A Birthday Bonanza!

A moment of joy and optimism, from Captain America's Bicentennial Battles (1976)

Today is the 96th birthday of the great Jack Kirby, and it’s wonderful to see the online outpouring of interest, affection, and commentary that this event has inspired!

There’s so much about Kirby on the Web today that knowing where to go could be a right challenge. Me, I recommend:

Or you could just turn off your computer, pick up and read a vintage Kirby comic, and get your mind blown all over again. :)

Hail Kirby!!!

Essential Reading: Taking Back the Kirby Case

US Supreme Court Building, photo by Carol M. Highsmith, from the Library of Congress

Attorney Jeff Trexler has written an excellent essay for The Comics Journal titled “Taking Back the Kirby Case” that I emphatically recommend to anyone who cares about comics, the work of Jack Kirby, the implications of copyright law for independent contractors, or just plain fairness.

Trexler not only reviews the decisions in the Marvel v. Kirby lawsuit and considers their ramifications, but also gives a thorough rundown of the legal case histories behind those decisions, in effect explaining the whole complicated story of how case law interprets and affects the work of comics freelancers. He shows, in essence, how court opinions have effected a massive shift of intellectual property from artists to corporations. Along the way, he suggests how and why the U.S. Supreme Court might take an interest in the Kirby case.

Essential reading, for which many thanks to Jeff Trexler! I learned a lot from it.

Support Kirby4Heroes in Honor of Jack’s Birthday

Kirby4Heroes Facebook page--please lend your support!Good, good news! Once again Jack Kirby’s granddaughter Jillian Kirby has launched a donation drive to benefit The Hero Initiative, the nonprofit organization dedicated to helping veteran comic book creators in need. In honor of Jack, and in the spirit of generosity that he championed, the Kirby4Heroes drive seeks to raise money for The Hero Initiative so that the Initiative can continue to provide, as its website says, “a financial safety net for yesterdays’ creators who may need emergency medical aid, financial support for essentials of life, and an avenue back into paying work.” Last year Jillian’s initial Kirby4Heroes drive raised $6000 for the Initiative, and she has set the goal of $10,000 for this year—a worthy goal for a worthy cause!

Jillian Kirby, for Kirby4Heroes

Jillian’s article at Hero Complex (the Los Angeles Times‘s pop culture blog) explains how the campaign will work, and how you can lend your support. Please read the article and consider donating to the cause! Also, you can see Jillian’s new video about the campaign via YouTube, courtesy of the Nerdist Channel:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tVhB2PGh4lg

Supporting Kirby4Heroes is simple. You can donate online via The Hero Initiative’s website, at heroinitiative.org (be sure to type “Kirby4Heroes” in the space for “special instructions”), or by good old-fashioned mail at:

Kirby4Heroes Campaign
c/o The Hero Initiative
11301 Olympic Blvd., #587
Los Angeles, CA 90064

Or simply shop at your local comic book store on Jack’s 96th birthday, Wednesday, August 28. Many comic book shops in California and across the country will be donating a percentage of their sales on that day to Kirby4Heroes—in a show of respect for an artist without whom there might be no comic book stores to speak of!

The Hero Initiative

Please consider donating to Kirby4Heroes—help Jillian Kirby support our comic book heritage! Visit and “like” the Kirby4Heroes Facebook page now to show your support!

Injustice Affirmed

Important, and saddening, also enraging, news: The US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit has just issued a decision (dated today, August 8) reaffirming Marvel’s legal victory in the case of Marvel v. Kirby and rejecting the Kirby family’s appeal.

The text of the judgment, available here, declares that the original ruling against the Kirbys (rendered in July 2011 by the US District Court for the Southern District of New York) should stand because “the district court correctly determined that the works at issue [i.e. Jack Kirby's pioneering works for Marvel] were ‘made for fire’ under section 304(c)” of the Copyright Act of 1976.

I profess to no expertise in matters of law, but my opinion and my feelings on this issue, as stated on this blog, remain constant and intense, and my determination to boycott Marvel comics, films, and other products remains firm.

Here is the basic, bare-knuckle truth, not to be parsed out of existence by legal hair-splitting or the revisionist application of a law that postdates the works at issue: there is nothing in work-for-hire law that can account adequately for the facts of Jack Kirby’s foundational, indispensable, and still generative contributions to Marvel. The legal umbrella of work-for-hire is baldly, tragically, inadequate to the circumstances of Kirby’s work and of Marvel’s rise, and fundamentally inadequate to the imaginative gift that Kirby—none more so than Kirby, none more prodigally, more heroically, more inspiringly than Kirby—gave to Marvel. To call this gift work-for-hire is a basic insult, and blurs the truth of Marvel’s rise, enshrining company myth in the public record at the expense of historiographical accuracy and plain justice.

This is a sad, damaging, and infuriating decision. Work-for-hire law cannot begin to understand, to describe, the wealth of material that Jack Kirby brought to Marvel: the raw material of a story-world, a universe.

Go read the decision. And if you care at all about comics, hang your head.

Signing @ Modern Myths!

Modern Myths in Northampton, MA

NEWS! This weekend I’ll be signing Hand of Fire and the brand-new Superhero Reader at the terrific store Modern Myths in Northampton, Massachusetts!

This is my second signing event at Modern Myths, and I’m delighted to be returning to such a smart, progressive and welcoming shop. Great store, and a beloved fixture of New England’s comics culture!

Here’s the crucial info:

Saturday, August 10th, 4:00 to 6:00 p.m.
@ MODERN MYTHS
34 Bridge Street #4, Northampton, MA 01060
(right next to Talbots and the Historic Northampton Museum, and across the street from the Post Office)

(413) 582-6973
info@modern-myths.com

Hope to see you there! I’ll be speaking for about half an hour, and then signing and chatting with whoever comes by. Fans and scholars of Kirby and of superheroes, or anyone curious about comics studies and comics teaching in academia, are encouraged to attend!

TSR front cover