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Wednesday, August 3, 2011

An Open Letter to Marvel Comics

Dear Marvel Comics:

Recently, it has come to my attention that Jack Kirby's heirs have been denied any share of copyright on all the Marvel characters and properties he co-created over the years. This is not only an affront to the legacy of a comics legend, long denied his due, despite an abundant wealth of respect in the industry, it is also a blatant slap in the face of the archetypes of heroism that are your bread and butter.

I understand this is legal stuff. I understand this is a money thing, and it is for the judges and the lawyers to decide what is law and what is not. Just because Marvel has the legal right to deny Kirby's heirs a share of the copyright of his works does not mean that you morally SHOULD. What would Steve Rogers do? Or Scott Summers? Or even Jack's Marvel alter-ego, the ever-lovin' blue-eyed Thing?

They would do what is morally right. Not legally, that has been settled in a court of law by those best equipped to decide it. The right thing to do is to allow the family to retain a share of Jack's creations. For the memory of the man. For the legacy. I understand that a boycott of your products from a few fervent fans is not even going to slow the cogs of what is now a multimedia empire. But I implore you, as a fan and a reader of Marvel comics since the age of six, show us some of the heroics that grace the pages of your books. Until you do, those books -those heroes- will not line my shelves.

And I will miss these books. I will miss seeing Captain America during it's theatrical run. I will miss my monthly Amazon order of all the sweet premiere editions I have been buying since I switched from issues to trades. I will miss the upgraded Ultimate edition of Marvel VS Capcom 3. But all of these things will be waiting for me to come back to as soon as you take a stand and do the right thing.

I honestly hope you do. I hope you see this as a chance to give back not only to Jack, but to all the creators who were taken advantage of under the copyright act of 1909 and the statutes of their "work-for-hire" contracts. I love all the Marvel characters I grew up with, the ones Jack had a hand in creating and the ones he did not. I love the writers and artists that have been taking them to new heights over the course of the last five to ten years. And I would call on all the writers and artists, the publishers and editors of Marvel to also take a stand. I know these are not your decisions. I know it's the financiers and the copyrighters and the investors that are ultimately those who decide these matters. But creators have all the power and the clout that Kirby and his peers once dreamed of. I hope that you will use it, and appeal to the money men to wield their "great power" responsibly.

Hopefully Yours,
Alec Burris

1 comment:

  1. I saw that article in the NYTimes and was rather miffed as well.