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General Category => Comic Related Discussion => Topic started by: bminor on March 20, 2011, 07:17:39 PM

Title: Jack Kirby's copyrights and Steve Ditko's departure from Marvel Comics
Post by: bminor on March 20, 2011, 07:17:39 PM
As this topic has evolved to include a lot more than just Ditko I'm renaming it.
-Yoc

=================================================


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.

Title: Re: Steve Ditko and the departure from Marvel Comics,
Post by: Geo (RIP) 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
Title: Re: Steve Ditko and the departure from Marvel Comics,
Post by: narfstar 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.
Title: Re: Steve Ditko and the departure from Marvel Comics,
Post by: Roygbiv666 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.
Title: Re: Steve Ditko and the departure from Marvel Comics,
Post by: builderboy 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
Title: Re: Steve Ditko and the departure from Marvel Comics,
Post by: narfstar 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.
Title: Re: Steve Ditko and the departure from Marvel Comics,
Post by: John C 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.
Title: Re: Steve Ditko and the departure from Marvel Comics,
Post by: bminor 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.
Title: Re: Steve Ditko and the departure from Marvel Comics,
Post by: John C 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.
Title: Re: Steve Ditko and the departure from Marvel Comics,
Post by: bminor 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.
Title: Re: Steve Ditko and the departure from Marvel Comics,
Post by: Bob Hughes 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.
Title: Re: Steve Ditko and the departure from Marvel Comics,
Post by: Bob Hughes 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.
Title: Re: Steve Ditko and the departure from Marvel Comics,
Post by: bminor on March 22, 2011, 08:47:38 AM
MY THOUGHTS EXACTLY!!!
B.
Title: Re: Steve Ditko and the departure from Marvel Comics,
Post by: josemas 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
Title: Re: Steve Ditko and the departure from Marvel Comics,
Post by: Bob Hughes 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.
Title: Re: Steve Ditko and the departure from Marvel Comics,
Post by: John C on March 22, 2011, 04:03:49 PM
Without Kirby, Marvel would be known as the company that went out of business in 1941.  Stan Lee never would have been heard of.

Even granting that, which I think might be a stretch, what difference does it make?  He got paid in 1941 for the work he did in 1941.  He got paid in 1961 for the work he did in 1961.  Fans try to make it sound like he was slave labor chained in the basement or that his private files were published without his knowledge.  He submitted work on request for an ongoing publication in exchange for money.

And on the flip side, by the way, who would have ever heard of Kirby without Timely/Marvel?  How many people HERE, let alone in the outside world, can name the Boy Commandos or the Newsboy Legion, for example?  Does anybody imagine a Guardian, Fighting American, or Captain Victory movie around the corner?  Where are the extended print runs of his comic strip work?

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.

OK, so how much should Image pay the Kirby family?  They've benefited, too, after all.  Perhaps all modern comic companies (and, heck, creators) should donate ten percent of their income to the Kirby family for his influence.

Oh...wait.  But what about all the creators whose work you don't care for, but kept the companies in business by producing thousands of throw-away stories that were just interesting enough to make the next sale?  They probably don't deserve anything for keeping the industry alive long enough for Jack to create his influence, of course.  They only did their work and got paid for it...

Contracts or not, my point is that he created on request (even if the request was vague and he did a lot to fill it) with full intention that someone else take ownership and publish it.  Unless Jack and Steve were complete idiots, there's no possible way either of them could have believed they owned what Marvel was publishing any more than a migrant field hand would think he's getting a cut of the profits when the crops are sold.

Also, influence isn't something an employer or client pays for after the fact.  You don't hire a lawyer then go back to him ten years later to give him more money because you've since discovered he's more talented or better connected.  Nobody seeks out Nikola Tesla's family to dump money on them because he made alternating current work...and I'd say that's a little more influential than the Challengers of the Unknown.

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

His track record doesn't suggest that at all, even if I'd love a history where it was true.  Nor do I see any hint that Blue Beetle was undergoing any kind of growth spurt, though I admit I've never sought out or crunched the numbers.
Title: Re: Steve Ditko and the departure from Marvel Comics,
Post by: narfstar on March 22, 2011, 08:31:31 PM
Ditko's objectivist Blue Beetle would probably have had the same number of sales as his Mr. A. As John has pointed out the industry had as much to do with their success as they had with industries.
Title: Re: Steve Ditko and the departure from Marvel Comics,
Post by: darkmark on March 22, 2011, 11:56:50 PM
Well, guys, let's face it...neither the Creeper nor the New Gods made enough money for DC to want to continue them.  Could they have become hits if DC stayed with them, as Marvel did with Conan?  Maybe.  I'd like to think so.  But...maybe not.

Also, it's debatable that Captain Atom or the Blue Beetle would have become THE success stories of the Sixties.  True, they were great characters, and I loved those books.  But Marvel and DC ruled the superhero world even then, and the other companies caught sloppy seconds from their tables.  The only one I can see making a real challenge to Marvel and DC would have been Tower, and they sputtered out all too soon.
Title: Re: Steve Ditko and the departure from Marvel Comics,
Post by: josemas on March 23, 2011, 08:24:05 AM
Even if Martin Goodman didn't keep all of his promises to his creators he comes across as almost a saint when compared to a publisher like Victor Fox.

Best

Joe
Title: Re: Steve Ditko and the departure from Marvel Comics,
Post by: bminor on March 23, 2011, 10:08:09 AM
Even if Martin Goodman didn't keep all of his promises to his creators he comes across as almost a saint when compared to a publisher like Victor Fox.

What was Mr. Fox like?
Title: Re: Steve Ditko and the departure from Marvel Comics,
Post by: Yoc on March 23, 2011, 10:45:46 AM
Funny you should ask B...   ;)

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See here for a link - http://tinyurl.com/4vnlu3c

Their double size issue 100 (called Centennial) is going on sale any minute.
http://tinyurl.com/4hcvhhq

They are offering 15% off on the site and you can buy digital editions for $5.95.

I consider it THE source for monthly GA scholarship.

[/shameless plug]


                   And in an even bigger plug...

[shameless plug]
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The second of a planned three volume set covering the entire career of PL from her Quality beginnings (v1 now on DCM at the bottom of the Quality section CLICK HERE! (http://digitalcomicmuseum.com/index.php?cid=7)), her Fox years (v2) and her post Fox days at Ajax, AC and DC Comics (v3).

Stay tuned for more info on PL Archives V2 in the future...
[/shameless plug]


Ain't I 'shameless'?   ;D ::)
Title: Re: Steve Ditko and the departure from Marvel Comics,
Post by: Bob Hughes on March 24, 2011, 04:10:43 AM
Boy some of you buy into the company store mentality without as much as an eye blink.  Fact: Kirby had contracts with almost every publisher he ever worked with up until the late 50's.  Therefore his expectations were not to be treated as "slave labor", a field hand, or a migrant worker.  Second we're talking about contract law and copyrights here.  The "expectations" were that none of these characters were going to last long enough to bother with renewals.  Artists "sold" their work for a period of 28 years.  Until that 28 years was up and things came up for renewal there was no expectation of what would happen next.  Joe Simon got all his copyrights back.  Siegel and Shuster didn't.  The courts eventually ruled that copyrights remained with the purchaser for the renewal period- but there was no "expectation" that that would happen because it had never been done before.

All copyrights were supposed to run out after 56 years. Then Congress extended the law and returned the copyrights to the original creators.  Congress did it. The law says it.  Marvel and DC have no case.  The slaves have been freed. The Emancipation Proclamation was signed.  End of story.  Now, if Goodman had been smart enough to get Kirby to sign a work for hire contract it would be a different story. But since he can't prove it was work for hire, it wasn't.  Burden of proof is on Marvel.
Title: Re: Steve Ditko and the departure from Marvel Comics,
Post by: josemas on March 25, 2011, 08:44:22 AM
Boy some of you buy into the company store mentality without as much as an eye blink.  Fact: Kirby had contracts with almost every publisher he ever worked with up until the late 50's.  Therefore his expectations were not to be treated as "slave labor", a field hand, or a migrant worker.  Second we're talking about contract law and copyrights here.  The "expectations" were that none of these characters were going to last long enough to bother with renewals.  Artists "sold" their work for a period of 28 years.  Until that 28 years was up and things came up for renewal there was no expectation of what would happen next.  Joe Simon got all his copyrights back.  Siegel and Shuster didn't.  The courts eventually ruled that copyrights remained with the purchaser for the renewal period- but there was no "expectation" that that would happen because it had never been done before.

All copyrights were supposed to run out after 56 years. Then Congress extended the law and returned the copyrights to the original creators.  Congress did it. The law says it.  Marvel and DC have no case.  The slaves have been freed. The Emancipation Proclamation was signed.  End of story.  Now, if Goodman had been smart enough to get Kirby to sign a work for hire contract it would be a different story. But since he can't prove it was work for hire, it wasn't.  Burden of proof is on Marvel.

Bob,

While I've read quite a bit about copyright regarding films over the years I'm still learning about it as regards comics (and periodicals in general).  While there are similarities I know there are differences too.

Are there any good sites you'd recommend that would address this.  I'm especially interested in any that address the ways in which a creator, such as Joe Simon, was able to regain copyrights to his material.

Thanks

Joe
Title: Re: Steve Ditko and the departure from Marvel Comics,
Post by: John C on March 25, 2011, 04:03:57 PM
Joe, the formal term is Termination Right of Transfer of Copyright (informally, and stupidly misleadingly, "Copyright Termination"), I believe, and this is a decent overview.  I can't find a solid bit for writers, though, only musicians, so double-check any numbers with the Copyright Office.

http://www.aimp.org/copyrightCorner/2/Termination_Rights_-_Explained

And no, Bob, I haven't "bought in" to any mentality.  Kirby ran his own company.  It didn't survive and he went back to Atlas.  He worked independently.  Nobody knows about those projects.  Conclusion:  Marvel had more than a little to do with his success.

Now, I agree with you that copyrights have been stretched all out of proportion, but where we differ is that I don't think that Kirby's family deserves the extended rights more than Disney (Marvel's current parent) does, just because Disney is a faceless corporation.  Neither of them do, but Marvel invested more over a longer period then some relatives of the artist did, surely.
Title: Depositions Reveal Glimpse of Kirby/Marvel Copyright Lawsuit CBR link
Post by: Yoc on March 25, 2011, 07:25:16 PM
Here's an entry on CBR on the very subject with depositions sited.

http://www.comicbookresources.com/?page=article&id=31268 (http://www.comicbookresources.com/?page=article&id=31268)

Happy reading
-Yoc
Title: Re: Steve Ditko and the departure from Marvel Comics,
Post by: John C on March 26, 2011, 08:18:22 AM
Evanier's deposition comes off as strangely desperate to me.  His idea, as quoted in the article, seems to be that it can't be a "work for hire" because the term wasn't defined until...well, the very 1976 Act that creates the Termination Right.  But if that's the case, then his assertion is essentially that nobody prior to 1978 had a work for hire agreement, which was clearly not Congress's intent in defining the term.
Title: Re: Steve Ditko and the departure from Marvel Comics,
Post by: Bob Hughes on March 28, 2011, 10:24:04 AM
A lot of comics companies didn't survive the 50's- including (almost) Marvel.  When Kirby returned to Marvel Goodman was hanging on by the skin of his teeth and threatening to close up shop any minute.  Only Kirby and Ditko saved his butt.
Title: Re: Steve Ditko and the departure from Marvel Comics,
Post by: josemas on March 30, 2011, 09:29:01 AM
Here's Joe Sinnott's recent testimony regarding "work for hire" and such.

http://docs.justia.com/cases/federal/district-courts/new-york/nysdce/1:2010cv001\
41/356975/92/


I, Joe Sinnott, hereby declare as follows:
1. I am familiar with the facts set forth below and make this declaration of my
own personal firsthand knowledge in support of defendants' motion for summary
judgment and defendants' opposition to plaintiffs' motion for summary judgment.

