Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Marvel Boycott Diary #6: Seth

Seth on The Marvel Boycott

"...For a bunch of guys who like good-over-evil stories you sure meet a lot of morally bankrupt assholes"

--"Ashcan" Kemp


I love Marvel Comics. I have loved Marvel Comics as long as I can recall. Marvel Comics were among the very first comics I ever read.

I should qualify that statement though. When I say "Marvel Comics" I don't mean the heartless corporation. I mean Steve Ditko, Don Heck, Dick Ayers, Larry Lieber, Paul Reinman, Carl Burgos, Stan Lee (among others), and the most important name of all, Jack Kirby. The man who created most of it.

I was pretty disheartened recently to hear that the Marvel corporation had succeeded again in robbing Mr. Kirby of his credit and his legacy. And of robbing his children of the income their father would surely have liked to pass along to them.

The corporate lie about Kirby's role in the creation of all those characters is abhorrent. It's a bold faced lie. Everyone knows it's a lie. No one is fooled. Everyone lying for the company should be ashamed. Stan Lee should be ashamed. What the Marvel corporation is doing might be legal but it certainly isn't right.

I was even more disheartened to read some of the comments of comics fans last week. A great number of whom clearly have more sympathy for the Corporation than the people who crafted the comics they grew up with. I cannot understand this and I won't bother to try. No matter what you think of the Lee/Kirby collaboration and of who did what --I simply cannot understand how anyone could agree that Mr. Kirby does not deserve at least the same credit and compensation as Mr. Lee. That's asking the very minimum of justice. "Ashcan" Kemp was speaking about collectors in the quote above but it certainly applies to superhero fans as well.

Bryan Munn asked me if I would write a couple of words to support Steve Bissette's Marvel Comics boycott. I am certainly in favour of it. I hope it catches fire and spreads. The corporation badly needs to be shamed into doing the right thing.

Admittedly, it's a pretty symbolic gesture on my part. I cannot even recall the last item I purchased from the corporation (maybe a Marvel Masterworks volume or something of that sort), nor have I ever worked for them. I certainly won't work for them in the future either until something is done to right this wrong. This is a rather hollow promise as well though --what work would I likely be withholding from Marvel Comics?!! It's not much of a heroic stance on my part.

Still, I would encourage anyone reading this to refrain from supporting the corporation until some form of justice is brought forth for Mr. Kirby. Might I suggest that money usually spent on Marvel products be redirected into the back issue market --buy some of those charming early 60s comics. That's the real stuff anyway. Not the decades of vulgar elaboration that followed. Decades of barnacles encrusting Jack's works so thickly you can barely see his genius any longer underneath all that crud.

August 9, 2011


Box Brown said...

Well put!

Anonymous said...

Wonderful. whole heartly support this. Also agree with - what exactly motivates all the defenders of faceless corporations.
- Jim P.

Greenblatt the Great! said...

Ha ha! Beautifully articulated post...

Guess I've already been de facto boycotting them for decades based on the quality of the comics. My spare change tends to go into those glorious back issues on the convention/flea market circuit. Fun reads.

I've stopped enjoying the constant rehashing of concepts and senseless unit-boosting stunts a long time ago. There's nothing new to be found over at the ol' House of Recycled Ideas.

Years of "vulgar elaboration" sums it up. The company has been desecrating the Lee/Kirby/etc. legacy for two or three decades now...

J Smith said...

I support the boycott. But the boycott is based upon a mistaken notion: that Marvel is a comic book publisher.

They are no longer a publisher, and publishing represents a tiny portion of their business. They are in fact no longer called Marvel Comics, They are Marvel Entertainment. Movies, Toys, Merchandising is where they generate their money for Disney.

The evil empire will sooner close the publishing division of Marvel than care that us fans aren't buying their products in support of the King.

We represent a tiny portion of their market now. With the entertainment division representing the bulk of the company and the import lying in licensing they don't need us. The populous dwarfs us in importance.

Anonymous said...

Glad to see Seth comment on this.
Unlike Seth, and many other people with an opinion on this topic I don't love Marvel comics. I love Kirby comics, and the Marvel comics being examples of horribly mutilated Kirby comics I view them (aside from the art) as an abomination. Lee's sloppy graffiti defaces Kirby's work.
Maybe it would be different for me if I grew up with the stuff, but I read the 60's things in the 70's as back-issues, and at that time I viewed Lee as okay, but a pale shadow of Kirby the writer. Today Lee interests me about as much as old Scooby-Doo cartoons, which is not at all.

patrick ford

Jason said...

Very well put. Brings a tear to my eye, thinking of all the misguided fans who love Kirby's creations over Kirby himself. What are they afraid of? That Marvel will stop making movies and comics because he receives the credit he so richly deserves?

And I plan on boycotting ALL Marvel properties, Movies and all else included. This isn't just about comics. It's about everything they produce.

Gatomuerte said...

Hey Seth, where can we find out about Bissett's Boycot? heard about it but haven't seen specifics...


Anonymous said...

It just occurred to me that the last line of Seth's post mentioning "crud" echoed a bit of Kirby dialogue I was just commenting on over at the Matthias Wivel site:
Eve (gently touching Orion’s cheek): “There is something in that fierce and mangled face
beyond anything I’ve ever written about. The sleeping monster. The raging heart. A vessel of fire—which consumes—even love.” (Eve starts as Orion’s eye opens, focused on her hand) OH!”
Orion: “You’ve withdrawn your soothing touch madam. A pity—all that flowery crud ripped off—by untimely fright.

patrick ford

James Robert Smith said...

