‘It’s not any big secret that there has always been controversy over the parts that were played in the creation and success of Marvel’s characters.’
A documentary about Marvel’s Stan Lee that debuted on Disney+ last week has, no surprise, proven controversial. The family of Jack Kirby, co-creator with Stan Lee of the Fantastic Four, Thor, the Hulk, the X-Men and more, has issued a statement in response to the film.
The heart of the controversy is one that has raged since Stan Lee and Jack Kirby first started working together to create the Marvel universe — while both Kirby and Lee played significant roles in Marvel’s success, their contributions and the extent of their involvement in the creation of these characters has always been a subject of debate. While the conflict between the two is brought up in the documentary, it’s not explored in any great detail.
“… most of the narrative is in his voice, literally and figuratively,” Neal Kirby said in his statement. “It’s not any big secret that there has always been controversy over the parts that were played in the creation and success of Marvel’s characters. Stan Lee had the fortunate circumstance to have access to the corporate megaphone and media, and he used these to create his own mythos as to the creation of the Marvel character pantheon. He made himself the voice of Marvel. So, for several decades he was the ‘only’ man standing, and blessed with a long life, the last man standing.”
According to Marvel, the documentary, which was directed by David Gelb, “weaves together personal recorded footage from Lee, along with recorded recollections of his career never before seen by the public. These are accompanied by archived interview clips, newsreels, and models that immerse viewers in Lee’s world, in addition to hearing from some of his closest friends and collaborators.”
John Romita Jr., Walt Simonson, Sanford Greene, Daniel Warren Johnson, Paco Medina, Adam Hughes and Michael Allred are just a few of the artists who will each redraw a page of Fantastic Four #1 and Fantastic Four Annual #3, the wedding of Reed Richards and Sue Storm. Both comics were originally created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby.
Plus: More news and announcements from Marvel, DC, Dark Horse, AfterShock, Top Cow, Skybound and more!
Mail Call is a roundup of the announcements we’ve received from comics publishers in our mailboxes recently that we haven’t already covered. Hit the links for more information.
Marvel is dusting off a classic event title for an upcoming Avengers storyline — “World War She-Hulk,” which references the popular “World War Hulk” story from 2007.
The new storyline will find She-Hulk declared a global menace, so the Winter Guard decides to bring her in.
“When the Russian Winter Guard invade Avengers Mountain to arrest She-Hulk, it sets off a global espionage adventure that takes us from the notorious assassin training academy of the Red Room to an undersea kingdom on the verge of violent revolution,” said writer Jason Aaron. “Along the way, traitors will fall, regimes will crumble and the dark evolution of Jennifer Walters will reach its bloody red crescendo, all as we build toward the epic events of Avengers #50.”
In an unprecedented week in American history, comics were all over the place.
After seeing a rioter in Captain America gear during the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, Neal Kirby, the son of Jack Kirby, has condemned the use of his father’s character by the far right. “Captain America is the absolute antithesis of Donald Trump,” he wrote, later adding “My father, Jack Kirby, and Joe Simon, the creators of Captain America and WWII veterans, would be absolutely sickened by these images.”
The problem with the Punisher: The Punisher’s elongated skull logo (and specifically, the version used in the 2004 film) has become an icon for white nationalists, Proud Boys and Blue Lives Matter enthusiasts. At Inverse, Eric Francisco offers a brief history of the alt-right’s use of the skull and Disney’s failure to assert its IP rights. At CBR, Cass Clarke summarizes the thoughts of Gerry Conway, who created the character. At SyFY Wire, Mike Avila calls on Marvel to retire the logo and “give the Punisher a makeover.” He also reached out to former Punisher writer Garth Ennis, who had this to say:
Plus: News on Image Comics, IDW, Si Spurrier and more.
The first day of DC Comics’ FanDome event, which was held this past Saturday, garnered 22 million global views from more than 220 countries and territories, according to The Wrap.
The publication spoke with Lisa Gregorian, Warner Bros. Television Group chief marketing officer, and Blair Rich, president of worldwide marketing at Warner Bros., who came up with the idea for the event.
“We had a couple of sort of mission things in mind as we built it that were our North Stars that we never wavered from,” said Rich. “Number one, it had to be for the fans, by the fans, about the fans, and be completely fan-centric, and anything that wavered from that was not allowed. We wanted it to be accessible. That’s why it was free. It was a global event translated into nine languages and we wanted it to feel like a major moment.”
