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!

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