Monday, June 04, 2012

Are the "words" printed in a comic "book" actually particularly "important"?

The Lee / Kirby wars over on the Kirby Dynamic blog seem to be degenerating into actual madness. It’s only a few weeks since Kirby expert Greg Theakston was arguing that Stan Lee must have created the Fantastic Four single handed because Jack Kirby could never have come up with anything as bad as F.F #1; now Robert Stiebel is arguing:

a: that the text on Kirby’s post 1970 work wasn’t that bad

b: that even if  it was that bad, Kirby was old and embittered and badly treated so it wasn’t surprising that he turned in substandard work

c: but even if Kirby's text was pretty bad, he is such a genius that it would be impolite to say so

d: and anyway it doesn't matter how bad the text was because it's the pictures, not the words, that are important in funnybooks. 

The latest twist is a "challenge" to come up with any examples (any examples at all) of good dialogue by Stan Lee. Sure enough someone contributes a nasty little e-mail saying "Here is an example of Stan Lee's best dialogue." The e-mail, if of course, blank. 

I suppose it's like any religious argument. You start with a difference of opinion and end with a turf-war. You start out saying "It's not fair for Stan Lee to claim that he's sole creator of characters that Kirby had a hand in as well"; then you say "A big hand, a bigger hand than Lee, in fact"; and then "Actually, Kirby was sole creator, all Stan did was add the captions" and finally "And Stan's captions were either irrelevant, or actually bad." Then you just start calling each other names. Someone has to take a step back and say "Hang on -- we're both attacking parodies of the other guys position. Let's calm down and try to work out what we actually agree about, and then we'll be better able to see where we actually differ."

If there is one thing that everybody agrees about the Stan Lee / Jack Kirby dynamic, and there isn't, it's that Jack drew the pictures and Stan wrote the words. Nearly everybody agrees that Kirby’s copy-writing skills were just not as good as Lee’s, and that this severely harmed his later solo books like the Fourth World and the Eternals.

I think that it is Possibly Slightly More Complicated Than That.

Here is an example of Stan Lee’s writing, chosen more or less at random and because it supports the argument that I’m going to make. 

Amazing Spider-Man 10  Lee and Ditko (Marvel Comics)

It’s from Spider-Man #10. Deep breath:

“Am I always to be thwarted, embarrassed, frustrated by Spider-Man. I hate that costumed freak more than I have ever hated anyone before. I’ll never be contented while he’s free. All my life I’ve been interested in only one thing — making money. And yet Spider-Man risks his life day after day, with no thought of reward. If a man like him his good…is a hero…what am I? I can never respect myself while he lives. Spider-Man represents everything that I’m not. He’s brave, powerful and unselfish. The truth is I envy him. I, J.Jonah Jameson, millionaire, man of the world, civic leader. I’d give everything I own to be the man that he is. But I can never climb to his level. So all that remains for me is to tear him down because, heaven help me, I’m jealous of him.”

I think we can agree that this is

a: massively overwritten

b: pretty good psychology for a funny book

c: pretty dramatic and well constructed

It was also, I think, pretty daring to put something like this into Spider-Man in the first place. After 20 pages of the hero beating up the villain, we are left alone with the least sympathetic supporting character who is having a desperate moment of insight in the aftermath of the fight. Lee and Ditko really were tying to push the envelope of what funny books were about. We're a long, long way from Krypto the Superdog.

Here is another bit of Stan Lee dialogue.

Ben: So you finally picked a monicker for the kid huh? Well hows about klewin a fella in?

Reed: We decided to call him Franklin, after his grandfather.

Sue: Dad would be so proud, if only he were alive to be here.

Johnny: “Franklin B Richards”…well, its better than match-head or stretcho.

Crystal: Why do you not pick him up Ben? See how he reaches out to you.

Ben: Aww…I ain’t much for kiddin’ around with kids.

Johnny: Something wrong, Ben? You sound kinda disappointed?

