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Author Topic: Did Cary Bates call Kirby a "hack?"  (Read 21603 times)
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JulianPerez
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« Reply #8 on: May 26, 2006, 04:57:22 AM »

I *THINK* it was in a LEGION OUTPOST fanzine from 1976, which may be collected in the recent reprint of BEST OF LEGION OUTPOST:

http://www.milehighcomics.com/cgi-bin/backissue.cgi?action=list&title=09999999535&snumber=1

They also had, as I recall, an article containing speculation about non-humanoid Legionnaires (this was a great many years before the introduction of "creature" Legionnaires like Tellus and Quislet).
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« Reply #9 on: May 26, 2006, 04:58:26 AM »

According to my Google research, Kirby was nicknamed "Jack the Hack" in the 1970s, after Stan Lee was given all the credit for the characters they created. This would mean "hack" not in the most derogatory manner, as in "partisan hack," but hack as in:

   1. One who undertakes unpleasant or distasteful tasks for money or reward; a hireling.
   2. A writer hired to produce routine or commercial writing.

Since Jack Kirby was not credited for many of his creations, he was not paid for them. He continued to work because he had to, and his most famous work was considered work-for-hire hackery.

Still, I've found no reference to Cary Bates having said it, but it was apparently a common nickname on both sides of the street during that time.
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« Reply #10 on: May 26, 2006, 06:02:46 AM »

I guess the mystery is solved.
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« Reply #11 on: May 26, 2006, 07:32:47 AM »

Source for that "Jack the Hack" nickname quote?  

Kirby was very vocal in interviews and public appearances at least by the early 80s about his contributions to the Marvel comics of the 60s and many people (especially fan/writers like mark Evanier) also had alot to say on the matter.
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« Reply #12 on: May 26, 2006, 03:41:46 PM »

Google: "Jack the Hack" Kirby

Then pick one. I remember IGN comics being one of the sources, but that was not the best one.
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« Reply #13 on: May 26, 2006, 05:06:21 PM »

Sources = less stress

The Jack the Hack nickname was common in the 1970's but it sure wasn't meant as a good thing!

Some quotes, NONE by Cary Bates, but made by others:

On Captain America and the Falcon:

"Issues 193 through 214: The bizarre and ill-fated return of Jack Kirby to Cap as writer/artist, this time. At the time we all called him "Jack the Hack," but history has shown that Kirby's run was much better than my friends and I thought at the time."

http://spaces.msn.com/obsessedwithcomics/blog/cns!CBFE22C7C48E5EB6!472.entry

The dreaded John Byrne writes of himself:

"My career has shown some interesting (and unexpected) parallels to Kirby's, albeit on a somewhat less spectacular scale. (I didn't help create the whole Marvel Universe, after all!) Right now I seem to be passing thru something akin to the 'Jack the Hack' period of the 70s -- which means, I suppose, I should anticipate being 'discovered' by a new generation of artists who will somewhat sycophantically elevate me to levels as just unrealistic as the depths to which the previous generation sought to condemn me! Fun, ain't it?"

http://fanboyrampage.blogspot.com/2004_12_01_fanboyrampage_archive.html

from Comics in Context #95: The Crypt, The King, and The Credit:

"We were reminded that a time came when people at Marvel and DC "were openly mocking" Kirby's work. This is a period which I witnessed, when comics pros were referring to Kirby as "Jack the Hack." (I wonder if any of those people would admit to that now.)

Steve Sherman said that this kind of treatment gives an artist doing his work the "feeling of being screwed while you're doing it," and, he added, Kirby "never wanted to be a hack." Sherman said that Kirby believed that "If you treat people well, you expect to be treated decently in return" and yet he wasn't."

http://comics.ign.com/articles/637/637694p5.html

From Comics in Context #15: Stan Lee and the Mystery of Creativity:

