Thursday, March 31, 2011

If You're Not Reading Shooter's Blog...

Doug: should be.


cerebus660 said...

...I am now!

Thanks for the heads-up on this one, Doug. Shooter may be one of the most controversial figures in the history of comics ( "our Nixon" according to the Comics Journal ) but he's always got interesting things to say. And he obviously has plenty of stories to tell about the "good old days"...

Inkstained Wretch said...

The stuff about Kirby's sales at the time ... wow. I knew from Ronin Ro's Tales To Astonish that his popularity had declined from the 60s but I didn't realize it was that bad.

It is amazing to think that that was, what, only seven years from when he was writing his classic Thor and Fantastic Four stuff? Talk about falling far, fast.

What hurt him, I believe, was his insistence on being his own writer/editor. His drawing had evolved in weird ways by the 70s but was still arresting. As a story teller, though, he struggled.

Kirby was the classic example of a great artist who needed a strong colaborator to bring out his best. Somebody he could bounce ideas off and get an honest answer. Stan Lee, for all of his faults, was great at that.

For a Bronze Ager like me, Kirby was to comics what Bob Dylan was to rock n' roll: This guy that other artists seemed to revere but I didn't get and nobody I knew was wild about him either.

Yeah, I get him much better now and I even like his 70s Captain America. Still, wouldn't it have been great if he had been able to agree to just do the art for, say, a Roy Thomas or Steve Englehart series? After all, his last great work was Destroyer Duck done with Steve Gerber.

Fred W. Hill said...

Considering that Kirby was the primary "storyteller" of many of his collaborations with Lee during the '60s, he certainly had skills in that department, but he did need a strong editor, not to mention someone to write decent dialogue for his stories. I realize there are many Kirby fans who dig his dialogue for its distinctiveness, but evidently they were a minority of comics readers in the '70s.

Artwise, by the mid-70s, Kirby's style was no longer the standard at Marvel or anywhere else. John Buscema and Neal Adams had set the new trends even before Kirby quit Marvel in 1970. Even those artists who were clearly inspired by Kirby, such as Jim Starlin, Barry Smith, and Rich Buckler, also incorporated Adamsesque traits into their work.

Plus, Kirby's art had changed sufficiently by 1975, that although I was very familiar with his classic '60s work, and I'd read at least a smattering of his DC material, but still what he produced upon his big return just struck me as offputting. I did buy a lot of his mid-70s Marvel material, but they weren't among my favorite mags of that period.

Anonymous said...

"Artwise, by the mid-70s, Kirby's style was no longer the standard at Marvel or anywhere else."

So why was he doing so many covers?

B Smith

PS as for Shooter's blog - plenty of stories about the "good old days" but I reckon I'd take 'em with plenty of grains of salt.

jefsview said...


Nice point, anonymous B Smith, about the covers. Kirby covered about every single comic Marvel had back in the 70's return period.

Would have loved to have had him on The Invaders.

As far as Shooter... well, I'm waiting to see what he writes about Gene Colan, another august artist that was mistreated/disrepected at Marvel under the Shooter reign.

Edo Bosnar said...

Discovered Shooter's blog about 2 weeks ago and have been following it with considerable interest...
As for Kirby's art during his 2nd tenure at Marvel in the 70s, I hate to sound mean, but I can understand why sales were low; Kirby was an acquired taste for me, and as a little guy back then I tended to avoid books with his art (the only exception was Captain America's Bicentennial Battles, which I loved immediately). Even upon reading a number of these books later (e.g. Eternals), I have to say his art was often sloppy, and others have mentioned some of the problems with his storytelling.
By the way, one my favorite Kirby series is actually Captain Victory - or at least the first 6-7 issues. I think it really highlights all of Kirby's strengths both in terms of art and bombastic storytelling.
And jefsview, definitely agree with you about Kirby on Invaders - that would have been friggin' awesome!

Jonathan Stover said...

Oh, Shootyman. Take any comments from Shooter with a barrel of salt. His recent bit about how the artist misinterpreted his plot and made Hank Pym a wife-beater is another in a long line of improbable Shooter Memory Moments (TM). See, it was too late to change the art. In pencil form. Even though Marvel is rife with instances of massive alterations to submitted art (say, the whole return of Jean Grey) in the 1980's.

dbutler16 said...

I know that some younger people don't care for Kirby's art, but I find it shocking that his work had fallen into such low regard. I'd love to have an original Kirby sketch for $5! Anyway, I also find it ironic, since I recall reading in Back Issue that Trevor von Eeden was fired by Jim Shooter at Marvel for not drawing like Jack Kirby! and this was in 1979.

Terence Stewart said...

Yeah, sign me up for another dose of salts - I have a hard time believing most of what Shooter says, especially because he typically paints himself in such a good light. It was when Shooter became Editor-in-chief that I started to mostly despise Marvel Comics, and that was without knowing any of the behind-the-scenes stuff going on.

Doug said...

