Funnybook Babylon

May 15, 2012

Jack Kirby and The Great Chain of Being (Screwed)

Filed under: Articles — Tags: , , — Chris Eckert @ 1:20 pm

So in just two weeks, Marvel’s The Avengers has made a billion dollars worldwide. Over the past fourteen years, films based on Marvel superheroes have grossed over nine and a half billion dollars at the box office, and with the upcoming Amazing Spider-Man, Iron Man 3, Wolverine, Thor 2 and others, you can expect to add a couple billion more to the ledger in the next year or so. As anyone reading this probably already knows, Jack Kirby — co-creator of the characters starring in Avengers and many of these other blockbuster films — does not receive credit in the films, nor does his family receive even the smallest scrap of this massive revenue stream.

CORRECTION: Apparently Jack Kirby’s name is listed in the credits of Marvel’s The Avengers, a film I have not seen. I was under the mistaken impression that he was not credited in two films I did see recently, Thor and Captain America.

In Thor, the credit “Based on The Marvel Comic Book by Stan Lee, Larry Lieber, Jack Kirby” is placed in the latter half of the end credits, in between those for Stand-Ins and Production Supervisor.

In Captain America, the credit “Based on The Marvel Comic by Joe Simon and Jack Kirby” is placed in the latter half of the end credits, in between those for Stand-Ins and Supervising Sound Editor.

In Marvel’s the Avengers I do not know the placement of the credit. It may also be easy to miss. A story circulated last month in which Stan Lee seemed to indicate Kirby’s name was not in the credits for the film. This was later confirmed to not be true. Having seen neither the film itself nor the corrections, I passed along this incorrect statement. Jack Kirby is credited in Marvel’s The Avengers. He just isn’t being paid for it.

Plenty of other pundits have remarked on this — Steve Bissette, Tom Spurgeon, David Brothers, our own Jamaal Thomas to name just a few — and recently Spurgeon provided a handy list of all the creators whose work led to the Avengers becoming a billion dollar movie.

That list reminded me of a comment from a few months back, in response to another good Kirby post from Brothers. RS David said:

The result of the Kirby trial changed the way I purchased comics too. Essentially, I cut out all Marvel comics focused on Kirby creations (unfortunately that included Parker’s Hulk, but still buying Thunderbolts).

On one hand, this is a perfectly rational response. Marvel’s lack of respect towards the Kirby estate is a massive, prominent thumb in the eye of treating comics creators like human beings. If you’re not prepared to go cold turkey, dropping the books most clearly built off Kirby’s unrewarded labor seems like the logical thing to do. But in practice, this is a tangled web. (more…)

May 10, 2012

With Two Left Feet, It’s Hard To Walk The Straight Path

Filed under: Articles,Blurbs — Tags: , , , , , — Jamaal Thomas @ 3:00 pm

I. Everybody Talking About Changing the World, the World Ain’t Never Gonna Change

In the summer of 2011, I came up with a plan. I would collaborate with Chris Eckert on a post previewing DC’s relaunch of its line of superhero comics, and write a series of brief posts in subsequent months that would discuss the creative successes and failures of the initiative. I was cautiously optimistic about the initiative in the first few months, despite some early disappointments. Even a month ago, I still cared about five or six of these books. I was going to write a post on Brian Azzarello, Cliff Chiang and Tony Akins’ Wonder Woman and Francis Manapul’s Flash and follow that up with a post on the two stand-out miniseries of the post-relaunch period at DC – Jimmy Palmiotti, Justin Gray and Jamal Igle’s the Ray and James Robinson’s Shade.

I’m not sure that I can do that anymore without acknowledging my growing concerns about reading books from either publisher. I don’t think I can pretend that controversies about DC’s attitude towards the creators who work on the books it publishes don’t have an impact on whether I will buy (or can recommend) their books.