2. I first began working as a comic book artist soon after I began my studies in
1949 at the Cartoonists and Illustrators School, which later became the School
of Visual Arts, in New York City, on the G.I. Bill. Tom Gill, an instructor at
the school, asked me to act as his assistant on his freelance comics work. I
drew backgrounds and incidentals on Gill's Western comic books published by Dell
Comics.

3. I then branched out on my own. For my first professional solo art job, I drew
the feature Trudi for issue No. 12 of the humor comic "Mopsy" (September 1950).
I made contact with Stan Lee at Timely Comics (a.k.a. Atlas Comics), which is
what the company generally was called before it became Marvel Comics, and I
began drawing and selling freelance artwork to Timely. During the 1950s and
1960s, I created artwork for hundreds of stories and comic book covers published
by Marvel, including for "Adventures into Terror" (February 1952 to February
1954), "Strange Tales" (June 1952 to October 1959, March 1962 and December
1965), "Arrowhead" (April 1954 to November 1954), "Battle" (March 1954 to March
1955, February 1958, April 1958, and February 1959 to October 1959), "Wild
Western" (June 1954 to December 1954 and May 1957 to July 1957), "Navy Combat"
(June 1955 to October 1956), "Journey into Mystery" (July 1955 to January 1960
and March 1962, April 1962, and March 1963 to September 1963), "World of
Fantasy" (February 1959 to August 1959), "Tales of Suspense" (March 1959 to
November 1959), "Tales to Astonish" (March 1959 to November 1959, March 1963 and
April 1963), "Strange Tales Annual #2" (1963), "Journey into Mystery Annual #1"
(1965), "Fantasy Masterpieces" (February 1966 and August 1966), "Thor Annual #2"
(1966), and "Marvel Tales" (July 1967 to November 1967).

4. While selling freelance artwork to Marvel, I also sold comic book artwork to
Standard Comics in 1952, to DC Comics in 1957, to Harwyn Publishing for the
Harwyn Picture Encyclopedia for children in 1958, to Charlton Comics from 1959
to 1963, to Dell Comics from 1963 to 1969, and to George A. Pflaum (publisher of
Treasure Chest) from 1962 to 1963, and from 1970 to 1971.

5. I was also a freelance inker. For instance, in 1962 I inked "Fantastic Four"
no. 5 in which Jack Kirby introduced "Dr. Doom," and I inked the now famous
56-issue run of Kirby's artwork on "Fantastic Four" from issue no. 44 in
November 1965 to issue no. 102 in September 1970. I also inked many issues of
Kirby's "The Mighty Thor," and "The Avengers." In the process I got to know Jack
Kirby's work and remarkable creativity quite well and witnessed his characters
and stories as they evolved.

6. There is no question in my mind that Jack Kirby was the driving creative
force behind most of Marvel's top characters today including "The Fantastic
Four," "The Mighty Thor," "The Incredible Hulk," "X-Men" and "The Avengers." The
prolific Kirby was literally bursting with ideas and these characters and
stories have all the markings of his fertile and eclectic imagination.

7. I was awarded the Alley Award in 1967 and 1968 by comic book fans. I also was
honored with the Inkpot Award at the 1995 Comic-Con International convention in
San Diego. In 2008, when the Inkwell Awards were created, the Joe Sinnott Hall
of Fame Award was named after me. I received my own Joe Sinnott Hall of Fame
Award in 2008.

8. I semi-retired in the early 1990's. However, I still ink "The Amazing
Spider-Man" Sunday strip for Stan Lee.

9. In the 1950's and 1960's I was not on staff at Marvel, but instead worked on
a piecemeal freelance basis. I did not work in Marvel's offices; I worked out of
my home. I furnished and paid for all of my own art supplies and overhead. I was
not reimbursed by Marvel for these or any other expenses. I also did not receive
health or other benefits from Marvel in this period.

10. I had no contract with Marvel when working as a freelancer in the 1950's and
1960's. In those days the business was very small, hectic and disorganized. You
worked hand-to-mouth to feed your family with no financial security at all. In
about 1957 Marvel decided to fire nearly all its staff, and even stopped buying
any freelance material from freelancers like me for six or seven months, because
it apparently had a surplus of material.

11. Although I had a good relationship with Marvel, it was my understanding that
they were under no legal obligation to buy any work from me, and that payment
for my material was always subject to their acceptance and approval of the
finished product. It was only after I submitted completed material, and Marvel
approved it, that I was paid at a page rate multiplied by the number of pages
Marvel bought.

12. In the mid-1970's, I went under contract with Marvel, and Marvel provided me
with health insurance, vacation pay and other benefits.

13. I recall that the checks that I received from Marvel in the 1960's as a
freelancer had pre-printed language on the back. It said that by endorsing the
check, I was acknowledging payment for my assignment of the copyright and all
other rights in my work. I was not being paid for my time or services. I
remember a particular instance when I was asked to change the splash page of a
story I had drawn; I was only paid for the final story not for redrawing the
first one. From all of this, I understood in the 1950's and 1960's that Marvel
was buying my material once they approved and accepted it.

14. Years later, beginning I believe in around 1978 or 1979, Marvel suddenly
changed the printed statement on the back of its checks to say that by endorsing
the check the artist was acknowledging that Marvel owned all rights in the
artist's work as "work for hire." This may well be the first time I even heard
the term "work for hire."

15. In the 1950's through the 1960's, I certainly did not consider my freelance
artwork to be "work for hire." Nor did the other freelance artists I knew. No
one was thinking along those lines as we worked out of our houses at all hours
trying to make a living by creating and selling artwork. Neither Stan Lee nor
anyone else at Marvel ever told me at the time that they considered my freelance
work to be "work for hire." I honestly do not believe that freelance artists or
Marvel in those days understood or intended that the freelance material Marvel
bought was "work for hire."

I declare under penalty of perjury that to the best of my knowledge the
foregoing
is true and correct.



Title: Re: Steve Ditko and the departure from Marvel Comics,
Post by: josemas on March 30, 2011, 09:30:05 AM
Here's Dick Ayer's testimony.



I, Richard Ayers, hereby declare as follows:
1. I am familiar with the facts set forth below known to me of my own personal
firsthand knowledge and make this declaration in support of defendants' motion
for summary judgment and defendants' opposition to plaintiffs' motion for
summary judgment.
2. I am a comic book artist and have worked in the comic book industry since the
1940s. For my professional accomplishments, I was inducted into the Will Eisner
Comic Book Hall of Fame in 2007.
3. I first began working in comics in the late 1940s. While I was studying
under Burne llogarth at Ilogarth's Cartoonists and Illustrators School, I was
spotted by Joe Shuster, co-creator of Superman, and Shuster subsequently asked
me to draw some of his Funnyman stories. I subsequently worked as a artist,
penciling (i.e., drawing) and inking A-! Comics and Trail Colt comic books and
the Jimmy Durance humor strip, all at Magazine Enterprises, and on Prize Comics'
Prize Comics Western. I. also co-created the Western character Ghost Rider for
the Tim Holt comic book, published by Magazine Enterprises.
4. In 1952, while selling freelance work to Magazine Enterprises, I began
selling freelance work to Marvel Comics, then named Atlas Comics. Marvel began
publishing my work commencing with Spellbound No. 1 (March 1952), Adventures
into Terror No. 9 (April 1952), Adventures into Weird Worlds No. 5 (April 1952),
and Journey into Unknown Worlds No. 10 (April 1952), and continuing in numerous
other comic books. I drew the revived character of the pre-Fantastic Four Human
Torch in such issues as Young Men No. 24 (February 1954), The Human Torch Nos_
36 (April 1954), 37 (June 1954), and 38 (August 1954), and Sub-Mariner Comics
Nos. 33 (April 1954), 34 (June 1954), and 35 (August 1954).
5. I also inked Jack Kirby's newspaper strip Sky Masters of the Space Force,
syndicated George Matthew Adams Agency from September of 1959 to January of 1960
for the Sunday strips and from September of 1959 to December of 1961 for the
daily newspaper strips. Marvel was not involved in this strip.
6. During the 1950s and 1960s, I drew on a freelance basis and sold to Marvel
artwork for such titles as Astonishing (June 1952-March 1957), Battle (January
1953-April 1959), Combat Kelly (March 1954), Cowboy Action (July 1955-January
1956), Gunsmoke Western (December 1956-May 1963), Journey into Mystery (February
1954-October 1956, August-October 1965), Kid Colt Outlaw (August 1955-November
1967), Marvel Tales (June 1953-April 1956, May 1967-July 1970), Men's Adventures
(April 1953-July 1954), Mystery Tales (May 1952-April 1957), Mystic (May 1952
May 1956), The Outlaw Kid (July 1956-May 1957), Rawhide Kid (January
1956-September 1957, October 1961-December 1967), Spellbound (March
1952-February 1956), Strange Tales (July 1954-July 1956, July 1962-February
1965), Two Gun Kid (April 1954-June 1959, January 1964 May 1967), Uncanny Tales
(June 1952 June 1956), Western Outlaws (February 1955-May 1957), Wild Western
(April 1954-March 1957), and Wyatt Earp (January 1957-June 1960).
7. After Jack Kirby reinvigorated the superhero genre in 1961 with The
Fantastic Four, I drew and sold my own superhero stories to Marvel, including
the Human Torch solo stories in Strange Tales Nos. 107 (April 1963), 110 (July
1963) through 113 (October 1963), 115 (December 1963) through 119 (April 1964),
121 (June 1964), 122 (July 1964), and 124 (September 1964) through 129 (February
1965), and Giant-Man and Wasp stories in Tales to Astonish Nos. 52 (February
1964), 53 (March 1964), and 55 (May 1964) through 60 (October 1964). I also drew
most of the artwork published in Sgt. Fury and His Howling Commandos, commencing
with issue No. 8 (July 1964), and continuing through issue No. 120 (July 1974),
with only a few issues containing artwork by other artists.
8. In total, T sold freelance artwork to Marvel from 1959 to 1975.
9. During this period I sold artwork on a freelance basis to several other
companies including Magazine Enterprises, Charlton, St. John, Fago Magazines,
Prize, Harvey, Alan Class, Tower, Eerie Publications, and Skywald.
10. As a freelancer, I worked out of my home, set my own hours, received no
medical benefits or insurance, vacation time or sick pay, and paid for all my
own expenses, including for my own pens, inks, paper, pencils and other
materials. I was not reimbursed for these expenses by Marvel or by the other
companies I sold artwork to.
11. I was paid by the page; and, as one might imagine, I was simply paid for the
work that Marvel or the other comic book publishers accepted. I was not paid for
rejected material, nor was I paid for the additional work and time of redoing
any artwork at Marvel's request as a condition to their purchase of the
material. I was paid solely for the finished artwork, accepted and bought by
Marvel.
12. From 1959 to 1975, I never had a written contract with Marvel. We had a
loose, open-ended relationship. My understanding was that Marvel was not
obligated to buy material from me or to pay me for material they did not like;
and I was not obligated to Marvel to create or work on any material.
13. I did not view my artwork that Marvel published as "work for hire," and
received no indication from Marvel at the time that they considered my artwork
as "work for hire." The freelancers and the comic book publishers did not view
their relationship that way in the 1960's. In fact, I do not believe I ever even
heard the term "work for hire" mentioned in the comic book business until the
very late 1970's or early 1980's. The reality was that Marvel and other comic
book publishers bought our freelance artwork once it had been submitted and
accepted by the publisher. I believed that Marvel owned all rights to the
artwork because they bought it from me.
14. This was reflected in how we were paid after delivery and acceptance of
freelance material. Marvel's checks to me would include stamped writing on the
back,
where I was supposed to endorse the check, which stated that by signing the
check I was
transferring to the comic book publisher all of my rights in the material it had
purchased.
15. Years later, Marvel returned some of my original artwork to me. For
example, in the Spring, 1998, Marvel notified me that they had some of my
original artwork for the Rawhide Kid which they would like to return to me. I
was enthusiastic about these returns because there is a collector's market for
such material, and I could use the income. Marvel sent me a one page artwork
release form to sign„ and informed me that unless I signed and returned the form
"as is," they would not return my original artwork. I signed the release,
because I was in no position to bargain, and I would otherwise not get my
artwork back. I did not have an attorney review the legal language in the
release because, frankly, I could not afford one.
I declare under penalty of perjury that to the best of my knowledge the
foregoing is true and correct

