Monday, March 07, 2011

Marvel Worldwide, Inc. et al v. Kirby et al - Larry Lieber Speaks

Welcome to Part III of the transcripts from the Marvel vs Jack Kirby's estate court case.  You can find Part I, Stan Lee's testimony, here and Part II, John Romita, here.  I don't know about anyone else, but I personally find this stuff fascinating to say the least, as people might probably have guessed by now.

Just to refresh people, the Kirby’s are asking for the keys to Marvel’s kingdom, as stated on their original docket, which reads as such, “This is a civil action seeking declaratory relief arising out of Plaintiffs’ termination, pursuant to the United States Copyright Act of 1976, 17 U.S.C. § 304(c), of prior grants of copyright in and to the original characters and works created and/or co-created by Jack Kirby (a.k.a. Jacob Kurtzberg) (“Kirby”), known as “The Fantastic Four,” “Iron Man,” “Ant-Man,” “X-Men,” “The Incredible Hulk,” “The Avengers,” “Thor,” “Nick Fury,” “Spider-Man,” “Journey Into Mystery,” “Rawhide Kid,” “Strange Tales,” “Tales of Suspense,” “Amazing Adventures” and “Tales to Astonish.”” The docket then goes on to state that, “Between 1958 and 1963, Jack Kirby authored or co-authored numerous original comic book stories featuring a variety of characters, including “The Fantastic Four,” “X-Men,” “Iron Man,” “Spider-Man,” “The Incredible Hulk,” “Thor,” “The Avengers,” “Nick Fury” and “Ant-Man,” which were purchased by Marvel’s Predecessors and published in their following periodicals: Amazing Adventures, Vol. 1, Nos. 1-6; Amazing Fantasy, Vol. 1, No. 15; The Amazing Spider-Man, Vol. 1, Nos. 1-7; The Avengers, Vol. 1, Nos. 1-2; The Fantastic Four, Vol. 1, Nos. 1-21; The Fantastic Four Annual, No. 1; Journey Into Mystery, Vol. 1, Nos. 51-98; The Incredible Hulk, Vol. 1, Nos. 1-6; The Rawhide Kid, Vol. 1, Nos. 17-35; Sgt. Fury and His Howling Commandoes, Vol. 1, Nos. 1- 4; Strange Tales, Vol. 1, Nos. 67-115; Tales of Suspense, Nos. 1, 3-48; Tales to Astonish, Vol. 1, Nos. 1, 3-50; and The X-Men, Vol. 1, Nos. 1-2 (hereinafter, the “Kirby Works”).”

This is a tricky claim as Kirby didn’t write, nor did he draw, The Amazing Spider-Man, disregarding a back-up story in issue #8. There is no proof that Kirby wrote issue #1 of that title, and he certainly didn’t draw it. Marvel, now backed by the might of Disney, are countersuing. Even if the Kirby’s are successful, you can count on Disney to keep fighting to the point where they’ll be the last person standing, so to speak. Hopefully a decent resolution can be found where the Kirby’s can gain some form of recognition for Jack Kirby along with some financial compensation, and Marvel keep the characters. After all I doubt Disney would pay millions for a company only to see it all taken away in a lawsuit.

In January of this year it was Larry Lieber’s turn to be deposed for the Marvel vs Kirby case. As with John Romita’s testimony, it’s hard to see who’d win out with Larry’s statement of events – on one hand he admits to buying his own materials and working the same as Kirby, as a freelancer, but then he also states that his payment checks did indeed have the contentious declaration on the back. Even more damaging for the Kirby case is Lieber’s statements that he submitted full scripts for the first appearances for both Iron Man and Thor, and that he came up with a number of vital aspects of both characters. This can’t help the Kirby’s all that much, as they claim that both Thor and Iron Man were fully formed when Kirby presented them to Marvel, however if the judge does believe Lieber’s first hand testimony then that’d be two characters, at least, that are now clouded.  I do feel for Larry here though, as it's clear from the testimony that he was both flustered and uncomfortable.  For someone of Larry's general disposition, to be questioned in a legal sense, even in a deposition, must have been agony, but he does handle himself well and acquits himself just fine.

Of interest in Larry Lieber’s testimony is that at least six pages are considered to be confidential pursuant to protective order. The two lawyers present are Randi W. Singer, acting for Marvel and Marc Toberoff, acting for the Kirbys.

