Jack Kirby in "The Dungeon," his home studio, in 1949. (Kirby family collection)Link
Jack Kirby, 1945, Brighton Beach. (Kirby family collection)Link
Jack Kirby in 1949 in New York City. (Kirby family collection)Link
Long Island, 1950. Rosalind and Jack Kirby with their children, Neal, 2, and Susan, 6. Credit: (Kirby family collection)Link
1961, Neal Kirby's Bar Mitzvah. Left to right in rear: Neal Kirby, Rosalind Kirby, Susan Kirby and Jack Kirby; Barbara Kirby in front. (Kirby family collection)Link
Jack Kirby touching up an Iron Man page in 1965 at the Marvel offices. (Kirby family collection)Link
Jack Kirby at work in his Thousand Oaks home studio in 1982. (Kirby family collection)Link
Jack Kirby, 1991 portrait photo. (Ray Wyman/Kirby family collection)Link
One of the most contentious court battles in comics has come to an end.
Marvel and the members of Jack Kirby’s family issued a joint statement Friday to announce that the long-running legal case over royalties related to characters created or co-created by the legendary pioneer has been settled out of court.
The short statement read in full: “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.”
During his decades in comics, Kirby created or co-created Captain America, the Hulk, the Fantastic Four, the X-Men, Iron Man, Doctor Doom, the Silver Surfer, Magneto, the Black Panther, Ant-Man, the Red Skull, Galactus and dozens of other comic book characters, helping define Marvel Comics during the Silver Age.
The issue had been whether Kirby, who died in 1994, created the characters under work-for-hire deals, in which case he would not be entitled to any profits from the toys, video games or blockbuster movies starring them. In the 1960s his longtime partner Stan Lee became the public face of Marvel, and the once-close collaborators became estranged over creative credit — resulting in Kirby’s defection to rival DC Comics in the early 1970s.
He later returned to Marvel for a two-year run near the end of that decade.
After Disney purchased Marvel for $4 billion in 2009, Kirby’s four children served 45 “notices of termination” to Marvel, Disney, Sony Pictures, 20th Century Fox, Paramount Pictures and Universal Pictures, seeking to regain copyright control of certain characters.
Since then, the legal wrangling has wound its way through many decisions and appeals, even as Marvel has gained footing in Hollywood as a blockbuster hit factory.
The company’s most recent film, August’s “Guardians of the Galaxy,” is the highest-grossing domestic release of 2014. Its April film, “Captain America: The Winter Soldier,” ranks second.
While his characters enjoy a robust cinematic life, Kirby’s legacy has continued to thrive in many ways — his granddaughter, Jillian Kirby, began a campaign two years ago, at the age of 16, to honor her late grandfather.
Titled Kirby4Heroes, the charitable venture was launched to generate donations for the Hero Initiative, a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping comic book creators in need, offering assistance to artists and writers.
— Gina McIntyre
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