Title: Re: Steve Ditko and the departure from Marvel Comics,
Post by: josemas on March 30, 2011, 09:32:01 AM
And here is Neal Adam's testimony.


I, Neal Adams, hereby declare as follows:
1. I am familiar with the facts set forth below and make this declaration in
support of the truth as I know it. The facts set forth herein are known to me of
my own personal firsthand knowledge and, if called as a witness, I could and
would testify competently thereto under oath. Nor is it my belief or
understanding that what I say here differs from the true understanding of any
freelancer or publisher.
2. I am a professional comic book artist, who has worked in the comic book
business since the late 1950s.
3. I began drawing comic books in the late 1950s. After graduating from the
School of Industrial Art in Manhattan, I debuted professionally in one panel of
Adventures of the Fly No. 4 (January 1960), which was part of the superhero line
created and edited by Joe Simon and Jack Kirby and published by Archie Comics.
Soon afterward, I drew and wrote features published in Archie's Joke Book
Magazine, and drew the syndicated Ben Casey newspaper strip from November 1962
to September 1964.
4. Shortly thereafter, I drew on a freelance basis artwork published in numerous
DC Comics titles, including Action Comics, Batman, Detective Comics, The Brave
and the Bold, Superboy, Our Army at War, Star-Spangled War Stories, World's
Finest Comics, Adventure Comics, Superman's Pal, Jimmy Olson, Strange
Adventures, Superman's Girl Friend, Lois Lane, The Spectre, Tales of the
Unexpected, Adventures of Jerry Lewis, and The Adventures of Bob Hope.
5. In the late 1960s, I drew on a freelance basis for Marvel Comics while
continuing to sell freelance artwork to DC Comics. I drew the artwork published
by Marvel in The X-Men Nos. 56 (May 1969) through 63 (December 1969) and No. 65
(February 1970). I wrote and drew the horror story "One Hungers" published by
Marvel
1
in Tower of Shadows No. 2 (December 1969) and co-wrote another story published
in Chamber of Darkness No. 2 (December 1969). I also plotted and drew a 2-issue
story, that was dialogued by the incredible Stan Lee, published in Thor Nos. 180
(September 1970) and 181 (October 1970) and The Avengers Nos. 80 (September
1970) and 93
(November 1971) through 96 (February 1972).
6. All told, I produced and sold freelance artwork to DC Comics from 1967 to
1977 and to Marvel from 1969 to 1981. I currently produce freelance work for
Marvel and DC Comics, though today I work under contract on a freelance basis.
7. I always set my own hours, work from my own house, and paid all of my
overhead and expenses with no reimbursement of such expenses, nor any guarantee
of payment by DC or Marvel. I completely accepted the financial risk of creating
the artwork, not the publisher, because the publisher never legally obligated
itself to pay for my work except in recent years. In fact, I worked with no
contract or any real legal structure in the 1960's and 1970's.
8. There was no oversight of the creative process. For instance, Marvel did not
provide me with a written synopsis or outline or require me to provide it with a
synopsis, outline or sample of my intended artwork; nor did Marvel ask me to
submit work in stages for Marvel's approval along the way. The basic
understanding was that I would produce the artwork on my own and, since my work
was thought to be "professional," if the Marvel editor liked it, Marvel would
most likely buy it. However, there was no way to know that Marvel would in fact
accept or pay for any such work, as it was not required to do so. My acceptance
depended entirely on my assumption of my own ability.
9. Marvel, like DC Comics, was not obligated to buy my artwork or stories and
only paid me for that freelance work it ultimately accepted and purchased for
publication. In the same vein, as a freelancer, I was not obligated to Marvel or
to any other publisher.
2
10. I would not be paid for any artwork rejected by the comic book publisher. I
was only paid for the finished product the publisher chose to purchase. Neither
Marvel nor DC took out taxes from their payments for my material, nor did I
receive any medical benefits, insurance, vacation or sick pay of any sort. As I
think about it, I had no financial security whatsoever as a freelancer in those
days. Nor did I expect it as a freelancer.
11. For example, the very first cover I drew for Marvel, for "The X-Men" (a
title that was to be cancelled in "two issues") was summarily rejected by
Marvel's "publisher" since I had tied and bound the protagonists to the 3D logo
"X-Men.". He felt the figures might obscure the title of the book in some way. I
suggested the figures would emphasize the title. However, he demanded a new
cover (even though I had submitted a sketch for the original cover beforehand).
I was not paid for two covers only for the cover Marvel decided to purchase.
12. I had other experiences like this with DC Comics, which was no surprise, as
we all knew we were at the whim of the publisher. My ex-partner Dick Giordano
was forced to quit as editor at DC Comics because he refused to reject, and not
pay for, a job he commissioned from Gray Morrow, a well-known professional. My
experience in any other freelance endeavor (book, magazine, advertising or
other) is that during any of this time I would receive a long (2 page) or short
(1/2 page) contract or letter, or what is known as a "purchase order" which, to
the freelancer, was a "contract." But in comics, Marvel and DC did not commit
themselves financially like this. For all of these reasons I never considered my
artwork to be "work for hire." I also do not believe that Marvel or the other
comic book publishers in the 1960's to the mid-1970's considered such freelance
artwork to be "work for hire." In fact, no one in my knowledge ever uttered such
a phrase.
13. It was a mom and pop, hand to mouth business, yet some people created
brilliant work. During this confusing time comic book publishers and freelancers
alike
3
had very little reason to believe comic books would "be around next year." The
circumstances and relationship during this period was clearly that of a purchase
and assignment of completed freelance material once accepted by the comic book
publisher, not ownership from inception as "work made for hire." It was not
viewed that way. nor did that jibe with the realities of the transaction
described above.
14. For instance, Marvel's and DC Comics' checks to everyone through at least
the mid-1970's would include a printed or stamped legend on the back that stated
that by endorsing the check, the artist "transfers" and "assigns" all right,
title and interest in the artwork bought by Marvel.
15. Later, after the new Copyright Act emphasized "work for hire" with
particularity, Marvel in or about 1979 or 1980 began placing retroactive "work
for hire" language on the back of its checks and in other documents, such as the
artwork releases it required artists to sign before Marvel would return to them
their original artwork from decades earlier.
16. I would cross-out this "work for hire" language on the back of my checks
when it began to appear.
I declare under penalty of perjury that to the best of my knowledge the
foregoing is true and correct.
Title: Re: Steve Ditko and the departure from Marvel Comics,
Post by: bminor on March 30, 2011, 06:07:00 PM
Incredibly fantastic stuff!!!
Title: Re: Steve Ditko and the departure from Marvel Comics,
Post by: boox909 on March 30, 2011, 07:21:49 PM
Thanks for sharing these statements...interesting reading!
Title: Re: Steve Ditko and the departure from Marvel Comics,
Post by: Roygbiv666 on March 31, 2011, 04:43:35 AM
I'm confused.

Under "Freelance" conditions, the artist signs away his rights when he cashes the cheque.

Under "work for hire", the artists ..... signs away his rights when he cashes the cheque?

Either way, the artist has no rights after the transaction.

I'm not getting the distinction here. Can someone explain it like I"m 4 years old?
Title: Re: Steve Ditko and the departure from Marvel Comics,
Post by: OtherEric on March 31, 2011, 05:05:56 AM
I'm confused.

Under "Freelance" conditions, the artist signs away his rights when he cashes the cheque.

Under "work for hire", the artists ..... signs away his rights when he cashes the cheque?

Either way, the artist has no rights after the transaction.

I'm not getting the distinction here. Can someone explain it like I"m 4 years old?

Under "Freelance" conditions, the artist signs away certain rights, which may be all rights known to exist at the time the rights were signed away.  When Congress extended copyright, they specified that the original freelancer had the right to reclaim the rights to the creation, since they couldn't and didn't know they would exist when they first sold the rights.

Under "work for hire", the work is done as an employee of the company, and for legal purposes the company is considered the creator.  (I believe not all countries recognize the concept of "work for hire", by the way.)  The person who did the work has no rights to reclaim under the extended copyright since they are not for legal purposes the creator.

A lot of the arguments fall back on was the work originally freelance, or was it work for hire.
Title: Re: Steve Ditko and the departure from Marvel Comics,
Post by: josemas on March 31, 2011, 05:15:45 AM
I noticed that Adams mentioned that he used to cross out the "work for hire" clause on the back of his checks before he cashed them.  I wonder if this sort of action on his part has any affect on the whole subject.

Best

Joe
Title: Re: Steve Ditko and the departure from Marvel Comics,
Post by: Roygbiv666 on March 31, 2011, 06:47:34 AM
I noticed that Adams mentioned that he used to cross out the "work for hire" clause on the back of his checks before he cashed them.  I wonder if this sort of action on his part has any affect on the whole subject.

