Sunday, October 30, 2011

Marvel Boycott Diary #21: Halloween Edition

It's always scary when we delve into the world of the Marvel Boycott. Just remember, in many ways, every day was Halloween for Jack Kirby!

Item! Ever since the lay-off of several Marvel employees two weeks ago, fans around the web have been calling for a separate boycott of the company. Of course, I feel this is a perfectly valid response. And despite the laid-off folks like artist Damien Lucchese declining to encourage a boycott, I will continue to encourage one, with the reminder that a boycott is not directed at the employees of a company but at its shareholders, board of directors and CEO. Furthermore, we shouldn't think of the comic book industry, comic creators, and least of all Marvel Comics as some sort of charity case that we must support no matter what, despite bad comics and bad behaviour, because someone may or may not lose a dream job working at The House That Jack Built. Also, Marvel has a toilet problem.

Elena Brooklyn has this to say about that:

Comics Beat reports that Marvel has only 1 bathroom for men and 1 for women. For the ENTIRE staff.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration requires at least 2 bathrooms per gender for a staff that size. Or one bathroom with 5 stalls if it’s unisex. And with NYC’s stronger worker protections and building codes maybe even more.

Maybe Make Mine Marvel should be Make Mine Urinary Track Infection since Comics Beat reports staff having to schedule their lunch shifts to accommodate the limited toilet access. That’s some sweatshop stuff people. Completely unacceptable.

Marvel CEO Perlmutter is the 1% as we say down at Liberty Square. The writers, editors, artists, colorists, admin workers, janitors and distro staff who make Marvel run and create value for the company are part of the 99%. Time for us to stand up for Yancy street against Wall Street.

Item! Nat Gertler has come up with a unique compromise for those who may not support Marvel's position on the Jack Kirby lawsuit but don't want to participate in a boycott or just can't bring themselves to stop buying Marvel comics featuring characters tht Jack Kirby created or co-created. Gertler suggests that every time you spend money on a Kirby-related Marvel movie, send a dollar to the Jack Kirby Museum. Gertler has set up a simple website, to help direct donations and explain his position. It's worth checking out. The Kirby Museum is a very good cause and they can use all of the donations you care to send them. And it would be nice if Gertler expanded his project to include all other Kirby-derived Marvel product (ie, buy a Thor Halloween costume? Why not send some money to the Kirby Museum?). However, it is no more than a band-aid solution that, at best, indirectly helps out the pro-Kirby lawsuit forces by supporting the Museum's educational mission. It's a nice way for those who feel guilty about supporting Marvel/Disney through movie and dvd sales to soothe their consciences, but little more. Remember, the money from those films in part goes towards fighting the Kirby heirs in court. Really, should you support both sides?

Item! Speaking of lack of support, Marvel recently cancelled Alpha Flight, the comic about Canadian superheroes. Is it because, as The Beguiling's Chris Butcher suggests, Marvel has something against specific Canadians?

Item! The newest blogger to join the boycott is Matt Springer. You can read Springer's blog here.

Item! Elsewhere in Kirby-land, the scholar Charles Hatfield has announced the upcoming release of his academic study of Jack Kirby, Hand of Fire, which promises to be a fascinating look at why Jack continues to matter today.

Charles Hatfield’s Hand of Fire: The Comics Art of Jack Kirby is a book about what Kirby did and why it matters. In particular, it focuses on Kirby’s artistic peak in the 1960s and ’70s. A critical exploration of cartooning, of superheroes, science fiction, and the technological sublime, Hand of Fire is the first academic monograph in English about Kirby’s work. In essence, it’s a book about why Kirby blew off the top of so many readers’ heads, and why he still does.

Hand of Fire is part of the University Press of Mississippi’s “Great Comics Artists” series. Look for it in January 2012.

Happy Halloween and don't forget to Boycott Marvel!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Marvel Boycott Diary #20: Occupy Yancy Street!

Here's my contribution to the Occupy Yancy Street movement/meme.

Make your own!

Nerd notes: Yancy Street was the home neighborhood of Ben Grimm aka The Thing of Fantastic Four fame. It was also home to Ben's old working-class pals, The Yancy St. Gang, who constantly tormented him with practical jokes and poison-pen letters. Yancy Street was apparently based on Delancey Street, the original stomping grounds of Fantastic Four co-creator Jack Kirby!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Marvel Boycott Diary #19: Vermont Event Features Steve Bissette on Kirby Legal Issues

The Center for Cartoon Studies and Vermont Law School present:

Marvel vs. Jack Kirby: Legal Rights and Ethical Might

Friday, October 21, 2:30, Nina Simon Classroom, CCS, White River Junction, VT

Jack Kirby was a defining cartoonist of his generation. From the 1940s through the 1960s, Kirby created or co-created the foundation that is the Marvel Universe: Captain America, the X-Men, the Fantastic Four, Thor, and the Avengers.