Deposition of Lawrence Lieber; New York, New York; 7 January 7, 2011
(The testimony starts with Larry Lieber in mid-sentence, being questions by Singer, who is acting for Marvel. The beginning of the testimony would have consisted of Larry explaining his general background and what he was known for)

LARRY LIEBER: …I -- I know I was doing, sometime back, I did The Hulk newspaper strip. That started out with my brother writing it and me drawing it, penciling it, and it didn't do well and he finally said I could write it, and I wrote that for a while. But it didn't last too long and but I don't remember when these things were.
Q: Okay. We're going to focus today on the period from 1958 to 1965, so that's fine.
LARRY LIEBER: Uh-huh.
Q: I think you mentioned that you started working at Marvel in about 1958?
LARRY LIEBER: I could tell you, yeah, it was – it was -- well, I remember the date. This I happen to remember. June, the end of June.
Q: Okay.
LARRY LIEBER: About then, yeah. '58.
Q: And how did you come to work for Marvel?
LARRY LIEBER: Stan offered me -- I had to earn a living. I had been living with relatives and I was going to the Art Students League studying
(break in testimony)
LARRY LIEBER: …Journey Into Mystery.
Q: Okay.
LARRY LIEBER: They had about three stories in the magazine, drawn by different people.
Q: And when you say you were writing the stories, what exactly were you writing? I mean, what would you -- what would you turn in? What was the form it came in?
LARRY LIEBER: Oh, I would turn in the script.
Q: Okay.
LARRY LIEBER: A script.
Q: Okay. Can you tell me what did a script look like?
LARRY LIEBER: What did a script look like? Well, if it was seven-page story, I would have each page what was on the page. Usually, there were six panels on a page and I would describe the action in the first -- in the first panel. I would have to -- I would have to describe the action to the artist in the first panel, and then if there was a caption like so and so entered, you know, here or a monster was coming to town or something, I would have to write the caption and then I would have to write the dialogue.

I also, you know, I also, in doing this, I had to use the sense of the visual. Comics are different from novels in that it's a visual medium, so you have to be -- know that. And it's also sequential, so the artist has to have a sense of sequence and story. But both are doing them, you know, about playing a part.

But a page of script would have panel one, panel two, panel three. Didn't have to have six panels. Sometimes if there was a lot of action, you might play up that panel and only have five, let's say, one panel across.
Q: Okay. So it wouldn't look like – it wouldn't just be a short story, it would be -- it would describe the –
LARRY LIEBER: Oh, no. It would be panel by panel. No. No.
Q: And where would -- how would you get the idea for the story? How would you know what to write about?
LARRY LIEBER: Well, my brother made up the plot and gave me a synopsis.
Q: And your brother is?
LARRY LIEBER: Stan Lee. I'm sorry.
Q: And did all of the ideas for stories come from Stan Lee or was there any other way you would get ideas?
LARRY LIEBER: No, they all came from Stan Lee.
Q: Did you ever work on -- did you ever get artwork that you would then write the dialogue for, or did you always write the script first?
LARRY LIEBER: I always wrote the script first, except later on, I --
Q: We don't have to worry about -- I'm focusing you, I'm sorry, I'm focusing you on the period 1958 to 1965.
LARRY LIEBER: I would think during that period I always did, but there was a time -- but I don't know when it was, that's why I started to say that -- when I once or twice did it differently. But I always wrote a script here.
Q: Okay.
LARRY LIEBER: I always wrote the script.
Q: Who came up with the ideas for the characters that would be in the story?
LARRY LIEBER: Stan. Well, wait a minute. You say the characters?
Q: Yes.
LARRY LIEBER: Stan. Yes. Yes. Stan, yes. Yes, sure.
Q: Who was responsible for giving you the assignment to write a particular script or a particular --
LARRY LIEBER: Stan.
Q: When he would give you an assignment, did you have a deadline or something that you had to get it back by a certain time?
LARRY LIEBER: I remember -- well, I knew I had to do it fast, and the only thing I remember a little more vividly is with I think it was Jack Kirby where he would say Jack needs work and he was concerned about getting it to him. He said, "Write this," and, you know, sometimes I would write, and if it was weekend, I wouldn't wait until Monday to bring it into the office to give it to Stan, but I remember going over to the West Side, the main post office at night and mailing it.

