Thursday, February 6, 2014

Sick of the Stan-Bashing

Karen: I'm writing this post while Doug and I are on our 'vacation.' Recently, perhaps because of Stan Lee's birthday at the end of December, I've seen another wave of 'Stan-bashing.' To be specific, these  are remarks from comic fans who feel that Stan not only gets too much credit for the co-creation of the Marvel characters, but in fact, had little or nothing to do with the actual production of the comics themselves. They are primarily fans of Jack Kirby, and in some cases Steve Ditko, who believe that the artists were the true auteurs of the comics and that Lee had a minimal role in the process. I've seen some even argue that he didn't actually write anything, that all the captions and dialog were already scribbled down in the gutters! 

Karen: I won't argue that Kirby and Ditko deserve more credit than they've gotten, and probably deserved better compensation too. But to completely deny Lee's role in the success of Marvel Comics is absurd. One only has to look at Kirby or Ditko's solo work to see what Lee brought to the table. And he worked with a lot more artists than just those two. Sure, his over-wrought dialog  may seem goofy now, but for the time it was significantly ahead of the competition. He gave the characters full emotional lives, even if they were straight out of a soap opera. It made them distinctive and relatable. 

Karen: Some of this rabid dislike is probably also due to Lee's blatant self-promotion. There's no denying that sometimes, this has been overdone. And there have been times -like in the text sections of the Origins of Marvel Comics, for example -when Lee has given himself all the credit for coming up with the flagship characters. But on the other hand, it was Lee's efforts that gave Marvel its own special flavor, and without this, would it have been able to compete with DC? I've always felt that Lee's attempts to make Marvel standout as the lovable underdog with people you actually felt like you knew was just as integral to the company's success as the quality of the stories themselves. It was Lee that decided to start crediting writers, artists, heck even the inkers and letterers, on the splash pages. The Marvel bulletins pages were chatty and breezy and cultivated a feeling of inclusiveness for the readers -even if the whole idea of the 'Merry Marvel Bullpen' was mostly a fantasy. Lee became the face of Marvel and even today is probably the only comic book creator that the average person could name. Yes, he has benefited from this. But overall, I think it has done Marvel (and the comic book industry as a whole) more good than harm.

Karen: Ultimately I just don't understand the need to vilify Lee, or pick sides. I'm very grateful for the
existence of both Lee and Kirby, grateful that fate brought them together and that they created so many incredible characters and stories that have entertained so many people -generations of people, now. Their works have been carried on by others and  they have a legacy that has moved on into other media -games, film. It's astounding when you think about it all. But you just can't separate Lee and Kirby. I don't feel like either one was as good without the other.  

Karen: Stan Lee is 91 years old. He's lived a rich and complicated life and I'm sure he has his regrets. I admit I struggle at times to figure out just how I think of him: comics godfather or shameless huckster? But then I remember that without him, I would've been deprived of countless hours of reading pleasure, hours of imagining and dreaming and talking with friends about heroes and stories that made my life a little bit better. Then it's pretty much a no-brainer. I wish the Stan-bashers would think about this before they launch into their attacks. The man has his faults, God knows we all do -but he's not Hitler. Let it go.

47 comments:

Rip Jagger said...

Stan the Man! Sigh.

What Stan Lee is responsible for is the very existence of comic books in the modern world. Without Marvel Comics and resurgence of interest in comics triggered in the self-abosorbed Baby Boomers, comics would've likely have died off as a form in the 70's almost for sure when the newsstand distribution system crashed. One can never know for certain of course, but I'm reasonably confident that the combined 70's scourges of the energy crisis, the paper shortages, and the collapse of early 20th Century distribution networks for magazines would have killed off the hobby. It damn near did anyway, and would have if not for the fan base built largely on the framework of the Marvel comics network.

Stan's creation of the monolith of the "Marvel Universe" as opposed to the Fantastic Four, Spider-Man, Thor, or any single creation in it, is the epic accomplishment which to no small degree continues to keep comics lingering in the popular imagination. Disney didn't buy Spider-Man or Iron Man or Captain America so much as they bought the larger universe in which they exist and which can turn out a hit from its most obscure recesses at almost any moment. Guardians of the Galaxy anyone? Ant-Man? Really!?!

