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Eric Ladd
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Posted: 25 February 2021 at 10:12am | IP Logged | 1 post reply

A friend pointed out a great Hollywood Reporter article from Roy Thomas regarding the Stan Lee biography that was recently published. It certainly provides a different and experienced view about the biography and passes the "where was your office" test that tends to disrupt other so called expert accounts of Marvel history.

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John Byrne

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Posted: 25 February 2021 at 10:22am | IP Logged | 2 post reply

As I have often said, one really needs look no further than Kirby on his own compared to Kirby with Stan to see what the latter brought, literally, to the page.

Kirby's artistic imagination was unparalleled, but sometimes his stories were a trifle mundane--and yes, only in the realms of superhero comics could that word apply! But Stan Lee very often took the "ordinary" stories being told in the pictures, and elevated them.

As a small example, I frequently point to the origin of the Red Skull seen in TALES OF SUSPENSE when that was Captain America's book. Look at only the pictures, and the story is very straightforward. Hitler finds a bellhop who he recruits and trains to be the Red Skull. One, two, three, done. But Lee steps in, and with little twists in the dialog makes the tale much more interesting.

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Daniel Gillotte
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Posted: 25 February 2021 at 11:19am | IP Logged | 3 post reply

We need to give credit where it is due as best we can. Can't we find a way to do that without "taking" credit from someone else? 
As JB points out, there's really no way one could say that Kirby or Lee is better without the partnership. As much as I like the DC Kirby stuff, it REALLY could have used some work from somebody talented like Stan if only on dialogue. (That being said, Stan could have used an editor sometimes, too on his more silly stuff but that's a different post.) Without Jack or Steve Ditko you don't get the Marvel Universe that we were lucky enough to get but you also don't get it without Stan. 

And this is also a problem of our culture in that we LOVE the story of the lone genius and we get tired of the more complicated REAL story that it takes many to bring things to life. Walt Disney, Stan, even people like Elon Musk and Steve Jobs. Everyone of them are important parts of extremely collaborative undertakings that have a lot of input points but we only hear about the singular hero. 


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Dave Kopperman
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Posted: 25 February 2021 at 11:50am | IP Logged | 4 post reply

About thirty years ago, The Comics Journal (of all places, given their tacit support of Kirby's claim that he was the sole creator) published a comparative analysis of the Lee/Kirby work and Kirby's solo work.  The author came to a very convincing conclusion that Lee was the primary author of the Marvel Silver Age since the themes underlying the stories were different or even at times diametrically opposed to what drove Kirby's work (Fourth World, in this case).  

Without a doubt, Kirby, Ditko, etc., contributed immensely and increasingly to the plotting, but Lee was the one who invested the stories with theme and meaning.
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James Johnson
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Posted: 25 February 2021 at 11:51am | IP Logged | 5 post reply

This discussion will never end. Even the Washington Post has got into the act this week


But one thing is for certain. When Kirby returned to Marvel, he was given CAPTAIN AMERICA and the BLACK PANTHER (let's also include the ETERNALS) to write, draw, and edit.

Visually and plot-wise, those books had that Kirby Kreativity. The stories, well, Jack did the best he could.
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John Byrne

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Posted: 25 February 2021 at 11:58am | IP Logged | 6 post reply

Sadly, Kirby came back during the "Jack the Hack" phase, so his work on the titles you mention was largely rejected by fans and comic shop managers. The books--at least under his tenure--died fast.
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Dave Kopperman
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Posted: 25 February 2021 at 12:06pm | IP Logged | 7 post reply

I was too young to experience any of Kirby's work in real time, but looking back, it's INSANE that people thought he was hacking it out on his 70's Marvel stuff.  It's the era of his most intense visuals, with double page spreads that rank as the best the medium has ever seen.

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Brian Miller
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Posted: 25 February 2021 at 1:18pm | IP Logged | 8 post reply

Well, Rascally Roy has thankfully ensured Iíll never read this book.
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Rebecca Jansen
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Posted: 25 February 2021 at 1:48pm | IP Logged | 9 post reply


Jack Kirby did write things on the page as well as draw them. I think he had a huge imagination. He did not have an ear for dialogue at all though, nor was he a sales person at all, both things Stan Lee was entirely excellent at. Ditko on his own is fascinatingly idiosyncratic and eccentric, so there's that appeal, and I'm sure for fans of later Kirby there is something that works for them about it. I bought Captain Victory and Silver Star as much to simply support something new, or for the extra features.

I think in that return to Marvel you can see The Eternals as a replay of The New Gods, and Devil Dinosaur (and Moon Boy) as a variation on the popular Kamandi. I prefer Ditko's Machine Man, but Kirby's Machine Man is pretty interesting, although perhaps an accidental outgrowth from the 2001 license. His Captain America and Black Panther looked great but I pretty much filed them under 'skip these'. I take it he was determined to not have someone impose anything upon his scripts as part of returning to Marvel?

Stan Lee is why everyone knows The Fantastic Four and Spider-Man but not The Challengers Of The Unknown or The Fly/Fly Man.

Edited by Rebecca Jansen on 25 February 2021 at 1:50pm
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Robert Bradley
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Posted: 25 February 2021 at 3:19pm | IP Logged | 10 post reply

I've been reading the book, and feel that for the most part it's pretty fair.

I have always felt that all those works were done as collaborations, but as the book points out, Stan was paid as th editor for the line, plus was being paid as sole writer with the artist, who in some cases such as Ditko, Kirby and Wally Wood, was also plotting the stories with no extra pay.  At the least the artist was serving as co-plotter with no increased pay.

The book depicts Stan as someone who loved the fame and needed the high income, but desperately wanted success outside the world of comics.  I think this much is indisputable, the book also goes on to present both sides of the creative debate, taking a position in the middle, but always seeming a little more sympathetic to the artists who didn;t have the luxury of a staff position.

I am just not getting through the portion of the book on his post-Marvel business dealings (such as Stan Lee Media) and it seems that Stan managed to get caught up with a few conmen at different times and that near the end of his life there were unfortunately several people in his life who felt that would be the opportunity to make sure their own nest was well-feathered.

Stan wasn't perfect, he seems like a nice guy, and I think his success was mixture of ability, the collection of people he collaborated with, and being at the right place at the right time.

But let me say this - the book does call Stan out on some of the decisions he made, and it doesn't sugarcoat things just because what they did worked so well.

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James Johnson
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Posted: 25 February 2021 at 4:50pm | IP Logged | 11 post reply

JB,

If I'm not mistaken, when Kirby returned to Marvel, you had just started there as an art robot.

With the titles Kirby was working on, he also teased the fans with covers of other books (I remember plenty of FF, THOR, IRONMAN, &  AVENGERS). I had hopes that one day he was going to at least give us art for an issue or 3 on one of those titles.

Do you know if he was offered to provide art for any of those titles?

Thanks!
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Peter Martin
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Posted: 25 February 2021 at 5:17pm | IP Logged | 12 post reply

I appreciated Roy Thomas putting that article together.
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