Dark Trinity: Stan Lee, Jack Kirby & Comic Book Artistry

So I finished the first episode of Robert Kirkman’s “Secret History of Comics.” Again, new episodes come on Monday’s at 10 p.m. I don’t expect to watch the episodes on time and certainly don’t intend to review them every time, though the second episode was about the creation of Wonder Woman, something I think a lot of people would appreciate.

But this was about the creation of Marvel and how it almost never came to be and so on.

Look, I get Marvel DOES NOT EXIST without Stan Lee. His approach to character development was revolutionary in comics. Most people, including myself, wouldn’t read comics if not for what he did. And while I get there are still some differences between the two, I firmly believe DC Comics wouldn’t be the same if not for Lee.

However, I’m fairly certain I can speak for 80 percent of comic book fans, including myself of course, when I say we would not read these stories without the artwork. The stories are awesome and everything, but it’s not like most of these books have such a substantial amount of writing that they’d necessarily be great alternatives to any other book.

I don’t think many authors could illustrate in text what these artists produce. Actually, that’s a lie. I don’t think ANY authors could do that.

Now I’ll be the first one to tell you, I’m not a big fan of reading old books. The art doesn’t do it for me, and I don’t find the stories as compelling. I read some to learn more about a character’s background. I respect the past, wouldn’t have what we have now without the visionaries in the early going.

So when I watched this episode to find out how Jack Kirby was royally screwed over, I just had to write about it.

Comic book reads know who Kirby is, but you MCU fans may not. I’m ashamed to say didn’t for the longest time. He was THE Marvel artist. He drew all the characters and inspired all the amazing artists we now have today.

But when Marvel Comics started to become big, before the movies and everything, Stan Lee received most of the credit. Now I understand his writing was pivotal in it all, and he was the front man, so you can give him a little more credit. Maybe 60, 65 percent. But without Kirby’s art, who cares?

You just bring in another jabroni who can draw, but isn’t any different than anyone else and Marvel never becomes DC’s rival. Maybe we don’t even have the conversation we’re having right now. Comic book could be if not for these two men.

So when the whole conversation of Kirby leaving came up, the interviewer flatly asked Lee, “Why did Kirby leave Marvel?”

This was his response:

I’m gonna be very honest with you. I don’t know. I was not…I don’t believe I was there at the time. I think I was in Europe, or somewhere, and I had heard he had left. And nobody ever gave me an actual reason that I could live with. It was the same thing with Steve Ditko when he left one day. To this day I don’t know why he left. Things happen.

(Ditko was probably third most important on the “Marvel Development” list. He was another writer and artist who left, pissed off.)

Seriously, Stan? Spare me the BS. If you, THE MAN IN CHARGE OF MARVEL, wanted to know why your top artist and longest tenured co-worker left, you’d have found out. And another thing, if you gave a damn about that man, you wouldn’t have let him leave so quickly.

And they highlighted that there was some BS “reconciliation” on a radio show. But then the Marvel 25th anniversary party came up and one of the interviewees said Lee spoke to Kirby about doing one final project and that he didn’t care who gets credit or anything. But Kirby’s wife pulled him away and that was the end.

That woman deserve’s a standing ovation because that was the right move. Lee only wanted that for the extra hype for the company — and himself.

Again, we don’t have the comic books, or movies and such, without either of these two men. So I appreciate Lee just as much as Kirby. All I’m saying is, cut the act Stan. You screwed Jack. Own it. No one will hate Marvel for it. And the people who’d hate you for admitting that, probably already think you did screw him and ALREADY hate you for it.

No one expects the father of so many awesome, imperfect characters to flawless.

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