Ben: Heck no. What’s ta be wrong? So you finally name the kid. So okay. You want I should hand out medals?

Reed: By the way, Sue. Did you mention what his middle initial stands for?

Sue: How silly of me. It must have slipped my mind. His middle name is, of course, Benjamin.

Ben: Benjamin! That’s me! C’mon, hand him over to his uncle Benjy. Kitcee kitchee coo!

Sue: I thought you didn’t like to kid around with kids, Ben?

Ben: Heck! That wuz before I knowed his name! Nobody ever named nothin after me before! Now all of a sudden I feel like part of a family ‘stead of a freak show.

Fantastic Four 94, Lee and Kirby (Marvel Comics)

Lee has said on several occasions that what he really likes to watch is a big Broadway musical. And this is far more like the lyrics of a song then it is like a movie screenplay. All five characters are discovered together in a single tableau; each of them gets to speak a single line articulating what they are thinking. It would be almost impossible to act it out as a play: they aren't really talking to anyone. They are speaking at the audience. You could imagine it as a chorus in an operetta: 

You have named him?
We have named him!
You have named after his grandfather?
We have named him Franklin because it was my father’s name!
His name is Franklin!
His name is Franklin!
His name is Franklin Ben!

This is equally true of the Spider-Man panels. For all his claims that he brought realism to comics, Lee is using a very unrealistic, theatrical device here. Lee the story-teller is telling us things about Jonah Jameson which Jonah Jameson couldn't possibly know about himself. Journalists are such Bad People. Because they are Bad People, they are freaked out by Good People. So journalists always want to bring Good People down. (Remember Earl Spencer's speech at his sister's funeral?) It isn’t a new or subtle insight: Jameson is basically just a exaggerated representation of a “type”. But this is an era when Lex Luthor hated Superman because Superman caused him to go bald: Lee is at least trying to treat Jameson as if he were a person. But Jameson can't possibly know that Spider-Man is a better man than he is at any conscious level; and anyway, no-one really talks out loud in that way. Stan Lee is a speaking about Jameson, but he is putting the words into Jameson's mouth because that's a vivid way of telling the audience what he wants them to know. Shakespeare did this kind of thing all the time.

But that's true of the F.F sequence as well. The Thing is actually admitting something awful about himself: he refused to hold is best friend’s baby because it was named after his best friends wife’s recently deceased father. If he were really that petty, the last thing he would do would be admit it. And it's pretty mean of him to say out loud that this is the first time he’s ever felt part of the group, considering what the F.F have been through together. It just doesn't make sense as something someone would say. Again, Stan Lee is telling us that the Thing feels left out, and then telling us that he feels included again, but is doing this by putting the words "I feel left out" "I feel included" into the character's mouth. It isn't something a human being would ever say, even a bright orange one.

Note that this is happening only in Lee’s captions, and not in Kirby’s pictures. Kirby draws Ben with the other three members of the team, but Crystal separate from them — they are a family and she is only a temporary fill-in member of the FF. If he'd meant to show that Ben felt left out, he'd have drawn it the other way round. Crystal says that Ben should hold the baby and that the baby is reaching out to him, but that isn't what is happening in the picture. (Sue is holding the baby and not offering him to anyone else; if anything, Franklin is reaching out to his uncle, Johnny.) In panels 2 and 3, Ben’s words come from outside the panel: a very unusual and clumsy device. There is no hint of Ben's jealousy in any of the pictures. They've been overlaid on them by the words. It is clear enough what has happened: Kirby has turned in pencils in which Reed and Sue announce the baby’s name and Ben is pleasantly surprised when he finds out it’s named after him. That would give us a 2 pages in which nothing happens. Lee has superimposed a different story onto the pictures: a tiny little narrative in which Ben sulks and then cheers up. There are two layers of storytelling and the second layer clashes, very slightly, with the first. 

