Is Jack Kirby's Family Greedy? Who Cares!?

RossaLincoln

New member
Feb 4, 2014
738
0
0
Is Jack Kirby's Family Greedy? Who Cares!?

Worrying about how much money Kirby's heirs "deserve" from his creations is an annoying digression from the real issue.

Read Full Article
 

Falterfire

New member
Jul 9, 2012
810
0
0
Really? You start a column named Social Justice Warrior and then open it up with something as relatively non-controversial (At least on the internet) as "Copyright laws are broken and Jack Kirby deserves far more credit than he gets"?

I DEMAND that you make columns that result in flame wars or I'm going to make ludicrous empty threats in the hopes of provoking arguments that devolve into pointlessly nitpicking, strawmanning, and namecalling.

EDIT: Okay, so with thirty posts in a few hours, I guess I called this one wrong. This IS a contentious issue apparently, even it doesn't appear to be one at first glance.
 

JPArbiter

New member
Oct 14, 2010
337
0
0
what does it say that I am more worried about how this will throw a gargantuan monkey wrench in Disney's plans for the Marvel Property, particularly the MCU?
 

WarpedLord

New member
Mar 11, 2009
135
0
0
While it's certainly true that Kirby likely deserves more credit than he gets for some of these characters (although he obviously didn't get screwed over to the level of, say, Bill Finger), I do think some of what the family is trying to do is a bit ridiculous.

Seriously... they've been trying to terminate Marvel's copyright of the characters to ostensibly get those rights themselves? To what end, exactly? Marvel would almost certainly have to stop publishing those comics and stop producing all of the related merchandise and various other media. Sure, Kirby's family would likely be able to put together their own licensing deals at some point, but what damage would be done to the characters' popularity in the meantime? I think the potential money they'd be looking at would diminish significantly.

More importantly, though... what claim does the Kirby family really have on the rights to these characters? Sure, Kirby defined how these characters look, but he was NOT the sole creator. Yeah, maybe Stan the Man gets too much credit, but it's ridiculous to say he had NO input in the creation of the characters. Hell, there were probably other people stomping around the Bullpen that gave their input as well. While Kirby's family maybe... MAYBE deserves some portion of the revenue these media titans generate, there's no way in Hell they should get ALL of it.
 

RossaLincoln

New member
Feb 4, 2014
738
0
0
Falterfire said:
Really? You start a column named Social Justice Warrior and then open it up with something as relatively non-controversial (At least on the internet) as "Copyright laws are broken and Jack Kirby deserves far more credit than he gets"?

I DEMAND that you make columns that result in flame wars or I'm going to make ludicrous empty threats in the hopes of provoking arguments that devolve into pointlessly nitpicking, strawmanning, and namecalling.
I promise next week's will be far more trololololo. On the other hand, I was hoping that economic justice would provoke the same effect!
 

Callate

New member
Dec 5, 2008
5,118
0
0
I'm not sure how success by Kirby's heirs would make things better on a grand scale. It sounds like employers would simply add another page of indecipherable legal boilerplate to their contracts, which employees, pushed to the wall anyway, would likely sign without reading.

I'm not going to suggest that artists (let alone anyone else) should somehow feel "lucky" for getting to work for a trivial amount of what their work brings in, but that's frequently the choice: work for a pittance under crappy conditions, or don't work at all and hope that your feeling of self-satisfaction keeps you warm when the unpaid heat goes off.

It seems to me what we need is rights that cannot be contractually signed away at all, under any circumstances. The "no lawsuits, only third-party moderation" clauses that have been quietly slipped into the EULAs of many games are one of many steps off a cliff that our legal system, in its incredibly finite wisdom, have decided are just fine and dandy.
 

RossaLincoln

New member
Feb 4, 2014
738
0
0
Callate said:
I'm not sure how success by Kirby's heirs would make things better on a grand scale. It sounds like employers would simply add another page of indecipherable legal boilerplate to their contracts, which employees, pushed to the wall anyway, would likely sign without reading.

