Robert Kirkman's Secret History of Comics (2017) s01e01 Episode Script

The Mighty Misfits Who Made Marvel

1 [music] [JK Simmons] The Marvel universe is pervasive.
It's a gigantic part of pop culture.
[Jessica Tseang] Marvel is a powerhouse today, but most people don't realize they almost didn't exist.
[Eddie DeAngelini] People think that Stan Lee just came on the scene and created these great characters, not realizing he had already been there in the industry for a couple of decades.
You start to unravel the history, and realize that it all began with Stan Lee going, "I just don't want to do this," almost walking away from comics.
I had wanted to quit working there.
I wanted to do a lot of things that were different.
Marvel had a lot a lot of luck in its corner as far as timing.
If you didn't have Stan Lee and Jack Kirby in the right place at the right time, we wouldn't be talking about Marvel Comics today.
When you think about Stan Lee and Jack Kirby writing all of these comic books that have now become these iconic movies, it's just amazing.
[Charles Brownstein] Stan and Jack coming together was a monumental turn in the history of pop culture that nobody saw coming.
There wasn't anything that would lead you to think that these guys are going to change the world.
[music] [title music] My name isn't Stan Lee, it's Stanley Liebert, and I cut my last name in half to make it Lee because I figured someday I'm going to write the great American novel, and I don't want to use this name that's going to be so famous someday, use it on comics.
[Brownstein] Stan Lee had aspirations of being a great writer.
He had aspirations of telling the great American story, but he also had to make a living, and he made a living in the family business, which was called Timely Comics at the time, but eventually it would change its name to Marvel.
[Lee] Well, I think I was about 17 at the time.
I heard that there was a job open at a publishing company that was owned by a cousin of mine, and when I got there, I found out that the job opening was in the comic book department, and I use the word "department" loosely, 'cause it consisted of two people, Joe Simon and Jack Kirby.
I walked in, and I said, "I'm applying for a job here," and they barely looked up from what they were doin'.
They said, "Okay, okay, we need some help," and they had me go down and get 'em a sandwich at the drugstore down below, and that sorta started the, uh the story.
[Brownstein] Jack Kirby was a blue-collar guy.
He came out of the Lower East Side ghetto, and, whereas a lot of people used comics as a stepping stone, Jack Kirby embraced comics.
This is what he wanted to do.
The newspapers at that time were very large, colorful, and I loved the comics because of the brightness displayed by the fellows who drew them.
They remain remain with me always, and when comic books first came into being, it drew me to them.
[Lee] Jack was a great guy, and it was incredible to watch him, 'cause it was as though he had already drawn it in his mind.
Whatever he put down seemed to be really perfect.
[Sean Howe] Captain America was a pretty quick hit.
It came out just before World War II, and, you know, it has that famous cover of Captain America punching out Adolf Hitler.
[Tseang] But what happened was Joe Simon and Jack Kirby, the creators of Captain America, left Timely Comics due to the fact that they felt that they were not financially being compensated for all the work that they'd been doing, and suddenly an errand boy, Stan Lee, becomes editor.
I was the only guy left in the department, and the publisher, he said, "Do you think you could take care of running this place until I hire a grown-up?" I said, "Sure, I can handle it," and he probably forgot to hire the grown-up, because ever since then, I was the guy doing the comic books.
[Steve Englehart] For 20 years, under Stan's editorship, the company was pretty much devoted to, like, chasing whatever fad was out there, you know? They did Westerns, they did horror, they did romance.
[Mark Evanier] Stan wanted to write things other than comics.
Everybody who wrote comics wanted to write things other than comics.
They were disposable items.
They were not meant to be reprinted.
It was an industry where, no matter how good you were, you couldn't get that famous, you couldn't get that rich, and Stan was just staying in it because that was the job he had, and he had a relation to the owner of the company, and it's tough to say, "I'm going to turn that aside now.
" Because he was working so many hours, he couldn't take the time away from comics to write a novel.
He was kind of trapped, in a certain way.
[Roy Thomas] The thing about Jack was he, you know, had kind of fallen on evil times in the '50s.