Lee does this all the time. Later in the story Mr Fantastic and the Thing are flying to a mysterious house where Sue and Reed hope to bring up their child in secret. Lee adds a tiny little character moment, in which the two heroes talk with their very distinct verbal mannerisms and personalities:

Reed: For a man who was one of the top fighter pilots of World War II you’re mighty jittery these days.

Ben: Me, I ain’t got a jittery bone in my whole lovable little body. I’m just plain scared.

If you are going to write choric dialogue, this is the kind of sparky prose it has to be. Ben saying “How pleased I am that you named the baby for me” would be unbearable. The big tough monster saying “kitchee, kitcchee coo” makes us smile. (Well, it makes me smile, anyway.)

Lee can be corny and over-write, and as his career progressed he became all-too-fond of giving characters agonised soliloquies, which could go on for pages at a time. But he is rarely boring and always keeps you reading. Ben Grimm's personality comes from the words Stan Lee gives him to say. The idea that the Fantastic Four would be a better comic (or the same comic) if you took Ben out of it and replaced him with a big strong orange guy who said "Bah. You puny humans do not understand me" is simply silly. 

It’s easy to pick out examples of Lee doing what Lee does. Just open any 1960s Marvel Comics and pick a panel at random. But it’s rather harder to find examples of Kirby doing what Kirby is said to do. We all know that Kirby Can’t Write Dialogue, but when I open one of his books at random, this is the kind of thing I find: 

--See, it’s truly Moon Boy. He’s sought us out.

--Perhaps to feed us to his devil beast. Be wary.

--But he comes alone. How can this mean danger?

--The evil spirits have left you, brother. You’ve come back without that lizard.

--No. He’s here. But do not be alarmed…

This from the universally derided Devil Dinosaur. (When Warren Ellis wrote his poisonous “Kirby was shit” obituary he took it for granted that merely saying the words “Devil Dinosaur” closed the argument.) But it doesn't seem nearly bad enough to deserve the approbation that’s been piled on it. It seems to be straightforward exposition. Moon Boy (a caveman) is returning to his tribe; some of them are willing to have him back, others, not so much. It’s his pet tyrannosaur they are worried about. It doesn't make me smile in the way that the good bits of Lee do, but it doesn't make me cringe in the way that Kirby’s terrible writing is supposed to.

Here’s a speech bubble from Black Panther, when T’Challa has just got into a high tech aircraft:

“Don’t crowd me, Mister Little. I don’t know what this thing can do. If I push the wrong button I could possibly blow us and this wagon to kingdom come. However, time is short, here we go.”

It is a little bit stilted, certainly. ("However, time is short": people may write "however" but they rarely say it.) It lacks the humour of Stan’s little scene between Ben and Reed. But it by no means makes me want to tear the comic to shreds in disgust.

The Panther is actually a rather complicated kettle of wombats compared with the other books Kirby wrote on his return to Marvel in the mid-70s. The Eternals and 2001: A Space Odyssey were brand new books, and no-one really cared a great deal about Captain America -- but the Black Panther was a fan favourite, having been written for three years by Don McGreggor. I can see that at the time it was a big deal that Marvel were publishing a comic about a black character with an all-black supporting cast (albeit written by a white guy) but it now looks like a frightful period piece. A lot of people at the time thought that Kirby's functional, unadorned prose suffered by comparison with McGreggor's Proper Writing -- in fact they said, in so many words, that Kirby's Black Panther amounted to a desecration. But in retrospect, if we are looking for examples of bad writing, McGreggor is the person we ought to be hurling the rotten tomatoes at.

“War cannot be contained within boundaries. Nor can it be easily directed. War not only affects its perpetrators and its participants. It ravages all it touches and scars much past that. Innocents die alongside warriors and some warriors are as innocent as the civilians whose fates await the outcome of the conflict. In war there is no use crying "I want nothing to do with your feud" "I do not want to die." Words unfortunately cannot save you in the midst of combat and combat also unfortunately has little respect for age or race or sex or shoe size. War at times is very cosmopolitan.”

