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

Gerardo Vazquez

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WaltIsFrozen said:
I think this is the geek equivalent of "Sigh. I don't even OWN a television."
Oh don't get me wrong. It's not like I think comic books are superior to manga, both piss me off in different ways, so I can't really agree when one attempts to make the case that one is better than the other.
 

RossaLincoln

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Gerardo Vazquez said:
WaltIsFrozen said:
I think this is the geek equivalent of "Sigh. I don't even OWN a television."
Oh don't get me wrong. It's not like I think comic books are superior to manga, both piss me off in different ways, so I can't really agree when one attempts to make the case that one is better than the other.
I for one don't think you have to choose. Both types of comics have produced works of incalculable importance, and like every art form on earth, both types have produced dreck. I for one love both manga and comics.
 

Therumancer

Citation Needed
Nov 28, 2007
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I have mixed opinions on this. I hate corporate culture and the pure greed involved, however I do not always think big business is wrong. What's more, especially when dealing with old work, sometimes decades old, I do not think it's right to retroactively apply modern standards and viewpoints to something that already transpired. Kirby was writing in the 1960s and his situation and working environment wasn't unusual, it was the success his work lead to. Coming back with developments and attitudes decades later, based on a huge windfall created by some of his creations, strikes me as being wrong. One of the big principles of the US legal system is not to retroactively apply laws, and while it does happen (and is even legal to do in some cases) I do not generally support it, especially when dealing with cases of estates and long-standing copyrights and IPs.

The way I see it is this, if one argues that every writer or creator who sells a story or piece of art is entitled to a share of the profits should that work ever wind up making a ton of money, it would become nearly impossible to hire or print anything. Every single time you hired a writer or artist, effectively speculating on their work, you'd be taking a risk. The point of hiring something to make something for you, is that it's done FOR YOU, not something they are lending you. What's more even today when you submit to magazines and the like it's made very clear that your selling the publisher your work, not entering into a partnership with them.

Kirby was pretty much involved in a subset of the magazine trade for all intents and purposes, something people generally make pennies at. What's more, comics at the time were not that big as a competitive market. Simply being able to make money, reliably, off of what he was doing was a big deal, and truthfully if his stuff hadn't succeeded to an unprecedented degree, he probably would have been happy.

From the perspective of a publisher, these guys tend to pay out tons of money for garbage that goes nowhere, hoping that maybe, just maybe, for all of their overall investments something will "hit" and turn out like Kirby's work did. A lot of publishers go out of business engaged in this kind of speculation, and as such it's not surprising that when one has their investments pay off, they are reluctant to give away a huge amount of the money involved to an initial creator. After all the creator was profiting when he sold you his work, while you were the one gambling and taking the biggest overall risks with the publication.

Now ideally I do think they should have treated Kirby better. I don't think his demands (which amount to a direct cut of the profits and/or control of the work he sold) were reasonable, just as I think Marvel's counter-contract was kind of insulting. That said I think they could have worked harder to come to an agreement, it seems like it was a clash of egos, and the bottom line was Kirby preferred to storm off than simply take a payday and a job and end the conflict there without creative control.

The Kirby Kids do strike me as being greedy, because their push is largely fueled by the massive success of the current movies. Back when things were a lot less profitable they didn't make a push when it would have been more viable, because they want the money, not the rights per se, it's about money in the bank, not the principle of the thing. The timing here pretty much says it all. There have been decades where this stand could have been taken, but it wouldn't have had tens of millions of dollars as a potential payday. Whether there is a legitimate point buried in here or not, the point is there is very little nice people can say about the kids and their very transparent motivations.

As a fan, I prefer the right stay under one banner, and have a few different management voices as possible. It's already bad enough that we have three groups (Disney, Sony, and Fox) all sharing Marvel rights and apparently bickering with each other, without the Kirby kids coming in and becoming a fourth force in all of this. Truthfully I wouldn't be surprised if in the end it formally ripped The Marvel Universe apart, and really the collective IP is stronger than the sum of it's parts. Given to the kids, I think they would just grab the profits, sit on the rights with high hopes, and we'd really never see much done with them that approaches the glory of the unified Marvel Universe. This is not to say that I love Disney or any of the big companies involved, or anything like that.

