I’m fascinated by Steve Bissette’s reaction to the Disney-Marvel/Kirby Estate lawsuit news, in which he questions not the legal decision involved, but the moral one made by Marvel and Disney, and calls for a boycott of Marvel product based on Kirby’s creations:
I suggest, for starters, simply pulling the plug on all individual support for any and all Kirby-derived Marvel ANYTHING (comics, movies, videogames, merchandizing).
* This is step one, and something everyone who cares can do; but TELL your venue or retailer what you’re doing and why.
TELL THEM what you’re doing, and spend what you would have spent on Kirby-derived Marvel product on other product from other companies in their store.
If you’re rightly concerned with continuing to support your local retailers, which I hope you are, let them know what you are doing and spend the same $$ you spent on Marvel product on other product, in the same store: it will continue to support your retailer, but send a clear message to Marvel in due time. If you are honor bound to follow through the pre-orders you’ve made to date (i.e., paying for/buying Kirby-derivative product incoming for the next three months because you pre-ordered it or have it held for you), proceed honorably and accordingly, but cancel all subsequent orders and spend your money with the same retailer on other product.
Again, you won’t be denying your retailer income you, as a customer, provide.
Your dollars, your decision, will speak loudly.
The store will still earn your dollars, but you make your point.
Grow a spine.
The reason this sticks with me isn’t because it’ll be successful – Sadly, I can’t see enough fans managing to quit their regular Marvel fix long enough for it to really impact Marvel’s bottom line, although I’d be overjoyed if I’m proven too cynical in that, and ask everyone to prove me wrong – but because the moral argument is one that I’ve not seen argued by Marvel when it comes to this matter. We’ve seen the “Legally, it’s work-for-hire, therefore, legally, we’re not obligated to do anything and can keep the trademarks and copyrights” argument, but I’d be curious to see any engagement in the “morally, Kirby isn’t owed anything by Marvel or Disney” one… In part, I admit, because I suspect it would end up being a variation on “Kirby wasn’t treated wonderfully, but what can we do now?” idea.
(I’m also curious to see what books remain in the current Marvel line once you take Kirby- and Kirby-derivative books out. Looking at the October solicits, I only see Ghost Rider, Ultimate Comics Spider-Man, Amazing Spider-Man, Spider-Island: Cloak and Dagger, Spider-Island: Deadly Hands of Kung Fu, Venom, Spider-Island: The Amazing Spider-Girl, Spider-Island: Heroes for Hire, Daredevil, The Punisher, Moon Knight, Spider-Man, Spider-Man: With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility, Ka-Zar, Vampires: The Marvel Undead, Annihilators: Earthfall, Vengeance, Legion of Monsters, Thunderbolts and Punishermax as Marvel Universe books that weren’t created by Kirby, based on Kirby concepts or spin-out of a Kirby-related series in some way. If you don’t like Spider-Man, that’s pretty slim pickings.)
Meanwhile, Kirby estate attorney Marc Toberoff is planning to appeal the summary judgment for Disney/Marvel to the Second Circuit, telling the Hollywood Reporter “We knew when we took this on that it would not be easy given various arcane and contradictory ‘work for hire” decisions under the 1909 Copyright Act,” and adding that “Sometimes you have to lose in order to win.” Maybe it’d be in Marvel’s interests to offer some kind of settlement after all…