Those of you who take a moment to read the credits pages of your weekly Marvel Comics may have noticed that there's been a small change that started in this week's batch: Jack Kirby is receiving a creator credit for characters and teams that he co-created.
The new credit comes only a few weeks after Marvel and the Kirby family reached an agreement that settled a lawsuit that lasted five years, just before the Supreme Court was set to announce whether it would hear the case. While the details of the settlement haven't been released, giving Kirby a creator credit in the comics certainly seems to fit the joint statement released by both parties in September, which mentioned "advancing their shared goal of honoring Mr. Kirby’s significant role in Marvel’s history."
“Marvel and the family of Jack Kirby have amicably resolved their legal disputes, and are looking forward to advancing their shared goal of honoring Mr. Kirby’s significant role in Marvel’s history."
Well, those are words no one expected to read on Friday morning -- or maybe ever -- but they were indeed issued in a joint statement. The heirs of Jack Kirby, the late cartoonist responsible for many of Marvel's most enduringly popular and profitable characters, including the Hulk, Captain America, the X-Men, Thor and many more, have come to terms with the Disney-owned company from whom the family sought to claim copyright.
It's never a safe bet to think the United States Supreme Court will take on any particular case -- it only accepts a handful each year -- but the credibility of Jack Kirby's family's case against Marvel Comics got another big boost recently.
Attorney Tom Goldstein, the founder of SCOTUSblog, one of the most widely-read online sources for Supreme Court commentary, has opted to co-represent the Kirby family as it fights for copyrights for characters Kirby co-created between 1958 and 1963, which include the Hulk, the X-Men, the Fantastic Four, and a slew of others. Goldstein's name puts considerable muscle behind the Kirby family's claim, which Marvel has asked the Supreme Court to dismiss because it doesn't "merit review."
Jack Kirby's family has some powerful friends on its side in its legal battle with Marvel to claim back copyright of characters Kirby created between 1958 and 1963 -- characters that include the Fantastic Four, The Hulk, and the X-Men -- but Marvel's attorneys are trying to shut the whole fight down before it advances any further.
Marvel and Disney have filed formal paperwork requesting that the U.S. Supreme Court reject the case of Kirby V. Marvel, saying it doesn't "remotely merit this Court's review."
The United States Supreme Court wrapped up its 2014 term Monday, deciding cases involving health care, unions, and other pressing issues. If two comic creators' families get their way, the court's next term could involve the fate of some of the most popular comics characters ever created.
First, the family of Jack Kirby filed paperwork to ask the Supreme Court to consider whether they have any rights to the characters Kirby co-created at Marvel Comics in the late 1950s and early 1960s. Now, the family of Joe Shuster, who co-created Superman with writer Jerry Siegel at DC, has essentially done the same.
Three of Hollywood's biggest industry guilds have submitted an amicus brief in support of the Kirby estate in the case of Lisa Kirby V. Marvel Characters. The brief urges the Supreme Court to hear the case, as the guilds believe the outcome will have major implications for the film industry.
The Supreme Court may take up the case of Lisa Kirby v. Marvel Characters to determine whether or not works produced by Jack Kirby and published by Marvel between 1958 and 1963 were work-for-hire. The case could allow the Kirby estate to terminate Marvel's copyright claims to several of its best-known characters, including Captain America, Thor, the Hulk, the Avengers, the Fantastic Four, and the X-Men.
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