Let's be frank here, up until fairly recently, writers producing incredible works and dying penniless was a painful stereotype for a reason. Kirby was a creator at a bad time, and I do feel sorry for him, but that doesn't mean I want to give his kids Scrooge Mcduck's money bin and tear apart The Marvel Universe. He pretty much dealt with publishers like nearly everyone else, and the big thing is that he and his family are bitter because his stuff sold on a mega-level where most people writing never did and were happy just to get paid and see themselves in print.

I'll also say that Kirby is a bit of a character himself, as the article pointed out he was apparently bitter over Stan Lee being more of a "face" than he was and not getting much credit. That's kind of silly when you consider that most people who know comics know who Jack "King" Kirby is, right up there with Stan Lee. While he might not have gotten the money, he DID have the fame, and really I don't think he did a lot to leverage it, which is kind of on him. He seemed to become increasingly bitter, as opposed to adapting. If the guy had rallied, taken some business classes to learn more about that side of the business, and then started leveraging his own fame better, things might be a lot different. Half his problem seems to be that he was sulking, if he had produced enough work of similar value, he could have then negotiated based on "well if you want this stuff to make money on, then I want a cut from my older stuff".
 

Imperioratorex Caprae

Henchgoat Emperor
May 15, 2010
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The only way to make things right isn't paying out to the surviving members of the family, sorry thats not justice. It would only be justice if the issue that allowed Kirby to be summarily screwed out of his rights were fixed so that it doesn't happen to anyone else. You can't make right with a dead person by paying off his/her family, it just causes more and more grief especially 20 years after the person in question (and most of the people involved) are gone.
Justice and restitution aren't synonymous. Sometimes justice is preventing anyone else from suffering, and you can't attach a dollar amount to that.
 

RossaLincoln

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Imperioratorex Caprae said:
The only way to make things right isn't paying out to the surviving members of the family, sorry thats not justice. It would only be justice if the issue that allowed Kirby to be summarily screwed out of his rights were fixed so that it doesn't happen to anyone else. You can't make right with a dead person by paying off his/her family, it just causes more and more grief especially 20 years after the person in question (and most of the people involved) are gone.
Justice and restitution aren't synonymous. Sometimes justice is preventing anyone else from suffering, and you can't attach a dollar amount to that.
Dude, the likely result of a ruling in favor of the Kirbys would be rights being "fixed so that it doesn't happen to anyone else."
 

Fox12

AccursedT- see you space cowboy
Jun 6, 2013
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LysanderNemoinis said:
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.
Well, being a straight white male doesn't reall have anything to do with the article.

But yeah, I agree that calling your weekly article the Social Justice Warrior is incredibly pretentious, and thats from domeone who actually agreed with the points made. If he eants to change hearts and minds, he may want to start by changing the title of his article. I don't mind serious issues being discussed, but it often feels like The Escapist has an agenda, and is more concerned with pressing a social view than providing any kind of impartial information. I like Escapist best when it's not being sensational. Movie bob is probably the worst offender, since his priorities seem to be politics first, actual quality of the film a far second.
 

Vault101

I'm in your mind fuzz
Sep 26, 2010
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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.
>talks about diversity being shoved in ones face

>IN AN ARTICLE THAT HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH DIVERISTY

>wut?

[sub/]also no one is saying your bad for being X...thats a self centered attitude people somhow get into their heads[/sub]
 

antipope

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The only conclusion I can reach after reading this particular Article is that escapist has taken to hiring uninformed unprofessional hacks. I wouldn?t normally insult an author of a piece with the term hack, since insults don?t make for a rational discourse, but since Mister Lincolin already set the tone of the discourse by insulting people who disagree with him on the issue in the first two paragraphs I feel it is a justifiable and somewhat deserved breach of edict. So at the risk of being declare annoying by Licolin I feel compelled to explain why he is wrong.

