The children of Jack Kirby are finally suing Marvel to terminate copyrights that Marvel claim over a number of the characters created or co-created by Jack Kirby, as well as recover profits for their exploitation.
It is impossible to describe how large a blow this would be for Marvel should they win, Jack Kirby’s creations and co-creations include Captain America, The Incredible Hulk, The Avengers, Ant Man, Fantastic Four, The X-Men, Thor, Iron Man, Silver Surfer and so much more.
The suit filed today follows a series of termination notices last year, and Marvel’s counter suit against the family, claiming that Jack Kirby’s work for Marvel as as a freelance agent.
With Stan Lee, Jack Kirby was responsible for one of the greatest moments of corporate comics creativity, revitalising the superhero market and expanding its appeal with concepts and characters that turned Marvel into the biggest English language comics publisher there is, and his creations have been bumping up Hollywood’s box office considerably of late – and look set to continue to do so as well.
Despite all this, Jack Kirby and his estate have never received a cent in royalties from Marvel, with no more payments than the original page rates.
Marvel and Jack Kirby had a number of differences during his working career, leaving, then returning, leaving, then returning. This issues including rights to his original art boards, rights to creative expression and rights to be credited for his role in the comics.
The instant reaction from some comic fans is fear, that their favourite characters may be taken away from them is such a case were successful. The lawsuit phrases this carefully;
With respect to Co-Owned Kirby Works, as of the respective Termination Dates, Defendants will jointly own the copyrights to such works for their renewal terms: both Plaintiffs and Defendants will have the non-exclusive right to exploit such jointly owned copyrights…
Which means you might get two Fantastic Fours!
The full complaint can be found here, also naming Marvel’s connection to Disney…