The comics changed.
His kind of vitality was no longer really wanted in comics.
They became very bland.
He ended up at DC, and he was doing something like "Challengers of the Unknown.
" He was doing "Challengers of the Unknown" and a couple other things over there.
DC let him go.
They thought that some of his stylistic works were bad drawing.
He had a family to feed.
Jack was scurrying around to different publishers, trying to find work.
There wasn't much.
[Howe] In the 1950s, there was a big backlash against comics.
There was a senate subcommittee hearing for juvenile delinquency that pointed the finger at comic books.
You know, churches were holding comic book burnings, and sales just kind of bottomed out.
[DeAngelini] Stan had a midlife crisis, for sure.
He was already about 40 years old at that point.
He realized, "I had these dreams, that hasn't happened because I've been here all this time just coasting along.
" At that time, DC started really coming alive in superheroes, with this genius stroke they had of putting their main heroes together in one big group.
[Lee] The fellow who was then the publisher, he said to me, "You know, Stan, I found out that DC Comics has a book called "The Justice League," and it's selling pretty well, and maybe we oughta do a book with a lot of superheroes.
" And my wife said to me, "Stan, if you want to quit anyway, why don't you do one book the way you'd like to do it? The worst that happens is you'll be fired, but so what? You want to quit.
" When your back's against the wall, that's absolutely when you're crisis is often when the best ideas come.
[typewriter clacking] [Lee] I decided I would try to do them a little differently, and I wanted Jack Kirby to do the first one, 'cause I felt he was the best there is.
[Howe] It must have been strange for Jack Kirby to come back and be working for this kid who had been his assistant almost 20 years earlier, but there weren't a lot of options for an artist.
He was pretty much forced to come back to Marvel.
[Brownstein] At the beginning of the 1960s, the idea that these two guys would be able to create something special that would be remembered in a year, much less decades later, was impossible to fathom.
[music] [music] [Tseang] DC became the establishment in the '50s, and really the big corporate comic book publishing company that everybody recognized.
Because DC had the trinity, Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, they were already well established 20 years ahead of Marvel Comics.
They had the distribution agreements that got their magazines out into the newsstands, but they also played it as safe as humanly possible.
As a result, the stories that came about in the comics were really designed for very young kids.
They were written for 7-year-old kids.
There was no thought, really, of characterization, of personality, so on the first one, which became "The Fantastic Four," I was trying to take these comic book characters and treat them as if they were in a book by some famous author, by Charles Dickens, and make them real characters, as much as possible, in the comic book medium.
Even the villains are people.
There is something in their lives that makes them become a problem to others.
[Tseang] They were not like The Justice League over at DC.
They had issues.
They had problems.
I honestly don't believe that they thought it would be successful.
[Thomas] I remember seeing "The Fantastic Four" on the stands in the summer of '61, so I picked it up, and I really found that it was quite different from the DC comics.
The art was more exciting, but the writing was even more strange, because the characters were a little more realistic.
It took those comic book tropes of heroism and so forth, and kind of turned them on their head by having these characters not like each other.
Plus, the villain was even sympathetic.
This guy was a tortured guy who could barely see, a rather pitiful creature.
[Famke Janssen] You know, these comic books are really about people who are flawed humans, and I think that Stan Lee and Jack Kirby really brought those characters, and made them very complex from the beginning, and ultimately, it resonated with people.
[Danny Fingeroth] The idea that a team of superheroes would have fights and break up, it just blew my mind, and it's immediately better than the Superman and Batman comics I was reading.
[Lee] Luckily, the book sold, and my publisher said, "Gimme another, uh, book, Stan.
We're goin' strong, let's do some more.
" [Brownstein] Stan thought he was going to quit comics when he wrote Fantastic Four, and I think he was as surprised as anybody by its success, and so all of a sudden, things were working, and Stan and Jack were able to dig a little bit deeper into their ambitions.
Bruce Banner is a nuclear scientist who sees some teenaged greaser driving on the test site, and he goes out to rescue him and gets bombarded with gamma rays.
The result of that is that he occasionally turns into this huge, angry monster.