Best

Joe

Yeah, but for that to mean anything, wouldn't he have to send it back to DC/Marvel and have them accept it first? It's part of the whole contractual "offer-consideration-acceptance" thing isn't it?
Title: Re: Steve Ditko and the departure from Marvel Comics,
Post by: josemas on March 31, 2011, 09:50:43 AM

Yeah, but for that to mean anything, wouldn't he have to send it back to DC/Marvel and have them accept it first? It's part of the whole contractual "offer-consideration-acceptance" thing isn't it?

You got me. 

Adams makes it sound as if there were no contracts from the comic publishers of any sorts for him back in the Silver Age other than that statement printed on the backs of the checks.

My brother is a business professor with a law degree.  Maybe I should ask him his two cents on this.

Best

Joe
Title: Re: Steve Ditko and the departure from Marvel Comics,
Post by: John C on March 31, 2011, 04:03:50 PM
From what little I understand of contract law, cashing the check is considered acceptance of the client's terms (whatever they were understood to be at the time), and alterations to terms can only be managed by mutual acceptance, usually by both parties initialing the change.

So, at best, it was a micro-protest.

What is (again) interesting is that people in the case keep saying that the TERM "work for hire" was never used, when it obviously wasn't, since it wasn't a legal term in this country until 1976.  So Adams may be embellishing or misremembering when he says that it was on the check and that he crossed it out, unless he means much later.

(Imagine a movie star from the '60s insisting that he should get extra royalties, because nobody at the time of filming ever mentioned selling it "on DVD"...)
Title: Re: Steve Ditko and the departure from Marvel Comics,
Post by: Yoc on March 31, 2011, 04:51:33 PM
I can see that happening very easily John.
Title: Re: Steve Ditko and the departure from Marvel Comics,
Post by: Drusilla lives! on March 31, 2011, 05:56:46 PM
IMO Kirby was ripped off... period.  He should have sued for a piece of the merchandise and cartoon licensing profits when he left Marvel.  And so what if he never worked in comics again, he would have been better off financially.  

But from all accounts he wasn't like that.  I think he liked the work too much... the creative process... more than the money.  Nevertheless, perhaps the family is entitled to some sort of compensation.  After all, the work he did back then is indeed the foundation on which Marvel's current success is built... and although it might have been legal at the time, he clearly wasn't adequately compensated for his contribution to that future success, since it (his early Marvel intellectual contributions) is indeed directly related to the current use of those properties that he had such a great influence over.  

In other words, IMO it's the right thing to do, even though there may not be a legal obligation on the part of Marvel to do so.
Title: Re: Steve Ditko and the departure from Marvel Comics,
Post by: John C on April 01, 2011, 06:32:14 AM
I can see that happening very easily John.

Sure, it might happen, but how seriously would you take him?

What fascinates me is that this story only seems to happen regularly or taken seriously with comics.  As I mentioned, nobody screams that we should track down Tesla's grand-nephews and force the power companies to give them a percentage of our electric bills, even though he essentially invented AC power transmission, among other things around us he actually never got paid for.  Nobody thinks that Jackie Gleason's estate should get money from modern sitcoms after he essentially reinvented the form used today.  The story goes that Bill Gates built Microsoft by buying an existing product (QDOS) on the cheap and selling licenses to IBM, so who here believes we should find those original programmers and force Microsoft to give them a percent of the company's profits since?

I'm sure we could all find a field and pick out the unsung heroes who created the industry, got their checks, and walked away, and everybody accepts it as business.  If those people came out of the woodwork to demand "what's right," we'd laugh and point out that they've already been compensated.  We'd laugh harder if it was their kids after the actual creator died.

But oh, gosh, an artist drew some stuff for disposable entertainment that happened to become popular after they left and all they got was a paycheck!?  We obviously must demand that companies give money asked for to anybody who makes such a request, even when some of the requests might be bogus and were made "just in case" (Spider-Man, for example).  And the money must come from the mega-corporation, of course, not the very real individuals who allegedly cheated these artists.

The money also obviously shouldn't come from the fans who want to see the family paid.  How many people do you think have such a strong belief that Kirby's family deserves some money for co-creating the Silver Surfer that they've sent a check to the estate?
Title: Re: Steve Ditko and the departure from Marvel Comics,
Post by: Yoc on April 01, 2011, 07:10:16 AM
Hi John,
Points taken. 
I think part of the difference is the 'artist' side of the matter and the fact that one can 'reclaim a copyright' even existing.  Toss in not returning artwork and lack of credits - Marvel/Disney just looks like the bad guy in their dealings.  Ultimately they want to protect their investment so conceding a credit likely isn't being considered though I bet that's the best that the Kirby's could manage.

-Yoc
Title: Re: Steve Ditko and the departure from Marvel Comics,
Post by: bminor on April 01, 2011, 03:01:21 PM
Wife wife and I are artists (watercolor).
We have done art festivals and shows in the upper midwest for many years now.
Art we are good at, the business side. That is marketing, etc. is another matter entirely.
I feel a real kinship for Mr. Jack Kirby, as one artist to another. We are extremely creative, but not the best business persons.

I feel that musical artists are pretty well protected by various laws and such, ASCAP, etc.
There is no entity out there to protect the interests of the visual artists.
Whether it is right or wrong in the eyes of the law is one thing. It is my sincere hope that the Kirby family does receive some sort of equitable settlement in the end.
It may not be the legal thing, but it is the morally right thing. Considering all the income that Mr. Kirby has brought to the House of Marvel over these past fifty years.
Reprinting and reprinting his work, over and over, ad infinitum....

B Minor
Title: Re: Steve Ditko and the departure from Marvel Comics,
Post by: John C on April 01, 2011, 04:25:35 PM
Hi John,
Points taken. 
I think part of the difference is the 'artist' side of the matter and the fact that one can 'reclaim a copyright' even existing.  Toss in not returning artwork and lack of credits - Marvel/Disney just looks like the bad guy in their dealings.  Ultimately they want to protect their investment so conceding a credit likely isn't being considered though I bet that's the best that the Kirby's could manage.

-Yoc

But an artist isn't any different, frankly, than the rest of us.  My labor doesn't retroactively become more valuable because a former employer or client cashed in on some software I created for him (it has happened, in fact, and I'm thrilled for them, not demanding my cut).  The transient that picked your vegetables isn't getting a fat check because corn futures are up and what he's done has proven more valuable to his employer.  And a (pardon the expression) real artist doesn't look for a bigger commission when a painting goes for thousands at an auction, many owners later.

And, by the way, Kirby got a hell of a reputation for doing the work he did.  That's far, far better than most people get for a lot more effort and a getting a lot more wronged along the way.

Sure, Marvel did bad things.  But it's not an aphorism that two wrongs don't make a right.  Giving the junior Kirbies a pound of Disney's flesh doesn't help Jack or even show him the least bit of respect.  And Jack has been dead for getting close to twenty years, now, and suddenly the kids realize that Dad is owed artwork, long after the statute of limitations expired!  Sure, totally believable.

But even accepting all this, it doesn't mean that Kirby thought he was an independent contractor creating things on his own that he then sold to Marvel.  (And consider that, if any artist believed these were his work terms, there wouldn't have been a Creator's Rights movement.  Image Comics wouldn't have been founded to publish creator-owned properties, because the assumption would have been that's what Marvel was doing.)

To me, nothing is more insulting to a man's legacy than for his children to paint him as an idiot who didn't know what he was doing so that they can make a quick buck off his work.  If I have kids and anybody spots them doing it to me, please smack them on my behalf.
Title: Re: Steve Ditko and the departure from Marvel Comics,
Post by: Bob Hughes on April 01, 2011, 05:15:20 PM
John, where have you been for the last 30 years, that you can pretend that this is a recent fight?  The fight between Kirby and Ditko and Marvel started while they were still working there and has continued to this day.  To pretend that his kids "suddenly" realized there was money to be made is an absolutely reprehensible and dishonest twisting of the facts in the case.  I suggest you go back and read every interview that Kirby ever gave in his life and maybe a law book or two before you post any more.
Title: Re: Steve Ditko and the departure from Marvel Comics,
Post by: Yoc on April 01, 2011, 07:42:11 PM
Let's turn the heat down a bit on this topic gang.  Ok? 
Nobody has said anything too nasty, but let's not cross the line.

Thanks,
-Yoc
Title: Re: Steve Ditko and the departure from Marvel Comics,
Post by: brush on April 01, 2011, 07:55:26 PM
The late great Jack Kirby must be rolling over in his grave - Marvel and DC's methods of securing the copyrights from the Freelancer was basically an ultimatum tantamount to extortion!! For an  artist/freelancer with a family to feed and a rent or mortgage to pay, there was only one possible scenario; concede to the terms stated on the back of the cheque!!

From Joe Sinnott's testimony:

13. I recall that the [cheques] that I received from Marvel in the 1960's as a
freelancer had pre-printed language on the back. It said that by endorsing the
[cheque], I was acknowledging payment for my assignment of the copyright and all
other rights in my work.


From Dick Ayer's testimony:

14. This was reflected in how we were paid after delivery and acceptance of
freelance material. Marvel's [cheques] to me would include stamped writing on the
back, where I was supposed to endorse the [cheque], which stated that by signing the [cheque] I was transferring to the comic book publisher all of my rights in the material it had purchased.

From Neal Adams testimony:

14. For instance, Marvel's and DC Comics' [cheques] to everyone through at least the mid-1970's would include a printed or stamped legend on the back that stated that by endorsing the [cheque], the artist "transfers" and "assigns" all right, title and interest in the artwork bought by Marvel.



Warren
Title: Re: Steve Ditko and the departure from Marvel Comics,
Post by: John C on April 02, 2011, 06:38:03 AM
Bob, your point is exactly mine, which is my problem, here.  Involved in this case was an attempt to also sue for the artwork and missed payments, for which the Statute of Limitations has long expired.  If this was such an important aspect for the kids, they wouldn't have waited until they were already suing for something else.  The only reason I can imagine for pulling a stunt like that is for parasitic sympathy.

Warren, yes, there's another choice.  It's usually referred to as "getting a real job," which is what most artists do to support their families and their art.  I have a lot of respect for those people and for the choice Kirby made, because they did make the choices, with their eyes open, and in full recognition of the facts.  Kirby, especially, would know the facts, because he had been a publisher for a few years in the same business.

As I said before, to see testimony that suggests that he didn't know what he was doing?  Yeah, I'm sure that's all out of absolute respect for the man and his work and not at all about becoming millionaires off the eight trillion bucks the movies have grossed to date without contributing anything to society.
Title: Re: Steve Ditko and the departure from Marvel Comics,
Post by: josemas on April 02, 2011, 08:09:22 AM
(Imagine a movie star from the '60s insisting that he should get extra royalties, because nobody at the time of filming ever mentioned selling it "on DVD"...)

I know a bit more about movie related stuff so I'll throw out a few things regarding that in answer to your statement here John.

The earliest that I know of residuals being paid to actors was for radio work back in the early 1940s. 

