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Thread: Stan Lee has apparently fallen on hard times?

  1. #21
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    I have read a lot from Mark Evanier on the subject over the years and he would know.... probably better than anyone on the planet (outside of Kirby/Ditko/Lee, of course). He's a guy that was around for a lot of it and has worked for both Kirby and Lee and corresponded with Ditko. Evanier has a pretty realistic take on it in my opinion, and it is consistently the middle road where it was always a collaboration, sometimes more Lee and sometimes more Kirby, but it was always a joint effort. As with all collaborations, the details as to who came up with what are always going to be murky. That's the way it works in all kinds of collaborative works: who really knows and when getting it straight from the horses' mouth...well, all of us like to be the hero of our own story so of course credit for who did EXACTLY what is going to be somewhat distorted. Also, Evanier has noted that in specific cases where one would be absolutely sure that it was Kirby (or Lee), there is concrete evidence that it was in fact, Lee (or Kirby). His bottom line is that both of them "have / had notoriously poor memories" and that "Lee-Kirby creations are Lee-Kirby creations".

    https://www.newsfromme.com/writings/the-jack-faq/

  2. #22
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    Thanks for the responses fellas. Sounds like sort of a Bill Finger thing.

    I guess I've always admired the persona for so long. His was the voice inside my head reading all the yellow boxed narration. It's hard to hear that talent like Kirby was unappreciated or unfairly compensated. We will never know if Marvel would've come to be without Kirby or Ditko, but I'm reasonably certain it wouldn't have been the same without Stan Lee.

    I think it's safe to assume Steve Ditko probably wasn't an easy person to work with. I must confess, I really don't know much about Kirby the man. What kind of temperament was he known for? Gentle? Combative? I just wonder what kind of personalities clashed or gelled to birth the alchemy that became the Marvel style.
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  3. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hedji View Post
    I must confess, I really don't know much about Kirby the man. What kind of temperament was he known for? Gentle? Combative? I just wonder what kind of personalities clashed or gelled to birth the alchemy that became the Marvel style.
    That link in my post above your's could answer some of your questions in regards to that. As a teen, Mark Evanier worked as an assistant to Jack and was very close to Jack and his family for years. Short answer: Jack was a very sweet and hard working man.

  4. #24
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    There is some of this argument that suffers because we tend to want to apply what we know or what we assume to know NOW to how people should have behaved then. For instance, you NOW know this so Stan should have done X then and because he didn't, he's worthy of contempt. How do we know Stan knew that then? Did he have a crystal ball? You have to remember these were human beings, raised in the Depression. Their Worldview was completely different than ours. They rationalized and acted differently than what we consider to be reasonable in this day and age. Their work ethic was different and these were "funny books". And some of this is "if party A is good and was wronged, then party B was a complete tool", rather than all parties were rational human beings who might have been acting as best they could according to what they thought was reasonable.

    I have seen interviews with Stan where he said if Jack would have just once pipped up, things could have been different. And I have read that Kirby was working in good faith and when he felt someone didn't come through for him, he could get angry and hold resentments. Heck, I know that feeling entirely. If you aren't your own advocate, people will forget very quickly because they have their own thing going on. Jack wasn't about to rock the boat by pipping up, but he was entirely disappointed that people didn't instinctively see things his way. This is a pretty basic workplace scenario really, although on a grander stage. And like all things, it's probably not a wild and interesting story unless you slap a black hat on one guy and a white hat on the other.

  5. #25
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    I enjoyed the Evanier link immensely--thanks, Makernaut.
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  6. #26
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    Good stuff and well articulated, Makernaut. Thanks.
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  7. #27
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    Most of what I know, or think I know, of the Kirby stuff came from Evanier's book Kirby King of Comics. He definitely had an interesting life, one that many would probably envy, but he never had the financial security he so desperately wanted. Seems like he was constantly worried about how he would provide for his family.

  8. #28
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    Quote Originally Posted by Makernaut View Post
    I have seen interviews with Stan where he said if Jack would have just once pipped up, things could have been different. ...If you aren't your own advocate, people will forget very quickly because they have their own thing going on. Jack wasn't about to rock the boat by pipping up, but he was entirely disappointed that people didn't instinctively see things his way.
    And this notion is why I'll always have Lee's back. Even though I admit I may be backing the wrong horse, this just seems to be my reality... being outspoken is inherently going to make you a target through no fault of your own, and every fault of the introvert who clings to words like "common sense" and "politeness" as if those terms are unquestionably universal.
    "No. No no no no no no. You done got me talkin' politics. I didn't wanna'. Like I said y'all, I'm just happy to be alive. I think I'll scoot over here right by this winda', let this beautiful carriage rock me to sleep, and dream about how lucky I am." - Chris Mannix

  9. #29
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    Quote Originally Posted by Makernaut View Post
    I have seen interviews with Stan where he said if Jack would have just once pipped up, things could have been different. And I have read that Kirby was working in good faith and when he felt someone didn't come through for him, he could get angry and hold resentments. Heck, I know that feeling entirely. If you aren't your own advocate, people will forget very quickly because they have their own thing going on. Jack wasn't about to rock the boat by pipping up, but he was entirely disappointed that people didn't instinctively see things his way. This is a pretty basic workplace scenario really, although on a grander stage.
    Yeah, he did get very resentful later in life, to the point of starting to claim "He did it all". I've experienced this in my professional life (and a super fun lawsuit) and witnessed a man I worked with say the same (he wasn't being truthful) about a collaberation that i witnessed. He felt disrepected and used, so he was lashing out. I think he was convinced he was justified. I actually feel a lot of empathy for the man, he deserved better.