It's a Jekyll-Hyde situation, as much a horror story as anything.
Around that time, Stan Lee also decided to change the name of the company.
Originally, years ago, we were called Timely Comics.
Then we were called Atlas Comics.
I couldn't do enough with the word "Atlas" in advertising, and I said, "Gee, I'm gonna change the name of our company to Marvel," because I could get so much out of it, like sayings like, "Welcome to the Marvel age of comics.
" [DeAngelini] In a very short amount of time in the early '60s, Lee and Kirby created a huge cast of characters that, to this day, is just still amazing.
It was a magic between the two of them that I don't think has ever been reproduced.
Jack, his work very over the top and exaggerated, and Stan's strength was creating characters and writing dialogue for them that was very, very human, and maybe they do sound conflicting, but on the page, it took that over-the-top situation and suddenly you could identify with it, because of the way they acted and the things they said.
It was suddenly very human.
As they grew, as they expanded, especially during that two-year period, you know, when they were creating these characters, people started to sit up and take notice.
You know, another aspect of it is it's great art.
[Kevin Smith] Jack, he created an in-your-face way of telling a story that, if you look at comics prior to Jack Kirby's work, there's no evidence.
It's very flat.
[Bill Sienkiewicz] DC Comics, very rarely would you see exaggerated close-ups, or, um, if someone was hit, there was still that adherence to a middle distance.
What Kirby would do is subvert that incredibly.
He would have close-ups, points of view.
[Evanier] Jack had drawn for DC Comics.
They kept telling him, "Don't draw like that.
Draw more like the serious guys.
" Stan recognized that Jack was exaggerating for a purpose, and he lets Jack soar.
Nobody could draw the way Jack drew.
It was incredible watching him work.
They were pushing each other to get to new creative places that nobody'd gone to before.
When I first came up with the idea for Spider-Man, it was natural for me to want Jack Kirby to draw him, but after Jack had done a few pages, Peter Parker looked too heroic.
I think Jack was so used to drawing handsome heroic characters, so I gave the book to Steve Ditko, who I felt could draw the character looking a little less like a superhero.
[Thomas] Steve Ditko, he wasn't interested in the violent action so much.
He emphasized the human aspects of things.
That's why he was so good at people's expressions and their attitudes.
[Simmons] Peter Parker is this wimpy kid who, you know, has real-world problems, and, and those those don't go away because you get bit by the radioactive spider and, you know, suddenly become this this superhero.
I think, uh I think it's just a great dichotomy, and always has been.
They inserted human foibles and phobias and weaknesses.
His first thought isn't, "I'm gonna change the world and be a do-gooder.
" His first thought is, "I'm gonna cash in.
" Isn't that how most people would first think, and they created an amazing morality tale by showing the thug go by when he could have made a difference, and this ends up leading to the death of an important person in his life.
They showed a moral consequence in a way that had real weight that people could relate to.
[DeAngelini] Peter Parker, his personal life, that was the star of the book, and even when he did have the costume, it was still Peter Parker that you were identifying with in that costume.
That was a big change.
[Tseang] Marvel Comics, at that time, had created so many revolutionary characters, but they had one problem, which was their distribution.
In the 1950s, in order to survive, Marvel signed a really bad deal with DC's parent company, which now gave them the power to suppress distribution.
[David Armstrong] They had problems with distribution, and I think DC was very specific about making sure that they had problems.
There were only a handful of drugstores that you could actually find their comic books in.
And this is the time where the war between DC and Marvel really started.
[Englehart] Through the '40s and '50s, DC was the 900-pound gorilla in the room, and so for Marvel to kind of figure out a new way of doing something, it was obviously a big deal.
[Jim Shooter] When I worked at DC in the '60s, they just couldn't understand it at all.
"How could these things possibly be selling?" I mean, I remember being in a meeting once where somebody was holding up a Spider-Man.
He was saying, "They have this kid talking to his aunt for two pages.
" He says, "The readers are going to be bored out of their minds.
" He kept looking for the gimmick.
[Tseang] DC definitely knew that Marvel was a threat, and they definitely suppressed their distribution.