Many of the claims are dubious or all but impossible to prove and ignore the contributions of other creators take the claim the estate has tried to claim on spider-man. While it is true that Jack Kirby had claimed that he came up with spider-man so has Stan Lee one might say that Lee has an agenda in these claims but the same is true of Kirby and both men have been noted for having somewhat spotty memories and each has made statements that have proven to be false. The most telling part of this particular instance is that Steve Ditko the actual credited artist for the original run on spider-man has mostly backed up Lee?s statements that Ditko was brought in after all of Kirby?s work was rejected. This is just one example of some of the complexities which put into question if his heirs are truly righting a terrible wrong that was done to Jack, to use Licolin?s overly melodramatic phrasing.

The case Lincoln actually makes to justify his righteous indignation seems to be based on leading questions and false logic more akin to the kind of speculation used by Ancient Aliens then what I generally find on the Escapist. Take this paragraph, ?Marvel offered Kirby a brand new contract that seemed very aware that he might have some kind of claim to his work. The contract included the express denial of any rights to the characters he created or co-created, and required him to agree that he would never take legal action against the company. If Kirby could never have had any legal claim to the work he delivered, why then did Marvel feel the need to specify that lack of standing?? Leading conspiracy theorist nature of the questions aside the answer could be as simple as it being a standard change in contract to cover Marvels bases as they were probably somewhat aware of coming changes to copyright law. This does not mean that they necessarily thought that he had a right to challenge simply that they want to make sure that they could prevent future challenges thus saving them legal cost of defending what they would assume to be a frivolous lawsuit, something Licolin might have considered had he not decide before hand that suing copyright holders was somehow a romantic proposition that is above questioning.

Most of this would be excusable except for the smug hypocrisy of the last page in which he claims making arguments about if the plaintiffs morally deserve the money makes you an asshole, again I only use vulgarity because Licolin did first. I am forced to admit that this was well said sir since you have made no case what so ever that Kirby was quote ?screwed? but seem to think that it is a moral certainty that he was. As you seem to believe that kirby?s heirs deserve the money more the corporations and other creators involved becomes you feel that artist are some sort of underclass incapable of understanding the implications of contract law and their rights as work for hire employees I hope you are ready to wear the vulgar moniker you place on others so glibly. Also you might want to look up the strawman fallacy before you sight it sense most of your augments are fallacies it might keep you from looking like so utterly foolish.

In closing your better then this escapist
 

Robyrt

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Does the Kirby case have a shot before the Supreme Court? Yes. The Marvel contract at the time and the Copyright Act are pretty vague, and there's some wiggle room to claim that Kirby is co-creator of many Marvel properties, not just artist on staff for those properties. However, I wouldn't get your hopes up for this leading to Justice For Contractors Everywhere. Modern lawyers have leveled up and modern contracts are much more explicit about who has rights to future derivative works based on these characters. (For instance, Chris Claremont and Frank Miller have no legal rights to Wolverine, despite being approximately 95% responsible for the modern concept of the character.)

Is the Kirby family greedy for pressing a copyright claim 20 years after the death of the author, and 50 years after the original incidents? Yes. It's hard to argue that they're motivated by anything more than a shot at some percentage of the buckets of cash the Marvel movies have been raking in. It's not like they have a problem with the way Marvel treats Thor these days.
 

And Man

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"The only conclusion I can draw is that it's because Jack Kirby was an artist, and culturally, we consider the arts to be, at best, a scam. As far as people who don't work in a creative field are concerned, being an artist means an easy life, far divorced from what 'real' people do"

Do people think this? I assumed most people saw the life of an artist as akin to the phrase "starving artist"; I know I always pictured the average artist as struggling to find work and having a rough time getting by.

I'm not going to comment on whether I think the Kirbys deserve the money or not, because I know nothing about the issue except what was presented in the article, and I didn't even know who Jack Kirby was before reading it, but I would imagine that most people in the same situation would try and get some money out of it (with a possible exception for fans that wouldn't want to hurt Marvel and wouldn't go through with it out of love for the company). I know I would.
 

RossaLincoln

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Robyrt said:
Is the Kirby family greedy for pressing a copyright claim 20 years after the death of the author, and 50 years after the original incidents? Yes. It's hard to argue that they're motivated by anything more than a shot at some percentage of the buckets of cash the Marvel movies have been raking in. It's not like they have a problem with the way Marvel treats Thor these days.

