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Author Topic: Credit where it's due  (Read 171 times)

Offline Tomato

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Credit where it's due
« on: June 13, 2020, 08:41:10 PM »
So yesterday I came across an article on Jack Kirby's contributions to Spider-Man, which goes into great detail about how Jack Kirby was actually the one responsible for much of Spider-Man's DNA. In particular, one paragraph (which I highlighted on the Discord) stood out:

Quote
So does this mean that Stan Lee, and Steve Ditko are lying? I don’t think so. I think this is an example where each one is telling the truth from their own perspective. Jack Kirby was a conceptualist, an idea man, he felt that creation was the coming up of new ideas. Stan Lee is a writer, he’s a word man, he naturally feels the act of creation starts with the fleshing out of the personality and giving voice to the character. And Steve is an artist, his idea of creation is the giving of form, and texture, and atmosphere to a shapeless thought. To thine own self be true, and I think they are.

I found this take very interesting, because it's an issue I've thought about for a long time. Admittedly, I tend to be of the opinion that much of the magic of comics isn't so much who created what, but about who can take the existing pieces and tell the best stories with them. However, when it comes down to it, I tend to agree with the (implied) position of Stan Lee... the person I personally feel created a character is the one who gives a character their voice... even if sometimes that isn't until after it leaves the hands of the official creator.

For example, Deadpool. Rob Liefeld is credited with the creation of the character (Fabian Nicieza wrote the book, but my understanding was he was just responsible for working Rob's creative vomit into a working script). And while I will 100% credit ole Robby "pac-man feet" Liefeld with Deadpool's iconic design... the fact is, I in no way attribute Liefeld as Deadpool's creator. Rather, I feel that Joe Kelly, writer of the original Deadpool comic book run, was the one who first gave the character a real voice: He fleshed out Deadpool's backstory and personality, he created Deadpool's now iconic supporting cast, and his original romantic relationship with Syrin.

Another obvious example is Bob Kane. While I am thrilled to finally see Bill Finger get his proper creator credit for the character, he still shares that credit with Bob Kane. Frankly, I find Kane's contributions to the Batman character to be rather negligible... he was thinly veiled rip off of Pulp heroes shoved into a bright red suit so he could play in the Superhero genre. Rather, it was Bill Finger who suggested the changes to the character's costume. Finger who created Robin. Finger who created a huge portion of Batman's early rogues gallery. Bob Kane was just a hack artist who couldn't even re-draw a finger without getting a copy boy to do it for him, who contributed little more than the character's name (and an ironclad contract cutting out Bill Finger from getting credit). To me, while Batman may not have existed without Bob Kane, Bill Finger is the one responsible for creating the Batman that we all know.

And yeah, I realize that gets murky, especially with Marvel, as the article I referenced demonstrates. Based on the information from the article, both Peter Parker's origin and the plots for the first 3-4 issues were almost certainly  Jack Kirby's work. But I still think the lion's share of the credit for the character go to Stan and Ditko. They shaped the character, and gave him a voice. And, aside from the Vulture, most of the iconic villains were also by the pair.

I mentioned this when I did my dip into Spider-Man comics, but I personally found the initial stories to be fairly weak, especially the alien plot. While the origin is a classic and I have newfound respect for Kirby, the run as a whole definitely improved after they finally moved past those first few stories they apparently got from Kirby At the time, I had originally taken just as Lee and Ditko ironing the bugs out, but now it's clear that it's because those were the stories that were wholly Stan and Ditko's, and it shows.

That said, I do still agree that Kirby does deserve Co-Creator credit alongside Lee and Ditko. That origin is a core part of the character, and it was pretty much handed to Lee by Kirby during the original plotting phase. I do, however, bristle at Jack's insistence in later life that Spider-Man was his creation... He was an influential hand, certainly, but Lee and Ditko actually put the work into taking that concept and making it a reality.

Offline SickAlice

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Re: Credit where it's due
« Reply #1 on: June 13, 2020, 09:34:57 PM »
Overall much of whom is credited for what was done at the time in question by their work partners. Take Deadpool for example. Rob and I recall this at the time, often spoke that he just drew the character and more did not deny at all that it was a shout out to Deathstroke, he was proud of that actually because he loved the character and was fan himself. Yet he gets credit and mostly because his colleagues threw his name up during interviews. It's a camaraderie thing I think at least in the immediate prior to making the rounds in fandom. Collaborator is often the term of endearment. In spite of anything at whatever given time most of these people are or were good friends and spent so much time together they were practically family and even when at odds maintained a mutual respect for one another. Hence what I see as the foundation for much of this. An added example I'll throw in is Matt Hawkins, the big wig at Top Cow. He contributes many creations to Stjepan Šejić, Finch and Wohl among others. In Stjepan Šejić's case he was a hire after the creation of any of Top Cows characters (though showed no lack of being able to make his own of course). Yet they all credit another but in interviews likewise play themselves down.