“Like Overwatch or Battle Royale, Electric Warriors will feature a team of unique, memorable leads representing a wide spectrum of readers in a setting rife with danger and adventure,” said Orlando. “This is the unexplored future of Jack Kirby’s DC Universe, rising from the Great Disaster of Kamandi. If the Legion of Superheroes is the universe’s Age of Enlightenment, the setting of Electric Warriors is more akin to the Dark Ages.”
First up is printing a “lost” Prisoner comic by Steve Englehart, Jack Kirby and Gil Kane. This special oversized collectors edition will contain the entire 17-page Kirby strip, the first six pages of which were inked and lettered by Mike Royer, as well as 18 pages of pencils drawn by legendary comic artist Kane. The comic was originally intended to be published by Marvel back in the 1970s; read more about it here.
The ‘Violent Love’ artist dedicates Inktober to the King of Comics.
In addition to being the spookiest month, October is also Inktober, an art challenge where artists from all over the world create a different ink drawing every day of the month. While the official Inktober site provides a list of “prompts” to help inspire artists, many of them choose their own themes.
With many comic artists are participating this year — you can find a lot of them on Twitter or Tumblr using the #inktober hashtag, and we’ve been posting a bunch on our own Tumblr — we thought we’d spotlight a few of the “can’t miss” ones we’ve seen so far.
Wrap your body in the King’s artwork, courtesy of Heavy Metal magazine and T-shirt site Threadless.
If you’ve seen the movie Argo you know about the role comics legend Jack Kirby’s artwork played in the rescue of Americans from Tehran during the U.S./Iran hostage crisis in 1980. The artwork was originally created for a movie adaptation of Roger Zelazney’s Lord of Light, which never saw production but ended up becoming a part of history.
Heavy Metal magazine and the T-shirt site Threadless have teamed up to take those pieces of history and turn them into something you can wear, as you can see right here on Threadless’ Heavy Metal subsite. They have 13 different shirts featuring the King’s artwork, colored by Mark Englert in 2015. Take a look at some of them below.
The ‘X-Men: Grand Design’ and ‘Hip Hop Family Tree’ creator reflects on the work of comics legend Jack Kirby.
All this week we’re celebrating the life and influence of comics legend Jack Kirby, who would have turned 100 on Aug. 28. You can find other Kirby-related articles here.
Ed Piskor was already well known for comics like Wizzywig, Macedonia and other work, but it was Hip Hop Family Tree that really brought his work to a new audience and won him an Eisner Award. Right now Piskor is working on X-Men: Grand Design, a series from Marvel that he’s writing, drawing, coloring and lettering that launches at the end of the year. Piskor has talked about his love for Kirby in the past and we reached out to talk about his thoughts about the man and his work.
In celebration of what would have been Jack Kirby’s 100th birthday, Corey Blake journeys into The Valley of Flame.
Fresh Eyes is a column reassessing milestone stories in comic book history from a modern perspective. Do they hold up, and how might they resonate with today’s readers?
In the late 1970s, Jack Kirby made a triumphant return to Marvel Comics. Among his mini-line of new ideas and character, there was Devil Dinosaur, a prehistoric adventure series about a mighty red T-Rex and his best friend, an early human named Moon Boy. In celebration of what would have been Jack Kirby’s 100th birthday, I sought out to read the comic series for the first time.
Jason Mehmel shares what he learned about Jack Kirby during his time directing the play “King Kirby” in Calgary in 2016.
All this week we’re celebrating the life and influence of comics legend Jack Kirby, who would have turned 100 on Aug. 28. Today we present a guest editorial from Jason Mehmel, a professional director and producer of theatre in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, who had a unique opportunity related to Jack Kirby.
by Jason Mehmel
I’ve known about Jack Kirby for years… his style is as unique as a fingerprint. Crazy designs, often using circles. Crackling energy balls of negative space (later called ‘Kirby Krackles’). It represented the platonic ideal of superheroes, particularly the Marvel characters he created, and the subsequent artists, composing with better anatomy, perspective or even composition, are still ultimately riffing on the energy behind Kirby’s pencil, and the choices it led him to.
Two years ago, I came across a theatre script about the life of Kirby and found myself running a theatre company. I decided to jump at it and produce King Kirby: A Play by Crystal Skillman & Fred Van Lente, which walked through the pivotal moments in Kirby’s life:
How he came from poverty, his early love of science fiction and big ideas, and of telling them visually. How he got into comics from that love, and the birth of Captain America, just before his own wartime experience. How Marvel Comics as we know it exploded from his pen, and those of his fellow pencillers, though it would be hard to compete with the sheer volume of characters and stories Kirby developed in those years.