Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Mystery of Hoard Solved

or, Uncle Billy's Whiz-Bang

Heritage is auctioning one of those once in a lifetime finds. Collectors will groan at the pure innocence of the man who found this hoard of extremely valuable comics in his aunt's closet.

You can see the auction house's own press release here. Other items in the auction but not the same collection, include Robert Crumb's cover for The People's Comix, estimated at $30,000 --as well as other art by Kirby, Ditko, Barks, Frank Miller, Wood, and more. Check out the full listing here.

I wonder if the Hernandez Bros know this guy?

Rorrer, 31, of Oxnard, Calif., discovered his great uncle Billy Wright's comics neatly stacked in a basement closet while helping clear out his great aunt's Martinsville, Va., home a few months after her death. He said he thought they were cool but didn't realize until months later how valuable they were.

Rorrer, who works as an operator at a plant where oil is separated from water, said he was telling a co-worker about Captain America No. 2, a 1941 issue in which the hero bursts in on Adolf Hitler, when the co-worker mused that it would be something if he had Action Comics No. 1, in which Superman makes his first appearance.

"I went home and was looking through some of them and there it was," said Rorrer, who then began researching the collection's value in earnest.

He found out that his great uncle had managed as a boy to buy a staggering array of what became the most valuable comic books ever published.

"This is just one of those collections that all the guys in the business think don't exist anymore," said Lon Allen, the managing director of comics for Heritage Auctions, the Dallas-based auction house overseeing the sale.

The collection includes 44 of The Overstreet Comic Book Price Guide's list of top 100 issues from comics' golden age.

"The scope of this collection is, from a historian's perspective, dizzying," said J.C. Vaughn, associate publisher of Overstreet.

Once Rorrer realized how important the comics were, he called his mother, Lisa Hernandez, 54, of League City, Texas, who had divided them into two boxes. She sent one to him and kept the other one at her house for his brother. Rorrer and his mother then went through their boxes, checking comic after comic off the list.

"I couldn't believe what I had sitting there upstairs at my house," Rorrer said.

Hernandez, who works as an operator in a chemical plant, said it really hit her how valuable the comics were when she saw the look on Allen's face after he came to her house to look through the comics she had there.

"It was kind of hard to wrap my head around it," Allen said.

Rorrer said he only remembers his aunt making the fleeting reference to the comics when she learned that he and his brother, Jonathan Rorrer, now 29 of Houston, liked comic books. He said his great uncle, who died in 1994 at age 66, never mentioned his collection.

The Action Comics No. 1 - which Wright bought when he was about 11 - is expected to sell for about $325,000. A Detective Comics No. 27, the 1939 issue that features the first appearance of Batman, is expected to get about $475,000. And the Captain America No. 2 with Hitler on the cover that had caught Rorrer's eye? That's expected to bring in about $100,000.

Allen, who called the collection "jaw-dropping," noted that Wright "seemed to have a knack" for picking up the ones that would be the most valuable and managed to keep them in good condition. The core of his collection is from 1938 to 1941.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Marvel Boycott Diary: Top Ten Songs The Jack Kirby Petition Would Be

So I had a few drinks and listened to some hurtin' songs. Then I wondered about the soundtrack that would play when Jack Kirby finally gets his due.

Please sign the Kirby petition.

#10. Waylon Jennings, Mental Revenge. "I hope that the friend that you find yourself with gets drunk and loses his job/and that the road that you're traveling on gets rough, rocky and hard/you never really loved me, you only made me blue/and all in all if the curtain should fall, I hope it falls on you."

#9 Blondie, One Way Or Another. I like to picture Kirby listening to Blondie records while penciling The Eternals. Thena and Kro teaming up against The Celestials? Totally a Debbie Harry moment.

#8. Destiny's Child, Survivor. Maybe Beyonce could be one of Kirby's zaftig amazons?

#7. Big Maybelle, One Monkey Don't Stop the Show. Blues diva Big Maybelle (1924-1972) had a storied career and many hits, the last in 1967. Born in Jackson, Tenessee, she toured the entire U.S., including the Apollo Theater in New York City. She recorded "Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin On" two years before Jerry Lee Lewis. This rendition of the Rose McCoy-penned classic "fuck you" song is a great hard-boiled jilted lover tune.

#6. Kate Bush, The Wedding List. A song based on the 'La Mariee Etait En Noir' or 'The Bride Wore Black' by Francois Truffaut. Revenge melodrama. Kirby could have seen it in a matinee in 1969 or so.

#5. Rocky Racoon by Lena Horne. I like to think that Jack could have heard this version of the Beatles country-blues themed murder ballad, originally presented on Charles Manson's favourite record, here recorded by that most classy of dames, Miss Lena Horne, sometime in the 1960s or 70s on a late-night FM broadcast or maybe on some 80s variety show with jokes written by Mark Evanier.

#4. Nazi Rock by Serge Gainsbourg. Born Lucien Ginsburg in Paris, France, the son of Russian Jewish emigrants, Serge Gainsburg survived the Nazi occupation to become once of France's biggest pop stars and sex symbols. Cartoonist Joann Sfar has recently directed a film of his career, Gainsbourg: A Heroic Life.

#3. Magnetic Fields, Yeah Oh Yeah. I love this song and decided to throw it in here since it seems to be an oblique criticism of an incompetent "lesser" artist. It kind of has a quirkiness and enunciation that I associate with Kirby.