Stan really had to find new ways, almost grass-root campaigns, in order to really bring up the popularity of his characters.
[Lee] I started writing a column called "Stan's Soapbox" just so that the fans would get to know me, and get to know what's happening at the Marvel bullpen, as I referred to it, and I tried to make the credits funny.
For instance, "Drawn by Jack Kirby with great gusto" and "Leaded by Art Simek with a scratchy pen point," anything we could do to make the readers feel they knew us, and liked us, and we started getting a lot of fan mail, and even then I had fun with it.
A key difference, if you wrote to a letter in, as I did, to the DC Comics, you wrote to "Dear Editor.
" If you wrote to the Marvel books, you wrote to "Dear Stan and Jack.
" They were on a first-name basis with you automatically, even though I was a teenager, and they were adults.
"Hey, Stan, how've ya been? Read this story, that story, boy, it was terrific.
From your pal, So-and-So.
" We're a bunch of friends talkin' to each other.
We're not stiff, dull people.
[Howe] That kind of gave a forum, a kind of a pre-Internet community, where, you know, kids from different towns could connect with each other.
They used to print the addresses, and kids would then write to each other and start fan clubs.
The Merry Marvel Marching Society.
It was a club.
I actually I think I still have my little stickers for it.
[music] # You'll belong, you'll belong you'll belong, you'll belong # To the Merry Marvel Marching Society [Lee] After a while, I would get the kind of letters you'd get from a classmate in college whom you hadn't seen for a while, and he was just kidding around with you in the mail.
[music] [Fingeroth] Marvel definitely, they hit something, you know, where they were they became popular with college kids.
[DeAngelini] I think the reason a lot of these characters caught on was because it was written at a much higher understanding, rather than just the very flat, childish superhero comics that went before, and also you've got to credit people like Kirby and Steve Ditko and their art for being so cosmic, and so out there, that, at that time, it just fit in perfectly with the counterculture and the hippie movement.
[interviewer] The University of California's humor magazine, The Pelican, recently called Marvel Comics "the greatest revolution in literature on campus since the fold-out nude," but I don't understand.
[Lee] Well, there is a little revolution that we like to think that we've started.
We're offbeat enough to appeal to the college crowd, to the so-called "in" crowd.
As a matter of fact, Esquire, a few issues back, referred to the 28 people who were most important to those on campus, and among the 28, which consisted of politicians and celebrities and so forth, they had The Hulk and Spider-Man, two of our ever-loving characters.
[Michelle Rodriguez] Marvel came in and disrupted with kind of a new voice, where they took all this ancient mythology and reiterated it into today's world.
I think that a lot of it had to do with the times.
Marvel's approach to creating these neurotic, relatable superheroes was riding right alongside rock 'n' roll becoming a real force.
None of this stuff happened in a vacuum.
[music] [Smith] Pink Floyd using Dr.
Strange, that's disseminating Marvel Comics into the culture, and having them take hold beyond your core audience, and for a lot of us who loved comic books, having somebody reference something you know, you're like, "Oh, my god A, you're cool, B, I know that as well, and C, it's great that you brought it into this thing.
" There was Peter Fonda calling himself Captain America in Easy Rider This here is Captain America.
[interviewer] What is the story of Captain America? - What kind of a cat is he? - [Lee] Well, we revived him from the so-called Golden Age of comics.
He's become satirical because we play him straight.
[Tseang] It must have been really cool for Jack Kirby to bring back Captain America and really do his character in a whole new way.
He became kind of this disillusioned American.
We see this growing ambition, in both Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, that it becomes almost a social criticism.
[Shuler Donner] X-Men were created in the '60s in a time of civil rights, uh, turmoil and awareness.
I mean, most of all, The X-Men is about tolerance and not pushing away outsiders.
[Lee] One of the things I've always been against is bigotry, and The X-Men, fans have told me that that series is one of the greatest battles against bigotry that I could have written.
You can see how the civil rights movement influenced some of those early X-Men.
You've got senators, like, speaking out against these people who aren't like you and I, these giant robots called the Sentinels.