Once TV took off actors negotiated and began receiving residuals on reruns of television shows & theatrical movies being run on television in the 1950s & 60s.

In the 1970s & 80s they began receiving residuals for such things as video casette , pay per view and cable sales.

The specifics of DVDs and video on demand residuals are items that are still being negotiated. 

Best

Joe
Title: Re: Steve Ditko and the departure from Marvel Comics,
Post by: josemas on April 02, 2011, 08:21:46 AM
What fascinates me is that this story only seems to happen regularly or taken seriously with comics.  As I mentioned, nobody screams that we should track down Tesla's grand-nephews and force the power companies to give them a percentage of our electric bills, even though he essentially invented AC power transmission, among other things around us he actually never got paid for.  Nobody thinks that Jackie Gleason's estate should get money from modern sitcoms after he essentially reinvented the form used today. 

Well Tesla's work would have dealt with patents (which congress hasn't tinkered with nearly as much as they have with copyright) and as such would have expired many, many years ago.

Jackie Gleason was just putting his own touch on the sort of thing that had been happening in theatrical comedy shorts for decades and in doing so he borrowed heavily from various comedians himself.  He was unique but what he was doing was really nothing new.

Best

Joe

Title: Re: Steve Ditko and the departure from Marvel Comics,
Post by: JVJ on April 02, 2011, 10:08:05 AM
Interesting cultural slant, John,
Last fall I was speaking with Jean-Claude Mazieres, a French comic book artist of nearly 50 years (he and Jean Giraud with instrumental in the design of The Fifth Element). He told me that an important Belgian original art collector had recently sold his entire collection at auction. Some of the art was work done by Jean-Claude back in the 1970s. The French law requires that a small percentage (he didn't say how much) of the realized sale price is given to the artist, so he had just received a windfall because his work is highly collectible.

I don't know if the monies would be awarded to his estate if he had died, but I LOVE the notion that artists in this culture are presumed to have a vested interest in their work and continue to benefit from the value that accrues from a long and successful career.

Vive la France,

Peace, Jim (|:{>
Title: Re: Steve Ditko and the departure from Marvel Comics,
Post by: Yoc on April 02, 2011, 10:09:46 AM
Nice calm and informative posts josemas.
Thanks!

Fascinating Jim.  Thanks for sharing that as well.
:)
Title: Re: Steve Ditko and the departure from Marvel Comics,
Post by: John C on April 02, 2011, 03:07:04 PM
I actually have a bone to pick with a lot of copyright law that's crept onto this side of the Atlantic, Jim (like basing the copyright term of ephemera on the lifespan of utter unknowns) and this just adds to the pile.  I mean, it sounds nice on the surface, but it's basically saying that artists get money long after they've put in the work (and get paid again and again, potentially), while the guy who fixes potholes or invents a new way to fuel cars gets his salary, maybe a bonus, and a pat on the head, to be forgotten.

If the artist gets a cut of every painting resale, why not the company who produced the paints?  Why not the oil company (or walnut/linseed farmer, I guess) that provided the medium for the oil?  We all know why:  Because everything would be too expensive if we priced it that way.

But somehow, we can idolize an artist and demand such payments without every thinking of demanding it for ourselves, and certainly turning a blind eye to everyone who enabled the art.

I think it's well past time I walk away from this topic.  It seems I'm more angering people (not you, Jim) than engaging in conversation, and that's a waste of everybody's time.
Title: Re: Steve Ditko and the departure from Marvel Comics,
Post by: Drusilla lives! on April 02, 2011, 04:48:47 PM
I'll just add one last thing.  

I was considering this the other day... when Kirby and Ditko joined up with Atlas in those waning days of the 1950s, Atlas was indeed on the rocks.  Basically, it was a completely renewed company by the time Kirby, Ditko and Lee hit their stride with the new superhero titles.  And IMO if one is to draw a correct analogy with the workings of the computer software industry, the conditions of Atlas-Marvel at that time was more akin to a modern day software startup.   If Atlas was a software company today and it brought in two high profile creative talents like Kirby and Ditko, I'm sure they would be offered not only a salary, but stock options as well.  Why?  Well, it's obvious.  The stock options work as a method of recapturing "a cut" of future profits for these creative efforts.  

Did Kirby get such a deal?  No, not at all.  So by this loose modern analogy I'd say yes, Kirby's family deserves to be compensated for loss of income/profits.  

Of course I'm not even sure stock options as a form of compensation for key people was even a concept back then, and besides Atlas was privately held at the time.  But Kirby could have at least been offered a small percentage of the comic book business... in other words, he could have been made a silent partner in the company... which IMO would have amounted to about the same thing as a stock options offering.  But neither he nor Ditko (or Lee for that matter, as far as I know) were... yet they did pretty much rebuild Goodman's comic book business for him (IMO).  
Title: Re: Steve Ditko and the departure from Marvel Comics,
Post by: KevinP on April 02, 2011, 05:59:25 PM
But...why isn't his "equitable reward" the paycheck he received?

If, as the article says, they were promised residuals, if the work took off, then they deserved them.
Title: Re: Steve Ditko and the departure from Marvel Comics,
Post by: JVJ on April 03, 2011, 05:38:58 AM
I mean, it sounds nice on the surface, but it's basically saying that artists get money long after they've put in the work (and get paid again and again, potentially), while the guy who fixes potholes or invents a new way to fuel cars gets his salary, maybe a bonus, and a pat on the head, to be forgotten.

If the artist gets a cut of every painting resale, why not the company who produced the paints?  Why not the oil company (or walnut/linseed farmer, I guess) that provided the medium for the oil?  We all know why:  Because everything would be too expensive if we priced it that way.

I don't see that analogy, John. This is applicable only to Art, wherein a specific effort by a specific person adds a value to the canvas and the oil and frame that varies with both the quality of that effort and the value that society places on the result over time. The person who "invested" in a page of Jean-Claude's Valerian strip in 1975 did nothing to increase the value of that page. And it can easily be argued that Jean-Claude's continual effort and the quality of that effort and the popularity that he engendered DID contribute to the value of the 1975 effort. So when M. Collector decides to sell at a profit, there is a case to be made (and French Society makes said case) that a portion of the ROI for M. Collector is due to the Artist who made it possible.

Quote
But somehow, we can idolize an artist and demand such payments without every thinking of demanding it for ourselves, and certainly turning a blind eye to everyone who enabled the art.

It's a little more subtle than that, I think. There is a value that societies place upon Art that is not given to making bricks or waxing automobiles or drilling for oil. Whatever "it" is that an Artist adds to a work of Art, the value of "it" varies with the talent and popularity of the Artist and with time and scarcity. "It" is more than a product or a service, where the normal market forces hold sway. Someone may be able to make a better brick and charge more for it, but there is usually the material and ability available for someone else to produce additional bricks. With Art, it's a done deal. There aren't going to be more Steve Ditko Spider-Man #33 covers. Can you really deny that the seller today of that piece of art doesn't have some moral debt to Mr. Ditko to share a portion of his windfall with Steve? Said seller hadn't contributed anything other than the preservation of it, and Marvel hadn't either.

I'm not saying that Ditko can demand such recompense, but I maintain that a society that can make a rule that awards him such is pretty enlightened.

Quote
I think it's well past time I walk away from this topic.  It seems I'm more angering people (not you, Jim) than engaging in conversation, and that's a waste of everybody's time.

I understand your position, and basically reject the current copyright laws as patently unfair and quite contrary to the intent of the framers of our laws. They are a manifestation of the manipulations of Corporate America. If the original intent of a 28 (or even the 56) year limit were enforced, the Shuster, Kirby, and Simon cases would be moot. Public Domain would be all the richer and faceless corporate ownership of Artistic Creations would be severely limited.

Much of these extension laws stem from Disney's efforts to prevent Mickey Mouse from falling into the public domain. And where would Walt Disney be without such Public Domain material as Treasure Island, 20,000 Leagues Under the Seas, Snow White, Cinderella, Aladdin, The Little Mermaid, Sleeping Beauty, Alice in Wonderland, Beauty and the Beast, The Jungle Book, Swiss Family Robinson, etc. etc. etc.?

We exist in a hypocritical world run by lawyers, but there are a few bright spots of respect still around. I think that the French acknowledgement of an Artist's contribution to the value of his own work is a laudable one.

In NO way have you angered me, so I hope you will consider a continuation of our conversation.

Peace, Jim (|:{>
Title: Re: Steve Ditko and the departure from Marvel Comics,
Post by: narfstar on April 03, 2011, 06:02:47 AM
Quote
Much of these extension laws stem from Disney's efforts to prevent Mickey Mouse from falling into the public domain. And where would Walt Disney be without such Public Domain material as Treasure Island, 20,000 Leagues Under the Seas, Snow White, Cinderella, Aladdin, The Little Mermaid, Sleeping Beauty, Alice in Wonderland, Beauty and the Beast, The Jungle Book, Swiss Family Robinson, etc. etc. etc.?

Very astute observation that I had not thought of.

Quote
We exist in a hypocritical world run by lawyers, but there are a few bright spots of respect still around.

Yep

Quote
Much of these extension laws stem from Disney's efforts to prevent Mickey Mouse from falling into the public domain. And where would Walt Disney be without such Public Domain material as Treasure Island, 20,000 Leagues Under the Seas, Snow White, Cinderella, Aladdin, The Little Mermaid, Sleeping Beauty, Alice in Wonderland, Beauty and the Beast, The Jungle Book, Swiss Family Robinson, etc. etc. etc.?

Very astute observation that I had not thought of.

Quote
I think that the French acknowledgement of an Artist's contribution to the value of his own work is a laudable one.

I question why we as a society place the arbitrary values on this or that effort. Picasso slapped a few lines on canvas and because he was Picasso it was art. NONSENSE.  Someone sticks a cross in urine and it is art. NONSENSE. If any hack can easily copy it then it is not talent. Some argue that it is the idea. Within one novel a writer may include many such ideas. Just because he does not have a name as an artist and make a physical representation it is not as valued. I remember a "sculpture" I saw once. It looked like a wad of gum. I would bet money that was the "artists" inspiration. It took no talent to make a large version of a wad of gum. He made money probably founded by tax dollars.

I guess my points on this are coming from being a teacher. I feel that I add far more value, with far more effort and work, to society. In most instances I feel that society contributes to the value of the artist more than the artist to society. Same with actors or music stars. In most cases I think it is the work of the writer and the people behind the scenes that add the real value and quality. Once society places a value on the celebrity they continue to reap great rewards. It is almost always the product that made them more than the other way around.
Title: Re: Steve Ditko and the departure from Marvel Comics,
Post by: JVJ on April 03, 2011, 06:06:17 AM
I'll just add one last thing.  