Boycotting that stuff here, too. The only Marvel stuff I will buy from this day forward are back issues of the comics that Kirby and Ditko created. (Please don't mention Lee as a creator--he was an editor and that's all.)

My son and I were all ready to go see the new Capt. America movie. Now, we won't.

BK said...

Thanks everyone for your comments. I've added the link to Bissette's original post calling for the boycott to the body of Seth's letter.

I think, as Jason noted, we should remember that the boycott should take in ALL Kirby-derived product, including video games, movies, Underoos, action figures, Ipod covers, sneakers, etc etc etc.

It's a big task but I'm optimistic that we can shame Marvel into action.

brown said...

Not to be rude but why dont you boycott DC Superman comics too?they did the same thing too to Siegel estate/family.
it just sound hypocrite to boycott one but not the other who done the same.

Chase Magnett said...

I started reading comics when I was twelve, picking up essential collections of Dr. Strange, The Fantastic Four and Spider-Man. My love of comics stems from the work of Kirby, Ditko, Lee and many other original creators. Although my tastes have expanded and changed over the years, moving to explore well beyond the superhero genre, I still hold a great deal of love and respect for those that made comics as they exist today possible.

That being said, I think this boycott is misguided, although the compassion felt for Kirby and his family is without a doubt proper. There are two problems with an all out Marvel boycott.

First, you probably won't see the change you desire. I don't want to say it's hopeless, but it's far more likely that a few great books that are on the verge of cancellation may be lost forever. The majority of the comic buying populace is not involved with this and there is no organization to change that. Internet posting isn't enough to affect change through a boycott. If it was, then Fox news would be ruling the free market.

Second, and this is by far a more important point, by boycotting Marvel, you're robbing the next generation of artists and creators of their incomes. It's easy to picture Marvel comics as a faceless, evil empire, but that is in no way a true representation of reality. The money you spend buying great reads like Criminal from Marvel doesn't get swallowed by some dark monster, it is income for creators like Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips. I recognize that many of you think a lot of what Marvel publishes is tripe, but there are also some fantastic books well worth reading. In fact, large corporations like Marvel are one of the few ways that new talented creators can start to make a living by contributing to the art we all hold so dearly. Love him or hate him, Robert Kirkman wasn't able to work full time in comics until Marvel gave him a boost. He now is an independent creator who works on a variety of beloved books.

All I ask is that you consider the consequences of a Marvel boycott, consider who it will really affect and who it will really help. When I spend money buying a Marvel book, or any book, it's because I respect the work inside and want to support the creator. When faced with this same decision, I think "The King" would have done the same.

Thanks for listening to a dissenting opinion.

Unknown said...

Brown- DC has had several settlements with the Siegel and Shuster families starting in the seventies with a ton of help from Jerry Robinson. This info is easily available.
Chase Magnett-Not sure I understand your logic about what a boycott is. Marvel is a corporation and corporations only speak in money and they are responsible to their stockholders to make money. If they do not make money they fail and are considered invaluable. I cannot think of a better way that the common comic/pop culture consumer can make their voice heard. And your argument that people will lose their jobs if we stop buying marvel comics is just not sounding too sound to me. If I stop eating at McDonald's, should I feel guilt that the employees of McDonald's will lose their jobs?

Henry R. Kujawa said...

"Still, I would encourage anyone reading this to refrain from supporting the corporation until some form of justice is brought forth for Mr. Kirby. Might I suggest that money usually spent on Marvel products be redirected into the back issue market --buy some of those charming early 60s comics. That's the real stuff anyway. Not the decades of vulgar elaboration that followed. Decades of barnacles encrusting Jack's works so thickly you can barely see his genius any longer underneath all that crud."

Well said. I remember I used to enjoy FANTASTIC FOUR when Rich Buckler & George Perez were doing it, but these days, I can't help but wish they had just cancelled the book when Kirby left.

I can't remember the last new book I bought from Marvel. Last year, the only "new" item I got from them was ESSENTIAL MARVEL HORROR Vol.2 (for half price from an Amazon Marketplace store). I've spent more time getting back-issues... NOT reprints, the REAL things, filling in the last few Kirby THORs i never read. The printing in the originals is still better than in any of their reprints.

Anonymous said...

Bravo, Seth! Very well put. The only thing I buy from Marvel is Kirby product. The corporation has us by the short hairs, as it did Kirby. If we want the Kirby experience, we often have to deal with the corporate monster. One thing I've been doing lately is re-reading Destroyer Duck. Although it's written by Steve Gerber, it's drawn by Jack and has the same biting satire that "Funky Flashman" had in Mr. Miracle.

brown said...

not talking about the 70's case when both of them still life.
what i mean is the 2000's case that being put up by Siegel family/estate.

BK said...

@Brown: One thing at a time! :)

@Chase Magnett: I agree that there are many great artists and even writers working at Marvel. There are even some making a very good living on Kirby-derived characters! But the boycott is directed at Marvel's bottom line and public profile, not at individual artists. The decision to participate in a boycott will be hardest for fans who are currently buying, reading, and enjoying Marvel comics but I would caution against thinking of the creators (or for that matter comic shops and distributors) as charity cases or victims who must be supported at the expense of doing the right thing morally in support of creators' rights in general and seeing justice done for Kirby and his family.