Stan created that. His powerful personality as revealed in the letter pages and Bullpen Bulletins help sculpt a larger, more fabulous construct which supersedes any of its component parts. Jack largely created the FF, but Stan gave them heart. Steve created Spider-Man, but Stan made him relevant. Jack and Joe created Cap, but Stan made him more than a relic.

I get a bit tired of Stan worship among the larger population. When they give him credit for not only the FF, Spidey, but Cap as well as Wolverine even, it's painful. But that says more about the slack research of modern media than it does about Stan who at ninety plus years old can be forgiven whatever might slither out of his mouth. He's a venerable old coot, a guy who knew once upon a time what the pulse of the culture might've been. Incredibly lucky, he seems properly appreciative whatever his haters might suggest.

Excelsior! Long live the Man!

Rip Off

Fred W. Hill said...

Admittedly, Stan was one of my idols in the '70s, when I was between 8 and 18, and looking back I realize Stan's image became almost as much a mascot of Marvel as Spider-Man. Even after having read enough to know that the origins of Marvel Comics as described by Stan in his several books and interviews was often more myth-making than truth, I still recognize Stan was the prime shaper of Marvel Comics, whether as editor or writer, even if most of the classic Silver Age characters were created by Kirby or Ditko than by Lee. Their best works were collaborations and even when Kirby & Ditko were doing most or all of the plotting, Lee still had a significant role in shaping the stories and characterizations of the characters, an aspect sorely lacking in much of Kirby's & Ditko's work without Lee. Lee was a much greater self-promoter than either Kirby or Ditko. Kirby made many accusations out of anger, not all of which hold up to scrutiny. Of the few statements Ditko has made, I think he has been the most objective, least distorted and truthful, and he's been honest in stating he doesn't know all the details. It's a complex story and while Lee may not have been quite the glorious creative super-hero I and so many others looked up to decades ago, he's certainly wasn't as much a villain as others have made him out to be over the last 30 or so years. The story's just more complex.

Colin Jones said...

Stan Lee created Marvel's British arm and I'm eternally grateful for that.

david_b said...

TOTALLY AGREED with both Rip and Fred.

1) Reality-check here..: The one who survives has dibs on carving out history. Sorry, that's a fact of life. Despite early Macca-bashing from the Lennon purists in the early '80s (actually, when was he ever 'not bashed' for the sake of Lennon..), Paul has dibs on painting the palette of Fab history because he survived both John and Paul (Ringo seems to have shied away from really delving into historical tidbits publically.., or he just wasn't there..).

It's the spoils of out-living others.

My stance before has been this..: Artists like Kirby and Ditko did indeed paint the MU as we know it today from all their lush imaginations in the early '60s. But it was Lee who was clearly the face of Marvel AND who probably made some risky business decisions long before Marvel took off. Financial and management decisions he (and essentially his company..) had to bear the burden of if they didn't pan out like they did, decisions we'll never really know or understand 50some years later. For THAT reason, Stan is indeed largely responsible for what we know of the MU today. Period.

Self-promoting huckster, sure.

Why not..?

Look how decades of artists and writers took his initial concepts and entertained us in books, movies, the entire franchise. He may not be the supposed 'Gene Roddenberry-type' visionary of Marvek comics, but he deserves unparalleled kudos.

What a dark world this will be when he passes away.

Edo Bosnar said...

Hear, hear, Karen.
I think I mentioned this last year when you and Doug posted your review of Howe's history of Marvel, but I think it bears mention again: after all this time, I can't believe the vehemence the whole Lee v. Kirby debate arouses among some comics fans. And the worst of it - of course - comes out online on various blogs, message boards, forums, etc., where the 'debate' all too often deteriorates into little more than profanity-laced name-calling. It's as though they have a personal stake in it.

Otherwise, I pretty much agree with not only Karen, but also Rip, Fred and David - yes, the story is much more complex than the colorful mythology Lee created, and yes, Kirby and Ditko (but also Heck and Leiber and others) deserve(d) much more credit - and money. But there's no doubt that Lee was instrumental to Marvel's success and to the renewed and sustained success of superhero comics in general.

Matt Celis said...

Still waiting for a solo Kirby or solo Ditko creation that has lasted for decades in continuous publication...

