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Author Topic: Jack Kirby's copyrights and Steve Ditko's departure from Marvel Comics  (Read 7904 times)

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Offline bminor

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As this topic has evolved to include a lot more than just Ditko I'm renaming it.
-Yoc

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I have just read, after all these years, some of the reasons why Steve Ditko left Marvel in the late 60's.
The book "Strange and Strange, the World of Steve Ditko", tells us all.
A short excerpt from Page 95 of the book follows:

But Robert Beerbohm, a comics store owner in the late 1960s and early fanzine producer, got an earful. "A high school buddy, Steve Johnson, and I spoke with Steve Ditko by phone of couple of times back in 1969. Ditko told us point blank that he left Marvel over promised percentage royalties based on sales and merchandise, if the books took off. Steve started making noise about the extra dough. So did Jack(Kirby). They were told that the company was still not making enough money, and to wait. Promised contracts never seemed to be completed, to be signed, or were carefully verbal in nature.
If Goodman had lived up to his promises, Ditko and Kirby would have received hundreds of times more than what they were paid to simply produce the work - still only a fraction of the millions their creations have generated for Marvel. And denying a "producer" what he had "earned" is the equivalent to waving a red cape in front of an Objectivist.
Near the end, Ditko wrote Kirby a letter trying to recruit him into leaving Marvel together. Kirby's family responsibilities gave him pause , but he too would follow three years later under the same cloud.

End of excerpt.

Very interesting reading. On a similar note I remember reading a story about Jack Kirby told by Mike Evanier. The story was they stopped at a store on an outing. Either Mark or Jacks wife had to go into what was a store that had toys in it. Jack could not go in because of all the items in the store based on his comics. Items that he as a creator was denied in any royalties from. He would get extremely upset if he went in.

Why is it people treat other people so bad?

Greed?


Thoughts please....


B.

« Last Edit: April 05, 2011, 03:27:39 PM by Yoc »

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Offline Geo (RIP)

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Re: Steve Ditko and the departure from Marvel Comics,
« Reply #1 on: March 20, 2011, 08:19:00 PM »
I'm sorry to say DC did pretty much the same to it's artist and writers, and lost most if not all it artists and writers too. The story was posted in a Alter-Ego, I can't remember which issue it was in though off-hand.

Greed would be my answer to this.

Geo
Filling holes, by ONE book at a time

Offline narfstar

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Re: Steve Ditko and the departure from Marvel Comics,
« Reply #2 on: March 21, 2011, 07:05:38 AM »
Yes greed but we all operate out of greed to some degree. Would we have really done any differently if we were in charge? We like to think we would. Business's are in business to make money. We forget sometimes that if they pay upfront they are taking the risks. It is also at the expense of the company that promotions are made that could be the reason for success. DC's superhero revival was partially responsible for the FF and Spidey success. If they had come out five years early would they have made such a hit? With Spidey and FF I do agree that it is a case where the creations were their own main reason for success but not the only reason. With risks come rewards or LOSSES. If the creator is getting paid upfront he has no risk of loss. The movie industry has gone way to far in upfront payments. I think it is seldom the actor that makes a movie, we just have that mind set. That being said I think that promises are promises and should be upheld. If they were promised more then they should have gotten more.

Offline Roygbiv666

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Re: Steve Ditko and the departure from Marvel Comics,
« Reply #3 on: March 21, 2011, 08:19:38 AM »
Yes greed but we all operate out of greed to some degree. Would we have really done any differently if we were in charge? We like to think we would. Business's are in business to make money. We forget sometimes that if they pay upfront they are taking the risks. It is also at the expense of the company that promotions are made that could be the reason for success. DC's superhero revival was partially responsible for the FF and Spidey success. If they had come out five years early would they have made such a hit? With Spidey and FF I do agree that it is a case where the creations were their own main reason for success but not the only reason. With risks come rewards or LOSSES. If the creator is getting paid upfront he has no risk of loss. The movie industry has gone way to far in upfront payments. I think it is seldom the actor that makes a movie, we just have that mind set. That being said I think that promises are promises and should be upheld. If they were promised more then they should have gotten more.

Greed is good. Stupidity and short-sightedness are bad. DC and Marvel both failed to realize that keeping their creators happy would have incresed their overall profits - happy creators are prolific creators, I think.

Offline builderboy

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Re: Steve Ditko and the departure from Marvel Comics,
« Reply #4 on: March 21, 2011, 08:27:55 AM »
another way of thinking of it is that Marvel repaid DC in full for DC's superhero revival and Marvel's ensuing profits from their Super-Hero Silver Age...Marvel screwed Kirby and Ditko, who left and went to DC to produce Fourth World and the Creeper, putting money into DC's pockets.   :D

Offline narfstar

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Re: Steve Ditko and the departure from Marvel Comics,
« Reply #5 on: March 21, 2011, 10:29:02 AM »
Treating employees right keeps experienced people on the job which reduces training expense. As you point out short sightedness takes money out of the pockets of the greedy.