The whole point of my article is that ^^^ is irrelevant. As to your first point, I didn't want to get bogged down too much by elaborating, but at minimum, a decision in favor of the Kirbys will somewhat rebalance the negotiational relationship between contractors and hirers. Right now it's pretty much "unless we expressly agree not to screw you, you're screwed.
"
 

Nurb

Cynical bastard
Dec 9, 2008
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Change the title of whatever new site column this is, "Social Justice Warrior" will just put people off of it.

Other than this being a video game site, there are way too many Escapist staff doing social justice articles, podcasts and videos as it is.

If it's meant to be ironic, people will still have a negative reaction to the name.
 

lastjustice

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Therumancer said:
I have mixed opinions on this. I hate corporate culture and the pure greed involved, however I do not always think big business is wrong. .......(snip)
I feel like you have articulated what I feel sums up this situation best in this thread/article in your post. I couldn't have sad it better. (because I didn't hehe.)
 

medv4380

The Crazy One
Feb 26, 2010
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WaltIsFrozen said:
medv4380 said:
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.
As one coder to another, you've got two syntax errors in a row. It's YOUR opinion is MOOT.
I only have one thing to say to people like you but someone else says it oh so much better [http://youtu.be/BY2lUnNrWUw].
And mute isn't a syntax error. You'd have to consider it a logical error which begs the question "Are you really a programmer?". However, in this case it isn't even that because the definition of it as a verb "deaden, muffle, or soften the sound of." is the intended definition. Moot would be giving his rant the credit of a real argument when it's little more than a straw man argument to rile people up to like an inquisitor against someone who defamed his god.

And as a real programmer. No one writes proper syntax the first time. Then again if you don't even know the basics of why builds fail [http://www.itworld.com/big-data/424262/why-software-builds-fail] should I believe you actually are even a mediocre coder?

Oh, and to pour salt on your Grammer "Police" wound. You're using moot wrong. You're using a slang definition to say that a point of debate is meaningless. In this case my credentials as a programmer based off of English Grammar, and not math and logic. That isn't the definition of moot. You're slang is from the legal use of moot that is to mean that something is up for debate beyond the reach of the court, but people think it rhymes with mute so much that it's meaning is the meaning of mute because the court is now ignoring it. Moot means [http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/moot] that the something is genuinely debatable.

The example given by Webster "conservatives had shouted down the proposal when it was first mooted" does not mean that conservatives shouted down the proposal after it was first ignored. Rather it means Conservatives shouted down the proposal from the moment it was first brought up for debate.

So given your Logical Error resulting in a Grammar mistake I guess I have to thank you. My Opinion is valid for debate.

Thank you.
 

faefrost

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Jun 2, 2010
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RossaLincoln said:
Robyrt said:
Is the Kirby family greedy for pressing a copyright claim 20 years after the death of the author, and 50 years after the original incidents? Yes. It's hard to argue that they're motivated by anything more than a shot at some percentage of the buckets of cash the Marvel movies have been raking in. It's not like they have a problem with the way Marvel treats Thor these days.

The whole point of my article is that ^^^ is irrelevant. As to your first point, I didn't want to get bogged down too much by elaborating, but at minimum, a decision in favor of the Kirbys will somewhat rebalance the negotiational relationship between contractors and hirers. Right now it's pretty much "unless we expressly agree not to screw you, you're screwed.
"
The Kirby's have had their decision. Several times over. It is less than doubtful that SCOTUS will accept this case for hearing. There are no underlying or compelling conflicted legal issues. The lower courts have successively found the same thing. There does not seem to be any conflict or error of law. The only question at all is whether Kirby was in fact "Work for Hire" contract and as such did or did not have standing to claim the properties in question. The Courts have repeatedly said that yes he was WFH and the family has no standing under the law. Groups like WGA are attempting to drum up publicity, because this is a well known situation of this type. And they are obviously seeking to use it to break loose not just Marvel's Superheroes, but to lay claim to most of Hollywoods properties over the past 100 years. But that does not change the fact that there is pretty much nothing at all of compelling legal interest to SCOTUS in this case. It is extremely rare when the Court will seek to review multiple unanimous lower courts regarding a fairly clear up or down matter of standing. Unless Kenedy or Sotomayor happen to be big time silver age comic fans... I just don't see it happening. Yeah the Family filed a brief before the court and requested a hearing. Thousands of people do such every year. The court typically hears a few dozen cases. Most they choose not to act on and the lower court ruling will stand.
 