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March 8, 2011

Retro Linkblogging: The Comic Reader #157 and #168

Filed under: Articles — Tags: , , , , — Chris Eckert @ 12:35 am

Here’s the latest news from over thirty years ago!

comicsreader157-168 (more…)

February 14, 2009

FBB Valentine’s Day Weekend: 25 Things Pedro Loves about Comics

On the worst day of the year for single people and absent-minded married men, Team FBB stood back and thought of the things that we love about comics. We capped it at 25 so that this series of articles would be completed sometime this year. One interesting thing that I came across while compiling my list was how many of these selections were based on visual storytelling moments. I’m starting to realize that I enjoy the art side of comics more than the writing.
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December 17, 2008

Map Appreciation Day

Filed under: Blurbs — Tags: , , , , , — David Uzumeri @ 2:55 pm

I’d just like to take a moment for us all to recognize the best thing ever.

Earth A.D.: A Map of the World of Kamandi!

Earth A.D.: A Map of the World of Kamandi!

Man, why don’t they ever do it like this anymore? Millar’s doing his best with the new map of America in Old Man Logan, but that’s nothing in comparison to this creative masterpiece. Everything you need to know about why Jack Kirby and Kamandi are awesome is right here, right in this map. Also in this map: legions of amazing band names that for some reason haven’t been used (come on! THE HORRIBLE HUNG-UPS, THE DEATH WORSHIPPERS!).

This was in the back of the first issue of Kamandi. It relates and emanates a sort of vibrant creativity and holistic vision that envelops you in a world, purely by these teasers. Kirby’s use of cartooning and design elements here is, as always, impeccable – look at those creepy eyes on the Island of the God-Watchers! What are the God-Watchers? Why haven’t I read that far in Kamandi yet? Is there *anybody in the industry* at this point (other than, of course, our patron saint Mr. G. Morrison) creative enough to pull a Kamandi revival off? I know Busiek’s been itching a go at it for years, but… really, can anyone do it?

And come on! KANGARAT MURDER SOCIETY!

*KANGARAT MURDER SOCIETY!* And look on the upper right, they even have toques and domino masks like burglars from DuckTales! Christ, this is why I love comics.

April 16, 2008

Darkseid, A Dictator Who Sought to Eliminate the Free Will of All Living Things, is Dead

Uxas at home.Uxas (doing business as ‘Darkseid’), the Dictator Who Sought to Eliminate the Free Will of All Living Things, Is Dead at an Unknown Age.

Uxas, the brutal dictator of Apokolips known as Darkseid, and who spent his life seeking total mastery of the universe, died today in Metropolis. He was an undetermined age, but reports suggest he was many hundreds, if not thousands, of years old. He is survived by a son, Orion.

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March 26, 2008

FBBP #50 – Featuring the Peerless Power of David Brothers

This week features blogalaxy surfing zen master David Brothers as we talk about Pedro’s attempts at sub-super villainy, review Cap, Iron Man, Death of the New Gods, Incredible Herc, and War is Hell. We even talk about he who should not be named who is spoiling books for Tom Spurgeon. It’s our 50th show, so that means… nothing right?

Notes after the Jump.

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March 11, 2008

Respect the Architects

Stan Lee

Styling and Profiling

How do you sum up the career of a man who revolutionized an industry? Should you emphasize his triumphs? When I first started reading comics, I experienced the rite of passage that any new superhero fan has to endure: the nostalgia of older readers. One of the primary paradoxes of superhero comics is that readers have to purposely ignore the long history of the title (and the characters) that produce huge gaps in narrative logic, and simultaneously learn more about the past in order to understand plot points and references. Jack Kirby and Stan Lee were far past their prime by the time I started reading. But I was constantly inundated with the competing origin myths of the Marvel Universe. At that point, the consensus was that Lee had single handedly birthed the Marvel Universe, with some assistance from interchangeable artists. In some interviews, it even seemed as though Lee endorsed this view. My father (and his childhood friends) had a very different view. In their version of events, the artists (Kirby, Ditko, Romita, Buscema) were the real visionaries, and Lee was the businessman who robbed them of their dream. This counternarrative dovetailed perfectly with their political beliefs. It was simply a story of corporate interests steamrolling creativity. The ‘man’ crushed the dreamers. The latter vision turned out to be the one that was far more popular, and was evoked in a countless number of stories about the early days of the medium, as brilliantly discussed in Michael Chabon’s The Adventures of Kavalier and Clay.