A billion dollar media empire is built on these superheroes.

Marvel, now owned by Disney, contends that Kirby worked under a work-for-hire agreement and his heirs have no right to the revenue his creations continue to generate for the company. A recent court ruling agreed with Marvel but appeals will surely follow.

Join The Center for Cartoon Studies’ Steve Bissette and Vermont Law School’s Oliver Goodenough as they discuss the legal, ethical, and moral issues of the Kirby decision for Marvel/Disney, the consumers of superhero stories, and the talent that creates them.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Marvel Boycott Diary #18: Happy Birthday Joe Simon!

Happy 98th Birthday Joe Simon!

Along with Jack Kirby, Joe Simon created Captain America.

To date, Marvel Comics and Disney do not acknowledge or credit Simon and Kirby for their creation. They receive no credit in comic book issues of Captain America and related titles (The Avengers, etc) and do not receive any royalties for the character or for reprints of their original stories from the 1940s. They receive no money from the Captain America movie which has grossed $362,584,292 worldwide.

About Joe Simon:

Joseph Simon was born October 11, 1913, in Rochester, New York. He worked as a newspaper artist and cartoonist before turning to the early world of comic books. In the late 1930s he met artist Jack Kirby and began collaborating with him. The pair created Captain America in 1941 and wrote and drew the first 10 issues of the Captain America comic book for Timely Comics (later Marvel).

They later moved to National/DC and created Sandman, the Newsboy Legion, the Boy Commandos, and Manhunter. Together they also invented romance comics and ran their own publishing companies (Crestwood, Mainline). In the 1960s, Simon moved into advertising, returning to comics briefly in the late-60s and reteaming with Kirby for a short period in the 1970s. As an artist and writer, and creator of several long-running characters and genres, Simon's contribution to American comic books and popular culture is immeasurable.

Please consider boycotting Marvel Comics until Joe Simon and the Jack Kirby heirs are given due credit for their work!

Monday, October 03, 2011

Marvel Boycott Diary #17: Please Support the Jack Kirby "Pop-Up" Museum

One of the ways that we can show our support for the Marvel Boycott to strengthen Jack Kirby's legacy is to provide financial backing to projects that put the genius of Kirby front and center. So, instead of buying Marvel reprints of his comics that don't pay royalties to the Kirby family, or Marvel comics that use characters Jack created without credit, maybe consider buying comics that pay royalties and give credit, like the DC Omnibus editions of Kirby classics, the Titan Books Simon and Kirby Library, or the new Kirby Genesis series of comics based on his creations.

And now there is a new way to keep the Kirby legacy alive: Rand Hoppe, one of the principles behind the registered not-for-profit Jack Kirby Museum, recently announced plans to open a temporary Kirby museum in Jack's old New York City neighborhood. The Kirby Museum has only been a virtual, online organization so far, with scattered archives and volunteers. Hoppe wants to open a physical storefront museum on New York's Lower East Side starting next month and he is asking for donations of $20 or more to get the project realized.

An actual Kirby museum would give fans of the King a place to see his original art and learn about his life, and would be an invaluable tool for presenting Kirby to the world and educating people about his central role in the creation of Marvel and its many characters.

Our intention is to set up a temporary, or “pop-up,” brick-and-mortar location for the Jack Kirby Museum during this November, December and January. The ideal size for this purpose is between 800-1,200-square-feet, and would feature original artwork, artifacts from Jack’s life, prominent guest speakers, educational programs and installation pieces inspired by and celebrating the unique work and life of Jack Kirby.

A space like this dedicated entirely to the life and work of Jack Kirby would be equally appealing to seasoned art patrons, pop-art connoisseurs, casual fans, tourists, and families. Successful implementation of this pop-up museum will allow us to pursue the ultimate goal of a PERMANENT space for the Museum in the near future.

Again, nothing like this has ever been attempted. And, in order to make this happen, we need funding.


[...] We understand that trying to raise significant funds in such a short amount of time is ambitious. Our current estimate is that we'd need more than $30,000 to fund the real estate end of the project (rent, legal, security, insurance, etc.) for ten to twelve weeks. While this sounds like an awful lot of money (and... it is!), it's really just a question of finding 1,000 Jack Kirby fans willing to donate more than $30 each! Simplistic? Perhaps. We prefer "optimistic", though. We don't underestimate Kirby fans....


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