I was considering this the other day... when Kirby and Ditko joined up with Atlas in those waning days of the 1950s, Atlas was indeed on the rocks.  Basically, it was a completely renewed company by the time Kirby, Ditko and Lee hit their stride with the new superhero titles.  And IMO if one is to draw a correct analogy with the workings of the computer software industry, the conditions of Atlas-Marvel at that time was more akin to a modern day software startup.   If Atlas was a software company today and it brought in two high profile creative talents like Kirby and Ditko, I'm sure they would be offered not only a salary, but stock options as well.  Why?  Well, it's obvious.  The stock options work as a method of recapturing "a cut" of future profits for these creative efforts.  

The analogy falls down, DL, when you consider that Kirby and Ditko were not working full time for pre-Marvel. They weren't "brought in" to create a company, they were two guys looking to earn a paycheck and taking work where ever they could get it. Kirby was at  Classics Illustrated and Archie, while Ditko was still active at Charlton and even Dell. Without a full/total commitment to a company, I don't believe that anyone today would be offered stock options.

Quote
Did Kirby get such a deal?  No, not at all.  So by this loose modern analogy I'd say yes, Kirby's family deserves to be compensated for loss of income/profits.  

I am a firm believer in Jack Kirby's contribution to the Marvel Universe and would argue until the day I die that he deserved more than he got. BUT, I simply reject the notion that his family is owed anything. Families aren't the creators of the work and their contributions are non-existent. The copyright of a work is a tangible asset that can be willed to an heir or heirs, so if there is a legitimate copyright that Kirby can be shown to have owned, then they deserve to inherit that asset. The convoluted and insubstantial nature of the "rights" defined by the new copyright laws makes this both debatable and difficult to prove.

Personally, I think all the rights to anything done over 58 years ago should be PD and the notion that Marvel or Kirby's family should be fighting over them is sad. It seems possible that nothing will ever again fall into the Public Domain.

Quote
Of course I'm not even sure stock options as a form of compensation for key people was even a concept back then, and besides Atlas was privately held at the time.  But Kirby could have at least been offered a small percentage of the comic book business... in other words, he could have been made a silent partner in the company... which IMO would have amounted to about the same thing as a stock options offering.  But neither he nor Ditko (or Lee for that matter, as far as I know) were... yet they did pretty much rebuild Goodman's comic book business for him (IMO).  

I also agree that Kirby rebuilt Goodman's business for him. But he did it with his eyes opened and he did it probably MORE for Jack Kirby than for Martin Goodman. He needed a steady job and he effectively created one for himself. It wasn't altruism on Kirby's part any more than it was manipulation on Goodman's. It was one more example of Capital and Labor joining forces to satisfy their own needs. We don't know exactly who said what to whom, but I think it's extremely unlikely that Kirby was concerned with the long-term returns on his creative investments until long after he had made them. As has been proved more than once in his career, he wasn't the world's greatest contract negotiator. And that doesn't make Martin Goodman an ogre (though he still may have been one).

Peace, Jim (|:{>
Title: Re: Steve Ditko and the departure from Marvel Comics,
Post by: JVJ on April 03, 2011, 06:24:26 AM
Quote
I think that the French acknowledgement of an Artist's contribution to the value of his own work is a laudable one.

I question why we as a society place the arbitrary values on this or that effort. Picasso slapped a few lines on canvas and because he was Picasso it was art. NONSENSE.  Someone sticks a cross in urine and it is art. NONSENSE. If any hack can easily copy it then it is not talent. Some argue that it is the idea. Within one novel a writer may include many such ideas. Just because he does not have a name as an artist and make a physical representation it is not as valued. I remember a "sculpture" I saw once. It looked like a wad of gum. I would bet money that was the "artists" inspiration. It took no talent to make a large version of a wad of gum. He made money probably founded by tax dollars.

I guess my points on this are coming from being a teacher. I feel that I add far more value, with far more effort and work, to society. In most instances I feel that society contributes to the value of the artist more than the artist to society. Same with actors or music stars. In most cases I think it is the work of the writer and the people behind the scenes that add the real value and quality. Once society places a value on the celebrity they continue to reap great rewards. It is almost always the product that made them more than the other way around.
I agree, narf. I think that much if not most of what is classified as "Art" these days is stupid and laughable, and such is especially true of the popular arts of film and "music". You will get NO argument from me. The "conceptual" nature of Modern "art" is, as you say, nonsense.

I've NEVER understood the appeal or "value" of Picasso, but you and I are not the arbiters of what Society views as Art. Our society is VERY confused on its priorities, as you correctly point out, but it's a social evaluation, not one that we as individuals have control over. You and I can value the writer of a film more than the actors, but Society doesn't. We can be right and Society wrong, but it has ZERO impact on how much Johnny Depp is going to get paid for his next film.

As a teacher, you probably contribute much of value, but Society may just see you as a parasitic leech out to suck the public coffers dry. How stupid is THAT? Pretty DAMN STUPID, but the reality isn't what we're discussing - it is what the masses of opinions that manifest themselves as our Social Values reflect.

So, private opinions aside, American Society values notoriety, sex appeal, and popularity. It's probably much the same in France, but the simply fact that they acknowledge the role of the Artist in the public valuation of his/her Art, is something not found in America and something I laud.

YMMV.

Peace, Jim (|:{>
Title: Re: Steve Ditko and the departure from Marvel Comics,
Post by: bcholmes on April 03, 2011, 09:19:59 AM
Hm.

I've been hesitating to get involved in this conversation, because I'm sure that a large number of people will disagree with me in ways that are (in my opinion) knee-jerk reactions.  Basically, because I'm really not very far from a communist in my political views, and I find that people just want to argue with anything involving the 'C'-word regardless of whether or not the argument applies to anything said in the conversation.

But there are a coupl'a points that I would like to raise -- and they're common points that (in my opinion) seem to be neglected in these kinds of conversations.  I think that, because we live in such a capitalist society, we aren't really given any real training in the labour theory of capital.  And we also, in my opinion, tend to analyze situations as individual choices without applying any sort of systemic analysis.

Consider the following suggestion that John made:

Quote
Warren, yes, there's another choice.  It's usually referred to as "getting a real job," which is what most artists do to support their families and their art.  I have a lot of respect for those people and for the choice Kirby made, because they did make the choices, with their eyes open, and in full recognition of the facts.  Kirby, especially, would know the facts, because he had been a publisher for a few years in the same business.

This is classic "individualist" thinking, in my opinion.  I would assert that the better choice is for the Marvel artists to unionize and collectively bargain for reasonable wages and/or some other reward system for their work (such as, if the group wants it, future bonuses on the work).

This is, in my opinion, the real difference between the example of the person who fills potholes and the person who draws the X-men: not that one is "art" and the other is "pavement" (although it seems like the difference is obvious, I actually think that the distinction is built on a house of cards that'll tip over the moment you really start to interrogate it).  The pot-hole-filler is almost certainly a unionized municipal worker, whose union has negotiated a reasonable wage and benefits.  We all know what happens to comic artists later in life: the vast majority end up destitute even when the companies that they work for make fortunes.  I don't think that is right, and I do think that there are equitable ways to fix that -- ways that don't involve suggesting that someone like Jack Kirby should have gotten a job filling pot holes. 
Title: Re: Steve Ditko and the departure from Marvel Comics,
Post by: JVJ on April 03, 2011, 10:46:03 AM
One thing you must admit, bc,
is that while municipal workers may have unionized over the years (primarily because society places a value on pot-holes being filled), comic book artists did not (primarily because there was no premium on the creation of comic books and the supply of artists available generally exceeded the demand for their services). You can't change the past. So, while I agree that a unionized, common front would have benefited Kirby and Ditko, it didn't happen that way. I would have been a "better choice", but it was one that was not made.

The "real" differences between artists and laborers are legion and "unionization" is only one of them. Another is the value placed on individuality among artists and the very different temperaments and personality types attracted to each. Nothing is a simple as anyone here has tried to portray it.

Peace, Jim (|:{>
Title: Re: Steve Ditko and the departure from Marvel Comics,
Post by: bcholmes on April 03, 2011, 02:10:47 PM
The "real" differences between artists and laborers are legion and "unionization" is only one of them. Another is the value placed on individuality among artists and the very different temperaments and personality types attracted to each. Nothing is a simple as anyone here has tried to portray it.

Sure, I buy that.  But if you look at the way that unionization played out in Hollywood, I think that's a much closer model to how one might want to see it in the comics industry.  No one disputes that actors (and directors, writers, etc.) are very different temperaments and personality types, and yet they're all part of the Actor's Guild, which works to iron out issues like actor (and writer/director/etc) compensation when new forms of media and/or distribution emerge.

BCing you
Title: Re: Steve Ditko and the departure from Marvel Comics,
Post by: Yoc on April 03, 2011, 02:48:30 PM
The idea of an artists union has been floating around in comics since Eisner was a teen.  Read his 'Dreamer' GN.  He and Kane went to meeting.  Adams tried to do it as well IIRC.
I think Jim is correct.  There's more artists than demand and it's a 'dream job' to do for so many that the field is totally controlled by the publisher.  Only those that self-publish have much a chance and with only one distributor calling the shots on 'minimum' numbers are needed for a book to be carried...  It's a closed shop.
Title: Re: Steve Ditko and the departure from Marvel Comics,
Post by: Drusilla lives! on April 03, 2011, 08:18:49 PM
I'll just add one last thing.  

I was considering this the other day... when Kirby and Ditko joined up with Atlas in those waning days of the 1950s, Atlas was indeed on the rocks.  Basically, it was a completely renewed company by the time Kirby, Ditko and Lee hit their stride with the new superhero titles.  And IMO if one is to draw a correct analogy with the workings of the computer software industry, the conditions of Atlas-Marvel at that time was more akin to a modern day software startup.   If Atlas was a software company today and it brought in two high profile creative talents like Kirby and Ditko, I'm sure they would be offered not only a salary, but stock options as well.  Why?  Well, it's obvious.  The stock options work as a method of recapturing "a cut" of future profits for these creative efforts.  

The analogy falls down, DL, when you consider that Kirby and Ditko were not working full time for pre-Marvel. They weren't "brought in" to create a company, they were two guys looking to earn a paycheck and taking work where ever they could get it. Kirby was at  Classics Illustrated and Archie, while Ditko was still active at Charlton and even Dell. Without a full/total commitment to a company, I don't believe that anyone today would be offered stock options.

I was just thinking along the lines of that Microsoft Windows comment that John C made earlier.  To me (in retrospect) Kirby seems to have been to Marvel (and Lee) what perhaps Paul Allan or many others were to Bill Gates and the early Microsoft.  That's the only reason really why I suggested that perhaps Kirby should have been given a small interest in Marvel at the time... but that wasn't the culture of the comics biz at that time.  In fact, who knows if Kirby would have accepted such an offer from Goodman anyway.  Looking back at the situation, with Atlas in such bad shape and all those shell companies on Goodman's books, perhaps Kirby would have declined the offer anyway... what's the use in having a percentage of a dying company, gaining even 1% of something that might not be around in a year is still nothing... and besides, working for Goodman was one thing, being a business partner probably would be quite another.

Quote
Quote
Did Kirby get such a deal?  No, not at all.  So by this loose modern analogy I'd say yes, Kirby's family deserves to be compensated for loss of income/profits.  