And I was learning to write in the early years so I wasn't too fast, and Jack was very fast and a wonderful, wonderful artist. So I used to think, gee, well, you know, he draws faster than I can write, but I -- I wrote and mailed it to him.
Q: When you say you were learning to write, what do you mean by that?
LARRY LIEBER: Well, when I started, as I said, Stan said to me, you know, I said I'm not a writer. When he's giving me this, I never thought of writing. He said, and I repeat, he said, "I read your letters and I can teach you what you need." So he did. For the first year or two, you know, I was learning. He would go over my work and, you know, do things. After a while, I did better and I -- and I enjoyed it.
Q: Did he ever make changes to your stories or the scripts you would turn in?
LARRY LIEBER: In those days, yes. Changes in not in the basic story or anything, because I knew how to tell a story as well as anybody, I think, in terms of sequentially and what to draw, what to tell the artist. That was one area because I'm wanting to be an artist myself, and I thought I had a very good sense of the drama and what to put down, what to draw.

But writing was a little different. Stan had his own way of writing and his own -- using as few words as possible, making them count, and he -- he was a good editor. So I learned from him. I learned well enough that I was able to give a course some years later for him.
Q: You mentioned that Stan would give you the synopsis or the plot. How? How would he give that to you? Would he --
LARRY LIEBER: As far as I remember, it was – you mean written. He would give it written to me.
Q: And then after you did the assignment and you -- what would happen? Then you would bring it to the office?
LARRY LIEBER: I would grow to the office with it. Yeah, I would bring it to the office.
Q: And what would happen next?
LARRY LIEBER: He would go over it and, as I said, if it were in the early years, he might correct or change a line or two. But he always used it. He, he -- I never had to, you know, go home and do it again. He was very easy, he was showing me. He said, "Oh, you could have said this. You could have done that," and he'd make some little corrections. And as time went on, he had fewer to make.
Q: Do you know what would happen to the script after Stan went over it and made whatever changes?
LARRY LIEBER: Yeah. It would be sent to the artist, I would guess.
Q: Okay.
LARRY LIEBER: Whether it was, you know, the various artists, yeah.
Q: Did you ever -- did you have any contact with the story after you turned it in and made whatever changes?
LARRY LIEBER: No.
Q: Did you ever have discussions with artists about the stories or the scripts?
LARRY LIEBER: No.
Q: You mentioned Jack Kirby. Did you ever have any interactions with Jack Kirby when he was drawing scripts that you had done?
MR. TOBEROFF: Assumes facts.
LARRY LIEBER: What's that?
Q: Let me take a step back then.
LARRY LIEBER: Yes.
Q: Do you know the story behind the creation of Thor?
LARRY LIEBER: No.
Q: Do you know who came up with the idea for Thor?
LARRY LIEBER: No.
Q: Did you ever work on the comic Thor?
LARRY LIEBER: Yes.
Q: What was your involvement?
LARRY LIEBER: I got the synopsis, the plot from Stan, and I wrote the first script of Thor. That was it.
Q: And when you say "the script," that's what we were talking about before that told panel by panel?
LARRY LIEBER: Panel by panel and description of it, yes.
Q: Did you see any artwork on Thor before you wrote the script?
LARRY LIEBER: I don't recall seeing any. I don't know.
Q: Do you know who, after you turned in the script, do you know who the artist was that drew Thor?
LARRY LIEBER: I believe it was Jack Kirby.
Q: Did you have any conversations or any interactions with Jack Kirby about the Thor book?
LARRY LIEBER: No, not that I recall.
Q: Did you come up with any of the names in Thor?
LARRY LIEBER: Yes.
Q: What did you come up with?
LARRY LIEBER: The civilian name of Don Blake I made up. And I also came up with his hammer. I made that, which people know about. My Uru hammer, I created that.
Q: And where did you get the name Uru hammer?
LARRY LIEBER: I just made it up, as far as I know. I might have read it. I used to -- Stan liked the way I made up names, civilian names, and I used to, from my years of doing these, what do you call it, these fantasy books, monster books, and I used to look at the back of dictionary, Miriam Webster had biographical names and geographical, so I would look in towns and if I liked the town, I might put it. And it was kind of fun and he liked what I did.

Now, I don't know if I found "Uru" someplace or I just made it up or whatever. I know I made it short because I felt that Thor might be around a while and I was always worrying about the letterer or somebody. I was worrying about somebody else's feeling, and I figured, well, if I make it U-R-U, there's not that much to letter. And since nobody knows the name of it, I'll make it a short name. So that's why I did that.

