Everybody knows that golden and silver age comic creators got tragically screwed over by giant faceless corporations. The fact that Jack Kirby’s family have to fight so hard for simple acknowledgement is a goddamn tragedy, and no amount of shareholder return can justify Marvel Corp’s innumerable dick moves towards one of their founding fathers.
The latest court action has led to another loss for the Kirby clan, but Marvel is dreaming if it thinks that’s the end of it. These people have Jack Kirby’s DNA – they’re not going to give up. They learned that from their Dad’s art, while Marvel turned out to be just another evil and boring corporate entity that has learned none of the greatest lesson taught in many of its greatest comics – don’t be such a fucking bully.
So it’s easy to take a basic human moral stand and declare that Marvel is ideologically bankrupt, and that it hasn’t produced anything worthwhile since Fantastic Four #102 and that we should stick it to the man by not buying any more Marvel comics.
Unfortunately, while the types of people who take these stands often profess their love for Marvel, if asked to name a dozen creators, they often wouldn’t be able to name anybody who has done anything for the company since 1978. Saying you won’t buy any more Marvel comics for political reasons doesn’t mean dick if you weren’t buying them anyway. It’s not much of a sacrifice if there is nothing to sacrifice.
I don’t blame people for taking that stand and calling for a boycott of Marvel comics, but they do make me feel guilty about buying and enjoying the new Daredevil comic the other day. Even the tribute to Gene Colan at the back was instantly tainted by knowledge of the way Mean Gene was treated over the years.
So yeah, fuck Marvel. Obviously.
But it’s too easy to get mixed up between corporate tactics and artistic visions, and the two rarely fit well together. While I maintain a slightly unhealthy obsession with Marvel and DC superheroes that goes back to the cradle, the vast majority of their comics are of no interest, so it’s easy enough to hold on to my money.
But I still like to read bright and shiny and smart superhero comics that build on their own history and somehow turn silliness into something transcendental and iconic, and that is a lot rarer than it should be. I can’t help myself – I’m going to seize on to anything that offers something clever and colourful, like that Daredevil.
I know it’s not just money, it’s the encouragement, and the terrible tickle at the back of the brain that says you are giving moral support to a corporation that has royally screwed over almost all of my favourite creators. But that niggling feeling is drowned in selfish need, and the desire to support current creators – Waid, Martin and Rivera are all doing fine work that is a real pleasure to read.
Morally speaking, the Kirby family are so obviously in the right, that I can't help thinking my buying habits have zero impact. (Especially when I buy from a comic shop outside the US, whose numbers apparently mean nothing.) I can deny myself a comic I know I’m going to enjoy on purely political grounds, but it isn’t going to make any difference.
Especially when ultimately, irrefutable truth wins. People may try to hide it, or defend it in court, but Marvel and DC’s deplorable treatment of their founding fathers is historical fact now. This is not an argument. There is no fight here.
I just can’t believe there is anybody out there who could support Marvel’s business practices except for moron fanboyz and happy lawyers. This is as simple as one of Steve Ditko’s rants – there is Right & Wrong and Marvel is Wrong.
Somebody like Jack Liebowitz may have made an extraordinary amount of money by steering DC Comics through most of the 21st century, but he has been gone for ten years now, and his legacy is already fading, reducing him to a footnote in the biographies of immortal artists.
People will still going back to Kirby and Colan and Ditko and Siegel and Shuster and Finger and the work they did in comics for centuries to come. Boycotting Marvel comics isn’t going to change that fact. Their families deserve far more than they are getting, but that's an argument that will have to be settled in a court of law and endless commentary pointing out all the injustices committed over the years will not make any difference to that.
Jack Kirby co-created some of the most iconic and powerful fictional characters of the 20th century. Jack Kirby was not suitably rewarded for his efforts, but his work will last for eternity.