Come on, Mr McGreggor, don't sit on the fence: come right out and tell us if you are in favour of wars or not? I like the idea that war does have some respect for shoe size; and wonder if anyone has ever written “also unfortunately” with a straight face before. This is a series of captions placed over a two page spread of a battle; I suppose the equivalent of one of those movie scenes where sad music is played over a fight scene, or where the explosion goes off in silence. But T’Challa can’t confront a charging rhino without McGreggor going off on one:

“The panther does not utter any savage oaths. He knows this is a moment of death charging towards him for his flesh and bone will burst and break before this onslaught! The swamp air is a palpable, pungent smell of mold and decay, each twisting vine is a realist etched under his sweeping visions each thunderous hoof shaking the muck in its wake is a signal and he replies to all those sense instantaneously.”

It may be that a school creative writing teacher would give McGreggor higher marks than either Lee or Kirby: the sentences are more complex, the vocabulary more adult, and there are lots of describing words. But as a comic book caption, it is simply appalling. At the point when your eye should be quickly scanning the nine panels in which T’Challa avoids the charging rhino (done in decent cinematic style by Gil Kane) the text holds you in one place. Instead of the illusion of movement, you get something like 500 words of dense text with illustrations. And nothing has been said except “The rhino charges" which the picture had already said perfectly well. You can see why the kinds of people who liked this kind of thing  might have been shocked when it was replaced with :

“Then, with cobra speed, the Black Panther strikes back.”

But I suspect that they were the kind of people who were rather ashamed to be reading comic books in the first place. And Kirby was a comic book creator, not a frustrated novelist. 

At the same time he was filling Black Panther with text that  we are assured — was an embarrassment to even his biggest fans, Kirby was working on The Eternals, which we may have mentioned once or twice before here. The Eternals was clearly the one comic which he did in his return-to-Marvel period which he really cared about. Did he ruin it wit his terrible prose? It is full of this kind of thing: 

Eternals 2, Jack Kirby (Marvel Comics)

Ajak turns to his limit and barks the orders that would bring the gods to earth.

"Prepare to raise the ceremonial pylans beneath the Celestials spacecraft. Even now, the first of the gods descends!"

On the great field outside a huge pylon rises from the ground. A pillar of blazing energy leaps form its top, and within that bright flames the first signs of the celestial are seen. Arishem, leader of the fourth host lands firmly upon the pylon. He will stand upon it for fifty earth yea towering like the surrounding mountains above all life below. And on the last day of the fiftieth year, he will step from the pylon, and on that day earth will live, or die.

Nowadays, an artist would be more likely to draw the pylon coming up from the ground and Arishem landing on it, over a series of panels, possibly taking five pages to show us what Kirby tells us in one. From that point of view, the Eternals certainly seems dense and un-cinematic; but then, its impact depends on that density. Kirby packs an exhilarating range of ideas into each issue; part of the price of that is that he sometimes chooses to tell rather than show. But “and on that day earth will live, or die” does not sound like an embittered man who is not really trying. It’s a line which has stayed with me ever since I first read it; a line which perfectly compliments the picture it accompanies. Each of the first half-dozen issues of Eternals builds up to massive, Wagnerian climax, and the words contribute as much to the effect as the pictures do.

What these lines lack, compared with what Stan Lee would have brought to the table is, I think, illumination, embellishment, decoration. If Kirby is asked to draw a space ship, he doesn't just draw a phallic shaped missile with fins and a port hole, even though that would do the job perfectly well. He draws a two page spread, an abstract piece of "Kirby-tech" drawn for the sheer love of drawing it. Similarly, if Stan Lee is required to show Ben Grimm on the phone to his girlfriend, he can’t limit himself to “I’ll phone Alicia. Wait, she isn’t in.” It grows into “Since you two don’t exactly need a chaperon, I’m cutting out fer a while. Wait’ll Alicia hears that her lumpy lover boy’s back in town…” Because he loves the sound of Ben Grimm's voice, and so do we. So Lee would probably not have been content to say that the alien was landing on a pylon or that he was surrounded by strange energy: he’d have come up with some goofy names for the pylon and the energy, because he liked goofy words and so did we. Lee, just because he is embellishing someone else's story, weaves his own narratives around the pictures. Kirby, just because it’s his own story, simply provides a running commentary to help you on your way. We're listening to a single voice; melody without harmony.