Kirby had a lot of wild creativity that to me went around the bend without Lee to rein it into a little thing called storytelling. Endless space gods with nebulous abilities and interhangeable personalities don't do it for me.

Ditko, much as I love him, has turned his talents to the Objectivist equivalent of Chick tracts. I don't buy comics because I want a lecture on the free market and rational selfishness.

I never found Lee's dialogue corny or overwrought. It was entertainment and deliberately written as such because, unlike the following generation of comics writers, Lee didn't take long-underwear characters seriously. As well he shouldn't, as they are inherently silly.

I didn't know there was an epidemic of Stan-bashing...was providing untold hours of enjoyment an evil act?

KevinFermoyle said...

Karen, your comments are spot on. Another point to consider regarding Stan's contribution to comics is how he gave artists who were laboring in obscurity for other companies, Gene Colan, John Romita and John Buscema, the chance to shine at Marvel and become stars. He also took on a radical newcomer in Steranko and turned him loose on SHIELD, resulting in some of the most innovative comics of the Sixties.

Doug said...

Kevin --

I'd also add to your comment Stan's penchant for giving work to some of the Golden Age legends to keep them on a payroll. Jerry Siegel and of course Bill Everett come to mind, among many others. This isn't grounds for sainthood, but it is an example of Stan using his powers in a very altruistic way.

I agree with those above who say that the sum was greater than the parts, on all counts. Certainly money becomes a divisive issue, but then none of those guys ever made the pay-outs that creators began receiving in the 1990s. It's a shame, really. Anyone getting paid now is obligated to thank those gods of the Golden and Silver Ages.

Oh, and as an aside -- you'd think those getting paid now would take better care of the sandbox they've been given.

Doug

Anonymous said...

Okay Clyde, let's get down to brass tacks....

You're right, Karen. I can't possibly agree more with david_b, he who laughs lasts WINS!

Stan is Paul, Kirby is John, Steve is George, Larry is Ringo and who's Pete? Pete's the Best.

Stan became Marvel and by doing so become not only the face of the company and the product but a symbol. And as the symbol, a target. As Karen stated, do some of the arguments have validity, yes. Are there some points made that are true? Yes. But you won't ever make someone higher by tearing someone else down.

Did I mention Karen's right?

The Prowler (still still wondering what Matt C got for his birthday).

mr. oyola said...

I'm tired of the Stan bashing, too.

He is a flawed man, but so was Kirby and so is everyone to varying degrees.

The degree to which it happens in certain comic critic circles is nauseating - so myopic and overwrought, you'd think Stan was Bernie Madoff or somebody.

This is my "favorite" example, in which a critic tried to count contributions between Jack and Stan in an issue of FF to get to the bottom of it! And comes with Stan 5% and Kirby 95% SIGH.

Anonymous said...

I've always tended slightly toward the Kirby side of the argument, Kirby fanatic that I am, but I wasn't there and I don't think it's worth fighting about at this point. I don't believe for a second that there would have been Marvel Comics, or heck, maybe comics at all, without Stan the Man.
It's kind of academic, like arguing about your favorite Beatle. (Oh please don't start that again).

david_b said...

Sorry, just looked at my post again.., meant to say that Paul 'survived John and George'.

KevinFermoyle said...

Last year I picked up a dog-earred issue of Tales to Astonish from the 50 cent box at a con. Don't recall the issue number but it was from 1965 shortly after Sub Mariner replaced Giant Man as the co-feature.
In the Bullpen Bulletins Stan reveals how the veteran artists essentially storyboard the stories. If Stan was such a glory hound, why would he have even brought up the subject especially at that early date when he could have let readers assume he was plotting and writing everything.

david_b said...

Capping on Anonymous's point of it 'wouldn't be a Marvel Comics' without Stan, but adding two other huge external events arguably saved Marvel's skin (at least allowed it to flourish at key junctures)..:

1) Dozer's Batman series, revitalizing the entire industry, making it mod, cool, and attractive to the likes of Steranko and Adams, you name it.

2) Star Wars, publically noted several times as a gamble which paid off in droves in the mid-'70s, keeping the Bullpen afloat during the lean years.

Who in our midst can look back on Stan's zany, contagious 'Hey Gang' style and not smile affectionately..?

