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Family of X-Men, Hulk, Fantastic Four Co-Creator Jack Kirby Seeks to Regain Character Copyrights

In move that seems inspired by the recent success of Superman co-creator Jerry Siegel’s family in claiming a share of the copyright to Superman from DC — a saga that is still ongoing — the family of legendary comic book artist Jack Kirby is seeking to regain copyrights to 45 of his characters from Marvel, even hiring the same lawyer who represented the Siegels.

To review, Jack Kirby co-created a LOT of valuable franchises for Marvel back in the day, including characters like the X-Men, the Hulk, and the Fantastic Four. You may recognize those characters as some of the most well-known heroes in the Marvel Comics stable, or from their huge multi-million dollar movie franchises. Kirby also created Captain America, a character set to star in a Paramount Pictures movie in summer 2011.

These characters, and their valuable movie and licensing franchises, were a large part of what lead Disney to purchase Marvel for $4 billion, a deal that still needs to be approved by Marvel shareholders. If Kirby’s family is able to regain a share of the copyright, that could entitle them to profits from the films and other uses of the characters.

Basically, what we’re seeing in these lawsuit the poor treatment and incredibly paltry compensation of comic book creators in the Silver Age coming back to haunt the companies who have made insane amounts of money off of their work. As in the Siegel case, expect to see a small number of self-righteous fans getting their panties in a twist because of the possibility that appropriately compensating the creators of their favorite characters might somehow affect their monthly intake of comics.

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