But for some really bad prose, the kind of thing which made Kirby kaptions and industry wide joke, we may have to wind back a few years to the New Gods saga. This is not Kirby past his peak, but Kirby at the height of his powers, drawing the best superhero comic the industry ever produced and introducing one of its definitive villains. The subsequent history of the DC Universe has been a series of commentaries on the New Gods saga.

And everyone agrees that it had terrible dialogue.

Well, the writing of the Fourth World is certainly odd: in fact, everything about the Fourth World is odd. You feel that you are being shouted at the whole time; not just by the characters, but by the plot itself. Exhibit A for people who think that Kirby Could Not Write is issue 4. Four human characters tell each other things they already know for the benefit of the reader:

New Gods 4 Jack Kirby (Marvel Comics)

-- But I am Victor Lanza! An insurance executive! A family man! My wife makes me carry an umbrella in case it rains! And now this!…

-- What about it, Lincoln? I’m Claudia Shane simple but worried secretary. What am I involved in this time?

-- And me, young but cool Harvey Lockman.

Well, yes, that sounds weird. But the difficulty isn't the rather clumsy way in which each character reminds us what is name his: that's the same kind of choral writing that Lee uses all the time. It's not even that they are telling each other things they already know: we didn't mind at all when Reed reminded Ben that he was a fighter pilot. The problem is that they don't actually have anything very interesting to tell us. They say “We are ordinary, and we have been captured by Darkseid, and Orion rescued us”. Which is all they need to say. But it's clunky. It's like we can see the construction lines on the sketch or the strings on the puppet. No-one talks like this: but no-one talks like Ben Grimm talks, either. But Stan Lee manages to hide his workings. While you are reading a page of the F.F or Spider-Man you believe that it is possible to deliver a wise-crack while throwing a punch; or that characters speak their innermost thoughts out loud in empty rooms. In the Kirby scene you are just reading comic-book captions. Nothing happens. Had Lee scripted it, he'd have added some microplot that isn't in the pictures. While singing their little chorus “We are ordinary, we are ordinary; we have been captured; he have been captured” there would have been a tiny little verbal conflict. Maybe the insurance man would say he was about to leave and the young but cool guy would tell him that they owe it to Orion to hear him out. Something like that.

But it is awfully unfair to cite this passage as evidence that Kirby Couldn’t Write, because it comes directly after one of the best sequences Kirby ever produced. Seagrin, a goody, has been killed in a previous episode. Orion gets out his Motherbox (a sort of divine I-Phone) and creates a funeral pyre for him. “Ride the tempest Seagrin! Enter the Cosmic Fire! The Source will take you as a warrior who has given all!” he sings, which is, I think you will agree, just the sort of thing a god of war ought to sing at the funeral of a fallen comrade. But hiding in the alley is Darkseid (a baddie) , who is also in the middle of an aria.

“How these heroes love to flaunt their nobility in the face of death! Yet they know better than most that war is but the cold game of the butcher...”

Which is probably one of the single most memorable pages in the entire history of comic books. Would Stan Lee have given Darksied more elaborate lyrics to sing? Probably. Would it have improved the overall effect of the scene? It is hard to see how. 

So. Where have we got to?

Kirby’s writing is nowhere near as bad as people sometimes say. It’s not as twiddly as Lee’s but the rip-up-the-comic-book-awful passages are suspiciously hard to come by.

Lee and Kirby both thought that comic book writing had an essentially choric function: characters telling the audience what is happening, or how they are feeling. If there was a picture of one man hitting another man, Man A would sing “I am punching him, I am punching him” while Man B sang “I am being punched, I am being punched” and a person off stage said “They are punching each other, they are punching each other.”

