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Matt Reed
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Robotmod

Joined: 16 April 2004
Posts: 33912
Posted: 28 February 2021 at 3:11am | IP Logged | 1 post reply

I feel like so much of this discussion is formed by scattered interviews and informed by opinions of third parties as well as personal biases that it's hard to take any of them at face value.  At the end of the day, why can't we just agree that two (or in some rare cases three) people came together to create a character and we'll never really know, for a fact, the origin.  Why has there always been this obsession to denigrate one creator in order to elevate another?  This Lee/Kirby/Ditko debate has been going on for decades.  It's nothing new.  I remember it as a Marvel kid of the 70s.  I've always refused to get in deep with it because I simply don't know.  None of us really does, even those who have read all the interviews and feels like they were "in the room" when it happened.  So why the need to take a side?  I just don't get it.  
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Jim Burdo
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Posted: 28 February 2021 at 8:20am | IP Logged | 2 post reply

Slate has an excerpt from the book about a profile of Stan Lee in 1966 that exacerbated the rift. Part of the problem seems to be that Stan Lee excelled at self-promotion, especially with fellow writers, that his collaborators like Jack Kirby had no talent or interest in. Kirby was described in the following terms: "If you stood next to him on the subway you would peg him for the assistant foreman in a girdle factory."

"Freedland has lived to regret what he wrote. “I feel sad that I was one of the things that made Kirby feel he was being shortchanged, which, in retrospect, decades later, I can see, yeah, he was,” he tells me. “ ‘Girdle factory.’ Oh, God. Oh, poor Kirby. What the hell was I thinking?”"

Lee does give Ditko credit for plotting Spider-Man, but he's pretty passive-aggressive about it.
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Paul W. Sondersted, Jr.
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Posted: 28 February 2021 at 12:49pm | IP Logged | 3 post reply

Whenever I "encounter" this debate online, I like to share this link from a VERY RELIABLE source...



Edited by Paul W. Sondersted, Jr. on 28 February 2021 at 12:49pm
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Rodrigo castellanos
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Joined: 03 July 2012
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Posted: 28 February 2021 at 12:56pm | IP Logged | 4 post reply

So perhaps he started with the assumption that he created Doctor Strange and then worked backwards, thinking "what would have inspired me to create such a character?  Hmm, maybe it was Chandu the Magician?"  And he made up a story to fit.  So not so much shady intentions as a mistake driven by false assumptions.

Haha come on man, I'm not Anti-Stan by any means but that's the very definition of "shady".

Stan definitely had a phase when he made these kinds of unfortunate statements. Kirby and Ditko left in bad terms, feelings were hurt all around, it's understandable to a degree.

Then he did try to make up for it to the extent he was comfortable with. And he did gave them lots of credit before when nobody did that and no one in their right mind would've thunk these characters were going to end up the billions of dollars generating multimedia powerhouses they are today.

Things are not black and white. The fact that Stan co-created incredibly successful characters with Kirby AND Ditko makes his contribution impossible to ignore.

If he was a talentless hack that just happened to stumble upon TWO incredibly amazing artists and conceptual thinkers whose potential was untapped before then that would make him the luckiest talentless hack in the face of the earth.

The truth is probably closer that they crossed paths at the right time and place and elevated each other way beyond their individual respective talents. That also explains why they couldn't find the same level of success on their own.

Think The Beatles. What are the odds of three of the most talented songwriters on the planet sharing the same bus in Liverpool?  It's statistically impossible. They met, elevated each other and their talent and they became that.

Eventually they did bicker, break up, tried to steal each other's credit and very bad blood all around. Human condition. The main difference is that while that happened, The Beatles still were individually mega famous multi millionaires (while still being ripped off plenty). Comics were a lot more unfair, even for Stan.





 
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Shawn Kane
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Posted: 28 February 2021 at 1:50pm | IP Logged | 5 post reply

I'm with Matt. Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, and Steve Ditko all are involved in creating something I love. Those people and their families can fight for the credit, it doesn't affect me either way. 