And Don Blake I just thought sounded like a doctor and, you know, to fit the personality. I tried to get names that fit the -- the person.
Q: Who came up with the name Thor, the hero name?
LARRY LIEBER: Not me. I don't know. Stan, I guess. But I don't -- yeah, yeah, Stan.
Q: And just to follow up on something you said, you mentioned a letterer, what was the job of the letterer?
LARRY LIEBER: Well, when the -- when the -- I give a
(break in testimony)
LARRY LIEBER: …and I made it up." He looked a little surprised and walked away, and then I stopped writing it and he would -- I don't know if he was writing it or somebody else, but they gave it another name, which I believe was the authentic name from Bulfinch's Mythology. So ...
Q: Was it the usual practice that you would write a book for a few issues and then you would move on to something else?
LARRY LIEBER: It seems that way. You know, I don't remember. I -- I've been looking at the books and it seems with a few of them I did. I – I wrote a few books, the first issue or the first couple issues, yes. I don't, yeah, I don't know how it came about that way and why I moved on. I don't recall.
Q: Who would make the decision about who was going to write the scripts for a book?
LARRY LIEBER: It would be Stan, I'm sure, as the editor.
Q: Are you familiar with a comic called Iron Man?
LARRY LIEBER: Yes.
Q: And what was your involvement with Iron Man?
LARRY LIEBER: I wrote the first script for Iron Man also.
Q: And who asked you to write the first script for Iron Man?
LARRY LIEBER: Stan. Stan Lee.
Q: Stan Lee. And what -- what did he provide you with or what did he ask you to do?
MR. TOBEROFF: Assumes facts.
LARRY LIEBER: I'm sorry, I --
Q: If you understand the question, you can --
MR. TOBEROFF: That's okay. I'm just objecting for the record.
LARRY LIEBER: Oh, okay.
MS. SINGER: Lawyer stuff.
LARRY LIEBER: What was the question, if I may?
Q: Fair enough. How, how did you come to write the first script for Iron Man?
LARRY LIEBER: He made up a character and he wanted -- and he asked me to write it. And he told me the plot, you know, somehow I got synopsis, and I -- and I wrote it. And again, I made up the civilian name.
Q: And the "he" there is Stan Lee?
LARRY LIEBER: Thank me for Anthony Stark. I'm sorry, what?
Q: I'm sorry, the "he" in that was Stan Lee?
LARRY LIEBER: Yes, Stan Lee.
Q: So you came up with the name Anthony Stark?
LARRY LIEBER: Yes.
Q: And where did you come up with that name?
LARRY LIEBER: I don't know, but I guess I -- I had been writing so many. Again, either I just made it up or I felt it was a name that would fit a guy who was very, very rich and a lady – you know, I wanted -- I thought it sounded distinguished and wealthy or something. Anthony Stark.
Q: I agree. I like it. After you wrote the first – strike that. I'm sorry. And the script that you wrote for Iron Man, was that a full script with the panel breakdown?
LARRY LIEBER: Yes. Yes.
Q: Okay. After you finished writing the first script for Iron Man, what happened? What did you do next with the script?
LARRY LIEBER: I sent it to the artist who -- yeah. Or else I -- I either brought it to the office and handed it to Stan, who must have sent it, or else I sent it. I don't know.
Q: Okay.
LARRY LIEBER: Probably I brought it to the office, I would say.
Q: Do you know who the artist was who drew the first Iron Man?
LARRY LIEBER: You know, I don't remember. It was either Jack or Don Heck, I think. Other people know, and if I had the book, I could tell you. I think it might have been Don Heck, but I'm not sure.
Q: Did you ever look at the pencilled drawings after or look at the inked drawings or look at the final book after you had turned in the script? Did you look at a book again?
LARRY LIEBER: No, I would say I don't recall looking at the book. I don't recall anything until the book came out and I got a copy of it and saw. There would be no reason for me to look at it.
Q: Okay. Do you know whether – strike that. I'm sorry. Did you come up with any of the other elements of Iron Man?
LARRY LIEBER: You mean the -- in the story parts? I don't recall.
Q: Okay.
LARRY LIEBER: I really don't.
Q: Let's talk about Ant-Man.
LARRY LIEBER: That was another one I wrote, and I came up with his name too.
Q: What was Ant-Man's name?
LARRY LIEBER: Henry Pym, P-Y-M.
Q: And how did you come up with his name?
LARRY LIEBER: I think I probably -- in the back of Miriam Webster somewhere there was somebody Pym. And I thought "Henry" sounded like a scientist and "Pym" made it catching and different and exotic. So I came up with that.
Q: How -- what was your involvement, besides coming up with the name Henry Pym, what was your involvement?
LARRY LIEBER: I think I wrote the first -- the first script. I think I did. I believe I did.
Q: And how did you come to write the first script?
LARRY LIEBER: The same way as the other. Stan had said he had an idea for a character, he wanted to write the story and for one of the books and told me or gave me, you know, a synopsis and I went home and wrote it.
Q: Do you remember what the plot was for the first Ant-Man?
LARRY LIEBER: No. No. I'm sorry, I don't.
Q: What did you do after you finished writing the script for the first Ant-Man?
LARRY LIEBER: Well, either I sent it to the person. I think the Ant-Man, I think it was Jack Kirby who drew it, so I would have either sent it to him, if it was late, or I would have brought it to the office and then handed it to Stan.
Q: And just to be clear, the -- when you wrote the script for Ant-Man, that was also with the full breakdown of the panels?
LARRY LIEBER: I believe so.
MR. TOBEROFF: Objection to form.
Q: That's fine. He just didn't like my question.
LARRY LIEBER: Okay.
Q: How did you get paid for the work that you were doing for Marvel, 1958 to 1965?
LARRY LIEBER: It was the same before. It's vague. I put in a voucher. I had a certain page rate, which I don't recall exactly. There were various page rates. I did not get paid as much as Stan, you know, his rate. And I put in a voucher. I assume I - I -- I must have put it in and given it to Stan's office, perhaps his secretary or somebody, I think I did, and then they paid me and I -- I don't remember.