As David Tennant poignantly said, 'Give all my love to long ago..'.

Anonymous said...

David, you are an s.o.b.

Anonymous said...

P.S. David, I meant that as a joke, not offensively.

Karen said...

Osvaldo, I can't click on your link. Is it just me?

I got the Kamandi Archives Vol. 1 recently and have been reading it and while it is amusing, it just reinforces my opinion that Kirby may been brimming with ideas but he was not a terrific scripter nor was he overly concerned with creating personalities for his characters. I think you could hold up most of his work as writer/artist and use it to show what Lee brought to the mix when they were working together. But I'd rather not tear down either man. They were both brilliant in my opinion and I am -as I said before -eternally grateful that they came together and produced so many wonderful books.

William said...

I happen to love Stan Lee, and truly believe he deserves at least 50% of the credit for the creation of all of Marvel's early characters.

No one but he and Kirby and Ditko will ever know what the 100% real truth is about who did what on which character. But there can be no denying that it was Stan's marketing genius that propelled Marvel Comics to the industry juggernaut that it became (and remains to this day). So, despite how much of the comics he actually wrote himself, his contributions to Marvel (and the industry as a whole) cannot be diminished.

But as far as I'm concerned Stan Lee at least wrote the dialogue on the comics he claims. He had a very distinct style that was noticeably present in all the early Marvel titles. For example, you could tell that the same person wrote The Fantastic Four and Spider-Man. So if (as some people claim) Kirby wrote the FF and Ditko Spider-Man, then the two of them had uncannily similar writing styles.

If anyone needs further proof, It is even more evident that Stan wrote the comics when you read either Kirby or Ditko's solo work. If Kirby did indeed plot, write, and draw the FF all by himself, then his ability to write coherent stories and dialogue markedly degraded after he left Marvel (and then returned a few years later).

Also, in an interview, Jack Kirby himself basically claims he created the entire Marvel Universe in a single day while Stan Lee sat crying in a corner. So, I guess it just depends on who's wild claims you choose to believe? Somewhere in there I'm sure that all parties involved deserve equal credit.

mr. oyola said...

Yeah, it is not working for some reason.

Just copy/paste this URL: http://www.tcj.com/im-gonna-open-sealed-door-to-negative-zone/

Edo Bosnar said...

Osvaldo, yep, I remember seeing that article. The comments are also a "joy" to read. You're right, it's just kind of makes you sigh heavily and scratch your head.

mr. oyola said...

That guy has a whole series of articles on Jack Kirby, every single one of which takes shots at Stan to varying degrees.

In this one (let's try a link again), I have the very first comment which went ignored.

It is actually a pretty good overview of FF Annual #6, but the writer works too hard to make it into "serious art" that is undermined by Lee's contribution.

david_b said...

Anonymous.., no worries.

After 27yrs in this man's Army (proud federal service since Reagan, providing Fulda Gap protection in Germany and deployments to sunny Kuwait..), I've been called MUCH worse.

"And lovin' it.."

Now back to Stan the Man..!!

Edo Bosnar said...

Osvaldo, TCJ is one of the online sites I was thinking of when I wrote my first comment - not so much for the articles themselves, but for the comment threads that accompany them. The one under the first article you linked is in fact a shining example of the kind of puzzling (to me, anyway) invective that the Kirby/Lee debates seem to inspire.

And that's actually a very thoughtful comment you made. It could have started an interesting, and civil, discussion of the matter at hand - probably why it was ignored, because the usual suspects on those threads couldn't wait to start sniping at each other.

dbutler16 said...

I agree about the anti-Stan bashing. Jim Shooter said much the same as Karen over in his blog. I think of Stan as the single most important person in comics history. That doesn't mean that he's my all time favorite writer, but without him, the comics landscape would be much bleaker and more boring.

I love seeing Stan make his cameos (ala Alfred Hitchcock) in the Marvel movies, and look forward to wishing him a happy 92nd in December.

Kid said...

Rather than repeat here what I've said before, I hope you won't mind me posting a link to what I wrote a couple of years back:

http://kidr77.blogspot.com/2011/10/stan-jack-or-steve-or-was-it-all-three.html

Garett said...

I also don't like when people have to choose sides when there are 2 great creators involved. It's a win/win situation. I also believe that in the Marvel/DC debate, Coke/Pepsi, etc.

