"...none other than Kapital-Hatin' Karl Marx, whose ideology has propounded more subintellectual drivel in literary studies than any other one-note-singer can claim."-- THE POOREST JOHNNY ONE-NOTE, June 2010.
I haven't had the occasion to attack any maundering Marxist diatribes lately, but thanks to this HOODED UTILITARIAN post by Marguerite Van Cook, I've finally some new grist for this particular mill.
There are, to be sure, points where I agree with Van Cook. Here's one:
Even the most ardent Kirby fan acknowledges that for a while the two men, Kirby and Lee, collaborated comfortably to produce seminal comics in the American canon and all but a few claim that to make Kirby the sole creator across the board is not defensible. The Kirby lawyers overstepped the mark in the attempt to regain control of early copyright and collect remuneration for the proceeds from early works that were subsequently developed. For those of us on the sidelines, perhaps more painfully the result legally diminishes Kirby’s place in history.
As others before me have commented, there was from the start precious little evidence that Kirby created the majority of his Marvel Comics projects independently of Stan Lee. I've seen Kirby-fans on the 'net desperate to believe that, say, the Fantastic Four *must* have been created as a original "pitch-page"-- one altered, perhaps, to include the company-owned character of the Human Torch. But while this remains an interesting speculation, it didn't constitute evidence that any court would validate.
The "legal diminshment" to which Van Cook refers means the court's embracing of the theory that "the idea is the only criteria for original creation." Such has been the position assumed-- perhaps with some degree of sincerity-- by Stan Lee, who has stated time and again that any time he had the basic idea for any character, he Lee was *the* sole creator. And since he was on staff for Marvel, the creative "primacy" thus belonged to the corporation that took over the original Marvel company. I agree with Van Cook's well-phrased defense of even those creators who *might* be secondary in terms of conception:
Even if hypothetically Lee originated characters, I would argue that where there is no previous model then the artist creates the image and reifies a concept. If there is no model to work from, then one must create the original figure, which henceforth will become that model.
I don't know by what methods a lawyer might have argued for this concept of "reified" creation, though I would think that Neil Gaiman's successful suit against Todd McFarlane might constitute some sort of precedent. Be that as it may, long before Monday morning I "quarterbacked" the Toberoff maneuver as a ego-driven grandstand play.
And those will probably be the last points on which I agree with Van Cook, for after that she starts quoting Marx-munchkins like Louis Althusser and Terry Eagleton while misappropriating my old favorite Longinus for purposes of (gah!) logocentrism.
Stay tuned for Part 2.