Nurb

Cynical bastard
Dec 9, 2008
3,078
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TopazFusion said:
Nurb said:
Other than this being a video game site,
Citation?
Where does it say this is a video game site?

Read the top of any page on this site, and you'll see:

"Video Games"
"Movies & TV"
"Comics & Cosplay"
"Tabletop"
"Science & Tech"

'Video games' only makes up one fifth of the content the Escapist covers.
I was going by what the site used to be I guess... Before subscriptions and recent changes that make it a pop culture site like IGN.

Though the reason I liked Escapist so much more was that it wasn't IGN or Kotaku with all sorts of fluff articles padding it out and/or trying to generate clicks by stirring controversy pots.

[sub]please don't ban me :I I was here to celebrate your fourth birthday, see?
[/sub]
 

camazotz

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Jul 23, 2009
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antipope said:
The only conclusion I can reach after reading this particular Article is that escapist has taken to hiring uninformed unprofessional hacks. I wouldn?t normally insult an author of a piece with the term hack, since insults don?t make for a rational discourse, but since Mister Lincolin already set the tone of the discourse by insulting people who disagree with him on the issue in the first two paragraphs I feel it is a justifiable and somewhat deserved breach of edict. So at the risk of being declare annoying by Licolin I feel compelled to explain why he is wrong.

Many of the claims are dubious or all but impossible to prove and ignore the contributions of other creators take the claim the estate has tried to claim on spider-man. While it is true that Jack Kirby had claimed that he came up with spider-man so has Stan Lee one might say that Lee has an agenda in these claims but the same is true of Kirby and both men have been noted for having somewhat spotty memories and each has made statements that have proven to be false. The most telling part of this particular instance is that Steve Ditko the actual credited artist for the original run on spider-man has mostly backed up Lee?s statements that Ditko was brought in after all of Kirby?s work was rejected. This is just one example of some of the complexities which put into question if his heirs are truly righting a terrible wrong that was done to Jack, to use Licolin?s overly melodramatic phrasing.

The case Lincoln actually makes to justify his righteous indignation seems to be based on leading questions and false logic more akin to the kind of speculation used by Ancient Aliens then what I generally find on the Escapist. Take this paragraph, ?Marvel offered Kirby a brand new contract that seemed very aware that he might have some kind of claim to his work. The contract included the express denial of any rights to the characters he created or co-created, and required him to agree that he would never take legal action against the company. If Kirby could never have had any legal claim to the work he delivered, why then did Marvel feel the need to specify that lack of standing?? Leading conspiracy theorist nature of the questions aside the answer could be as simple as it being a standard change in contract to cover Marvels bases as they were probably somewhat aware of coming changes to copyright law. This does not mean that they necessarily thought that he had a right to challenge simply that they want to make sure that they could prevent future challenges thus saving them legal cost of defending what they would assume to be a frivolous lawsuit, something Licolin might have considered had he not decide before hand that suing copyright holders was somehow a romantic proposition that is above questioning.

Most of this would be excusable except for the smug hypocrisy of the last page in which he claims making arguments about if the plaintiffs morally deserve the money makes you an asshole, again I only use vulgarity because Licolin did first. I am forced to admit that this was well said sir since you have made no case what so ever that Kirby was quote ?screwed? but seem to think that it is a moral certainty that he was. As you seem to believe that kirby?s heirs deserve the money more the corporations and other creators involved becomes you feel that artist are some sort of underclass incapable of understanding the implications of contract law and their rights as work for hire employees I hope you are ready to wear the vulgar moniker you place on others so glibly. Also you might want to look up the strawman fallacy before you sight it sense most of your augments are fallacies it might keep you from looking like so utterly foolish.

In closing your better then this escapist
Thank you for putting this all in context. I especially liked your Ancient Aliens analogy because it hammers home the assumptions without facts that the article is making.