I'm not going to suggest that artists (let alone anyone else) should somehow feel "lucky" for getting to work for a trivial amount of what their work brings in, but that's frequently the choice: work for a pittance under crappy conditions, or don't work at all and hope that your feeling of self-satisfaction keeps you warm when the unpaid heat goes off.

It seems to me what we need is rights that cannot be contractually signed away at all, under any circumstances. The "no lawsuits, only third-party moderation" clauses that have been quietly slipped into the EULAs of many games are one of many steps off a cliff that our legal system, in its incredibly finite wisdom, have decided are just fine and dandy.
I didn't want to get bogged down by it here, but here is one way: If the default setting is no longer allowed to be "you're screwed unless we decide to be generous", it gives the labor side of the equation tremendously more leverage in negotiations. That default setting is currently one of the reasons freelancers have had such a difficult time even kind of banding together collectively. Like the Guilds note, the courts interpretation of the law vis a vis Kirby undermines their own collective bargaining rights.
 

LysanderNemoinis

Noble and oppressed Kekistani
Nov 8, 2010
468
0
0
Oh wonderful, yet another way to shove politics into gamers' faces. Yes, I know this one wasn't political, but come on. Is it possible for one day, just one, where games can just be enjoyed and life can just be lived without having to hear how horrible I am for being a straight, white male? You know, if we really want diversity, maybe The Escapist should have a show or column by someone who doesn't march in left-wing lockstep like all the others? But I forgot, diversity is only diversity when it comes to the color of your skin, your gender, or who you like to have sex with - not thoughts.
 

Imp_Emissary

Mages Rule, and Dragons Fly!
Legacy
Aug 9, 2020
2,315
1
43
Country
United States
RossaLincoln said:
Falterfire said:
Really? You start a column named Social Justice Warrior and then open it up with something as relatively non-controversial (At least on the internet) as "Copyright laws are broken and Jack Kirby deserves far more credit than he gets"?

I DEMAND that you make columns that result in flame wars or I'm going to make ludicrous empty threats in the hopes of provoking arguments that devolve into pointlessly nitpicking, strawmanning, and namecalling.
I promise next week's will be far more trololololo. On the other hand, I was hoping that economic justice would provoke the same effect!
Economic Justice?

Sounds like a very boring super hero league. xD

<.< Unless it includes the likes of lawyer heros like Daredevil and She-Hulk.

Anyway, neat article. It's a shame that Kirby got screwed over, and while I'm not sure if the family should get EVERYTHING, they should get something out of this.

As for the legal stuff, I'm not 100% sure that if they family wins that it will help the nation at large, but it be nice to see the courts going on the side of someone besides a big company.

I mean, I'm pretty sure that supreme court case about games a while back went the way it did more because of how it would affect some pretty big companies rather than how it affected consumers.
I know that sounds cynical, but this supreme court has been pretty kind to large corporations thus far.

Also, good name to call this piece. I assume it was meant to be preemptive. ;p
 

RossaLincoln

New member
Feb 4, 2014
738
0
0
LysanderNemoinis said:
Oh wonderful, yet another way to shove politics into gamers' faces. Yes, I know this one wasn't political, but come on. Is it possible for one day, just one, where games can just be enjoyed and life can just be lived without having to hear how horrible I am for being a straight, white male? You know, if we really want diversity, maybe The Escapist should have a show or column by someone who doesn't march in left-wing lockstep like all the others? But I forgot, diversity is only diversity when it comes to the color of your skin, your gender, or who you like to have sex with - not thoughts.
What is your opinion on the issues discussed in this piece?
 

faefrost

New member
Jun 2, 2010
1,280
0
0
Someone please let me know? Did Kirby work within the Marvel offices in their much proclaimed 'Bullpen" era? or did he work from home or a personal office space? This is going to be a key determinant. I hate to say it, I have looked at the Kirby case a lot, and I have to say while Kirby in hindsight probably deserves more and more credit than he got, I still do not think that there is any legal basis to challenge the status quo. At least none that will succeed.