I am a firm believer in Jack Kirby's contribution to the Marvel Universe and would argue until the day I die that he deserved more than he got. BUT, I simply reject the notion that his family is owed anything. Families aren't the creators of the work and their contributions are non-existent. The copyright of a work is a tangible asset that can be willed to an heir or heirs, so if there is a legitimate copyright that Kirby can be shown to have owned, then they deserve to inherit that asset. The convoluted and insubstantial nature of the "rights" defined by the new copyright laws makes this both debatable and difficult to prove.

Personally, I think all the rights to anything done over 58 years ago should be PD and the notion that Marvel or Kirby's family should be fighting over them is sad. It seems possible that nothing will ever again fall into the Public Domain.

I'm not that big a fan of distant relatives cashing in on an artists legacy either, particularly if they intend to do so into perpetuity.  But I'm no longer sure about Kirby's case.  It seems such an egregious example of what was going on in the industry back then that I think the immediate family deserves at least a lump sum settlement... but then again, I also feel (as I presume you do) that it was primarily up to Kirby to have pursued legal action in this regard when he was still with us... that he didn't when he was, is just really sad.   He could have not only cleared up this rights issue for himself and his family, he could have made the comics industry a better place for all artists (past, present and future).

Quote
Quote
Of course I'm not even sure stock options as a form of compensation for key people was even a concept back then, and besides Atlas was privately held at the time.  But Kirby could have at least been offered a small percentage of the comic book business... in other words, he could have been made a silent partner in the company... which IMO would have amounted to about the same thing as a stock options offering.  But neither he nor Ditko (or Lee for that matter, as far as I know) were... yet they did pretty much rebuild Goodman's comic book business for him (IMO).  

I also agree that Kirby rebuilt Goodman's business for him. But he did it with his eyes opened and he did it probably MORE for Jack Kirby than for Martin Goodman. He needed a steady job and he effectively created one for himself. It wasn't altruism on Kirby's part any more than it was manipulation on Goodman's. It was one more example of Capital and Labor joining forces to satisfy their own needs. We don't know exactly who said what to whom, but I think it's extremely unlikely that Kirby was concerned with the long-term returns on his creative investments until long after he had made them. As has been proved more than once in his career, he wasn't the world's greatest contract negotiator. And that doesn't make Martin Goodman an ogre (though he still may have been one).

Peace, Jim (|:{>

Ya know, if Goodman wasn't the man he was, there might never have been Timely, Atlas or Marvel.  So I think it's time I stop bashing him, he was what he was... whatever that was... basically (from briefly considering his wikipedia bio) he was a survivor.  An industrious man who was shaped by his early life experiences surviving the depression.  Could he have done better as far as his dealings with those that worked for him?  Perhaps... but considering where he started from, and all that he did accomplish despite himself, I guess we should cut him some slack as well... in other words, ogre or not, there still wouldn't have been a Spider-Man or Fantastic Four without him.
Title: Re: Steve Ditko and the departure from Marvel Comics,
Post by: Yoc on April 03, 2011, 08:46:29 PM
Next to some publishers like Victor Fox, Goodman was nearly a saint.  Heck, he actually Paid his artists for completed work.  Fox would duck out the back door and had to be physically threatened by some artists.  Profit sharing was promised to S&K at Prize and they had to take them to court there as well.

Simon and Kirby DID do their own 'Mainline' venture.  It was a case of bad timing though and that was that.
Title: Re: Steve Ditko and the departure from Marvel Comics,
Post by: josemas on April 04, 2011, 09:35:58 AM
No one disputes that actors (and directors, writers, etc.) are very different temperaments and personality types, and yet they're all part of the Actor's Guild, which works to iron out issues like actor (and writer/director/etc) compensation when new forms of media and/or distribution emerge.

Actually they are probably not all members of the Actor's Guild but instead belong to whatever guild they specialize in- Director's, Writers, Photographers, etc...    Of course some people belong to more than one guild and the various guilds will often work in tandem when negotiating giving them more clout.

Best

Joe
Title: Re: Steve Ditko and the departure from Marvel Comics,
Post by: Drusilla lives! on April 04, 2011, 06:36:13 PM
... Profit sharing was promised to S&K at Prize and they had to take them to court there as well. ...

Ah, I wasn't aware of that Yoc.  I guess that torpedoes any chance that Kirby would have accepted a profit sharing offer by Goodman, if he indeed were to have offered one to him.  

Guess it would have been just another instance of "been there, done that, no thanks."   :)

Besides, you need to have profits to share them, and probably for all Kirby knew there were none... and who knows, being a partner he might have even been on the hook for losses as well.  Would it have looked like a good deal to Kirby... I doubt it... especially when no one knew that the superhero comics would takeoff like they did, and certainly no one (not even Goodman) was aware that just a few short years later Perfect Film and Chemical corp would approach them with a takeover offer... which is when the real money started flowing in from pimping all the characters off.

Title: Re: Steve Ditko and the departure from Marvel Comics,
Post by: Yoc on April 04, 2011, 06:45:01 PM
Well, if memory serves me Goodman supposedly had offered some kind of profit sharing after Captain America took off.  By the end of issue 10 they knew it wasn't coming and had already started working for DC and produced Captain Marvel Adventures #1.  This is from memory, feel free to correct me.  It's been a while since I read Joe Simon's Comicbook Makers bio.
Title: Re: Steve Ditko and the departure from Marvel Comics,
Post by: Drusilla lives! on April 04, 2011, 07:10:07 PM
Well, if memory serves me Goodman supposedly had offered some kind of profit sharing after Captain America took off.  By the end of issue 10 they knew it wasn't coming and had already started working for DC and produced Captain Marvel Adventures #1.  This is from memory, feel free to correct me.  It's been a while since I read Joe Simon's Comicbook Makers bio.

Sorry Yoc, I've never read that bio, so I can't correct you. ;) :)  

But something like a profit sharing deal somewhere along the line with regards to Kirby just seems so natural that it wouldn't surprise me one bit if that were indeed true.  
Title: Jim Shooter talks re Marvel vs Kirby
Post by: Yoc on April 05, 2011, 03:25:30 PM
Ok,
I'm posting this link with Some Reticence.
I do NOT want to see this turn into a typical flame war regarding Marvel vs Kirby.
I found this blog entry that does bare some possible significance to the topic of the copyright.
It is one man's opinion (who was on the inside and seems to be universally vilified for the event among other things) and he's made comments without being under oath.

Please, let's keep this topic civil.  It's fascinating to read but remember nobody needs to take anything said here as a personal attack on them.  Thanks!

Here is the link in question and the part that might be more significant to the current case is in a paragraph that starts with 'The Kirby case ended when...' about three paragraphs into the post.

CLICK HERE TO SEE THE BLOG ENTRY. (http://comicscommentary.blogspot.com/)

---

Equally interesting to me see the 'Friday, June 4, 2010' entry - "Gary Friedrich loses Ghost Rider lawsuit"
Title: Re: Jack Kirby's copyrights and Steve Ditko's departure from Marvel Comics
Post by: Roygbiv666 on April 05, 2011, 06:08:07 PM
I find it interesting that the companies didn't (couldn't?) make it part of the arrangement with their freelancers for the company to not only get all the rights (copyright), but also get sole eternal posesseion of the physical piece of paper the stuff was drawn on. Anybody know why, other than that nobody viewed it as valuable at the time?
Title: Re: Jack Kirby's copyrights and Steve Ditko's departure from Marvel Comics
Post by: narfstar on April 05, 2011, 06:42:49 PM
I think that was the only reason Roy. They saw no real value in it. The artists would surely have asked for their work back as "art" if they had thought of it as such like we now do. If they had thought it valuable I believe more of them would have gotten it back than the company wanting to keep since most threw it away  :'(
Title: Re: Jack Kirby's copyrights and Steve Ditko's departure from Marvel Comics
Post by: Roygbiv666 on April 05, 2011, 07:19:33 PM
I think that was the only reason Roy. They saw no real value in it. The artists would surely have asked for their work back as "art" if they had thought of it as such like we now do. If they had thought it valuable I believe more of them would have gotten it back than the company wanting to keep since most threw it away  :'(

The Lesson: Today's worthless crap is tomorrow's treasure.

The Harder Lesson: That doesn't apply to everything.

THe Hardest Lesson: Knowing which is which.

Oh, those Mego mint in box action figures. If I had them and had kids, they could go to university with the sales.
Title: Re: Jim Shooter talks re Marvel vs Kirby
Post by: Drusilla lives! on April 06, 2011, 05:00:23 PM
Ok,
I'm posting this link with Some Reticence.
I do NOT want to see this turn into a typical flame war regarding Marvel vs Kirby.
I found this blog entry that does bare some possible significance to the topic of the copyright.
It is one man's opinion (who was on the inside and seems to be universally vilified for the event among other things) and he's made comments without being under oath.

Please, let's keep this topic civil.  It's fascinating to read but remember nobody needs to take anything said here as a personal attack on them.  Thanks!

Here is the link in question and the part that might be more significant to the current case is in a paragraph that starts with 'The Kirby case ended when...' about three paragraphs into the post.

CLICK HERE TO SEE THE BLOG ENTRY. (http://comicscommentary.blogspot.com/)

---

Equally interesting to me see the 'Friday, June 4, 2010' entry - "Gary Friedrich loses Ghost Rider lawsuit"

Great link Yoc... but I don't recall reading anything about what Shooter's talking about regarding profit sharing offers (to Kirby) in the 70s... but nevertheless, if that's the case today for newer artists then I guess it's a step in the right direction.

Was Shooter really that instrumental with regard to this issue when he was EIC at Marvel?  I always thought it was through the efforts of artists like Neal Adams that real change was brought about in the industry.  I mean, I actually was still reading some of the Marvel books in the late 70s and to be honest, I never even noticed (or cared) who was EIC then... although it's also about 1980 or so that I stopped reading them... so go figure.
Title: Re: Jack Kirby's copyrights and Steve Ditko's departure from Marvel Comics
Post by: Yoc on April 06, 2011, 08:38:22 PM
Well DL, the blog does contest some of the statements Shooter makes and even he back tracks on some earlier comments.  Shooter has always claimed 'I was only following orders' and 'legal advice' while feeling bitter about his legacy at Marvel.
My main reason for posting the link was his suggestion that Kirby had already signed away all his rights for cash before the early 80s.  What makes me wonder though, if such a document exists wouldn't it quickly end the entire proceedings?  This is where the law gets complicated and I turn to JohnC to explain it.
;)
Title: Re: Jack Kirby's copyrights and Steve Ditko's departure from Marvel Comics
Post by: bchat on April 07, 2011, 12:15:05 PM
Read Jim Shooter's Blog (http://www.jimshooter.com/) (where "comicscommentary" got their quotes) to get his take on things regarding Jack Kirby.
Title: Re: Jack Kirby's copyrights and Steve Ditko's departure from Marvel Comics
Post by: John C on April 07, 2011, 04:34:38 PM
What makes me wonder though, if such a document exists wouldn't it quickly end the entire proceedings?  This is where the law gets complicated and I turn to JohnC to explain it.
;)

Hey...why I gotta be the shark?

