In a recent court ruling a Judge ruled that Jack Kirby's heirs can't have the copyrights to the characters he created for Marvel. On the surface it looks like a big old greedy corporation squashing a family and being big and greedy. This brings us to the sticky subject of Funnybook Reparations. Basically, its the heirs of writers and artists who want the copyrights of what their family member created. The last big example of this was Jerry Seigel's family trying to get the rights back for Superman.
This is where some of you are going to get ticked at me.
That judge as absolutely correct to tell Jack Kirby's heirs that they couldn't have the copyrights. Jack Kirby had a major role in creating many of the Marvel characters we know today. All those big movies Marvel is rolling out feature characters that Kirby co-created. The thing is that they were all created under a "work-for-hire" contract. This means Kirby was paid to do a job and that job was to create and make comics. He didn't own any of the stuff he created for Marvel. Last I checked, no one held a gun to his head and made him sign that deal either.
That was a different time. Now there's a lot more cases of creator owned comics, which is a good thing. However, you can't make the creator owned movement retroactive. Consider this as well, Kirby didn't have nearly as much to risk when those books came out. He didn't pay to have them published, advertised, or distributed. Marvel did all that. Marvel paid for all that.
It might be a different story if Kirby were alive today and making the request. There was an incident back when SPIDER-MAN hit the theaters and made buckets of cash. Stan Lee was asked how much he got of all that money considering he was one of the creators of the character. He got nothing of the movie money. Marvel pays Lee a generous sum just to use his name. Stan did indeed ask about getting some of the movie money, and Marvel said "no". Lee doing a high profile project for DC soon after is purely a coincidence, I'm sure. But maybe if Kirby were still around we'd be seeing him and Lee in those awesome little cameo appearances in all the Marvel movies.
But its not Kirby making this claim. Its his heirs. I guess they figure because somebody in their family did something awesome then they're entitled to check. No way. They didn't do the work. They weren't involved in the deal with Marvel. So, they absolutely shouldn't have any say over the copyrights.
Let's say hypothetically that they did get the copyrights, what would they do with them? They doubt they'd go into the comic business themselves. Most likely they'd try to get a regular check out of Marvel and parent company Disney for use of the characters. This leaves marvel with three choices. First is to purchase the rights back, which they certainly wouldn't be cheap. Second is to offer a regular payment to the heirs to use the characters, which would have to included in the cost of making the comics so the price would go up. Last is to just stop using the characters.
If the Kirby heirs really wanted to have something of Jack Kirby's legacy they need to stop and realize that they already have it. He was part of their family. If they were smart they'd have opened up a Jack Kirby museum with a bunch of memorabilia. Marvel and DC would have likely donated some things to it. I'd certainly go to visit it if I had the chance.
So no big payday for the Kirby heirs and rightfully so. If they want to get a check from a comic book company, then they better start doing work of their own and hope it sells.
If I actually did this, would I actually be financed by Brazil?
That's all for today. I'll see y'all Wednesday, unless you've tarred and feathered me by then. Its hard to type when you're tarred and feathered.