UPDATE: The mystery has been solved! See the comments.
As I’ve long noted, finding photos of Stan and Jack together has long been nearly impossible, with this 1964 image via Sean Howe the best known.
But just in the last few days a photo of the two together has been circulation on Facebook – its photographer and origin unknown. Calling it long lost is a bit of a misnomer, since I don’t think anyone knew this photo existed until now! But with Stan’s passing on Monday, someone got it scanned and uploaded.
It’s obviously the 80s and at San Diego Comic-Con – a closer look at the badges would reveal the year – but it is still a shock to see Jack and Stan smiling together given the long standing acrimony that has long been reported.
In a FB thread where this was discussed, folks noted that they had seen Stan and Jack acting friendly at cons of the past, and both were far too grown up to be rude to each other publicly. However, here’s a quote from COMICS INTERVIEW #41 (1986), as reported on FB, the following exchange took place in an interview with Mark Borax and Kirby:
On page 53 Kirby mentions to Mark Borax that the previous day he had an “amicable” conversation with Stan Lee and Jim Shooter. Borax replies enthusiastically, “That’s great!” and adds, “You know the whole world would like to see the two of you shake hands.”
Kirby then tells Borax, “We did yesterday. But it resolves nothing. I can’t understand why there’s a struggle over who did what, cause Stan and I know. Nobody else knows. If Stan would only come out of his hiding place and tell the world everything would go great. It isn’t obscure. He knows it, and I know it. There won’t be a resolution. People don’t change. They can’t change. Sometimes it’s too late. You just go on being what you are. Human beings go on being human beings. I can predict everything that Stan will do. I know I can’t change Stan. He says his piece, and I say mine. I could shake hands with Stan till doomsday and it would resolve nothing, the dance goes on.”
Despite the friendly demeanor in this photo, in Jack’s mind it was still an ongoing battle. My guess is that when this photo was taken Kirby was still fighting to get his artwork back, and the pain was still quite raw for him. Nonetheless this is an image every fan who wants mommy and daddy to be friends again can tack over their desk.
I’ve asked online about where this photo comes from and no one has had an idea. I will gladly take it down when the owner emerges.As noted above, the photographer has been found and the photo is posted here with his permission.
Heidi MacDonald is the founder and editor in chief of The Beat. In the past, she worked for Disney, DC Comics, Fox and Publishers Weekly. She can be heard regularly on the More To Come Podcast. She likes coffee, cats and noble struggle.