#2. The Clash, Ghetto Defendant. As seen in his classic "Street Code" comic book short story, Kirby was the original ghetto defendant. Here, Alan Ginsberg updates the Kirby experience to the 1970s.

#1 what else?

Woody Guthrie Tear the Fascists Down. Kirby as Depression-era scrabbler, Captain America creator, World War II veteran.

Marvel Boycott Diary: Local comic fan petitions Marvel to recognize Avengers creator

So, I was interviewed by my local newspaper about the Jack Kirby petition. I tried to stick to some basic facts about Kirby's life and what we are trying to accomplish with the letter to Marvel/Disney. I encourage others who are interested in this cause to contact their local media. Email. Phone. Send a press release. Please help to get the word out!

The article appeared today. Here's how it came out:

Local comic fan petitions Marvel to recognize Avengers creator
by Thana Dharmarajah, Mercury staff
Wed Feb 15 2012

GUELPH — When you watch The Avengers movie or read a Captain America comic, Bryan Munn wants you to know the man who created those characters is Jack Kirby.

The Guelph resident has begun an online petition to advocate that Marvel Entertainment ensures that Kirby gets credit for any future film, book, toy or product featuring Kirby’s creations such as Captain America, Thor, Iron Man, The X-Men, The Fantastic Four, and The Avengers.

“The artists and writers who create (these comics) are generally not paid very much and have to fight to get any sort of recognition,” Munn said.

Marvel does state by whom the comic is written and drawn, but it doesn’t acknowledge the creator, Munn said.

Marvel declined to offer any comment for this story.

Munn added that he grew up with these comics and they put him on a path to making comics a lifetime hobby and interest.

Marvel just announced this week that it is updating Fantastic Four to be more modern in the Season One editions. It has been reported that the characters will be more hip and carry cellphones.

Munn started the online petition Jan. 31 on change.org asking Marvel to give credit and royalties to Kirby’s family.

Kirby, who died in 1994, was born in New York’s Lower East Side and became one of America’s most influential comic book creators. He worked for a number of comic book publishers before teaming up with writer Joe Simon and creating Captain America for Timely Publications, which is now Marvel in 1940.

He left the company after dispute over royalties.

In 2010, his family sued Marvel to terminate copyrights and get royalties for his comic creations. The family lost the court battle and is in the process of appealing the court decision.

Munn wants to send a message with his petition.

“It will send a message that these characters are valued and deserve compensation for what they do,” he said.

Kirby has had a lifelong struggle to retain control over his creations, Munn said, but with a large supporter of fans behind him, there could be some impact.

He said he is also launching the petition now since the movie, The Avengers, is to be released this spring.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Marvel Boycott Diary: Ghost Rider, Walking Dead, and Jack Kirby

A big week for comics legal news and the fight for creator rights.
Some highlights (or low-lights, as the case may be):

1. Today it was revealed that Marvel is demanding Gary Friedrich, the creator of Ghost Rider, to pay $17,000 for prints of his creation he has sold over the last decade. This is ridiculous and cruel. Friedrich is broke and ill. Not only has Marvel won the legal claim to creating the character under the work-for-hire legal loophole, they are pouring salt on the wounds by seeking these extra damages. Fans are upset, espehttp://www.blogger.com/img/blank.gifcially with the new Ghost Rider movie about to open in theaters. There is a facebook page with tons of resources that you can like here. Both Forbes magazine, Hollywood Reporter, and the usually pro-Marvel website MTV-Geek have mentioned the news. People are even asking the movie's star, comics fan Nic Cage, to help cover the 17 grand. It might be a good idea to write to the various talk shows Cage might be appearing on asking them to mention Friedrich's plight. In the meantime, Steve Niles has started a page where you can donate to help him out.

2. Co-creator of smash comics and tv hit The Walkinhttp://www.blogger.com/img/blank.gifg Dead, Tony Moore, is suing his former partner and the face of the franchise, Robert Kirkman for 60% of the profits.

3. Earlier this week, James Sturm joined the Marvel boycott family in a big way with an article in Slate explaining the history of Jack Kirby's contributions to Marvel and the reasons will be boycotting the Avengers movie.

4. The Jack Kirby petition at change.org now has over 800 signatures asking Marvel to credit Jack Kirby with the creations that will make up the bulk of the upcoming Avengers movie. It's great to read all of the comments people are leaving about the importance of Kirby and Marvel's ethical duty to do right by The King and his family. Please check it out.

Monday, February 06, 2012

Jack Kirby Died on This Day, 1994

Long Live the King.

Jack Kirby Died on February 6 1994, 18 years ago.

What better way to honour the King of Comics by
Maybe by signing this petition asking Marvel to credit Kirby with co-creating the Marvel superhero universe and pahttp://www.blogger.com/img/blank.gifying royalties to his heirs?

Read about Kirby's life and work in this biography by Mark Evanier and Steve Sherman at the Jack Kirby museum, where we find this Stan Lee quote about how he worked with Kirby:

"Some artists, of course, need a more detailed plot than others. Some artists, such as Jack Kirby, need no plot at all. I mean, I'll just say to Jack, "Let's let the next villain be Dr. Doom'... or I may not even say that. He may tell me... he just about makes up the plots for these stories. All I do is a little editing."