However, Stan does get too much credit in the general public's mind after the success of the recent Marvel movies. I was talking to a girl who was a Marvel movies fan, and she claimed not only that Lee created all the Marvel characters, but that he drew the comics too!! Jack Kirby? Never heard of him.

A point Kirby's wife made in an interview: What did Lee create on his own, when he wasn't working with creative powerhouses like Kirby and Ditko? In contrast, Kirby had huge creative periods before and after Lee, working with Joe Simon or solo.

Stan's scripting is great, Kirby's takes some getting used to--I like it now, though it's rougher and tougher than Lee's light touch. Kirby was fantastic at plotting a story and creating new characters and ideas. I like them together on the silver age comics, but I like Kirby on his own or with Simon as well. Different flavours.

I disagree that comics would've failed without Stan-- DC would have kept on with Batman, Superman, Justice League, etc and Kirby would've worked for them and created other great heroes, as he did with the Newsboy Legion, Challengers of the Unknown, New Gods and others from the '40s to the '70s. I agree that Stan created the idea of "Marvel" and promoted it exceedingly well. He's also been a great booster for comics as whole.

Kid said...

What did Stan Lee create on his own? Well, the FF and Spidey to start with, even if it was just the initial concepts and not their visual appearance - that part usually always needs an artist. Perhaps it should also be asked what did Jack create that had the same level of success as the stuff he worked on with Stan? (Same goes for Steve Ditko.) Remember, at the time, his DC stuff wasn't too well received by the comics-buying public. His longest-lasting mag at DC was Kamandi, and that only survived for 40 issues. Jack just wasn't the force he'd been with Stan, however many characters he created afterwards - and that's the sad truth. However, together they were unbeatable.

david_b said...

Well, for another take on this question, I typically don't bash old guys...:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1wcrkxOgzhU

Actually, the worst thing about having your lights knocked out by an 80yr old..,

..is having it posted on Youtube, and having to admit to both your buddies at the bar and the world you got your @#*&# handed to you by an 80yr old.

Personally, I don't know what Stan himself bench-presses these days, but I'd keep my distance thank you.

J.A. Morris said...

This is something that happens when one person gets more credit than another for a while, we go overboard, to the point of calling him/her a hack.

For example,for a long time Bob Clampett was under-appreciated, compared to other Warner's cartoonists like Chuck Jones & Friz Freleng. No, they weren't collaborators like Lee & Kirby, but I think it's a similar scenario. Part of it was that, like McCartney, Jones and Freleng lived into the 1990s & 2000s, went on talk shows, documentaries,etc.

But today, animation fans have done a 180 and declared Jones a no-talent hack, as if you can't like Clampett and the others. I love Clampett's work, and the cartoons of others, just like I enjoy Lee's scripts and Kirby's drawings. I like some of the work they did separately too.

I've never felt the need to declare myself part of "Team Lee", "Team Lennon" or "Team Clampett" and never felt the need to bury any of these creators in internet discussions.
I think Stan Lee is one of the most important figures in comics and popular culture in general of the last 50 years. I wish Kirby, Ditko and others had profited financially like Lee has. But that doesn't mean Lee is a hack.

Sean Budde said...

Spider-Man was entirely Stan Lee's concept. He gave the initial idea to Jack Jirby, who came up with the costume. To say that Steve Ditko created Spider-Man, is an insult to Stan. It's like saying Chris Claremont created Wolverine.

Karen said...

Osvaldo, thanks for the links you provided. Those are just examples -and actually, more mild ones -of the sort of divisive, anti-Lee stuff that I am just sick and tired of seeing. As Edo said, the comments are where you really see the nastiness come out.

I thought your opening comment on the FF Annual 6 piece was well-said and it would have been nice to have seen a discussion of the whole family dynamic, but of course it devolved into another Stan bashing piece. That's exactly the kind of thing that caused me to write today's post a few weeks ago.

To try to quantify contributions to an artform just seems ludicrous to the extreme. What weight do you put on each contribution? How moved is the reader by a particular pen stroke or word? It's just silly.

Coincidentally, today is the 20th anniversary of Jack Kirby's passing. I honestly had no idea of that when I set this post up. I truly wish he was still around, and could be lauded as the co-creator of all these wonderful characters that are becoming more popular and well-known than ever.