I remember being -- I spent a lot of time in the office then, and I remember being in the office and Milly, who was the bookkeeper, would sometimes come -- would come around and give out checks to the people on staff, I believe, and also to freelancers. Or perhaps the freelancers had a different hour or different day, I don't know. I just remember people saying sometimes, "Oh, you just missed Milly," and if you missed Milly when she was handing out the checks, then you went to bookkeeping and went over to Milly and she opened her drawer and said, "Here's your check." But if you didn't come into the office, I don't remember if they sent them to you. Maybe they then sent them to you at home. I -- I don't recall getting it at home. I know I got paid.
Q: That was my next question. Did you get paid for all the work you did for Marvel?
LARRY LIEBER: Yes. Yes.
MR. TOBEROFF: Objection.
Q: Do you know what Milly's last name was? Do you remember?
LARRY LIEBER: No.
Q: Okay.
LARRY LIEBER: No.
Q: When you received -- were you always paid by check from Marvel?
LARRY LIEBER: You mean as opposed to cash?
Q: Yes.
LARRY LIEBER: No. It was always check. Always check.
Q: Do you recall –
MR. TOBEROFF: Just a second. Could you do me a favor and just pause before answering a question so I have room to object before? I'm supposed to object before you answer.
LARRY LIEBER: Yes.
MR. TOBEROFF: I'm supposed to object before you answer.
LARRY LIEBER: Okay.
MR. TOBEROFF: Sometimes if you answer too rapidly, I would be talking over you. I don't want to do that.
LARRY LIEBER: Okay.
MR. TOBEROFF: Thank you.
Q: When you would receive a check from Marvel, was there anything printed on the check besides, you know, your name and the amount?
MR. TOBEROFF: Objection.
LARRY LIEBER: Yes.
MR. TOBEROFF: Go ahead.
Q: You can answer.
LARRY LIEBER: I paused.
Q: Good work. Was there anything, just to be clear so for the record --
LARRY LIEBER: Yes, there was something printed on the back.
Q: And what was printed on the back of the check?
LARRY LIEBER: I don't recall the exact words, but the gist of it was that I was giving up all rights to it, that the work, you know, now is with the company and -- and I don't remember the exact wording, but I think it was something "giving up your rights" or "all rights." That was the way I interpreted it anyway. I didn't think much about it because I felt the only reason I was doing it was to get paid, you know.
Q: And do you recall that those words or something to that effect being on the back of every check you got from Marvel for that period from 1958 to '65?
MR. TOBEROFF: Objection as to form.
LARRY LIEBER: I don't know the year, you know, all the years and I don't know if it was. I remember in the early years seeing it. Afterwards, I had been so used to it that I wouldn't have noticed if it was still there or not. I didn't think anything of it, so I don't remember if it lasted until '65 or when it stopped or occasionally or whatever.
Q: Do you have any recollection that it stopped at some point?
LARRY LIEBER: No. No.
Q: Let's talk about The Rawhide Kid. Did you have any involvement in The Rawhide Kid?
LARRY LIEBER: Oh, yes. Yes. I wrote The Rawhide Kid and I drew it. It had been written, yeah, before me by Stan and Jack Kirby.
Q: So did you write the first issue of The Rawhide Kid?
LARRY LIEBER: No. No. No. No, I -- I, no, it -- it came when Jack moved on to doing super-heroes.
Q: What -- how did you come to work on Rawhide Kid?
LARRY LIEBER: I don't remember whether I initiated it or Stan offered it to me. I -- I liked – it was an opportunity for me to write and draw the same strip, and that appealed to me. I felt I would have more control over it. And at that
(break in testimony)
MS. SINGER: 19 out of 20 -- 19 out of 30. I'm sorry. The very last line on page19.
MR. TOBEROFF: "Getting back to the writing aspect"?
MS. SINGER: Yes, carrying over.
Q: And you say, "They were full scripts and I didn't think of Jack when I wrote it at all. All I thought of was will Stan like this or will he tell me, 'Larry, this isn't good, you can't do this.' I didn't want to hear something like that." Is that consistent with your recollection?
LARRY LIEBER: Yes.
Q: There's a reference here to "Marvel style." Do you know what that is?
LARRY LIEBER: I believe so. You want me –
Q: What's your understanding of what Marvel style was?
LARRY LIEBER: The Marvel style is what Stan did, or I think I said in the interview it began around the time of the super-heroes and with Jack Kirby, perhaps with others, I don't know. Jack might have been -- I think Jack was the first. And where he would discuss a story or a plot with the artist and the artist would write it -- not write, I'm sorry. The artist would lay it out and draw it with enough knowledge about what the story is and leave room for dialogue to come later.
Q: And the "he" there was Stan Lee?
LARRY LIEBER: I'm sorry?
Q: The "he" when you said "he"?
LARRY LIEBER: Stan Lee. It would be Stan Lee and the artist.
Q: Okay.
LARRY LIEBER: Yeah, that would be -- and I think that was called the Marvel style.
Q: The way -- when we talked about the first script for Iron Man and the first script for Thor and the first script for Ant-Man, were those Marvel style?
LARRY LIEBER: No.
MR. TOBEROFF: Objection to form.
Q: Was the first scripts for Marvel -- strike that. Let me start again. Were the scripts that you wrote for Iron Man, Ant-Man and Thor, were those Marvel style?
LARRY LIEBER: No.