    While Jack wasn't great at sticking up for himself, I also think Lee had/has this terrible fear of conflict. That can actually cause you more problems than having the conflict. Whenever he was asked about things, he feigns this sort of ignorance that I honestly believe is sincere. He just shut down.

    Quote Originally Posted by Makernaut View Post
    it's probably not a wild and interesting story unless you slap a black hat on one guy and a white hat on the other.
    Absolutely, which is kind of ironic considering Lee/Kirby created villains with interesting motives and empathy.

    I think a lot of it stems from the Segiel/Shuster story or the fact that Bob Kane is easy to dislike but not every story fits in that mold.


    Just an annecdote about both men: I used to be friendly with the man who ran the Toronto Comic conventions. In 1990 we had lunch and he was getting A list guests, so I asked about the possibility of Kirby or Lee. I paraphrase but the response was "Lee is too much money" and "Kirby isn't about money, it's all about being recognized, you have to give him an award, then he'll consider it". He then told me that any "bowling trophy" he gave him seemed too insincere, so it didn't get explored.

  10. #30
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    Quote Originally Posted by Makernaut View Post
    There is some of this argument that suffers because we tend to want to apply what we know or what we assume to know NOW to how people should have behaved then. For instance, you NOW know this so Stan should have done X then and because he didn't, he's worthy of contempt. How do we know Stan knew that then? Did he have a crystal ball? You have to remember these were human beings, raised in the Depression. Their Worldview was completely different than ours. They rationalized and acted differently than what we consider to be reasonable in this day and age. Their work ethic was different and these were "funny books". And some of this is "if party A is good and was wronged, then party B was a complete tool", rather than all parties were rational human beings who might have been acting as best they could according to what they thought was reasonable.

    I have seen interviews with Stan where he said if Jack would have just once pipped up, things could have been different. And I have read that Kirby was working in good faith and when he felt someone didn't come through for him, he could get angry and hold resentments. Heck, I know that feeling entirely. If you aren't your own advocate, people will forget very quickly because they have their own thing going on. Jack wasn't about to rock the boat by pipping up, but he was entirely disappointed that people didn't instinctively see things his way. This is a pretty basic workplace scenario really, although on a grander stage. And like all things, it's probably not a wild and interesting story unless you slap a black hat on one guy and a white hat on the other.
    THIS ^

    Though I have read some comic history - Evanier’s Kirby: King of Comics, Lee’s fluff autobiography, Back Issue, etc. - and while I wouldn’t claim to be an expert or well-versed on the Kirby/Lee feud, this balanced take matches my impression on the situation.

    Both men had their flaws, both probably contributed to the problem in their own way. I don’t vilify one and pom-pom for the other.

    Part of the problem is as you say: we have the benefit of hindsight now. Clearly, with multiple comic-inspired movies with 200-300 million dollar budgets and toy departments crammed with liscensed merchandise, we can clearly see that the work-for-hire stuff was unfair to creators. But back in the day that was business as usual. Not saying that makes it ok, but is it fair to demand either man or both should have behaved differently based on today’s sensibilities?

    And when we start blaming them based on what we know to be “right” today, we’re engaging in a huge game of “what if”. If Stan had taken it upon himself to put his foot down for creator rights would that really have changed things? Or would Uncle Martin just have stuck Stan in a broom closet somewhere? I’m sure Stan’s critics would have loved that, but would it really have made things better for creators?

    If Jack had actually spoke up for himself or for other creator’s rights (I thought the lawsuit involved Joe Simon, but maybe I’m misremembering) would it actually have changed things? Or would he have just gotten fired as he feared? And would getting fired from comics really be terrible? Yeah, would’ve sucked for comics, but would it perhaps have been the impetus to find a better career- maybe commercial art? - where he would have found the security he was seeking? How many of us have been let go from a job and think it’s the end of the world...only to end up at a better job?

    We can guess and make assumptions based on our prejudices we’ll never actually how things could have played out if done differently.

    I think another big part is that you’re seeing the “success has many fathers; falure is an orphan” in play. Reminds me of the He-Man episode of Toys That Made Us. You had 3-4 guys all absolutely adimate that they were the sole creative impetus behind the line, when it’s clear that it was a collaborative effort and all played a part.

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