Apr 5, 2010

This Is a Plot?

The splash page to Jack's "This Is a Plot?" 3-page story published in Fantastic Four Special # 5 (1967). Inks by Frank Giacoia.

A close-up of Jack in action.

Jack's editor Stan Lee with some famous Kirby headgear. Some suggest Stan and Jack wearing the different helmets throughout the story was Kirby's way of poking fun at Lee's various hairpieces.

Many Kirby scholars feel Jack was contributing significant plot elements to virtually all of his 1960s Marvel stories, specifically from 1962 - 1970 where Jack was writing stories on his own using visuals and margin-notes (to which Lee added text) so it's ironic that this is the first time Jack is given a "writer" credit for one of his Marvel stories by his editor, Lee.

Since this was a piece of satire, I wonder if Jack was accurately depicting the Kirby/Lee collaborative process, or was he poking fun at Stan Lee's fanciful, fictionalized version of their working relationship popularized in Lee's self-promotional Bullpen Bulletins that appeared in all of the Marvel comic books every month.

Research seems to suggest Kirby and Lee spent very little time meeting face-to-face, especially in the mid-to-late 1960s -- Jack worked at his home -- and even when Lee did give Jack a plot, Kirby would make changes. Then, from around 1963 - 1979 Jack came up with stories on his own with very little to no direction from Lee.

Here is Stan Lee's famous quote on the Kirby-Lee partnership: “Some artists, of course, need a more detailed plot than others. Some artists, such as Jack Kirby, need no plot at all. I mean, I’ll just say to Jack, ‘Let’s let the next villain be Dr. Doom’... or I may not even say that. He may tell me... he just about makes up the plots for these stories. All I do is a little editing.”