(At this point there was a break where testimony was taken ‘off the record’ at the requests of Marvels lawyer. When Larry Lieber went back ‘on record’, he was being question by Toberoff, who is acting for the Kirby Estate)
Q: You mentioned that you have never been deposed in a lawsuit before.
LARRY LIEBER: No.
Q: Have you ever submitted a, what we call a declaration or affidavit in connection with a lawsuit?
LARRY LIEBER: No.
Q: Do you know what a declaration is?
LARRY LIEBER: I would imagine it's a statement of some kind that you sign or you write. And so, no, not that I recall.
Q: Did you -- were you ever interviewed in connection with any lawsuit previously?
LARRY LIEBER: No. No. The only, and this isn't interviewed, but, no, no, no, no, no.
Q: Moving on to your -- a new subject --career at Marvel, you testified that you began doing freelance work for Marvel in approximately June 1958; is that correct?
LARRY LIEBER: Yes.
Q: And you were writing scripts?
LARRY LIEBER: Yes.
Q: And those scripts were purchased by Marvel?
LARRY LIEBER: Yes.
Q: You also at times did artwork?
LARRY LIEBER: Yes. Yes.
Q: And that artwork was also purchased by
Marvel?
LARRY LIEBER: Yes.
MS. SINGER: Objection to form. Assumes facts. And now this is the part where I ask you same thing he asked you: If you can just give a pause so if I have to jump in with an objection.
LARRY LIEBER: Oh, I didn't -- I'm sorry.
MS. SINGER: That's okay.
LARRY LIEBER: I didn't hear. I'm -
MS. SINGER: No worries. No worries.
LARRY LIEBER: I'm trying to think of the answers so much and I -- yeah, I'll wait.
Q: During all the time you did work with Marvel, did you have a written contract with Marvel?
LARRY LIEBER: No.
MS. SINGER: Good work. Good pause.
Q: When you did free -- when you did freelance work between 1958 and 1964, you did not have a written contract, correct?
LARRY LIEBER: No.
Q: Actually, I said "correct," so your -
LARRY LIEBER: Yes, it's correct.
MS. SINGER: You have to give a pause so he can object to his own questions too.
Q: Now, when you submitted your freelance work to Marvel, whether it's script or artwork, was it -- was it your understanding that Marvel was obligated to purchase that material from you?
MS. SINGER: Objection. Assumes facts.
LARRY LIEBER: My understanding they were not obligated.
Q: And was it your understanding that when they did buy your work, that they owned all rights to it?
MS. SINGER: Objection. Assumes facts.
LARRY LIEBER: Yes.
Q: And that's because they had purchased it from you?
MS. SINGER: Objection.
LARRY LIEBER: Yes.
Q: Now, during the period when Marvel was buying your work, did you submit any work, whether scripts or artwork, to any other publishers?
LARRY LIEBER: No.
Q: Do you know of other, any other writers or artists who are working freelance, on a freelance basis with Marvel, who at that time were also submitting freelance work to other comic book publishers?
LARRY LIEBER: I -- I'm not certain. I know there were artists who work for other companies. I'm not certain whether it was at the same time they were working for Marvel. There were artists and writers who had worked -- I was almost the only one in the profession who couldn't work for another company, which, in this case, the most likely one would have been DC, because Stan was my brother. And -- should I go on?
Q: Please.
LARRY LIEBER: And once I tried, because I couldn't get work from Marvel and I sent some samples of my -- not original artwork because I didn't have it, but I sent some comic books over to DC through a friend of mine, Frank Giacoia, who had worked for them, they knew him. And they didn't give me the work, and Stan had said he wasn't surprised that they didn't because they would be suspicious of me working for them while I'm Stan Lee's brother.

