Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Jack Kirby's Writing

There's been a debate brewing on the blog Kirby Dynamics, responding to criticism about Jack's writing skill, after leaving Marvel Comics. Stan Lee took a lot more credit for his co-creations that he should, but the one thing he most definitely is responsible for, and should be proud of, is the dialogue. While Kirby essentially wrote the story and script, Stan Lee adding a more reader-friendly dialogue - which some fans missed when Kirby left Marvel for DC, and wrote his own dialogue.

You can read about the discussion here, and here.

You can read my response here.


  1. Granted that there is a debate, but overall Kirby's writing was very good, at times great. In rereading the output of Stan, writing during the peak Marvel years in the sixties, and Kirby, solo, writing at DC in the seventies and beyond, I find that I'm more in tune with the way Kirby wrote. Stan's dialogue could be glib, and slick, but it could also be banal, trite, and overblown and over dramatic. Kirby had his occasional dialogue bloopers, but for some reason his idiosyncratic style seems all the more unique for it. Granted that it's not to everyone's taste.

  2. Stan Lee is much more on the nose. Read his iron man stuff, euch. Besides Lee couldn't hold a candle to Kirby's sense of conflict and character. Even without Lee, and sometimes more, Kirby had a stellar output. Everything had a fresh spin. Even the eternals which should have been New God's 2, had fresh character developments. All I see when looking at Kirby body of work is a man learning as he goes, the craft of writing and perfecting it. He gave it the atmosphere he wanted. Look at his character designs, they weren't realistic or useful. Even everyday objects like buildings, a vcr or phone didn't look like an ordinary building, phone or vcr, but they fit and seem normal in a Kirby composition.

    For comparison look at Stan Lee's output since he hasn't been riding the backs of great creators with his "plot" scripts. The condor? It's all hack stuff.

  3. Good points, LeVack! Kirby's sometimes lack of realism has an intentional purpose - I think Jack once told someone something along the lines of, to capture real life, you need to be bigger and more powerful, to even come close to matching it.

    I have read Ironman - the reigns of that series really got left to under-rated Don Heck.
    The thing about Stan Lee -- I don't think anyone would say he isn't worthy of praise for his work co-creating the Marvel U. He gave them all a voice, a consistent voice, which tied everything together. He helped spear-head the idea of characters aging along with their readers (well, to a point) - Spider-Man being the biggest recipient of that method, from high school, to collage, to marriage, ect ect.

    The animosity against Lee, though, is solely because of his attempt to take too much credit. Maybe its intentional, maybe its not -- maybe it's a little of both. End of the day, he took far too much credit, much to the detriment of Kirby and other creators. Its a real shame, too - he has so much to be proud of as co-creator of the Marvel Universe. We'd be putting him up alongside the likes of Julius Schwartz - who everyone credits for the Silver Age at DC. Unabashed praise goes his way, because he never took undo credit beyond being the editor.