Doug said...

Sean --

You raise an interesting point. Some of Marvel's top creators, outside of the "Big Three" that we're discussing today, will never get the credit they deserve for creating.

Think of the importance of Johnny Romita in the Bronze Age and into the Dark Age -- I'd bet that he'd like a share of the profits from the Punisher and Wolverine; in both he had a very strong hand in the final look (I'm not suggesting that he "created" them, but we sure know what they look like because of him). To a much lesser degree, Namor's blue suited look. And there are many other heroes and villains Romita "touched" in his position as Art Director.

Marie Severin is probably another unsung hero(ine).

Doug

Doug said...

Karen, speaking of older creators still being alive to toot their own horns...

Tomorrow I'll be reviewing a story from the 1940s Batman newspaper strip. As the 1989 Batman film was dominating the media, many criticized Bob Kane for hogging all of the limelight. Bill Finger, Jerry Robinson, Shelly Moldoff, etc. got nuthin'. Nuthin'. Whoever lives the longest, indeed!

Doug

Garett said...

Hi Kid, I think Kirby's wife's point was: since the creation of the silver age characters can be disputed, let's look at what they created outside the silver age. Kirby had many top-selling comic creations outside the '60s, from Captain America to Boy Commandos to Romance comics, whereas Stan is unproven outside that time period. I believe the topic was creation of characters as well, not plotting or scripting.

I'm not trying to knock Stan by the way--love his writing! But I recently read the quote by Kirby's wife and thought it was relevant.

Anonymous said...

Bash Stan Lee? Why not? What better way to show what a hipster you are then by taking a stand on something that you have no first hand knowledge of or any real interest in.
I won't get involved in this endless debate, but I would like to mention something that came out several days ago. Lee revealed that he wouldn't have a cameo in the "Guardians of the Galaxy" movie. Essentially, his reasoning seems to be that as he was not personally involved with either the creation of the concept or had a long term involvement with the comic that he shouldn't be in the film.
The basis of comic books is the struggle between good and evil, of heroes and villains. It's a shame that many of the fans and creators insist on assigning these roles to those who they like or dislike in the industry.

Philip Gavigan

Kid said...

Hi Garett - but remember - Jack created the characters you mention with Joe Simon, not by himself, so it's not the comparison that it seems.

mr. oyola said...

Tangent:

I followed a link from one those articles I linked to on FF Annual #6 and it led to a site called "Two Girls, A Guy and Some Comics" and there was a Karen and Doug doing the overviews. . . An old site you guys used to run?

There wasn't an "About" page I could find to read about it.

Karen said...

Osvaldo: Yes, Doug and I originally teamed up with another person and created that site many years ago. But our interests sort of drifted, and so we started BAB.

Funny the links you'll find in the Negative Zone...I mean internet.

Garett said...

Here is the interview with Kirby where his wife brought up that observation.
http://www.tcj.com/jack-kirby-interview/
It's a long interview, and I think a famous one, so many of you may have read it before.

Hey Kid, I guess the speculation could go on forever, but I'm glad they all created what they did!

As an aside...how is Joe Simon regarded as a writer? I was pleasantly surprised by the quality of his Golden Age stories, including the dialogue. I can see why they were called the "Lennon and McCartney" of the Golden Age.

Matt Celis said...

False. Kirby's costume is not the one that was used. Nothing from Kirby ended up in Spider-Man. The costume is pure Ditko.

Humanbelly said...

IIRC, Stan and Bill Everett created Daredevil-- but Bill only lasted that first issue-- is that right?

I wonder. . . I wonder if too much weight is being given to the actual creative "birth" of any character, since it's the sustained life afterwards that really defines it. Although that may be a moot point, since the creative teams in question held stable for a looooong time!

But-- it's just like theater or film, it really is. It's a creative enterprise that thrives on the gestalt effect. There are SO many parts and SO many creative elements involved, all being done by different people, that any number of folks can make a legitimate claim to being the creator. Both Mel Blanc and Chuck Jones in their autobiographies make separate claims of being the person who brought Bugs Bunny to life-- and they're both correct.

