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Monday, November 04, 2019 

Danny Fingeroth's new biography of Stan Lee

The Forward interviewed veteran Marvel editor Danny Fingeroth, who just published a new biography of his former boss, Stan Lee ("A Marvelous Life: The Amazing Story of Stan Lee"). One of the subjects brought up is how Lee was credited for - or gave credit to his partners - in creating the various superheroes he worked on himself, or those created by other contributors he oversaw:
Lee was controversial within the comics world — many of his collaborators at times felt they weren’t given enough credit for their work. To what extent do you feel that reputation is justified?

FINGEROTH: I think that in the ‘60s or even the ‘70s, the idea that two people had come up with something was thought by reporters, and some editors, to be too complicated for a general interest story. Stan would very often be credited as the creator of X, Y and Z, but he was pretty careful generally about crediting his artists, even at the times where he said that he himself had created the idea, he would still say “But I couldn’t have done it without Kirby or Ditko.” I think he was partly a victim of the oversimplification the media did. I think there were probably times when he also preempted that simplification and figured that this story would be too complicated, and so just regarded himself as the creator. There was no one way he talked about stuff. I think if he was talking to a comic audience convention that would be more knowledgeable, he readily acknowledged it. There’s the extreme view that Stan didn’t do anything, which I don’t think is true. And there’s the other extreme view that he did everything, which is also not true.
In hindsight, I do think it's regrettable such a fuss had to be made over who was responsible for creating X, Y and Z at Marvel, or anywhere else, though one thing not mentioned in this interview is that Lee may not have helped Jack Kirby regain the full rights to his artwork templates when he originally tried to get them in the mid-80s. If not, it's a shame, because it might've helped lessen the rift that formed between them in later years.

It's an interesting interview, but a pity they wouldn't get into whether Kirby was given a fair shake or got short-changed by Marvel on his artwork.

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