I've read articles with the writer who has said that he's not looking to discredit Stan Lee. But it seems like he wants to. Many people who take sides seem to feel as if Stan personally betrayed them now that they "know the whole story". I'm all for reading quotes from the parties involved or those who were close to the situation, but when the people writing about it put their own theories out there, I just don't have any use for them. 


Edited by Shawn Kane on 28 February 2021 at 2:16pm
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Jason Czeskleba
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Joined: 30 April 2004
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Posted: 28 February 2021 at 2:05pm | IP Logged | 6 post reply

 Matt Reed wrote:
None of us really does, even those who have read all the interviews and feels like they were "in the room" when it happened.  So why the need to take a side?  I just don't get it.
I don't think a discussion like this needs to be so contentious as to be seen as taking sides.  I sure don't consider myself "anti-Stan."  Someone suggested Stan never did anything to take too much credit, so I've posted examples of things that in my opinion constitute taking too much credit.  But if someone said Kirby never took too much credit I could post counter examples of that too.  I do think Stan can be faulted in this area, but I don't believe that somehow undoes his overall accomplishments.

We're all interested in this history.  There are some historical questions that will never be definitively answered, such as "how exactly were the stories in FF #1 and AF #15 plotted, and who contributed which ideas and plot points"?  That doesn't mean it's not fun and useful to look a the statements made by those involved, as well as others on the periphery, and make educated guesses.  One simply needs to acknowledge that an educated guess is just that, and nothing more.

 Peter Martin wrote:
Stan's words are in this order: Steve drew it, I added the words. This seems to me to be a more honest description than you are making out. You portrayed Stan as saying he brought in Steve to draw the character he was inspired to create... and the words simply don't say that.
If you had no knowledge of how Doctor Strange was created and you read that introduction, and then someone asked you who created Doctor Strange, what would your answer be?

The sequence Stan describes is:
1.  I needed a new superhero character for Strange Tales
2.  I remembered enjoying Chandu the Magician
3.  Then Steve Ditko took up the art chores and I wrote the words.

He implies his recollections of Chandu inspired to the creation.  He does not say anything to suggest Ditko had any role in the creation of the story.   It's also important to view this anecdote in context of the rest of the book.  In every other introduction, Stan describes his process as:  I came up with the idea for the character, wrote a synopsis, and gave it to Jack or Steve to draw.  Any average reader would assume the process was the same in this case, since (despite his vagueness) he doesn't say anything to the contrary.  That's certainly what I assumed when I read the book back in 1976. 


Edited by Jason Czeskleba on 28 February 2021 at 2:07pm
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Jason Czeskleba
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Joined: 30 April 2004
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Posted: 28 February 2021 at 2:14pm | IP Logged | 7 post reply

 Jim Burdo wrote:
Part of the problem seems to be that Stan Lee excelled at self-promotion, especially with fellow writers, that his collaborators like Jack Kirby had no talent or interest in. Kirby was described in the following terms: "If you stood next to him on the subway you would peg him for the assistant foreman in a girdle factory."

One interesting revelation in Riesland's book is that Nat Freedland (the author of that infamous article that really pissed Kirby off) was someone who hoped to become a Marvel writer, and he actually later took the Marvel writing test and failed.  So in restrospect, this article (which put Stan on a huge pedestal relative to everyone else) likely had the ulterior motive of currying favor with Stan so as to get work.

A big part of that article was a staged plotting session in which Stan and Jack pretended to plot an issue of FF in front of Freedland.  The issue had really already been plotted, and so they actually were just recounting a finished plot.  Kirby failed to grasp the significance of what they were doing and didn't bother to participate actively, and the end result was that it looked like Stan was the one who came up with all the ideas when he really was recounting a plot created by both of them.  If Freedland had seen a real plotting session, his article may have been much different.


Edited by Jason Czeskleba on 28 February 2021 at 2:17pm
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John Byrne

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Joined: 11 May 2005
Posts: 123892
Posted: 01 March 2021 at 10:03am | IP Logged | 8 post reply

A problem here is that fans went rather quickly—mostly in the Seventies—from knowing virtually nothing about what was happening “behind the scenes” to knowing quite a lot. We got ALL IN COLOR FOR A DIME, and Steranko’s HISTORY OF COMICS, and, yes Stan’s ORIGINS OF MARVEL COMICS.

