By Todd Allen
Roger Langridge mentioned in a podcast that he was done with Marvel and DC (OK, he wasn’t working with DC… but he’s planning on keeping it that way) a little while back. The story has popped up again over at the Washington Post’s Comic Riffs blog. This time out, the emphasis is clearly on Jack Kirby and The Avengers movie.
Post blogger Michael Cavna brings up the boycott Avengers movement and the see it and pledge the Heroes Initiative movement. Let’s be honest though: given the extreme box office success of Avengers, it’s going to be very hard to convince anyone at Marvel or Disney that there was an impact and it’s just as likely to make the comic fans look inconsequential in the greater scheme of things. (I’m not belittling Kirby’s treatment, but Marvel is a bottom line business and the bottom line on that movie is looking pretty good.)
Langridge elaborates on his position:
Marvel’s shabby treatment of its founding creators, particularly Jack Kirby, has been a bone of contention for a lot of people since the 1980s, at least, so that underlying sense of discomfort was always there. It was the legal decision against the heirs of Jack Kirby last year that was the thing that made me think, “You know, I probably shouldn’t be doing this.” (Note: Marvel tells Comic Riffs it can’t comment on matters involving Jack Kirby due to ongoing litigation.) The cartoonist Steve Bissette wrote a very articulate and passionate blogpost that was widely circulated at the time of that ruling, and I read it and nodded my head and thought: Yeah, it’s probably time to get out. I didn’t make a big noise about it at the time because the thing I’d just written for Marvel, “John Carter: A Princess of Mars,” hadn’t yet come out, and I didn’t think it was fair to drag my collaborator on that book, Filipe Andrade, down with me if there was a backlash. I didn’t feel it was my place to make that decision for him.
Langridge goes on to point out that all his dealings with Marvel and DC were all pleasant experiences. The ultimate last straw for him? Gary Friedrich.
A few months later, there was the business with Marvel taking down Gary Friedrich over his selling of Ghost Rider prints at conventions, which I felt Marvel/Disney dealt with in a much more heavy-handed way than they had to, essentially crushing the guy’s only source of income. At that point I mentioned to my wife, “You know, I really don’t want to do business with these people,” and she very matter-of-factly said: “Well, don’t. You’ve got plenty of work without them.” To her eternal credit.
That’s not too far off how Greg Rucka said he realized it was time to leave DC, a couple years ago:
And Jen kinda slapped me upside the head a couple weeks ago, and said, “dude, you’re making yourself miserable.” And she was right. And I had a moment where I was like, I need to start telling the stories I want to tell again.
(Jen being Jen Van Meter, Rucka’s wife.)
So there you have it, another mainstream media account of the creators rights issues that are lighting up the message boards on the industry sites. The Kirby story isn’t going away and we’re only going to see more disagreements over Before Watchmen as the release dates near. Will more creators break ranks and speak out? Time will tell.
Todd Allen wears a lot of hats. At various times he’s been (alphabetically), a bouncer, college professor, humor columnist, Internet producer and an NBA/WNBA Beat Writer, among other things. He’s the author of Economics of Digital Comics. You should probably read it.