This story came out shortly after there were armed guards assaulting black people.
It's hard to not see the parallels.
Our fan mail, about one-third of it, very seriously, would be from college kids who'd say, "I'm doing a dissertation about this, a doctorial thesis about this, and Stan, really, what was behind thus-and-such happening?" I'd probably visited more college campuses than any living being.
[music] [Brownstein] As the decade progressed, Stan came into inventing himself as much as he would invent any other character.
He started as this bald, nebbishy guy, and he ended the decade this larger-than-life figure that went around college campuses exclaiming all of these ridiculous alliterative things.
[Lee] Life is so insane that if you try to do anything that is the way things would be in real life, it has to come across like satire, so all of a sudden I learned that I'm a satirist.
[Brownstein] In a lot of ways, Stan's life became Stan's art, and him taking center stage may not sit as well with somebody like Jack Kirby, who regards, "Hey, I'm doing the real work here.
" [Smith] Jack was known and respected within the community, and by hard-core comic book aficionados, but, you know, if you go to the average person and say, "Who's Jack Kirby?" they might be like, "I don't know.
" If you say, "Who's Stan Lee?" like, "Oh, Spider-Man, Marvel Comics.
" This was the problem in Stan and Jack's relationship in a big, bad way.
[music] Initially, Stan and Jack worked really closely together to create all of the Marvel universe, but as Stan became more and more busy with Bullpen Bulletin and also Stan's Soapbox, his time was really stretched out, and so a new method of how he would write and create comics was born.
The Marvel method was a new way of doing comics that they developed, which essentially transferred a lot of work that was traditionally the writer's to the artist.
So I'd say, "I'll tell you what the plot is.
You just go home and draw anything, and I'll put the dialogue and the captions on your artwork.
" In that way, I was able to keep a lot of artists busy at once.
They would draw anything.
I never knew what to expect.
Sometimes, I didn't even recognize the story.
It was different than what I had told them.
I think that in the Stan-and-Jack relationship, it can't be underestimated that Stan's dialogue and spokesmanship helped define what Marvel was, but the Marvel method for the first time put artists in the driver's seat of the storytelling process of comics.
The Galactus trilogy that is fondly regarded as a turning point in comics was imagined almost wholecloth by Jack Kirby.
I had given Jack the plot, and he drew it magnificently, as he always did, but towards the end of the story, I saw that he had put a guy on a flying surfboard, and I said, "Hey, I didn't put that in the story.
Who's that?" and Jack said, "I figured a guy like Galactus ought to have a herald who goes ahead of him to find those planets," and I thought that was a wonderful idea.
"Let's call him the Silver Surfer, and we'll make a regular character, we'll make a star out of him.
" So he was really a joint creation of Jack's and mine.
[Tseang] In terms of a creative team, they were co-creators.
They were amazing when they worked together, but when it came to the public eye, that's where they really diverged.
Jack had a weird, quirky way of talking, especially when you put him on camera.
He was terrible in front of a camera.
It's becoming American folklore, and, of course, uh, I can foresee uh, a lot more, uh, valid, uh, roads ahead for comics.
His interviews and everything, he was a lot more shy and not as outspoken as Stan Lee, which in the long term, would hurt him.
By the end of that time, Jack has gotten lost in Stan's shadow.
[Howe] One of the big flashpoints was, uh, an article in the New York Herald Tribune which basically portrayed Stan Lee as, you know, kind of the genius behind everything, and was was gently mocking of Jack Kirby's demeanor.
[DeAngelini] The article referred to him as looking like an "assistant manager in a girdle factory, with a cheap cigar, a cheap suit, and dark eyes," and really just saying only that, while dedicating so much of the article to Stan.
And Steve Ditko, who was probably one of the seminal creators at Marvel Comics at the time, was not even mentioned in the article at all.
[Tseang] For Ditko, that article really aggravated the tension that they already had behind the scenes.
They already had huge creative differences regarding Spider-Man.
[Thomas] By the time I was there, Steve Ditko, you know, never came by the office, except for a couple of minutes to drop something off, because Stan had decided that there was just no sense in the two of them speaking.