But now that we’ve all recognized the true genius of Kirby, et. al., it’s troubling to note that the pendulum has swung in the opposite extreme. In the latest Comics Journal (available for free for one week only!), Tom Crippen uses one of Lee’s most recent books, The Last Fantastic Four Story, and Jeff McLaughlin’s collection of Lee interviews, Stan Lee: Conversations, to discuss his legacy. In the event that anyone doesn’t have the time to peruse the article, the short version is this: “At Marvel, Ditko and Kirby covered imagination and heroics; Stan covered pop-culture gimmicks, catch phrases – all the zeitgeist jabber- and he made it his business to keep the everyman angle coming through.” Essentially, his legacy is that of an ad-man, a guy who writes pithy phrases on packs of Bazooka Joe gum.
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February 28, 2008

Hits Off the Source, Part Three: ¡Lucha Libra!

Filed under: Articles — Tags: , , , — David Uzumeri @ 10:16 am

There have been a lot of new clues since the last time I rapped at y’all, so I’m here to set the record straight and share some insights I’ve had during the March on Road to Countdown to Final Crisis. What have we seen?

For those who missed them:
Hits Off the Source, Part One: Kirby, Evil and the Invisibles
Hits Off the Source, Part Two: Hyper-Crimes in Hyper-Time with Superboyman-Prime

1. The Source exposed in Death of the New Gods #5
tdotng-04-030.jpgWell, a lot of my thinking on Morrison’s faux-manichaean outlook is confirmed in this issue, which basically consists of the world’s first Bond villain speech conducted by a MAYA 3D effect. Good Source is a fickle God and wants to reunite with Bad Source, who’s out there somewhere in the Bleed, to regain full power, unmake the New Gods, and usher in the Fifth World, because he thought the Old Gods were backstabbing douchebags (which, well, they were, but Source doesn’t seem to have a magnetic personality) and the New Gods were kind of pussies. In the comic it’s way more complicated than this, but as far as I can tell, this is the real skinny. It’s also revealed that the Source and the Bleed are two totally separate things, and that the Source Wall always was a total misnomer and actually just ‘holds back’ the Bleed. This isn’t as offensive a retcon as it seems at first because, despite how important to the mythology it’s become, the Source Wall actually isn’t a Jack Kirby invention; believe it or not, you can blame Walter Simonson in, of all things, the Teen Titans/X-Men crossover. It surprised me, too.

We also discovered, despite all logic and silhouettes inserted by artists, that Infinity-Man was not the killer of New Gods; it was, in fact, kindly old Himon! This doesn’t make any sense, and kind of stinks of an Armageddon 2001-esque retcon, but maybe Starlin’s got a fakeout planned. Meanwhile, over in Countdown, Brother Eye ate Apokolips, everyone’s getting iced and I have no idea how this fits in with what’s going on in DONG. There’s a semi-believable theory running around that Solaris from DC One Million is an older Apokolips/Brother Eye hybrid, and I kind of buy it, but it doesn’t seem consistent with established history. (more…)

January 9, 2008

Hits off the Source, Part Two: Hyper-Crimes in Hyper-Time with Superboyman-Prime

Filed under: Articles — Tags: , , , , — David Uzumeri @ 3:59 am

In August 2002, on the middle of his run on New X-Men, Grant Morrison did an interview with the always-insightful Sequential Tart that had what was, at the time, a discussion of a project unlikely to see the light of day. The entire excerpt is relevant to this discussion, so see below:
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January 7, 2008

Hits off the Source, Part One: Kirby, Evil and the Invisibles

Filed under: Articles — Tags: , , , — David Uzumeri @ 12:28 am

It’s no secret Grant Morrison brings his pet themes to everything he does.

At the end of the day, from the Filth to New X-Men to Seven Soldiers to Seaguy, his stories are epic sci-fi action yarns – usually, superficially, about good versus evil – underscored by an impassioned plea for mutual respect and tolerance. It’s a testament to the man’s craft that his work is so diverse despite the shared thematic underpinnings. His “villains” tend to be portrayed, in the end, as either pathetic and pitiful such as Sir Miles Delacourt from the Invisibles and Magneto from New X-Men, or natural processes that should be overcome or embraced such as Sublime from New X-Men, the Sheeda from Seven Soldiers or himself from Animal Man. However, I’d like to take a look for a minute at the Outer Church from what’s probably his defining statement, The Invisibles.

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