Last week, a US court issued a ruling siding with Marvel Comics in a long-running legal dispute between Marvel and the estate of comics legend Jack Kirby. Kirby’s family had been trying to get the court to rule that the Kirby estate owned the copyrights to all of the characters that he created for Marvel Comics during his career as an illustrator for the company. A US Federal Judge, however, made it clear that Kirby had no claim to the copyrights, as per the 1909 Copyright Act. In the wake of this ruling, Steve Bissette, who’s best known as the co-creator of DC’s John Constantine character, has called for an all-out boycott of any Marvel property that Jack Kirby had a hand in creating. It’s a stupid idea and it won’t work. Allow me to explain.
First of all, in a rambling, hard to follow rant which appears over on Bleeding Cool, Bissette tries to convince comic fans everywhere to boycott any Kirby created Marvel property. His logic is that the ruling that the court issued isn’t fair and if fans just stop buying Marvel comic books, video games, movies, and other merchandise that this will somehow force Marvel to throw its hands up in defeat and pay the Kirby family huge sums of money. In Bissette’s own words…
“I put it to you, ladies and gentlemen, that San Diego Comicon 2012 should be the least comfortable eventMarvel or any fleeting participant in any product, movie, videogame, or anything derived from Jack Kirby’s Marvel legacy, should ever attend in the history of comicbook conventions—if you make sure it is.
But there’s a lot to do—or rather, not do—between now and then.
After all, given the biggest news in the comics industry this week, in a vertebrate world, pros would cease working for Marvel and any Marvel product that involved Jack Kirby’s co-creations or derivations of Jack Kirby’s co-creations.
Fandom would cease buying/supporting any Marvel product, including its movies, in Jack’s memory.”
He then goes on to ramble on about how lawyers are lying scum and anyone who continues to support Marvel Comics has no spine and so on and so forth. Throughout, he repeatedly brags about how much money DC continues to throw at him for the hand that he had in creating John Constantine (on several occasions, Bissette reminds everyone that he got a $45,000 check after the movie came out) and how Marvel and Disney (who owns Marvel) are a bunch of corporate monsters. All of that may be true. And, to be fair, perhaps the Kirby family does have a legal right to these copyrights and the judge had no idea what the hell she was talking about. However, to all of that, I would make this point; I don’t give a shit. And no one else does, either.
Look, would I love to see the Kirby family get something for what Jack did for Marvel? Absolutely. Do I think he (and by extension, they) deserve it? Yes, I do. However, I’m not going to stop buying Marvel Comics stuff because of a legal dispute between Disney and the Kirby family lawyers. And I don’t think anyone else is, either. And, honestly, why should we? Most of what Kirby did for Marvel was done before I was born. I never met the man. I know of him and know about how instrumental he was in creating most of the Marvel Universe, but I have no emotional attachment to Marvel. And, excuse me for sounding selfish here, but what’s in this boycott for me? I miss out on reading my favorite Marvel comics, miss all the awesome new movies coming out, and stop wearing my Spider-Man shirts. And guess what? Marvel Comics doesn’t notice even for a second.
This whole dispute is between Marvel and the Kirby family. Maybe if I were a comic professional or was friends with the Kirby family or had some other emotional stake in this case, I would feel differently. But I’m sorry, I don’t. And asking the Marvel Comics fan base to walk away from the company because of a legal disagreement about work-for-hire status and the 1909 Copyright Law is absurd. And Bissette essentially calling me a spineless coward for not supporting his stupid little crusade? Fuck you! I’ll stop buying Marvel Comics stuff when Marvel does something that pisses me off. In terms of this whole Kirby vs Marvel dispute, I honestly don’t care about who’s right or who’s wrong. The case was put in front of a Judge, both sides made their argument, and Marvel came out ahead. If you think that I’m gonna stop reading Uncanny X-Force or The Mighty Thor over the outcome of a legal case that in no way affects me, Mr. Bissette, you are obviously a fucking moron.
The bottom line here is this: I appreciate what Jack Kirby did for comics, but I’m not going to change my buying habits and sacrifice something that I enjoy in an effort to help get his kids some money. Does that make me a shallow, insensitive, “invertebrate”. Maybe. But I don’t care. Aside from a few hippies, no one is going to support this boycott. Because, rightly or wrongly, almost everyone considers the Jack Kirby era to be ancient history. Most people who flock to theaters to see Iron Man and Captain America have no clue who Jack Kirby is or what he did. Marvel Comics might owe the Kirby estate something, but I sure as hell don’t. Have fun with your boycott, Steve Bissette. Let me know how it works out for you and how much money it puts in the Kirby kids’ pockets.
Filed Under: Opinion