Kirby was the artist, but he was part of the collaborative Bullpen environment. Office space and facilities were provided by the employer. He was work for hire. A temp if you will by todays nomenclature.

Jack Kirby was pretty much the case study for "starving artist". He was a brilliant artist with an eye and hand and use of colors we had never ever seen before. He was also a piss poor business man. A simmering bundle of grudges that to all appearances never had the ability to properly assess the value of his own work, market it, or capitalize properly on his own fame. Case in point his DC Fourth World stuff. After he felt screwed by Marvel, he then, as the industries rock star artist, moved to DC. Did he negotiate a hugely lucrative contract? Nope. He did some self created stuff as well. How many here know what books or characters those are? Be honest.

Stan Lee was in many ways the best thing that ever happened to Kirby. Stan Lee out PT Barnums PT Barnum. He is perhaps the worlds greatest marketing guy. Consumers should be thanking the gods that he found his calling in Comics rather than selling us something like Cigarettes or Beer. It was the marketing push, the ability to sell the art that gave value to the art. The words as much as the pictures. And quite frankly Lee is or was a better businessman than Kirby. It sucks. Especially from Kirby's point of view. But how much is it the courts role to protect one from oneself and ones ability to make informed and coherent business decisions?

Have both the public's and the comic companies opinions changed regarding creator rights in modern times? Yes, most certainly. And part of that is the industry has evolved and grown from 5 cent funny books for kids on the rack in the drug store to a billion dollar industry. The law evolved over time as well. But a key legal principal is that law is not retro active. 1960's copyright law would still be the authoritative body for anything involving Kirby and Marvel, would it not? (and as far as that "new" 1970's contract that Marvel offered Kirby. No that is not an admission of anything claimed by the plaintiffs. The fact that apparent major changes to copyright law were already in the pipeline heading to Congress is just as much a legitimate justification for that new contract as any ulterior motive. Marvel's lawyers would have been negligent to not know what was coming legally and start creating contracts to reflect it.)

Kirby's family probably has a legitimate case to withdraw the rights to any actual Jack Kirby created art. They could block Marvel or seek payment for any use or reproduction of Kirby's actual drawings. That is his body of work. His and only his drawings of Mr. Fantastic, the Thing, etc. Not the characters. Not the character designs. Just his actual line work.
 

LysanderNemoinis

Noble and oppressed Kekistani
Nov 8, 2010
468
0
0
RossaLincoln said:
LysanderNemoinis said:
Oh wonderful, yet another way to shove politics into gamers' faces. Yes, I know this one wasn't political, but come on. Is it possible for one day, just one, where games can just be enjoyed and life can just be lived without having to hear how horrible I am for being a straight, white male? You know, if we really want diversity, maybe The Escapist should have a show or column by someone who doesn't march in left-wing lockstep like all the others? But I forgot, diversity is only diversity when it comes to the color of your skin, your gender, or who you like to have sex with - not thoughts.
What is your opinion on the issues discussed in this piece?
I think the family is entitled to what is, in all honesty, rightfully theirs. And I don't even care about American comics at all, seeing as how I think manga is much superior. But now that I have addressed the issue of the article, will anyone answer my question has to whether or not The Escapist is going to turn into MSNBC (with games) or if there will actually be diverse opinions among those who produce columns and/or shows.
 

BrotherRool

New member
Oct 31, 2008
3,834
0
0
I'm broadly against large inheritances in all areas. It's very human to want your own family to be well provided for, instead of providing for everyone, but that doesn't make it right. It's not just a creative thing. It's kind of scary in the US just how powerful political dynasties have often been and business owners handing over their businesses to their children isn't just unfair, but often terrible for the business.

On the other hand, I'm not going to sleep badly if friggin' Disney has to pay some people some money for once.
 

