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  • Jan 13th, 2010 @ 12:31am

    Re: jack kirby

    Just an additional point on weather Stan Lee really co-created the characters or not:

    The "Marvel Style" of comics creation during the 60's when most of the popular characters were created was based on the artist first producing the pages of the comic, i.e. creating the story from a very general outline (less than a paragraph in many cases) and then giving them to the "writer" to script. This was certainly the style Jack Kirby and Stan Lee used, meaning Stan's contribution to the characters was even smaller. In fact he scripted stories which were entirely produced by Kirby. This is not to say he made no contribution - Kirby was terrible at dialogue while Lee was very good at it, but it hardly constitutes creation. When you see an Oliver Stone movie, you don't think of the extra writers who produced various parts of the script as "creators". You think of them as assistants.

    Another point on the question of ownership and the execrable policies of the large US comic publishers: Many early famous characters were developed (partly or fully) by their creators who then went around the publishing houses to see who would pick up the stories. This applied to Captain America, Superman, Wonder Woman and many others.

    The publishers who picked them up, never actually bought the characters - they just paid for the stories on a page basis. No transaction for the ownership of, say, Superman or Captain America took place. Later they claimed they "owned" the characters effectively by extension of the initial story purchase.

    Imagine if JK Rowling's publishers suddenly claimed she does not own Harry Potter, because they published the first book. Would that fly? Not in a million years, and yet, this is exactly what happened to the creators of the most famous comic characters. It's an injustice of (literally) criminal proportions.

    It's also worth mentioning that the creators of newspaper cartoons were treated entirely differently by the publishing syndicates. Already in the 40's they were offered c-ownership or full ownership of their creations, royalties on re-reprints and lucrative merchandising rights.
    This is important because it completely disproves any arguments that the comic industry's practices were common at the time. They were nothing less than thugs taking advantage of the poor naive artists who didn't think they would ever get fair shake and let themselves be exploited for the sake of a meal and money to pay the rent.

    So before anyone else makes comments like "it was just a comic" and "that was how things worked then" think again.

  • Jan 12th, 2010 @ 7:07am

    Re:

    No offense implied but you don't have a clue about comic book industry economics. I feel strongly about this, so I'm going to explain:

    The risk taken by the publisher of a comic book is minuscule compared to that of a movie studio, music company or software developed.

    The only costs are (a) pitiful artist compensation (especially back in the '40s when Jack Kirby started work for Marvel and DC Comics' predecessor companies) and (b) printing a distribution costs amounting to a few thousand dollars per issue. If the issue doesn't turn a profit, they would cancel the next installment, in most cases denying compensation to the cartoonists for the work already done.

    When Jack Kirby started work he was around 16 years old and created successful comic characters like Captain America and the Sandman.

    He worked out of a private studio shared with his writing and artist partners and sold the work to publishers. Each studio had a distinctive set of books and even productions styles and the publishers were just that - publishers. They received a ready made product and only then paid for it, on a case by case basis.

    In fact the original work for hire contracts used in the comics industry have been held up as one of the most exploitative forms of employment used in the western world dusing the past century. They have been repeatedly revised as the courts have recognized the fact they fail to comply with a multitude of laws that exist for the protection of workers, artists and content producers.

    A particularly glaring example is the fact that, while Kirby used his own materials to produce his comics (paper, ink, pencils, brushes) the majority of his artwork was never returned to him by the publishers, who blatantly ignored his repeated requests for it. Much of it ended up in the private homes of employees and executives, which of course constitutes theft.

    It's worth mentioning, that an original Kirby page is worth between a few thousand to several tens of thousands (in some cases hundreds of thousands) of dollars.

    Kirby who faced financial difficulties through much of his life, could certainly have used the sale of his artwork to support himself through lean times but the publishers who achieved supernormal profits from his creations treated him like cr*p.

    Among the list of characters created and developed by Kirby some that come to mind are:
    -Captain America
    -The incredible Hulk
    -The Fantastic Four
    -The X-Men
    -Iron Man
    -The Silver Surfer
    -The Avengers
    -The Sandman
    -Black Panther
    -Thor
    And a huge number of others (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Category:Characters_created_by_Jack_Kirby if curious)

    Collectively his characters have (a) delivered 75% of Marvel Comics' income over the last 70+ years (d) generated over $2.2bn of movie revenue in the last 10 years alone (c) constituted the basis for over 50% of Marvel comics subsequently developed content and a healthy chunk at DC comics.

    And to the day he died he never received a pension, an insurance payment or a day's paid vacation. He always worked and was paid by the page, even running his own studio in the 70's, with his assistants paid by himself to work on marvel comics books.

    Now I'm not a big supporter of IP, copyright extensions and IP inheritance, but I think that the publishers bled the guy enough during his life. Maybe his family should have some of the quality of life they would have had, had he worked during the 90's after the work for hire contract standards were reformed.

    If not, maybe the copyrights should become public domain. But cementing these predatory parasites' right to continue to profit from his work is just sick. Unfortunately that's exactly what may happen.

  • Jan 12th, 2010 @ 6:17am

    (untitled comment)

    @The Anti-Mike

    Companies send bills to customers and if not paid to collection Agencies. But if a company you have no official dealings with sends you a legal threat and then without having proved that you owe them anything sends a collection agency after you, that is GROSSLY illegal.

    If you really believe it's OK, make sure you transfer $5K to my account by Friday for using one of my products without being authorized to by me. If you don't I'll be sending a collection agency after you.

  • Dec 27th, 2009 @ 4:40pm

    (untitled comment)

    Given the extended periods of time during which the majority of her works were out of print (you could hardly find any of her stuff during the last 10 years), you would think she'd grab any opportunity for promotion.

    Unfortunately it seems to have simply left her with a deep insecurity. It's hardly worth criticizing her, she's clearly out of touch. Oh well, even the best visionaries can eventually fall out of sync with the world.

  • Dec 2nd, 2009 @ 2:19am

    Re: Re: Re: One Trick Ponies?

    X-Box has not broken even, despite healthy revenues from subscriptions and increasing sales of consoles. The initial investment was over $2bn and over the years has gone up to over 3bn. By the time it breaks even, it will be pointless.

    MS looked at the whole business a few years back and decided that it was still worth maintaining a lossmaking business to establish a foothold in the "living room" space.

    Sadly they have made little headway while Sony have established healthier "living room" positions since with the PS2/PS3 (of course they were already in there with DVD players, TV's and HiFi).