All this in a sense lead me to conclude at some point that "first" might not be what matters and in reality anyone involved has done a notable part in adding to the genesis overall of the things we love. One could also conclude that fandom itself plays a part and puts in the effort. Else on a personal note it's always been non-factor to me. I think part of when I was born and the era I was introduced to comic books, long past the golden oldie days, and part to me it seems at best it would be a personal debate and only resolved in that manner where as I am just on the sidelines watching the news about it. In the case of Spider-man I have an added component that, well, dead and no use kicking a horse in that condition. Add much of this came to light more recently do to legal battles between now owners (WB/Disney) and the estates of said people now gone from the light of life and frankly, that's just tabloid journalism to me and not something I feel an investment in.

Otherwise specifically going to my first point, I think Kirby and Ditko above all else and at least from the many conversations I've had with people who were alive and reading in those eras are directly responsible for just the actual mold and spirit of superhero comic characters and thus are contributed to no less than inspiration of the whole whether they were directly involved with a project or not or if it was past their time. I think more at least of the older readers concur on it. On the bad hand though and something I know many fans do not like swallowing any more than I do if it's a technical matter than the answer is none of them came first as the characters that showed up when superhero comics first began forming were all riffs on something else that had already been established and was a popular trend at the time, admitted in the journals of most old writers and artists and mostly sourced from the at the time cartoons, radio shows and paperback books characters respectively. Yet I feel they are off the hook simply because basically when everything started it was much of a fluke and they had no map to go on thus most of these artists and writers were just winging it and likewise, something Lee often mentioned, there wasn't actually a such thing as the superhero comic genre nor industry yet and most of them never foresaw it becoming such a huge and long lasting thing.

That's my two cents on the issue. Another personal thing for me is regardless of the politics of comics I really have some sort of appreciation for any person that's contributed to them because they have brought me enjoyment, inspiration and at many times and escape for an otherwise painful reality. So in the end they all get a golden banana sticker from me.


Offline GhostMachine

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Re: Credit where it's due
« Reply #2 on: June 14, 2020, 09:02:09 PM »
Spider-Man was somewhat very loosely based on a concept that Joe Simon and Jack Kirby had for a hero called the Silver Spider, that was pitched to Harvey Comics in the early to mid-50's. From what I understand, besides the name that character has more in common with the cartoon version of The Thing, where he transformed using rings. If anything, Spider-Man is more of a ripoff of the heroes The Fly and The Tarantula than based on Jack and Joe's unused character concept. I actually believe Stan And Steve on this more than I do Jack. Its also no wonder that Steve designed a costume for Spider-Man, because the one Jack designed was boring. Its too much like the original Black Hood with a gun and different color scheme. Love Kirby's artwork. Its still hard to even come close when it comes to depicting action. But costume design was his weakness, at times.

The aforementioned Bob Kane....*sigh* I'm not really sure Kane came up with anything regarding Batman, other than the name. Even his original costume design was tossed out. He definitely didn't create Robin or The Joker. And Kane even took credit for work by ghost artists, not just writers. Bill Finger, Jerry Robinson, Sheldon Moldoff, and countless others created a lot of Batman's lore and rogue's gallery, but Kane gets the undeserved credit. He was even such a thief and egomaniac that his over the top gravestone has to be seen to believed. (Go look it up, but make sure there's nothing in your mouth to either spit out or swallow and choke on.)



« Last Edit: June 14, 2020, 09:05:13 PM by GhostMachine »

Offline SickAlice

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Re: Credit where it's due
« Reply #3 on: June 15, 2020, 04:32:53 PM »
That Batman stuff was sort of what I was kicking at but wasn't sure I wanted to open the can of worms. I read his journal a long time ago on all, "Dogman". The whole thing was a cleft on the Shadow. They weren't trying to be scammers either, something which just seems to be getting lost over time and made it very apparent that Batman was based on the Shadow and intended to appeal to that audience but more or less why the process of "who was first" is always a circular debate. Eventually no one was and everyone was inspired by something all the same and following a market trend. Like the adage that all plots are mainly based on Twilight Zone, it's what writers themselves watched as children though in the case of superhero I tend to think it all goes back to Popeye. Anyways again imo I don't pay it any mind, it's somewhat of a standard in arts and entertainment that a completely original idea is impossible, everything has to draw from something when creating it's foundation.