way to make good to the family of the man that every single one of them owes their continuing livelihoods to. That seems more important than me picking up another Black Panther reprint or seeing Thor 2.

I'm not trying to start anything or build anything. I'm just saying that my ability to convince myself I'm comfortable paying what little I have in terms of hard-earned money to spend on such things on people like that.

So, maybe it'll just be nice to have more money for things like this or this or this.

Good-bye, Marvel, don't let the door hit you on your way out.

UPDATE: This is Honoring A Fallen King: What of the House That Jack Built? by Stephen Bissette, following up and organizing the thoughts he's expressed on Facebook, "This also comes down to the messages the Marvel product—comics, movies, etc.—claim to espouse: the need/ability of the individual to turn the tide against enormous odds and massive consolidations of raw power.

"Jack Kirby always, in his life and in his work, trumpeted the power of the INDIVIDUAL to act against power. It was JACK’S message, in all his work: the power of the INDIVIDUAL to CHANGE THE WORLD.

"So, CHANGE THE WORLD, those who grew up reading, loving, enjoying, creating, earning livings from Kirby’s work and all that followed."

UPDATE II: Glad to see this is getting some attention.

Go, Read: Steve Bissette On Jack Kirby And Marvel by Tom Spurgeon.

Steve Bissette Calls For Action Against Marvel Over Jack Kirby Case by Rich Johnston.

Sadly I see too much response which amounts to excuses why not to follow suit. Too many of those excuses seem to focus on it being "just his family". I kind of feel bad for people and their family life that this is their reaction,

But really I just find it sad that Kirby worked so hard and made so many of the compromises he made over the years were for the sake of his family, and now the fans of his work, or at least his creations, dismiss the idea of it being "just" his family that's making claims for the rights to those creations.

That's between those fans and their consciences and their feelings towards families and faceless corporations. I don't care.

My conscience says I should no longer participate in Marvel profiting off the legacy of a man they can't even properly acknowledge.

My conscience says I should no longer participate at all. I shouldn't spend my money, my time or my attention on it.

UPDATE III: The Jack Kirby Trigger by Michael Netzer is a wonderful "reflection on, and support of, Stephen [Bissette]'s call to boycott Marvel."

I've avoided reading comments on this issue. It's not something I feel any reason to consider further than I have, nor do I feel like debating it.

I understand that for others this is an open issue that they're considering or hoping to encourage others to take up.

A year ago I wrote Support Kirby, also in response to comments by Stephen Bissette, and at that time did have some hope of drumming up support, although honestly the waves and waves of apathy at that time had led me to give up, and I'd have myself just gone to Thor if I'd had time and money at the same moments.

Now I'm just resigned.

I couldn't care less if not one other person stops buying Marvel stuff derived from Kirby concepts. Not my deal.

The fact that so many of the arch-corporate "Marvel zombies" attack or at least take cheap shots at Kirby's family, as I expected, only helps my resolve that I'm on the right side. If those people were vocally going on about their support of breathing air, I'd have to question if I was doing the right thing.

So, it only makes me sad to read Bissette post, "I expected John Byrne's stance, but many of the online exchanges about Jack Kirby's legacy reveal bizarre misanthropy, borderline psychosis, and even sociopathic resentment of and for a great man's great works; corporate culture really has sold a toxic bill of goods to a generation, hasn't it? Though everyone has Motherboxes, the Anti-Life Equation has claimed many..."

Indeed, good sir

UPDATE IV: Honoring A Fallen King, Part 2: What of the House That Jack Built? by Stephen Bissette, "The argument that heirs shouldn’t earn from the labors of parent creators is completely and offensively nonsensical bullshit—fortunes, and earnings from ongoing revenue streams, are passed on every day, everywhere. Arguing that real revenue-creating and generating properties like comic book characters/titles/concepts​ aren’t the same turf is more defeatist horseshit."

I'd like to see more voices join this, but I can't imagine any would be any clearer than Bissette is.


Sail said...

makes me justify or feel better about pirating their movies... if noting else.

Neil Sarver said...

I considered options, such as that, where I could see them without participating financially. For now, I think I'm more comfortable just not participating at all.

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