I think I'm liking our discussion here more than what Shooter's generating on his own blog. It seems to be a bit more objective here, without all the fawning. I agree with those of you who say we're getting one side of the story. We are all intelligent enough to know that the truth lies somewhere in the middle, but I guess Shooter's blog is a good way for him to offer defense of some of the controversial issues that have reared their heads in the past.

So, I am enjoying reading it, but like some of you I keep finding myself saying "Say what?" or "Um, wait a second..."

Good conversation here!


J.A. Morris said...

I mixed feelings about Kirby's 70s work, at both DC and Marvel. 'The Eternals' worked, probably the best of his return to Marvel works. But his Captain America stories are a big comedown from the Engelhart era. Kirby's Black Panther stories are sorta fun,but what a shock they must have been to readers after McGregor's brilliant 'Panther's Rage'(I didn't read either until years later and read Kirby's Panther first;McGregor's stuff is better).

I don't have a problem with his art in the 70s,but I'll be more blunt than some of you:most of the dialogue Kirby wrote sucked. Seems like every 70s Kirby issues has someone giving a 10-minute speech every other page.

It's funny,due to my age,the first Kirby-drawn comic I ever bought was an issues of 'Devil Dinosaur' in 1978. I didn't realize this until years later(7 year-olds don't read credits,or didn't back then). 'Devil' was not a great book but I loved dinosaurs as a kid so that series will always be a bit of a sentimental favorite of mine.

But I'll close by saying this about his 70s output:
It wasn't very good but so what? Kirby didn't "owe" us anything by that point.
He was the best artist in the business from the early 40s to the late 60s. In the early 70s,he was still among the best,creating Darkseid,even if his style was starting to look outdated. No one who's come along since can claim 30 years of greatness.

J.A. Morris said...

I left a question for Shooter(or rather his blogger,since he says Shooter is web illiterate)in the comments. We'll see what happens.

I'm wondering if Mark Evanier will comment on any of Shooter's Kirby stories. I doubt he wants to revisit too much of the past, but he might give a very different take on Shooter's Kirby story.

Terence Stewart said...

Does anyone remember that issue of Amazing Heroes (but it might have been Comics Interview)focusing on the Justice League/Avengers cross-over that never came to be, with the very long interview with George Perez? I was taken aback by a lot of the insider gossip on what was going on behind the scenes, but I mostly remember Perez saying that as a result of Shooter's shenanigans the book was getting further and further behind schedule making it impossible for Perez to remain on it because of other commitments. Shooter's response was to suggest Don Heck as his replacement! I wonder if Shooter will be trying to set the record straight about that particular car crash on his blog?

Doug said...

Any Back Issue readers out there? Jim Shooter won't be interviewed for that magazine any more due to the "treatment" he's received over the past few years. I'll admit the anecdotes from Bronze Age creators have often been very skewed. I think Shooter got to the point where he thought even his dissenting opinion was going to fall on deaf ears.


dbutler16 said...

I just read "Hank Pym was Not a Wife-Beater" on Shooter's blog, and I found it fascinating. Everyone who considers themselves to be a fan of the Avengers should be required to read it.

Yeah, there are a lot of "Jim Shooter was a jerk" stories from back when he was editor-in-chief at Marvel, so maybe he's using this blog in part to clear his name.

Karen said...

Like many of you, I am skeptical about many of the things Shooter says on his blog. I've had this arguement too many times, so I won't get into it again, but where there's smoke, there's fire, and if you have so many people in the industry telling similar stories about Shooter, I can't help but think there's some truth to them.
As Doug mentions, he no longer talks to Back Issue writers because of this-I learned that myself from a rather blunt email response I got from him some time back. But it's still interesting to hear his take on things, even if I remain dubious about much of it.

It's absolutely terrible to hear about how badly Kirby was treated by some when he returned to Marvel. Those stories I do believe, because I've heard them over and over. I do agree that he was not a good writer, and could have used a strong scripter on much of his work. I think it would have been fabulous if he had drawn the Invaders, with Roy writing it.


Jonathan Stover said...

In the interest of fairness to Shootyman, I love much of his first run on Legion of Superheroes, and thought his relatively brief return to them a couple of years back was actually pretty good. His Avengers stuff, though, veers into the creepy (Hank Pym is bad enough; the rape of Ms. Marvel is truly awful and badly thought out).

I don't see Kirby as a bad writer. He's definitely not an easy writer to like (except maybe on the Losers, where he's surprisingly breezy), but Steve Ditko's writing makes Kirby look like Stan Lee. As a friend of mine said after reading the Blake Bell Ditko biography, "I didn't appreciate before how much work Stan Lee had to put in to make those comics readable!"

The Lassiter said...

There is a blog about Kirby:

I've been following the Shooter blog for a while. There is an article about the failed Jla/Avengers team up.

Nobody is clean, the truth lies somewhere in the middle.

I'm not a big Shooter defender, matter of fact he comes off kie an asshat. But being the boss can suck. Just dealing with normal people is sometimes a challenge. I imagine bossing the creative types, with deadlines, is like herding cats.

The interwebs have given me the ability to see the "behind the scenes" of my favorite form of entertainment. I've read many blogs and wow is it cut throat. Quite a reality check.

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