He wrote one of my favourite Marvel stories of recent decades. The four issue Unstable Molecules, featuring… well, a version of the Fantastic Four at least. It won an Eisner Award back in 2004, a rare achievement for Marvel at the time.
But now James Sturm has chosen to boycott Marvel. Or at least the Avengers movie. Over Marvel’s treatment of Jack Kirby and his family.
Sturm is co-founder of the Center for Cartoon Studies in Vermont and founder of The National Association of Comics Art Educators. It’s not something that seems to have troubled him much previously. A superhero fan, both of the comics and the movies, he writes in Slate about planning to take his kids to see the film.
But then runs through the oh-so-familiar treatment by Jack Kirby from Marvel regarding credit, art and royalties, in marked contrast to the way Stan Lee has been treated.
What makes this situation especially hard to stomach is that Marvel’s media empire was built on the backs of characters whose defining trait as superheroes is the willingness to fight for what is right. It takes a lot of corporate moxie to put Thor and Captain America on the big screen and have them battle for honor and justice when behind the scenes the parent company acts like a cold-blooded supervillain. As Stan Lee famously wrote, “With great power comes great responsibility.”
James Sturm cites the Steve Bissette post that seems to have been a turning point. And writes;
A boycott of The Avengers and other Marvel movies could conceivably strike a blow in the only place that truly hurts a corporation: its bottom line. But I don’t have high hopes of this happening. I think most people feel that if you look at how any company makes its sausages, you are going to find some pretty nasty stuff. And few people will feel strongly enough about Kirby’s treatment to keep them from seeing one of the summer’s biggest blockbusters. Even a lot of die-hard comics fans will probably feel that boycotters are doing little more than raining on their parade.
There’s a petition being run here. It’s never going to be enough to affect the movie financially. But could be possible that Disney’s Robert Iger, grand nephew of Will Eisner’s partner Jerry Iger, might feel a modicum of shame, and be moved to… do something?