"Spurgeon and Raphael contribute admirable mini-biographies of both Ditko and Kirby within their Stan Lee biography. Kirby comes off at times as very much a sympathetic underdog, or, as the authors put it, "Kirby had become an icon for the mistreated comic-book artist." (p. 224) They point out that during Kirby's return to Marvel in the 1970s, Lee was friendly towards him whereas "the new guard at Marvel. . .referred to him as "Jack the Hack." (p. 180) This is all too true: I was there, though not yet a comics pro, and I heard that phrase myself. I find it sad when the authors quote Mark Evanier, Kirby's longtime friend, saying that the support from pros and fans persuaded Kirby "he would not be forgotten; that the history of comics would not be written with Stan Lee receiving sole credit for creating all those characters." (p. 225) To think that Kirby actually feared he would be forgotten!"

http://comics.ign.com/articles/595/595575p2.html
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« Reply #14 on: May 26, 2006, 05:38:35 PM »

Interesting stuff.  And a reminder that despite Jack's near-deification after death, he was not always "The King" to everyone.  

I was becoming a major comic book fan in the mid-70s and I can tell you I studiously avoided Kirby's Captain America, Black Panther and Eternals.  At that time, I considered his work ugly and weird, an example of stylization being taken to its furthest extreme.  Back then, guys like Neal Adams and John Buscema got all the love with their comparatively "realistic" styles and, at the very least, their understanding of human anatomy.  In contrast, Kirby's stuff looked to me like one of those useless "How To Draw" lessons at about Step Two...the part where the artist has drawn a bunch of circles and cubes to block out where the head and limbs will go...only with Kirby there was never that magical, cheating jump to Stage 3 where suddenly it all looks human.  More like he drew a face on that tin can "head" and moved on to the next panel.

I have to say the passage of time hasn't done much to improve my opinion of Kirby's work from the mid-70s on, though I'm a huge fan now of his work on the Fantastic Four (where Joe Sinnot's glossy inks gave Kirby's pencils a more "DC" kind of glamour), Challengers of the Unknown, the old Marvel monster books and of course "Jimmy Olsen," where the heads were infamously redrawn (fixed, in my view) by Murphy Anderson. And Kirby's Golden Age stuff on Captain America, viewed beside other art of the era, is still astonishing stuff.

But having said all that, I don't think it was ever fair to call Kirby a "hack." That word to me connotes someone who doesn't care about the work and just turns in any old thing to get his paycheck.  Someone like Vince Colletta, for instance!  Kirby, I believe, always cared about what he was doing and always tried to take the genre in new directions.  His problem was that in the 70s he was running off in a direction most of us had no interest in going.  Sometimes when you run out ahead of the crowd, you get to brag when they finally come running to catch up.  But sometimes they don't follow you at all, and you're left standing out there alone and looking ridiculous.  For my money, Kirby's second tenure at Marvel, his work for the Indies and even silly stuff like "Super-Powers" (as close to hack work as any project ever was) remains a square peg that will never fit comfortably anywhere.
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« Reply #15 on: May 27, 2006, 12:19:25 AM »

It's funny, I fell in love with Kirby's work as a pre-teen in the 70s (thanks mostly to the Fantastic Four reprints in Marvels' Greatest Comics and his runs on Eternals and Capt. America).  It's weird to go back now and read the letter pages in those comics (and in the 4th World and other early 70s books Kirby worked on).  The polarized views of Kirby's work are amazing, especially at DC where the standard for so long was the Curt Swan, Alex Raymond-meets-Wayne Boring style.  Neal Adams was king for many at that time.  At Marvel, fans of the convoluted cosmic epics and sophisticated melodrama of the post-Roy Thomas school of Marvel writers objected to Kirby parachuting into the gritty, politically-charged (and to my current taste, hopelessly ponderous and pretentious) storylines of Captain America and Black Panther and taking over, injecting a Golden-Age sense of fun and action in his big, chunky style.

I don't think Kirby has been deified enough, especially in a fine-arts sense.

That Byrne quote is hilarious.  Yes Mr Byrne, one day you will be considered equal to Jack Kirby, the man who created Captain America with Joe Simon and co-created The Fantastic Four, The X-Men, The Hulk, The Eternals, The New Gods, The Black Panther, etc etc.  One of the greatest and most influential children's cartoonists of the 20th Century.
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