These contained info that most readers knew not at all, and some of us basically mainlined them.

Unfortunately, some of those readers were deeply anally retentive, and once they started to accumulate bits of data they wanted ALL of it, and ALL the time.

They’d also been conditioned, thru the stories, to see plots and subplots everywhere. So, if Stan didn’t lay out every microscopic detail he was obviously holding things back deliberately.

Factor in the deification of Jack Kirby—but not Steve Ditko—and the fanboys are able to create Crusades against Marvel and Stan, much like drug addicts who hate their addiction, but cannot break free of it.

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Peter Martin
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Joined: 17 March 2008
Location: Canada
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Posted: 01 March 2021 at 11:00am | IP Logged | 9 post reply

The sequence Stan describes is:
1.  I needed a new superhero character for Strange Tales
2.  I remembered enjoying Chandu the Magician
3.  Then Steve Ditko took up the art chores and I wrote the words.
-------------------------
Yes, agreed.

And with our greater understanding from other details we now see that Stan is being very precise in what he says here. He never says he originated the character. Maybe he wrote it the way he did to mislead the reader. Maybe instead he is providing an anecdote to provide flesh to the story of how he related to this character he helped launch. I don't know; I can't read his mind.

We do know he wrote before this that 'twas Steve's idea. And we know he didn't write 'twas Stan's idea.
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Michael Penn
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Joined: 12 April 2006
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Posted: 01 March 2021 at 11:47am | IP Logged | 10 post reply

Do we know that Stan Lee, thinking of Chandu, at some point didn't very broadly suggest to Steve Ditko, how about a magician for a character? -- and then Mr. Ditko "on his own," as he said, specifically came up with the entire first issue?
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Michael Penn
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Posted: 01 March 2021 at 11:58am | IP Logged | 11 post reply

Lennon-McCartney's partnership often seems to come up as an analogy to the way a lot of artists and writers worked. It's interesting to note that despite their later mutual acrimony, which waxed and waned repeatedly until Lennon's death, they both stated that they disagreed about the origin of only a single song, "In My Life."

What's even more interesting are those who attempt to take a side about this lone dispute. Lennon was known for and freely admitted to having a poor memory and for deliberately giving often brutal responses in interviews with ulterior motives rather than (just) naked honesty. McCartney, albeit with a much different style, is known even to this day as an interviewee in complete control of his answers, far more politic than Lennon, maybe, but also much more prone to repeat the same stories over and over (and for many a Beatle fanatic, ad nauseam). Moreover, while he does not have the reputation that Lennon has for a faulty memory, both the other Beatles as well as their intimates and many a historian have found his recall to not necessarily be more reliable.

So, did McCartney, as he claims write the music to "In My Life" and Lennon only the lyrics? Or did Lennon write the words and music, exept for, as he said in a single interview, "the middle eight," i.e., the bridge. Now, there happens to be no bridge at all in "In My Life." But... does that still mean Lennon was wrong and McCartney is right? If Lennon misspoke in but one interview about this song, we should conclude what...?
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Rebecca Jansen
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Joined: 12 February 2018
Location: Canada
Posts: 2632
Posted: 01 March 2021 at 12:26pm | IP Logged | 12 post reply

Kirbys Krusaders was and is a definite thing. Zealots with a divine cause to fight for and be righter than thou about, but after Roz and then Jack were gone I guess they're fighting on behalf of other fans and maybe the estate? Like medicine a bit of it can be good for you, but a lot of it can make one ill. With Stan also gone there really isn't as much of a pushback to balance. Oh well, I guess the lawyers will stay busy somewhere. :^|

Imagine it's 1963 and you're holding a 12cent comic book... how many then could ever have conceived of major big budget movies of so many of these four color fantasies? I'm thinking it was unimaginable enough in 1979 at 40cents when we'd had (bowdlerized) tv cartoons, and a couple of tv series be successful, after Star Wars.
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