That was the weirdest thing of all.
It was two people doing their second-most successful book at that time, they had been not speaking to each other for several months already.
[Evanier] Steve Ditko's story and Jack Kirby's story are very similar in that they both assumed really creative control of the comics that they were drawing, stories that were credited solely to Stan Lee, in many cases.
Clearly, if you had a comic that said, "Written by Stan Lee and drawn by Jack Kirby," that was giving Stan an awful lot of the credit for what the artist was doing.
Ditko got out because he just couldn't work like that anymore.
Jack kept at it, believing that at some point, someone would recognize that he was not just filling pages up with somebody else's ideas, and somehow that didn't happen.
[Thomas] For years, I mean, Jack Kirby didn't care that, you know, that he wasn't being listed as a writer.
Later on, when something becomes successful, then everybody starts saying, "Well, you know, this percentage of it's mine.
" "That percentage of it's mine.
" With great power comes great responsibility, and with money comes great problems.
[Tseang] I do think it is a huge shame what happened between Stan and Jack's relationship.
One of the great partnerships in comics history dissolved into one of the greatest feuds in comics history.
[Sienkiewicz] When did I first become aware of Jack Kirby? It's sort of like saying, "When did you first recognize that when the sun came up in the morning, it got brighter," you know? It's that, it was, like, that level of, like He was, to me, Marvel, and to see the way he was treated, it actually just hurts.
[Tseang] So, by the late '60s, Marvel Comics was a hit, but Jack Kirby wasn't happy.
It wasn't just about credit, it was also about the money.
When the sales went up, their paychecks didn't go up, and their security at the company didn't go up.
Jack used to use the term "chained to the board.
" "I was chained to the board all that time," and he worked in a cellar, which he referred to as "the dungeon.
" They didn't let these people have lawyers.
When Jack was given a contract, he had to just sign it in the office.
He said to them, "Well, I want to show this to my lawyer.
" They said, "We don't let lawyers look at our stuff.
" [Englehart] The problem there is, Ditko, like Kirby, was work for hire.
On the day that they decide they don't need you anymore, "See ya.
" On the day that they make something out of The Fantastic Four, you don't get anything.
Around '65, '66, when they started licensing a lot of the intellectual property, and I think that the animated series was a real kick in the teeth.
Those steel doors behind us, they're closing.
They're trying to lock us in.
We can't let that happen.
- Quicksilver, it's time for your speed.
- Too late.
[Howe] Because the comic books were so lively, the producers thought, "Let's just use the artwork from the comic book pages and kind of move those around.
" No, no! No, wait! There are more behind me.
When he said, "Jeez, shouldn't I get some extra compensation for this?" it was kind of like, "Just shut up, and go back to drawing stuff.
" [Kirby] The publisher wants it all.
The creative people are on a certain plane, and the publisher is on a certain plane.
He lives with his lawyers and accountants, and he says, "Well, let's make Let's get toys out of this.
Let's get sweaters out of this.
" [Thomas] You know, and it's very understandable it might have made him bitter.
I think sometimes it got misplaced against Stan to the extent that as if Stan was his oppressor more than, say, the publisher or something, but it's very hard.
He saw Stan advancing and so forth, and being considered the prime mover of the Marvel universe.
[Brownstein] Stan Lee found a way to be inseparable from Marvel while not actually owning Marvel.
Marvel was always controlled by other corporations, but he found a way to be that key man that was inseparable from what the Marvel brand was.
It was his own canniness, it was his own street smarts, it was his own business acumen, and it was also the character that he made up.
[Thomas] And unfortunately, the other people who would buy the companies and trade them back and forth never valued Jack as they should have.
[Todd McFarlane] I guess you don't have a legal obligation to them, so where does the moral obligation come in? If somebody gave you their sweat and blood for decades, gave you all these characters you're exploiting, like, just so what? Throw them a few crumbs just to say "thank you," not "[bleep] you.
" [Tseang] He created all of these revolutionary characters, and at a certain point, Jack had had enough, and he literally just walked up, threw down the towel, and he just quit.