So I always felt I couldn't get work from any other company, and some years later, I met the man who was the, I guess, art director there and we were -- we were chatting, and I happened to bring this up about I sent work over and I never got it, and he looked at me in surprise and said, "You mean that was on the level?" I said "Yes, I needed work."

So, so that was it for me. For others, I don't think that was the case. They could go from one to another, and some of the artists would actually play, you know, one company against another in the sense of saying, "Oh, I've been offered more money there," so if the art director wanted to keep him, he had to, you know, give him -- give him a little more.
Q: Now, again, during the period 1958 to ‘65, where were you living at the time?
LARRY LIEBER: I was living in Tudor City.
Q: And is that where you did your freelance work?
LARRY LIEBER: Yes. I had a furnished room in somebody's apartment. I did my freelance work there.
Q: And did you pay for your own supplies, whatever they were?
LARRY LIEBER: I believe so, yes.
Q: So your own paper and pencils and writing implements?
LARRY LIEBER: Yeah, I -- yeah, I guess.
Q: Did you work on a typewriter?
LARRY LIEBER: Yes.
Q: And did you pay for that typewriter?
LARRY LIEBER: Yes, I -- I remember I went with Stan and I bought it once. We went to a typewriter store on Lexington Avenue and I paid for it, sure.
Q: Now, as a freelancer, if your work was rejected, you wouldn't be paid for that, would you?
MS. SINGER: Objection.
LARRY LIEBER: I felt that they didn't have to pay me for it. It depends. And usually for me, as I saw it, work wouldn't be rejected because they know who they're dealing with and they know what you can do. But they, if they just wanted you to make corrections, they might say, in later years anyway, I think they would have said, "Well, put in a voucher," if they wanted to be nice, "Put in a voucher for production work. You're doing a little production work. Change this or change that."

It didn't happen to me usually, except one instance where I had to do things and I wasn't paid for it.
Q: What is the -- what is the instance you can recall where you had to redo something and weren't paid for that?
LARRY LIEBER: It was after I had done The Rawhide Kid and I was trying, trying to earn a living doing some drawing of covers and also writing, and I wrote various stories.