Stan has the all of the distinctive personality traits of a successful Artistic Director of a Theater--- particularly one who, say, had to build his theater company from the shoe-string trenches on up. The self-promotion, the huckstering, the inspirational vision, the energy (HUGE requirement), the careful self-interest, the outbursts of generosity, the sentimentality, the focus, the mild megalomania, the insight, the blindness (and deafness) to reason, the unshakable self-confidence layered on top of insecurity--- it is ALL there. And it creates a personality that you can't actually trust-- but that you still are willing to follow. It's the right person for the job, even though they drive you banana boats, and you want to strangle them at times. . .

If you're going to bash any kind of creator or artist and condemn them forever because they haven't held themselves to a higher standard of conduct than the rest of society. . . then you'll have a tough time finding ANY worthwhile figure to admire--!

(Walt Disney? Nope. Siegal & Shuster? Nope. Arthur Miller? Nope. Cary Grant? Nope. Etc, etc, etc--)

HB

Anonymous said...

First off, whatever his faults may be, whether real or perceived, I think the whole comics industry needs to thank Stan Lee for his contribution to this artform. Like anyone else he had his flaws but in his case I think the positives far outnumber the negatives.

I'm not too aware of any details of 'Stan bashing' but I think it might be fuelled by tales of Kirby, Ditko and their supporters saying these gentlemen were not being given due credit or their works. Also, Stan was the public face of Marvel and he probably was given much mored credit than Kirby and Ditko, a situation not helped by Stan's relentless efforts at self promotion.

Was Stan a shameless self promoter? Sure. I've mentioned before that I think he would have made a great carnival barker if he wasn't writing comics. Comics are an entertainment industry and as the saying goes in show business, 'any publicity is good publicity'. No one was gonna toot Stan's horn for him so I guess he felt he had to do it himself, and loudly too!

As for how much input he had in the success of Spidey and the FF, my take has always been that these comics especially benefited from the combined efforts of Stan, Kirby and Ditko. Stan was the idea man; Kirby and Ditko gave us the legendary artwork along with being co-plotters. Their success was a synergistic effort which was greater than the sum of their individual creators. So, whether Stan contributed 40 percent, 50 percent or whatever percent is a moot point.


- Mike 'Excelsior!' from Trinidad & Tobago.

Edo Bosnar said...

Garett, sticking to your aside, it seems that Joe Simon is well respected as a writer (and also artist), and rightfully so. In fact, I think that - outside of his work at Marvel in the 1960s - Kirby did his best work when collaborating with Simon. Not just the art (inked by Simon), but the stories themselves, which as I understand it, they co-wrote, with Simon usually doing the dialogue.

Garett said...

Hey Edo, yes they did some great comics together. Usually short stories, but with sharp art and good writing. I haven't checked out Simon + Kirby Romance comics yet, as I've never been a romance comic fan, but they're supposed to be excellent. Of the ones I have seen, Newsboy Legion is tops, Sandman is very good, and Boy Commandos is ok but lost my interest pretty quickly. The Captain America splash pages look cool, but the art looks cruder than their more polished stuff for DC. The crime stories are great, and right in with Kirby's interest in gangsters.

One correction, Kid-- Kamandi lasted 59 issues. According to Wikipedia, it had respectable sales but was a victim of the DC implosion. And while the comics Kirby created after the silver age usually didn't last long, his many characters like Darkseid, Mister Miracle, the Demon and the Eternals have.

Edo Bosnar said...

Garett, yes, I've also read a number of Newsboy Legion, Sandman and Boy Commandos stories, all of which I liked to varying degrees. Also read a few of their Manhunter and Fighting American stories - the latter is kind of a satirical take on Capt. America. I'm really interested in reading their crime, SF and romance stories; the latter in particular intrigue me because Simon and Kirby basically invented romance comics.

And you're right about Kamandi lasting 59 issues, although Kirby stopped working on the title after #40.

Kid said...

Garett, Kirby wasn't on board for all 59 issues - only the first 40, and Gerry Conway wrote the last three that Kirby was involved with. Obviously I was referring only to the Kirby issues as it was Jack we were discussing, not those who followed after.

Jay said...

Both Lee and Kirby deserve equal acclaim as far as I'm concerned. Kirby created some amazing concepts with his Fourth World books, different but as powerful as anything he did with Stan.

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