With my usual thoroughness-- which some would call anal retentiveness-- I'm reposting here a post I'm making today on Paul Kupperberg's blog, AND THEN I WROTE, in case my post gets lost for whatever reason.
And my response:
Mark me down as another yea-sayer to the above essay. Where all are the virulent voices people have been expecting? Paging all Kirby-Kultists!
I'm not any happier than anyone else that comics-creators have frequently signed away valuable properties to earn their daily bread, but I don't see any justification for calling it "theft," as do so many others (paging Alan Moore...) It's no more theft than getting lowballed by a hock shop owner who only gives you the minimum on your merchandise. It's not always ethical, but it's not theft. A larger question might be: if fans expect contracts to be set aside when they're disadvantageous to the artists, what stops the company from setting aside contracts when they are disadvantageous to the company? (Not that there isn't a lot of undercover finagling anyway...)
I've always thought Stan gets the bad rap he does because for most fans, he's become the epitome of the Bad Boss: the guy who takes credit for his underlings' accomplishments. Paul's completely correct that Stan did more than kibitz or erratically change things he didn't like. Stan could take extremely weak or unfocused Kirby stories and make them compelling thanks to the dialogue. Kirby had many, many gifts, but an attention to fine detail was not one of them.
Ditto Jerry Siegel. While I will say that I don't know if DC let him come back in the 50s out of the goodness of their corporate hearts-- Gerald Jones alleges other motives-- Siegel somehow produced better stories under Mean Mort than he did at any time, at least to my knowledge. I noted in one of my essays that Siegel didn't even keep up the quality shortly after he departed DC in the 60s:
'A story like "Superman's Return to Krypton" shows a far greater organization of story elements-- including symbolism-- than anything Siegel had done in earlier eras. Yet it doesn't seem that this was Siegel's normal mode of operation, for after he severed relations with DC in the mid-60s, his scripts became pretty wild-and-woolly once more, as one can observe from his output at the Archie imprint Mighty Comics.'
So it would seem obvious that sometimes editors have creative input, no matter how nice or even-handed they are. But then, there are a lot of genuine artists who do great work without being particularly nice either.