The Real History of Marvel Comics with Jack Kirby in an Ultra Rare Interview

Posted in Comic Books, Jack Kirby on July 2nd, 2012 by Willie

Superhero movies are everywhere these days, coldly destroying the competition in the movie theaters in the summer.  Their omnipresence is even sparking interesting debate from elitist movie critics at the New York Times.  With movies starring classic comic book characters like Spider-Man, Thor, Iron Man, and the X-Men, the question rises as to what collection of creative geniuses could have possibly come up with these zillion dollar ideas that millions of people have become fiercely loyal to?  The obvious answer is that it boils down to two Jewish guys from New York City, Stan Lee and Jack Kirby.  However, if you really deep fry the question, the answer might just boil down to one man, Jack Kirby.  The real story of the history of Marvel Comics is not exactly the tale of a happy collaboration between the revolutionary pop artwork of Kirby and the bottomless imagination of Stan Lee.  In actuality, the authorship of these legends is a jumbled and bitter history featuring bad work for hire contracts and editorial self-aggrandizement.  According to Jack Kirby, he basically not only created and drew every Marvel Comic of significance, but plotted and wrote all the dialog, a telling of history that leaves little room for one Stan Lee.  Jack recollected Stan as a “bother” and “office prankster,” hired as an office boy by Marvel’s owner Martin Goodman as a favor because they were related, and overtime graduated from office paperboy to over-glorified editor.  Stan would change some dialog to make it snappier or funnier, as well as changing character’s names on a whim, but Jack did all the heavy lifting, and because he worked at home, had little contact or interaction with Stan Lee.  Evidence speaking to this arrangement is found in this wonderful article published in a Jack Kirby fanzine, which you can read here.  In that article, you can read more about the troubled history between Stand and Jack, and see Jack’s original artwork and dialog, as well as the light notes Stan put in the margins.  Jack’s version of history is very negative towards Stan Lee, probably to an unfair degree.  Marvel Comics never properly took care of Jack over the years, treating him as a standard work for hire artist, and not the genius who revolutionized the way comic books are written and drawn, thus creating in Jack a deep bitterness.  A popular story out there is that Jack once entered a toy store towards the end of his life, (he died in 1994), and started to cry because he saw that every toy was of something he created, and he wasn’t getting a dime.  Stan, to his credit, did have more of a role in Marvel’s success then Jack would ever admit.  While Stan’s role in the creation of the Fantastic Four, the hit that saved Marvel from closing its doors in the early 60s, is questionable, Stan did create Spider-Man with artist Steve Ditko, the greatest superhero in the Marvel roster.  Jack, filled with bitterness, would claim for years that he was actually the one that created Spider-Man, a claim knocked down by numerous people close to the situation.  I could go on and on, but you can see the depth of wonderful intrigue to this history, and I hope one day, someone makes a smart and serious period piece movie about Stan and Jack, bringing this complicated history to light.  In light of this history, the global success of the multi-billion dollar Avengers/X-Men/ and Spider-Man franchises, is a bit bittersweet for two reasons.  First, Jack never lived to see it, and the second is that Jack’s name is not as well known as Stan’s, who has received an undue level of credit for something that essentially belongs to Kirby.  Anyway, the interview below is an incredible document.  Its Jack reflecting on his long life, how he started making comics, his stories from being a soldier in Patton’s army, and his personal cosmic philosophy that influenced all of his creations.  The interview took place in 1990, and while the interviewers do a wonderful job in allowing Jack to speak, as well as asking pertinent questions, the callers at the end basically have no idea of who Jack Kirby is, and thus ask a series of ludicrous questions, that are equally humorous and slightly disrespectful to a man of Jack’s stature.  It’s a great interview and well worth listening to because this is the man who facilitated the enjoyment of millions of people’s childhoods.  So, enough yapping, here is Jack Kirby, King of Comics.  Oh, the transcript of the interview is here, handy if you want to follow along more closely.

The video is courtesy of the Jack Kirby Museum, an incredible YouTube channel started by Jack’s family that fans of Jack should all subscribe to.

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The Ramones, Spider-Man Theme Song

Posted in The Ramones, Youtube Favs on December 7th, 2011 by Willie

Holy shit, did you know that the guy who co-wrote the original Spider-Man theme song with Bob Harris was 3 time Oscar winner Paul Francis Webster?  I know, WEBster, you can’t make that shit up!  The original theme song to the classic 1967 cartoon, and now classic internet meme, “Spider-Man,” was a work of genius.  The lyrics are phenomenal, the melody impossible to forget, and the driving bass line addictive as all can be.  Thank God the Ramones knew this too and made a secret music video to celebrate their secret hidden track found on 1995 Adios Amigos! vinyl.  This is a dynamic video of the Ramones in their later years and features Joey and the rocking out the tune on a NYC skyscraper.  Look out for the Twin Towers, no ones editing these babies out of this movie.  Amazing!

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Thougths on the New Amazing Spider-Man Trailer

Posted in Comic Books on July 21st, 2011 by Willie

“The Amazing Spider-Man” is Sony and Marvel’s reboot of the billion dollar Spider-Man movie franchise…That’s right, a REBOOT of a film that only came out less than ten years ago.  Well, the trailer leaked a few days ago, causing quite a firestorm on the internet.  Everybody has their opinions, but not everybody has a website with their name in the URL.  I do, so I’m uniquely qualified to give you some professional opinions on what I like and don’t like about this film.  So, check out the trailer, and comb over my carefully color coordinated bullet points, and see if you agree with all my important opinions.

  • The film is directed by “500 Days of Summer” guy Marc Webb.  I liked that movie, and Webb seems like a good name for a guy directing a Spider-Man movie.  GOOD
  • Andrew Garfield from “The Social Network” is Peter Parker/Spider-Man.  He’s certainly skinny enough, but based on this trailer, he looks too sad to be either Peter or Spider-Man.  TBD
  • This is a Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone) movie, not a Mary Jane movie…the difference here depends on if you prefer blondes or redheads. REDHEADS
  • Everyone is comparing the Spider-Man point of view scene to the Mirror’s Edge video game because it’s completely ripped off of that.  BAD
  • President Bartlett (Martin Sheen) plays Uncle Ben, and Forest Gump’s mom Sally Field plays Aunt May.  Fantastic casting.  GOOD
  • Just like the first one, the costume is impossibly knitted by a 17 year old boy, but this time, he messed up the dye job.  TYE DYE
  • Spider-Man builds his web shooters like the comic book.  Does he also make the web fluid?  Or is it still in his hands?  WEBS
  • Peter Parker is more of an emo loner in this one, and less of a geeky nerd…BAD
  • The depressed British guy from “Greenberg,” Rhys Ifans, plays Doc Conners/The Lizard.  GREEN
  • It’s dumb that they did a reboot because the origin story in Sam Raimi’s first film was 99% true to the comic.  Its gonna force them to make radical changes just to be new.  BAD
  • Lastly, I’ve been outside that building Peter walks by at the :50 second mark.  BEEN THERE
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