Stan Lee took this choral writing and made it progressively elaborate, like the knotwork on a Celtic manuscript, or the doodling in the margins of the minutes of a meeting. If Kirby would have written: 

“I’m gonna punch you!”

“Aargh! You punched me…well now I’m gonna punch you”

Lee would write something more like

"Wait for it sucker. The Union Rulebook for superheroes says you have to let me punch you, and you wouldn’t want to wind those people up.”

“Punch me, will you, you overrated windbag, I who have studied punching with punch masters of Hoggarth; very well, I shall punch you now as you have never been punched before.”

On the whole, and when he was trying, Lee’s dialogue remained snappy and funny enough to keep you reading; the flow of words from bubble to bubble pulled you through the comic. Kirby, though he uses dialogue in the same way as Lee has no interest in embellishing it. The characters say what they need to say to clarify the pictures. Most of the time, the pictures are so good that this is all you need. But when Kirby is telling a story which he is not really that interested in — which seems to have been the case with Captain America and Black Panther — you have functional captions explaining self explanatory pictures. It's then that we miss the Lee commentary; we feel that if Black Panther had had a second layer of narrative it would have felt less flat.

Hardly anyone thinks that Ernie Wise was a comic genius. But do we really have to dedicate whole websites to pretending that he really sucked as a straight man?

Andrew Rilstone is a writer and critic from Bristol, England. 

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Spider-Man, the Fantastic Four and Black Panther are copyright Marvel Comics. The New Gods is copyright DC comics. All quotes and illustrations are use for the purpose of criticism under the principle of fair dealing and fair use, and remain the property of the copywriter holder.

 Please do not feed the troll. 


James said...

Obviously the text and art in comics are read simultaneously to mutual benefit, so both are important. Thanks for your defense of Kirby's writing, but please note that not "everyone" agrees that Kirby's dialogue is terrible...some of us think that it is even at it's most awkward still very appropriate to Kirby's work and at its best some of the most moving in comics. The constant attacks on Kirby's text are usually made by those who have not read it or by pathetic souls who think Stan Lee and Don MacGregor are geniuses of prose.

Unknown said...

I've struggled to understand the Stan Lee backlash of recent years. I only became aware of it after Jonathan Ross's excellent Search for Ditko doc,and I know Ross wasn't being spiteful by any means.

You know what? If music fan can ignore what goes on in Pete Townshend's browser history, I can CERTAINLY ignore Lee's credit grabbing. Stan is the man.

Anyway, thanks Andrew. Always enjoy your comics stuff.

Unknown said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Gavin Burrows said...

Whenever that argument arose, I had taken to saying "if only Lee and Kirby had created comics apart from each other, that might have given us some clue as to what each person's contribution was." There may even have been times where I had a note of sarcasm in my voice.

Thanks for putting it all together so cogently. There were points where I felt an almost Jonah Jameson-like blend of admiration and envy!

Andrew Rilstone said...

So. I preach an ecumenical sermon explaining that the Church of England and the Church of Rome believe mainly the same things, and that when there are substantive differences on technical points it is usually possible for both sides to understand the other's position. And the first person to shake my hand after the meeting says "I love the way you denounced the vile heresies of those papist dogs."

Prankster said...

In asmuchas I'm picking a side (and I basically agree with Andrew that such a thing isn't needed) I'm pro-Kirby; I think he was the visionary, whereas Lee was the talented craftsman and editor who was able to keep the guy grounded. I do have to say there were some dialogue howlers in the early going in the Fourth World--the quoted "Young, but cool, Harvey Lockman!" bit, Orion's pronouncement that "If the other side of good is evil, then surely Apokolips is the other side!", some of the more awkward exposition. But that's not the same as being BAD, exactly--it's certainly entertaining. Some of Kirby's attempts to be hip or slangy are so bizarre they loop round to being amazing (" switched to "spook" rock! Get that spider sound!"). More to the point, the quality of Kirby's dialogue improves dramatically in a very short time; in a mere handful of issues you can start to see him moving away from trying to imitate Stan Lee and finding his own voice (for example, towards the end of the Fourth World, Kirby starts using periods in some speech bubbles, whereas up til that point everything ended with an exclamation point.) It makes me wonder how good Kirby could have gotten if he had been writing his own stuff from the beginning.