RossaLincoln

New member
Feb 4, 2014
738
0
0
Great article Ross. Its nice to finally have something positive to attribute to such a shitty, stupid term like "Social Justice Warrior". Looking forward to next weeks article!
 

Greg Tito

PR for Dungeons & Dragons
Sep 29, 2005
12,070
0
0
LysanderNemoinis said:
Will anyone answer my question has to whether or not The Escapist is going to turn into MSNBC (with games) or if there will actually be diverse opinions among those who produce columns and/or shows.
Short answer: No.

Slightly longer answer: The Escapist employs writers and creators to make entertaining articles and videos related to geek culture. Political leanings - one way or the other - are beyond the scope of this website. The only political party we belong to is Geek.
 

medv4380

The Crazy One
Feb 26, 2010
669
0
21
RossaLincoln said:
Is Jack Kirby's Family Greedy? Who Cares!?

Worrying about how much money Kirby's heirs "deserve" from his creations is an annoying digression from the real issue.

Read Full Article
You know what's more annoying? People who can't tell that it's pure and simple greed. Artists who think that their work is so superior to every other endeavor that they deserve more rights than anyone else.

I write code for a living. Even without a formal contract stating as such it's pretty clear that it's Work for Hire. Are You going to fight for an absurd right that I have copyright ownership? It would be stupid, and what's more stupid is that "Artists" think that their work is Sooo much more important that say the writer that the writer should get nothing but the contract for that one single solitary story and that they should get all re-imagined works copyright forever.

How how about Kirby's colorists? What do they get, or do we only count the person who made the pencil sketch?

If you're not willing to follow up your rant with actual respect for anyone other than "artists" that you recognize as "artists" on this issue then you're opinion is mute. Though I'd love to see you try to rational John Ramerios rights to all things Doom over John Carmacs Just For Fun.

It was clear that Kirby's work was work for high. Had he made them on his own and sought publication I might be included to agree with his estate. As it stands, Kirby's work on the "new gods" was sub par, and makes me suspect that Kirby was next to nothing without a good writer like Stan at his back, and a support team to keep things going smoothly.
 

shirkbot

New member
Apr 15, 2013
433
0
0
BrotherRool said:
I'm broadly against large inheritances in all areas. It's very human to want your own family to be well provided for, instead of providing for everyone, but that doesn't make it right. It's not just a creative thing. It's kind of scary in the US just how powerful political dynasties have often been and business owners handing over their businesses to their children isn't just unfair, but often terrible for the business.

On the other hand, I'm not going to sleep badly if friggin' Disney has to pay some people some money for once.
I'm similarly against large inheritances, but in this instance I'm more frustrated that this is even a legal case. These characters are still popular, they are still making money, but they are 50 years old and I want that copyright to expire.

That said, I know my stance is the least likely to gain ground, so I'll take solace in a megacorp paying an under-appreciated artist's family.
 

RossaLincoln

New member
Feb 4, 2014
738
0
0
faefrost said:
Someone please let me know? Did Kirby work within the Marvel offices in their much proclaimed 'Bullpen" era? or did he work from home or a personal office space? This is going to be a key determinant. I hate to say it, I have looked at the Kirby case a lot, and I have to say while Kirby in hindsight probably deserves more and more credit than he got, I still do not think that there is any legal basis to challenge the status quo. At least none that will succeed.

Kirby was the artist, but he was part of the collaborative Bullpen environment. Office space and facilities were provided by the employer. He was work for hire. A temp if you will by todays nomenclature.

Jack Kirby was pretty much the case study for "starving artist". He was a brilliant artist with an eye and hand and use of colors we had never ever seen before. He was also a piss poor business man. A simmering bundle of grudges that to all appearances never had the ability to properly assess the value of his own work, market it, or capitalize properly on his own fame. Case in point his DC Fourth World stuff. After he felt screwed by Marvel, he then, as the industries rock star artist, moved to DC. Did he negotiate a hugely lucrative contract? Nope. He did some self created stuff as well. How many here know what books or characters those are? Be honest.