Why did Kirby leave Marvel? I'm going to be very honest with you.
I don't know.
I was not I don't believe I was there at the time.
I think I was in Europe or somewhere, and I had heard he had left, and nobody ever gave me an actual reason that I could live with.
It was the same thing with Steve Ditko when he left one day.
To this day, I don't know why he left.
Things happen.
I always think of it as the "Ub Iwerks syndrome.
" You know Ub Iwerks? Ub Iwerks was Walt Disney's, you know, his second-in-command in all the areas that He's the guy who probably actually drew more of Mickey Mouse, and knew more about the animation, but Ub Iwerks got to feeling unappreciated after a few years.
He went off, and he founded his own animation studio.
It failed.
[Howe] Kirby went to DC, and he did a series of stories that are kind of known as The New Gods.
At the time, there was a lot of criticism of the storytelling and the dialogue.
You know, everyone loved the art, but it wasn't Stan Lee.
The thing about Kirby is he couldn't write.
We found out for sure.
He had a terrible ear for dialogue.
Just, you know, off-putting, clanky dialogue.
And then he parodied Stan as Funky Flashman in a couple of his books, kind of a glib salesman-type guy, makin' fun of Stan's persona.
[Evanier] Stan and I had an argument one time.
I felt Jack Kirby was very was mistreated at the company.
He was basically telling me, "Well, yeah, but it I wasn't the one who did it," and I said, "Did you ever see one of those Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis movies?" I said, "There's always a scene in those movies where Dean Martin says to somebody, "Hey, you can't do that to my pal.
" I said, "Stan, I wish you'd said that more often," and he didn't speak to me for a long time after that.
[Tseang] These two middle-aged men basically started from almost desperation, and created all these popular and revolutionary characters.
Unfortunately, along the way, their relationship fell apart.
The tension that they had behind the scenes really put all their good work into jeopardy.
[music] [music] [Fingeroth] I think, despite later conflicts, I think there was a fondness that they had for each other.
Needless to say, a great synergy in terms of the creativity.
[Howe] It was on his birthday, Jack Kirby was doing an interview on the radio, and one of the callers was Stan Lee.
It'd be interesting to know whether or not Galactus's exit speech in FF #50 was an example of Jack's dialogue or Stan's, but you [Lee] Well, I'll say this.
Every word of dialogue in those scripts was mine.
[awkward laughter] [Kirby] I can tell you that I wrote a few lines myself - above every panel that I - Yes, I've seen those [Lee] They weren't printed in the book! All right, look, both of you Hey, kids [Lee] I really think and look, Jack, nobody has more respect for you than I do, and you know that, but I don't think you ever felt that the dialogue was that important, and I think you felt, "Well, it doesn't matter.
Anybody can put the dialogue in.
It's what I'm drawing that matters," and maybe you're right.
I don't agree with it, but maybe you're right.
[Howe] You feel like you're intruding on a heavy talk between an ex-husband and an ex-wife or something, and the semi-reconciliation is playing out in real time.
[Lee] You know, Jack, you were talking earlier about your drawing, and people sometimes criticized your figures.
I always felt that the most important thing about your drawings, I remember when I was a kid, and I first saw Captain America, it wasn't the correctness of the anatomy, but it was the emotion that you put in.
Nobody could convey emotion and drama the way you could, and nobody could ever draw a hero like you could, and I think that's something you can be very proud of, - and I'm proud of you for it.
- [Kirby] I have to thank you for, uh, helping me to keep that style, Stanley, and, uh, whatever we did together, we, uh, we got sales for Marvel, and I [Lee] I think it was more than that, Jack.
We certainly got the sales, but whatever we did together, and no matter who did what, and I guess that's something that'll be argued forever, but I think there was some slight magic that came into effect when we worked together, and I am very happy that we've had that experience.
[Kirby] Well, I was never sorry for it, Stanley.
It was a great experience for me.
[Brownstein] It's easy to cast real people and human decisions with the brush of intention, and with the brush of, you know, heroes and villains, but it really just came down to these were people with all of the messiness of human dynamics.
