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Thread: James Sturm Boycotts Marvel Over The Avengers

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    Default James Sturm Boycotts Marvel Over The Avengers



    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 inVermont 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?

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    Wrote the Book on Cool Brother Justin Crowe's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rich Johnston View Post
    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?
    Mmmm...nope.
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    Zen Master of Cool Thad's Avatar
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    I think online petitions are absurd, but I'd like to see this snowball -- a little MSM attention might be enough to put some pressure on Marvel.

    Leaving aside the question of whether Marvel LEGALLY owes anything (and at this point, the courts have said that they don't, so that's what we have to go with), I think most reasonable people agree that Kirby got the shaft. Absent an opportunity to make it up to him now that he's left us, I think it would be a nice gesture for them to at least give his trust the same stipend they're giving Stan Lee. Disney can afford it and it's good PR -- and legally they don't have to admit any wrongdoing, just say they're being nice guys.

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    No chance they'd feel shame over it, no. But if they saw bad press coming down the pike Disney might find a settlement amount to buy out the family and make it go away. If it were even seven or the low-eight figures, it's a pittance compared to what they've been making on Jack's creations.
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    Maybe a sizable donation to heart disease research could be made in his name.
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    Yeah, no. That's not going to work and I doubt it will draw much media attention. The Siegels and Shusters don't really get much media play either anymore, as it is probably hard to sell the story of the creator's kids versus the corporations in a fight for character and credits rights.

    Besides, a full 50% of the Avengers in the movie have nothing to do with Jack Kirby on the creative end anyway.
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    Wrote the Book on Cool Wallabee Champ's Avatar
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    Most comic fans and fellow creators don't care about comic creators so there's no way they'll do anything.

    James Sturm had an interview with Tom Sturgeon (currently reposted on Sturgeon's site) where he said in 2004 he didn't care about Marvel's treatment of Kirby. I'd be very interested to know why he cares now.

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    This "boycott" idea is obviously related to Siegel and Shuster receiving a stipend and health benefits afte a similar protest before the first Superman movie.

    One notable difference is that at the time, Siegel and Shuster were still alive. And much worse, from a PR standpoint, Shuster - the artist- was almost blind (I've read "legally blind") and completely destitute.

    One well-worn anecdote spun out of the fact that after his eyesight worsened to the point where he couldn't draw, he worked for a time as a delivery man. According to the anecdote, Shuster's delivery route had him showing up at the offices of DC Comics with packages, and as some executive saw him shuffling through the corridors with packages, he was struck by how embarrassing it was for them to have one of the Artists whose work had helped build the company walking around in such a lowly position. So he demanded that he be fired so he wouldn't come back. According to the anecdote as I heard it. It seems a fairly emotional and probably contrived anecdote (I think another had him showing up at the offices dressed in a Superman costume threatening to jump off and commit suicide.)

    But the central fact that they couldn't escape was that Shuster was destitute whereas Superman the Movie was Big Money.

    In this case, Kirby is dead, he was never destitute, always gainfully employed and at this point revered in the industry. He was also a man with considerable business experience who had run his own company (with Joe Simon). Was Kirby taken advantage of? Perhaps, but I'm not sure that exceeds the "normal" degree of "being taken advantage of" that any freelancer in the business is subjected to. The need to feed ones family does coerce a lot of people into making business or career decisions where they're not being paid what their work is worth. Usually that's why people establish labor unions, improve work safety laws, get affordable healthcare and try to band together in other ways to improve conditions.

    I do not think a boycott is the answer. Nor do I think a giant windfall to Kirby's heirs is the answer. I think perhaps unionizing along the lines of the Screen Actors Guild and having a central organization that can help provide basic healthcare, guidelines for individual contract negotiations, collective bargaining on residuals/royalties and other issues etc. could be an answer to a lot of the problems faced by the comics industry.

    Either way, I think some randomly suggested boycott is guaranteed to fail. The Comics Industry (and comics fans) rarely seems to pull together enough to make such a thing work.
    calkundera likes this.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Wallabee Champ View Post
    James Sturm had an interview with Tom Sturgeon (currently reposted on Sturgeon's site) where he said in 2004 he didn't care about Marvel's treatment of Kirby. I'd be very interested to know why he cares now.
    Attention whore?
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    Consultant of Cool defchild's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ahlhelm View Post
    Yeah, no. That's not going to work and I doubt it will draw much media attention. The Siegels and Shusters don't really get much media play either anymore, as it is probably hard to sell the story of the creator's kids versus the corporations in a fight for character and credits rights.

    Besides, a full 50% of the Avengers in the movie have nothing to do with Jack Kirby on the creative end anyway.
    How does your math work?

    By my count he had a hand in creating Iron Man, Captain America, Hulk, Thor, and Nick Fury. The only ones he didn't co-create are Hawkeye and Black Widow. That's roughly 70%, plus he co-created the villain of the movie (Loki)! And if the Skrulls are involved, as rumored, well Jack co-created them, too.

    So it's pretty fair to say there'd be no Avengers movie without Jack Kirby.

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