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Fallout From The Kirby Ruling

As we sit here, sifting through the outrage over the Kirby ruling from last week, whether from comic creators pissed as all Hell that Marvel got away with it or people pissed that comic creators are upset, waiting for Jim Shooter to misremember the past again to make himself look like comic creators' best friend (give it time, it will happen), we have someone taking his outrage to the next level:  Steve Bissette.

Before I go any further, I want to point something out.  A lot of people don't bother to read books on philosophy because they think it's a bunch of arrogant elitist intellectual bullshit.  These people are spot on.  I've read philosophy (or, in the case of some, TRIED to read philosophy) and came to the conclusion that philosophy is to the real world what masturbation is to sex.  It takes a lot of will power for me to not punch someone in the head when they talk about Adam Smith and free market economies.

One such person you hear bandied about is John Stuart Mill, creator of Utilitarianism.  Mill theorized that criminal law was fundamentally worthless.  Outlawing certain activities did nothing to dissuade people from committing acts against society.  What DID persuade them was social justice.  That they would be excluded from the group.  That they would be treated like shit.  In other words, it was the people around them that made them afraid to commit crimes, not because the people would fight back, but because they would ostracize him.  Man is a social creature, after all.

This ties in with Mr. Bissette.  Bissette is beyond outraged at Marvel.  He points out that, for his role in the creation of John Constantine (hi, teach), he got a check for $45,000 for the use of the character in the Constantine movie.  Kirby created far more than that and got nothing.

Bissette is calling for a boycott of anything from Marvel that is Kirby derived.  He's not suggesting not buying anything from your local comic shop, they need the cash.  Just take the cash that would have gone to a Kirby-derived Marvel comic and put it towards something else in the shop.  Indie comics.  Back issues.  Non-Marvel movie DVD's.  Continue to support the shop, but don't support Marvel's exploitation of Kirby.

To read Bissette's logic (and it is very hard to argue against it), please visit his blog here.  Read through it, try to hold back the tears until you finish.  A lot of people, from Ub Iwerks on, have been shafted by corporate interests over the years.  And the only recourse is the social justice that JSM wrote about.

Unless there are other options.  I'm open to hearing them.


( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
Aug. 4th, 2011 01:09 am (UTC)
Y'know, if Kirby was still alive, or Roz was still alive I'd care a lot more. Since it is his kids, I just don't. They didn't do the work, Jack did. I have a real problem with current Copyright Law, and this particular business is just wrong since Jack and Roz are gone.

I say this fully intending to make everything I write or create in my Lifetime free when I'm dead. The day I die (or my wife if she survives me) all my work will enter the Public Domain. My daughter, love her as much as I do, didn't create my body of work. She can have the proceeds I accumulated in life, but when I'm gone she's not entitled to make more money out of it. If I can't make a pile in life, why should my Estate in death?

Think about how Elvis is worth more Dead than Alive....
Aug. 4th, 2011 10:33 am (UTC)
I fully concede your point. I've thought the same thing about making my work public domain after I kick, although it's more from a "level the playing field" perspective. If, say, Hannah Singer becomes a huge hit, why should one publisher (especially given everything they put others through) have all the access? They love Adam Smith so much, let's see what happens when they are forced to follow his lead.

If I had heirs, that would at least be slightly different, though. I mean, if the stuff is a hit, who wouldn't want to make sure their kids are set for life, that they don't have to go through what you did?

That said, there's a fine line between, "We're doing this out of honor for our father's legacy" and "We're doing this to keep the cash flowing." I honestly don't know where the Kirby Estate falls on this scale. After all, there's so much outrage over Marvel's treatment of Kirby, it would be very easy to present yourself as a white knight and people won't think to look any deeper. We don't know enough about the kids to say whether or not their intentions are noble, all we know about is Marvel.

Not saying the kids are in this just for cash and carry. Just saying we shouldn't fall in the trap of, "Just because one is wrong doesn't mean the other is automatically right."
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )

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