And that "War is the cold game of the butcher" speech is as good as anything Lee ever wrote. Or anyone else in comics, for that matter.

Harvey Jerkwater said...

All very well said.

On a slight tangent, the fact that anyone ever thought Don MacGregor's prose was anything other than overwritten purple tripe makes me hold my head in my hands and moan. His world-building was excellent -- he made Wakanda a real(ish) place, and his "Killraven" future, while nonsensical to the extreme, was damned interesting and fun to read about -- but oh that prose. Lots of effort, zero control, dubious results. He tried so hard, it seems, and I wish I liked it, but I can't.

mr ed said...

My opinion is based on the fact I like Kirby, and am not and never was a fan of super hero comics. I've always liked all sorts of comics, but didn't read Marvel comics in the '60s and was not really a fan of DC or other super hero comics either. I discovered Kirby via my interest in Edgar Rice Burroughs-Frazetta-Robert E. Howard, and Conan. In a REH fanzine I saw there was going to be a CONAN comic book, and sought it out. I had not been reading comic books for several years at the time because all my time and money (grades 4-7) were being poured into ERB, REH, covers by Frazetta, and then a broadening interest in science-fiction. I was reading Ellison (isn't the title Repent Harlequin said the Tick-Tockman something super hero fans would laugh at if Kirby wrote those words?) and Phil Farmer, Asimov, Brian Aldiss, Philip K. Dick, etc..
Kirby was returning to DC at that time, and when I gave his stuff a try I thought the dialogue was great. It had a flair and imagination completely different from the other comic book material I sampled and quickly lost interest in. It was unique. I also noticed that Kirby had a real knack for turning the occasional phrase which stopped me in my tracks with the thought, "wow, that is absolutely great." That NEVER happened with other Marvel or DC comics.
Marvel and Stan Lee meant nothing to me, I didn't read the stuff when it was being published, and along side Kirby it was weak tea. I've just got no investment in the Marvel stuff. The pictures are nice, aside from that I just can't see the attraction. Can't see the attraction in the '60s super hero comic writing period. It's not something I enjoyed then or now.
Patrick Ford

Henry R. Kujawa said...

God almighty, this has to be the most misguided, wrong-headed, HATE-FILLED pile of nonsense I've seen online in months. Not only is it an insult to Jack Kirby, it'a slso an insult to Don Mcgregor. That's knocking TWO of the BEST writers to have worked for Marvel!!

One thing a lot of people seem completely unaware of. Jack Kirby ALWAYS wrote his own stories, from the beginning. Since the 1930s. It's only in the 1960s that he was prevented by a no-talent hack "editor" (and I used that word loosely) from writing his own dialogue.

Lee's dialogue on Kirby's stories is often like taking a beautiful, just-constructed building, and DEFACING it with spray-painted graphitti.

And you know what? When it comes to "humor", guys like Al Hartley & Ernie Hart were FUNNIER. And SO was Jack Kirby.

Andrew Rilstone said...

@ Henry -- I truthfully don't think you can have read what I wrote.

Mike Taylor said...

What was the video at the top of this post? It doesn't exist any more.

Mike Taylor said...

I'm very envious of Henry R. Kujawa. I wish I, like him, had read nothing more hate-filled that this blog-post in months.

Andrew Rilstone said...

The video, if I am remembering correctly, was Javert's soliloquy from Les Miserables. (Who is this man, what kind of devil is he...?) To illustrate the point about Lee dialogue being like operetta.