Jack Kirby created more iconic characters before breakfast than anyone else did in their entire lifetime. Captain America, the Avengers, the Fantastic Four, the X-Men, the Hulk, even Groot was originally one of his. He was treated shabbily by the people who continued to use characters. He died 20 years ago. His family tried to take legal action to regain the rights to the characters their father created that were now making billions of dollars for other people.
News broke a couple of days ago that this long running legal dispute between Jack Kirby's heirs and Marvel/Disney has finally been settled. The official line in a joint statement from the heirs and the Walt Disney Co subsidiary was -
“Marvel and the family of Jack Kirby have amicably resolved their legal disputes, and are looking forward to advancing their shared goal of honouring Mr. Kirby’s significant role in Marvel’s history.”
Since then a few people have contacted me asking for comment, some have suggested the Kirby estate have sold out, that they should have taken it to the Supreme Court. Sure, it would have been interesting to see what happened, if they had won it would have had massive repercussions (see my earlierpost) so I can see how some people see this as a bittersweet end to the story.
Jim Sterenko said on twitter-
Jim Sterenko said on twitter-
Glad the Kirby estate will benefit financially, but a positive Supreme Court decision would have affected all creators!
...and he's right of course, if this had gone all the way, it would have set a precedent and that's why some are lashing out at the decision as the wrong thing to do.
So should the Kirby estate have settled with Disney? Have Jack's kids sold out?
Since people have asked - here's my opinion - it's none of our business. Leave 'em alone! This is exactly what Jack would have wanted, for his family to benefit financially from his creations. It's well documented that providing for his family was incredibly important to him, this does that. Marvel making sure the Kirby kids get a slice of the pie is the right thing to do, should have happened years ago, shouldn't have required them to get the Supreme Court involved, shame they didn't manage it while Jack was alive, but this is probably the very nearest we will get to a happy ending. This settlement finally opens up the way for Marvel/Disney to give Jack Kirby's name more prominence. Let's all be happy for them and get on with the job of making sure Jack Kirby gets the recognition he deserves for creating so very many of today's most popular comic and film characters. Maybe we can see a CGI cameo from Jack in a Marvel movie? His name in really, really big letters in the opening credits? A bio-pic telling the remarkable story of Kirby's life? Kid's actually knowing that Jack Kirby created the characters they have on their t-shirts, lunch boxes and in their video games?
I hope Lisa, Neal, Susan and Barbara can now be left to celebrate their dad's work, enjoy their lives without wasting any more time on legal battles and have an absolute blast enjoying whatever the settlement was. They deserve it, they are entitled to it and let's repeat this for emphasis - it's what Jack would have wanted.
The Jack Kirby Museum had this to say on the subject-
“The trustees of the Jack Kirby Museum and Research Center are delighted with the out-of-court settlement arrived at today“Marvel and the family of Jack Kirby have amicably resolved their legal disputes, and are looking forward to advancing their shared goal of honoring Mr. Kirby’s significant role in Marvel’s history.” between the Kirby Family and Marvel/Disney. As an entity dedicated to promoting the study, understanding, preservation and appreciation of the work of Jack Kirby, we view this as a day of vindication for Jack as an artist and writer of extraordinary talent who literally shaped an industry through the force of his imagination. Although Jack cannot be here to witness this historic moment, we know that, somewhere out there in the cosmos, he is smiling a humble smile of satisfaction at this long-awaited outcome.”
If you would like to know more about Jack Kirby, visit the Jack Kirby Museum website.