Excited for the May release of The Avengers? You’re not alone. But artist Stephen R. Bissette has some compelling reasons why you might reconsider seeing them assemble this summer.
The entire argument we’re about to describe hinges on one very big question—is Marvel evil? Bissette very clearly thinks they are and his opinion boils down to rights, residuals, and one creator in specific—Jack Kirby.
Kirby, now deceased, is not only responsible for the creation of many of both Marvel and DC’s most well-known characters, he also was a major player in the revolution that made comics the medium it is today. Despite that, however, he struggled with Marvel to retain the rights to many of his characters and works. He was so frustrated, in fact, that he defected to DC.
The story doesn’t stop there, though. Posthumously, Kirby’s estate continued to battle Marvel/Disney for the rights to Jack’s biggest creations and lost in 2011.
Here we are, now, and The Avengers, which would not necessarily even exist without Jack Kirby, is set to be the biggest big-money blockbuster in cinema history. Will the Kirby estate see one red cent?
As Bissette put it on his blog:
THE AVENGERS? It’s a sham.
The only “team effort” Marvel/Disney understands, or chooses to apply to real-world treatment of those (other than Stan Lee; more on that later this week) who ensured there even was a Marvel Comics for Disney to purchase in 2010, is the team of lawyers they’ve regularly paid to ensure Jack Kirby, in his lifetime, and Jack Kirby’s heirs, since his death, get NOTHING.
Justice? Spare me.
Teams of superheroes “fighting for right against impossible odds”?? Marvel/Disney demonstrated how little they believe in the core principles of their own corporate parables.
If they don’t believe it, I sure don’t buy it—and I’m NOT buying it, or anything like it, until Marvel/Disney demonstrate they’ve got a fraction of the principles of their fictional constructs.
Having a tough time explaining the Jack Kirby/Marvel Comics judgment injustice? It’s simple: “Shouldn’t Margaret Mitchell have earned income from Gone With the Wind when it became a movie? Shouldn’t her heirs? Especially if she’d written, like, 300 Gone With the Winds?”
Insert “Stephen King” in place of Margaret Mitchell’s name if they’re—or you’re—that dense.
Work-for-hire or not, it’s piss-poor capitalism to NOT reward innovation.
Work-for-hire does not, ipso facto, mean a creator or co-creator benefits not at all from their creations earning (in this case) billions for the parent corporation. I earn royalties on Swamp Thing to this day. Every quarter, they show up. I earn more royalties for John Constantine, Hellblazer; when the movie option yielded a movie, we each banked a $45,000 check from our fraction of a percent of our co-creator shares.
So is it morally wrong to seek massive financial gain from a person’s creation and offer both them and their family nothing in return? And is that enough to throw up your hands and say “I refuse to see The Avengers?” Or is it more important to support the creative team that works to create the film?
Maybe you just want to leave the politics at the door and be entertained. We’re asking. Where do you land on this issue?