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.
UPDATE: The photo was taken by cartoonist Scott Anderson and he writes:
I’m the photographer. Had no idea this had gone viral and out into the wild!
Here’s the backstory for you: it was the 1989 SDCC. I was all of 15 years old, and had managed to find Jack and Roz walking the aisles of the Civic Center. Got an autograph from Jack and was showing him my artwork, when Stan came strolling down the aisle. They warmly greeted each other and embraced, and were chatting it up like long-lost friends. I don’t remember any other specifics other than that I was so pleased that they were enjoying each other’s company—and remember, this was right before the TCJ interview came out that shook up the comics industry with Jack’s claims about Stan, so I had no reason to expect anything other than friendliness between them, but still, it was great to see.
I had a small camera with me and asked the two legends if I could get a shot of them. Even as a 15 year-old fan, I knew this was a great shot to get. I remember how Stan really pulled Jack in when he put his arm around him, and you can see the genuine smiles on both of them. My only regret is that I didn’t ask someone to take a picture of me with the two of them as well.
So that’s the story. When Stan passed, I took the photo out of the photo album where I kept it, and took a picture of it with my iPhone (which is why you can see a touch of my ghostlike reflection of my arms in the upper right). I’m a member of the 11 O’Clock Comics group on Facebook, and when a member started a post for stories about personal interactions with Stan, I posted this photo and the above story. Since it was posted to a closed group, it never occurred to me it would go viral, but obviously, someone downloaded the photo and the internet did its thing from there. Totally fine with this getting wider exposure, as it is a nice moment of comics history.
No need to take it down, but if you’d update your story with a photo credit, as I do maintain the copyright of the image, that would be great. I’m now an illustrator myself, doing work for MAD Magazine, and am so happy to play my own small part in this comics industry that was so powerfully shaped and defined by these two gents.