Offline John C

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Re: Steve Ditko and the departure from Marvel Comics,
« Reply #6 on: March 21, 2011, 03:46:27 PM »
But to follow up on Narfstar's original response, I'm guessing that it was just a verbal "if we can, we'd like to do this."  I mean, even a verbal contract stands up in court, and Ditko and Kirby were no dummies.  So if they didn't sue, then there probably wasn't a contract of any sort.

So the question I'd ask would be why a company should bankrupt itself trying to make its employees happy?  Neither Marvel nor DC has ever struck me as rolling in cash.  Better to keep the company open and the employees employed than make them happy and unemployed, I would think.

Sure, it'd be great if every writer or artist who was responsible for something that's known outside the usual obsessive collectors, but it'd also be great if construction workers got residuals from the buildings they helped construct and scientists got something more cash of the processes they invent and discover when they're used decades later.  But those aren't the contracts you sign when you get a job, generally.

Offline bminor

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Re: Steve Ditko and the departure from Marvel Comics,
« Reply #7 on: March 21, 2011, 08:09:58 PM »
I am extremely curious and interested in what is going to happen in court (if it gets that far) with the heirs of Kirby.
I hope that ultimately Jack does indeed in the end some sort of equitable reward and vindication for all the years of creativity he poured into Marvel comics. We all know, including Stan Lee and he has admitted this, that Jack did create the Silver Surfer, one amongst hundreds of his creations.

I hope for once the little guy comes out on top.

B.

Offline John C

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Re: Steve Ditko and the departure from Marvel Comics,
« Reply #8 on: March 22, 2011, 06:05:56 AM »
But...why isn't his "equitable reward" the paycheck he received?

This is actually a topic near and dear to my heart, working in software.  Should my employer (or former employer) give me more money and part ownership if work I contributed to gets popular?  I certainly don't think so.  If I did, I'd do all my work for my own company, where I do own everything.  How much does Microsoft owe the thousands of programmers who have contributed to Windows and Office?  Or do they not count because we can't name any of them or we see them as being better paid...?

And I've brought this up before, but why doesn't the company's contribution matter?  For both Kirby and Ditko, their work for other publishers (including their own) have been...less popular.  It seems to me that, without Marvel or DC, Jack Kirby would be as remembered as...oh, let's say Silver Star or maybe Captain Victory.  Ditko would be "known" for...Mr. A, presumably.

Talking about Siegel and Shuster, who were essentially cheated out of their existing ownership, yes, they and their families deserve a lot.  But Kirby and Ditko created "on the clock," got a paycheck, and ended up with legions of fans who believe that's not enough and will vilify Stan Lee on their say so.  I'd call that a pretty good deal, given the low-budget nature of their chosen career.

Offline bminor

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Re: Steve Ditko and the departure from Marvel Comics,
« Reply #9 on: March 22, 2011, 06:37:10 AM »
How about the ownership of the original artwork that Marvel held on to for all those years, and then years later only returned a piddly amount of pages to him? Artwork now worth tens of thousands of dollars?
He wanted it back, they would not give it to him.
It was his.

Offline Bob Hughes

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Re: Steve Ditko and the departure from Marvel Comics,
« Reply #10 on: March 22, 2011, 06:37:56 AM »
Kirby and Ditko didn't create "on the clock". They weren't employees of Marvel.  Goodman decided, after he got "screwed" by Joe Simon that he'd be better off not having contracts with his creators.  Failing to have contracts, however, leaves him just as much without protection as it does his creators.

Offline Bob Hughes

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Re: Steve Ditko and the departure from Marvel Comics,
« Reply #11 on: March 22, 2011, 08:15:38 AM »
Without Kirby, Marvel would be known as the company that went out of business in 1941.  Stan Lee never would have been heard of.

Without Kirby, there would have been no Silver Age comics revival because without Challengers, Showcase never would have lasted long enough for the Flash to get his own comic book, DC never would have gone on a teams binge which resulted in buying Blackhawk, creatings Sea Devil, Suicide Squad, Rip Hunter, Cave Carson and .... the Justice League of America.

If Ditko had stayed at Charlton, Captain Atom and the Blue Beetle would probably have become the most successful characters of the sixties.

Offline bminor

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Re: Steve Ditko and the departure from Marvel Comics,
« Reply #12 on: March 22, 2011, 08:47:38 AM »
MY THOUGHTS EXACTLY!!!
B.

Offline josemas

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Re: Steve Ditko and the departure from Marvel Comics,
« Reply #13 on: March 22, 2011, 09:12:29 AM »
While it's unfortunate that publishers at Marvel and DC may not have always lived up to any promises that they made to artist and writers who worked for them let's not forget some of the publishers who did do right by the creative people they had working for them.

Archer St. John, by all accounts I have read of him, seems to have been a very honorable man in his dealings with the people who created his comics.

And while Simon and Kirby may have not been treated well by Martin Goodman at Timely in the 1940s they did much better and seem to have been treated fairly in their dealings with Harvey and Crestwood/Prize.

Best

Joe

Offline Bob Hughes

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Re: Steve Ditko and the departure from Marvel Comics,
« Reply #14 on: March 22, 2011, 11:58:45 AM »
Kirby even had nice words to say about Jack Liebowitz at DC who apparently did live up to the contract he had with Simon and Kirby.