They were working in the underclass of the publishing business.
There wasn't anything that would lead you to think that these guys are gonna change the world with what's goin' on inside their heads.
It was Marvel's 25th anniversary, and I invited him, and he came, and Roz, his wife, came.
Stan and I were standing in the back of the room when they came in.
Stan had a glass of wine, and you know how Stan talks, he's waving his hands around all the time.
He waves his hand, slams it against a pillar, hand is slashed, bleeding.
He gets a handkerchief out.
He said, "Oh, my god, oh, my god.
" And I said, "There's Jack!" so I run over to Jack and Roz, and I bring them over to Stan, and here's Stan, like this, and Jack sticks out his hand, and Stan goes And he shakes his hand, and then he's wiping the blood off Jack's hand, and they talk for a while, and they were friends.
They were talking about how great it used to be, and it was fun, you know, and all the good times they had.
And then Stan said, "You know, I don't care who gets credit.
I don't care who owns it.
" He says, "I just want to do one more time with you, one more job," and Roz said, "Forget it," and dragged Jack away.
So it didn't happen.
While they remained cordial, unfortunately, they never worked together again before Kirby passed away.
[music] [Brownstein] There's a few different people that can play the Moses role in the history of comics, and Jack Kirby's one of them.
He was able to lead us to this promised land of story, but he didn't get to enjoy it himself.
I think when you look at people that have come up from that environment, creators negotiating for a fairer piece of what they create in the way that Rob Liefeld gets a piece of every piece of Deadpool, whether it's Robert Kirkman controlling his own destiny creating something like The Walking Dead, they were informed by the fact that Jack Kirby didn't receive that.
[McFarlane] And it was those stories that made me go into my career with my eyes wide open, of going, "If they can do it to Jack Kirby, they can do it to anybody.
" They called him the King, rightfully so, and if there was a bigger word than that, - I'd give it to him.
- [Lee] I don't think anybody was as much a master of the art as Jack was.
He was just the greatest.
In fact, I'm the guy who gave him the nickname Jack "King" Kirby.
He was the king of the artists to me.
My name isn't Stan Lee.
It's Stanley Liebert.
Someday I'm going to write the great American novel, and I don't want to use this name that's going to be so famous someday, use it on comics.
[announcer] Stan Lee.
[applause] [DeAngelini] It's funny to think maybe in an alternate universe, Stan did write the great American novel, it flopped, and he was never heard from again.
Stan did create something akin to the great American novel by creating this huge Marvel universe, and by "creating," I mean being part of something that all these other people were involved in to help shape it into what it is.
[Shooter] I worked with Steve Ditko, and I worked with Jack, and it was very clear that Stan more than pulled his weight.
He was the glue that held it all together.
He was conducting the orchestra.
[Fingeroth] I don't think he took too much credit.
I think he created the whole thing.
Sorry.
Obviously, he could not have done it without Jack Kirby or Ditko, or the other artists, but, you know, certainly without Stan Lee, no Marvel Comics.
[Rodriguez] He's got, like, a spark of youthful energy to him, and, and, and there's a curiosity inside of him that doesn't seem to die out, and I think that that is the true key to long life, and he's just the perfect archetype for that.
It's really incredible when you think through what Stan Lee and Jack Kirby have accomplished.
X-Men, and The Hulk, and The Avengers, they are our biggest stories of today.
You know, they're stories about outsiders, and I think that Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, they were just like them.
They were different, they were ostracized.
They didn't fit into society.
[Smith] Stan Lee and Jack Kirby are the Lennon and McCartney of Marvel Comics, and just like The Beatles, eons from now, people will still be talking about these characters and the people who created them, akin on the same level.
They're the gods who created the gods.
[Lee] I love them all.
I love Thor, I love The Hulk, I love Daredevil, The X-Men, the Avengers, Spider-Man, The Fantastic Four, Dr.
Strange, The Black Panther To me, they're all part of a family.
I tried to put them all in the same world so that they could meet and have adventures together, a universe of characters that would entertain readers who were young and readers who were old, and if I've succeeded in that, then I'm very happy.
[title music]