Citing "a new and unexpected opportunity to further screw over the legendary creator," Marvel Comics has responded to the announcement of a Kickstarter by Jack Kirby's grandson, Jeremy Kirby, with threats of a lawsuit.
"Everything Kirby ever did was work for hire," said Marvel Chief Creative Officer Joe Quesada in a fictional statement. "He signed a contract."
Jeremy Kirby's Kickstarter, which is already fully funded after one day, has been created to publish a book called The Life and Times of Jack Kirby, which will include photographs, artwork, and a never-before-seen play written by the King of Comics called Frog Prince. The crowdfunding project is being taken as a personal insult by Marvel Comics, who has spent decades playing down Kirby's contribution to creating the Marvel Universe, most recently defeating Kirby's family in a lawsuit that attempted to reclaim the copyright for characters created or co-created by Kirby, including the X-Men, the Fantastic Four, the Incredible Hulk, Captain America, Thor, The Avengers, and basically all of the other core characters in Marvel's universe.
Over the years, many fans and creators have felt that Marvel failed to give Kirby the credit he deserves for creating so many Marvel characters, instead putting the spotlight on the arguably more marketable Stan Lee. Marvel also allegedly refused to return thousands of pages of Kirby's artwork to him during his lifetime, and attempted to strong-arm him into signing a contract giving up any rights to copyright of the characters in exchange for the artwork. Kirby was also compensated far less over the years than Lee, due to Lee's prominence as the face of Marvel Comics.
"We're not going to change decades of tradition," added Quesada. "Change is contrary to the nature of the comic book industry. We've always screwed over Jack Kirby, and we're not going to stop now just because he's no longer with us and because trying to claim the rights to this book makes absolutely no sense."
"Maybe if they change the title of the book to 'The Life and Times of STAN LEE!!!... and jack kirby,' we'd consider allowing it," Quesada concluded. "But we keep the rights."
Quesada then offered us a pristine original page of Kirby artwork as a souvenir for visiting the offices, as is standard Marvel practice.
The Outhouse will keep you updated on the legal proceedings, but if you'd like to contribute to the Kickstarter, click here.