Ahem.

Anyway, to the extent I understand it (and I went through that same line of reasoning), it's probably not a huge impact, because the current case is about the termination of copyright transfer.  A document that says Kirby gave up his rights in the '60s or the '80s or even last week doesn't have a bearing because the law says that you can't (and retroactively couldn't) make a perpetual copyright grant.  And on top of that, whenever the grant was, now's the time it can be terminated (if a grant was made, that is).

Arguably, the document harms Marvel's side of the case a bit, because--if it can be viewed as a contract, in which each side receives something of value--the fact that they had to relinquish rights in exchange for something that wasn't their property would suggest that the artists had rights to give up and were "selling" them, in effect, to Marvel.  If the artists didn't own the copyrights and if the form was a contract, then Marvel received no "consideration," voiding the contract.  (In that case, the returned art was an informal gift, and the paperwork was just random bureaucracy to piss everybody off.  And that sound you hear might be the IRS getting interested, since I doubt any of those artists mentioned such extravagant gifts on their taxes...)
Title: Re: Jack Kirby's copyrights and Steve Ditko's departure from Marvel Comics
Post by: Yoc on April 07, 2011, 05:17:02 PM
Oh man, I'd hate to see all those other innocent artists getting raked over the coals as collateral damage from the case.  :(
Title: Re: Jack Kirby's copyrights and Steve Ditko's departure from Marvel Comics
Post by: John C on April 08, 2011, 05:22:53 AM
I was half-joking, Yoc.  I'm pretty sure the statute of limitations on tax evasion is less than thirty years (it's three or six, generally, depending on how obnoxious you were), and original art since that time has been considered the property of the artist.

Since there's a handy chart, and since the URL contains the handy acronym "SOL":

http://www.justice.gov/tax/readingroom/2008ctm/CTM%20Chapter%207%20SOL.htm
Title: Re: Jack Kirby's copyrights and Steve Ditko's departure from Marvel Comics
Post by: Yoc on April 08, 2011, 10:24:38 AM
Good, picturing a nice guy like Dick Ayers say getting a nasty letter - well that would be just sad!
Title: Re: Jack Kirby's copyrights and Steve Ditko's departure from Marvel Comics
Post by: josemas on April 17, 2011, 11:17:54 AM
Stan Lee and Jack Kirby WBAI radio, New York
March 3, 1967
Interviewed by Mike O'Dell Transcribed by Steven Tice
UNEDITED
MIKE O'DELL Who goes around saving maidens, preventing banks from being robbed,
and committing deeds of that type, under an alter ego for the name, 'Peter
Parker?" How about "Tony Stark?" Would you believe "Reed Richards?" "Stan Lee?"
'Jack Kirby?' Well, except for the last two, they're all superheroes and they
belong in Marvel comics, and they are written and drawn by Stan Lee and Jack
Kirby. And Mr. Lee and Mr. Kirby are going to be answering questions about their
superheroes. And I guess the first one would be addressed to Stan Lee, and it's
the title of this program. Stan, will success spoil Spider-Man.
STAN LEE: [chuckles] Well, I don't think anything could spoil old Spidey, as we
lovingly call him. Just have to correct one thing you said, though. You said
that, except for Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, the others are superheroes. We like to
think of ourselves as superheroes, too. Might add also that there are other
artists and other writers who do some of the other books, too. Jack and I don't
do them all, although we do the Fantastic Four and Thor. Spider-Man has been a
success since he started, and, luckily, I don't think he's been spoiled yet, so
we just have our fingers crossed.
MIKE O'DELL I ran across Marvel comic books about six or eight months ago, and
one oof the things that drew me to Marvel comic books, and Spider-Man in
particular, is a panel that showed Spider-Man swooping down on some bank
robbers, and they said , "Whoops, here comes Spider-Man!" And he replies, "Who
were you expecting? Vice president Humphrey?" Now, this is not a line you expect
to find in a comic book, and it sort of symbolizes your whole approach to the
field, which is offbeat and interesting. Was it your idea, Stan? Where did it
come from?
STAN LEE: Well, I guess, in that sense, in was my idea, since I write the
dialogue. In a nutshell, our theory is—Although maybe I shouldn't give the
theory in a nutshell, because then I don't know what we'll talk about for the
rest of the half hour. But, at any rate, in a nutshell, our theory is that
there's no reason why a comic magazine couldn't be as realistic and as
well-written and drawn as any other type of literature. We try to write these
thing so that the characters speak the way a character would speak in a
well-written movie, well-produced television show, and I think that's what makes
our book seem unique to a person who first picks them up. Nobody expects, as you
say, that sort of thing in a comic book. But that's a shame, because why
shouldn't someone expect reasonable and realistic dialogue in a comic book? Why
do people feel that comic books have to be badly written? And we're trying to
engage in a one-company crusade to see to it that they're not badly written.
MIKE O'DELL: Jack, you drew and invented, if I'm not mistaken, Captain America,
one of the earliest superheroes, who's now plying his trade in Marvel comics.
How did Captain America come to be, and does he have any particular relationship
to your other superheroes?
JACK KIRBY: I guess Captain America, like all of the characters come to be,
because of the fact that there is a need for them, Somebody needed Captain
America, just as the public needed Superman. When Superman came on the scene,
the public was ready for him, and they took him. And so, from Superman, who
didn't exactly satiate the public's need for the superhero, so spawned the rest
of them. The rest of them all came from Superman, and they all had various
names, and various backgrounds, and they embraced various creeds. And Captain
America came from the need for a patriotic character because the times at that
time were in a patriotic stir. The war was coming on, and the corny cliche, the
war humor, quite a bit of humor, to them, there is an underlying sincerity. We
take them seriously, and I think the readers are aware of this.
MIKE O'DELL Did you also innovate the letters page? It adds to your stories, and
frequently I sometimes find in the blurbs you run that you advance the stories
by means of these letter pages.
STAN LEE: The letters pages are one of our most successful devices. It also
established a rapport between ourselves and the readers, and I'm happy to say
most of our readers feel that were all friends. When they write a letter, they
don't say, "Dear Editor." They say, "Dear Stan and Jack," "Dear So-and-so." They
call us by name. And we give ourselves nicknames. We started this as a gag, and
they've caught on. The fellow here on my right isn't just Jack Kirby. He's Jolly
Jack,
MIKE O'DELL I'll get you for it. [laughs]
STAN LEE: Or Jack "King" Kirby. And I'm "Smilin' Stan." This is kind of cute,
too, because, as I mentioned to you earlier, I think before we were on the air,
we sort of think of the whole thing as one big advertising campaign, with
slogans, and mottos, and catch phrases, and things that the reader can identify
with. And besides just presenting stories, we try to make the reader think he's
part of an "in" group. In fact, we've discussed before, we're always a little
worried about being too successful, where the readers will feel, "Oh, gosh, now
everybody's caught on to it. We have to find something new."
MIKE O'DELL Is there a real Irving Forbush?
STAN LEE: Oh, I don't think that it would be right for me to answer that. [Jack
laughs] When we're off the air, I might hint at it. He's real in our
imagination, I'll put it that may.
MIKE O'DELL I think you also pioneered the use of mythological superheroes. I'm
talking about Thor, which you two come up with every month.
STAN LEE: Well, you've got the right guy here, because I always say that Jack is
the greatest mythological creator in the world. When we kicked Thor around, and
we came out with him, and I thought he would just be another book. And I think
that Jack has turned him into one of the greatest fictional characters there
are. In fact, I should let Jack say this, but just on the chance that he won't,
somebody was asking him how he gets his authenticity in the costumes and
everything, and I think a priceless answer, Jack said that they're not
authentic. If they were authentic, they wouldn't be authentic enough. But he
draws them the way they should be, not the way they were.
MIKE O'DELL Did you do a lot of homework on that, a lot of Norse myths, and so
forth?
JACK KIRBY: Weil, not homework in the sense that I went home one night and I
really concentrated on it. All through the years, certainly, I've had a kind of
affection for any mythological type of character, and my conception of what they
should look like. And here Stan gave me the opportunity to draw one, and wasn't
going to draw back from really letting myself go, So I did, and, like, the world
became a stage for me there, and I had a costume department that really went to
work. I gave the Norse characters twists that they never had in anybody's
imagination. And somehow it turned out to be a lot of fun, and I really enjoyed
doing it.
MIKE O'DELL Isn't it rather tough to come up with villains that are a suitable
match for a Norse god? JACK KIRBY: Well, not if they're Norse villains.
MIKE O'DELL Well, you've also dragged in some Greeks. I remember one epic battle
with Hercules.
JACK KIRBY: Well. Hercules had Olympian powers, which certainly are considered
on an equal basis with the old powers of the Norse gods, and therefore we felt
that they were an equal match for each other. and by rights they should contend
with each other.
Title: Re: Jack Kirby's copyrights and Steve Ditko's departure from Marvel Comics
Post by: Yoc on April 17, 2011, 12:33:52 PM
Thanks for sharing that J
Title: Re: Jack Kirby's copyrights and Steve Ditko's departure from Marvel Comics
Post by: josemas on April 19, 2011, 10:30:33 AM
The following developments in the Warner Bros/Siegel & Shuster case (which, in some ways, parallels the Disney-Marvel/Kirby case) were recently reported at the Comic Book Resources site.

http://robot6.comicbookresources.com/2011/04/warner-bros-dealt-a-setback-in-superman-legal-battle/

A federal judge on Monday denied an effort by Warner Bros. to gain access to sensitive documents that are alleged to show an agreement between the heirs of Superman creators Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster not to strike further copyright deals with the studio, Hollywood, Esq. reports.

The documents, which were at the center of Warner Bros.’ May 2010 lawsuit against Siegel family attorney Marc Toberoff, also purportedly contain a formula for how the two estates, and Toberoff, would divide the Superman assets once they successfully terminate the studio’s rights to the property.

Zaresky’s decision is a setback for Warner Bros., which has been waging an increasingly bitter legal battle to hold onto Superman following a 2008 ruling that Siegel’s widow Joanne Siegel and daughter Laura Siegel Larson had successfully recaptured half of the original copyright to the Man of Steel. The door will open in 2013 for Shuster’s estate to do the same. (Last month Toberoff asked the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals to determine exactly what elements from Superman’s mythology his clients can reclaim as a result of the 2008 decision.)

The tone and tactics of the dispute were the subject of a letter written in December by Joanne Siegel to Time Warner Chairman Jeffrey L. Bewkes, just two months before her death.

Although Toberoff had convinced the judge in the first trial that those documents were protected by attorney-client privilege, Warner Bros.’ new outside counsel Daniel Petrocelli argued in the 2010 lawsuit that the consent agreement violates the U.S. Copyright Act and, therefore, can’t be insulated from discovery. However, U.S. Magistrate Judge Ralph Zaresky ruled this week that the studio’s assertion that the documents are illegal doesn’t necessarily make them illegal.