Stan Lee was in many ways the best thing that ever happened to Kirby. Stan Lee out PT Barnums PT Barnum. He is perhaps the worlds greatest marketing guy. Consumers should be thanking the gods that he found his calling in Comics rather than selling us something like Cigarettes or Beer. It was the marketing push, the ability to sell the art that gave value to the art. The words as much as the pictures. And quite frankly Lee is or was a better businessman than Kirby. It sucks. Especially from Kirby's point of view. But how much is it the courts role to protect one from oneself and ones ability to make informed and coherent business decisions?

Have both the public's and the comic companies opinions changed regarding creator rights in modern times? Yes, most certainly. And part of that is the industry has evolved and grown from 5 cent funny books for kids on the rack in the drug store to a billion dollar industry. The law evolved over time as well. But a key legal principal is that law is not retro active. 1960's copyright law would still be the authoritative body for anything involving Kirby and Marvel, would it not? (and as far as that "new" 1970's contract that Marvel offered Kirby. No that is not an admission of anything claimed by the plaintiffs. The fact that apparent major changes to copyright law were already in the pipeline heading to Congress is just as much a legitimate justification for that new contract as any ulterior motive. Marvel's lawyers would have been negligent to not know what was coming legally and start creating contracts to reflect it.)

Kirby's family probably has a legitimate case to withdraw the rights to any actual Jack Kirby created art. They could block Marvel or seek payment for any use or reproduction of Kirby's actual drawings. That is his body of work. His and only his drawings of Mr. Fantastic, the Thing, etc. Not the characters. Not the character designs. Just his actual line work.
I'll just repeat that apparently, Marvel thought he might have had a claim, so when his contract came up, they gave him a new one requiring him to give up all such claims forever. Also too, see the Copyright Act of 1976 for why in fact this is more complicated than you describe.
 

LysanderNemoinis

Noble and oppressed Kekistani
Nov 8, 2010
468
0
0
Greg Tito said:
LysanderNemoinis said:
Will anyone answer my question has to whether or not The Escapist is going to turn into MSNBC (with games) or if there will actually be diverse opinions among those who produce columns and/or shows.
Short answer: No.

Slightly longer answer: The Escapist employs writers and creators to make entertaining articles and videos related to geek culture. Political leanings - one way or the other - are beyond the scope of this website. The only political party we belong to is Geek.
Well, thanks for the answer, but it's still the answer you'd get from someone who works at MSNBC. In both cases, it's like asking a fish what they think about the water in the tank. "Water? What, water?" Though it's funny that despite politics being "beyond the scope of this website," The Escapist is always utterly liberal, and with this new column, is pretty much saying, "Hey look, we're so left-wing it hurts!"

But as always with the case of these things, I don't even know why I bother to complain or voice my opinion. It's useless to argue, because the other side will never, ever win. Ah well... Guess I'll just try to enjoy video games until they're all BioShock Infinite.
 

RossaLincoln

New member
Feb 4, 2014
738
0
0
JPArbiter said:
what does it say that I am more worried about how this will throw a gargantuan monkey wrench in Disney's plans for the Marvel Property, particularly the MCU?
Fortunately for those of us who also LOVE the MCU, a favorable verdict wouldn't simply result in Marvel having to stop making movies. I stress I am not a copyright lawyer, and for a follow up on this topic I'll be consulting one, but my layman's understanding is that issues like the fact that Marvel has unveiled different takes on the characters over the years, the fact that Stan Lee gets co-creator credit on most of them, and other related complications, mean that this is more a matter of "who owns how much of what", not "who owns all or nothing".

One of my points here in this piece is that so far, the courts insist the Kirbys don't even have the right to bring the case under the law. It would be a real victory if SCOTUS decides otherwise. Then of course the fun begins, and I imagine every CPA in Los Angeles is about to die of priapism just thinking about the accounting battles ahead.