Well, Marvel was at that time putting out black and white, what we call black and white books. And I don't remember the specific story, but I was working on something and maybe a zombie book or a horror book or some such thing, and I -- I was given -- I had to make up a story.

I made up a plot and I brought it in to the editor, and the editor thought it wasn't good enough and told me to go back and rewrite it, the plot, work on it some more, develop it. So I went back home and I did so, and I came back and I think either he didn't like it a second time or he accepted it, but there was another story that he made me redo again.

My -- the reason I remember is that I was worried about paying my rent, and I wondered, if he doesn't like this, how often do I have to keep redoing this plot. Finally, you know, he did like it and I was allowed to write the script and I got paid for the script.
Q: So you got paid for the script but you weren't paid for your redoing the plot a number of times?
LARRY LIEBER: No. Because if I had been, I might not have been so concerned about my expenses.
Q: Now, when you were paid by the page for the purchase of your work, did they take out any taxes from your checks?
MS. SINGER: Objection.
LARRY LIEBER: No.
Q: Did they -- did Marvel provide you with any paid vacation?
LARRY LIEBER: No.
Q: None whatsoever?
LARRY LIEBER: No. None whatsoever.
Q: For all the time you worked there?
LARRY LIEBER: That I did freelance work for them? No.
Q: Did Marvel provide you with any health insurance or health benefits during the time you worked there?
LARRY LIEBER: Yes.
Q: When was that?
LARRY LIEBER: Years later.
Q: So not in the period 1958 to 1965?
LARRY LIEBER: No. No. No. No. I don't think so,
(break in testimony)
Q: Moving to a different subject, you testified earlier that it was your recollection that there were legends on the back of checks you received from Marvel for your freelance work?
LARRY LIEBER: Writing on the back, yes.
Q: And we'll just call that writing legends for purposes -
LARRY LIEBER: Okay, I didn't know the term. Yeah, something printed.
Q: And is it fair to say you don't know when those legends first started appearing?
MS. SINGER: Objection.
LARRY LIEBER: I think I had them at the very beginning when I started writing. I think I had them then because I -- I don't recall thinking there was something new, but perhaps, perhaps they weren't there. So I don't really know.
Q: And was it your understanding that the import of the writing on the back of these checks was that by signing the check and accepting payment for your work, you were transferring over to Marvel all rights in your work?
MS. SINGER: Objection.
LARRY LIEBER: Yes, it was my understanding.
Q: And do you recall -- strike that. On the checks you received for your freelance work, did they have language stating that your work was work made for hire?
LARRY LIEBER: No. No.
Q: When is the first time you heard the phrase "work made for hire," if any?
LARRY LIEBER: The first time. I don't know which came first, but I've only heard it recently in the last year or so, once from you using it to me in a conversation, and then I -- I looked up the case out of curiosity on the Internet and they were talking about it and they mentioned it as being an important thing or was it work for hire or not.

And then there was -- maybe not there, but I know I -- maybe it was -- it was there and also in the New York Times they had an article about this case some time ago, and in the article they mentioned again what it was about.

I -- I don't understand the things very well.
(break in testimony)
LARRY LIEBER: Well, this must have been a Hulk story and I have the originals at home. I don't remember when I first got them. I don't remember the year, but I obtained them when they were discarded.
Q: Can you tell me how you came into possession specifically of these drawings?
LARRY LIEBER: They -- I was in the office, the Marvel office. It probably was at -- no, it must have been at the -- on 57th Street when they were there on Madison, and Jack Kirby came out of Stan's office from -- and from the direction of Stan's office. He may, probably, he had come out of Stan's office, and he seemed upset. And he took the drawings, he had these drawings, he took them and he tore them in half and he threw them in a trash can, a large trash can.

And I, since I was such a big fan of his, I knew that at the end of the day, they would be discarded, you know, and would be trash. And I -- I saw it as an opportunity to have some of his originals to keep, to look at and study, and so I took them out of the trash can.

And there were other people in the office, but nobody else seemed to have noticed this, which I was glad about, and I just took them, walked over to where I was sitting and put them in my case. And I took them home and I taped them together, you know, I taped them all, and I kept them and I've kept them all these years to look at them and, as I say, to study them.

Q: If you look at the center of the page, you see a line going through the center of the first page, the third, fourth, fifth and sixth pages?
LARRY LIEBER: Yeah.
Q: Do you see that line?
LARRY LIEBER: Yes, I see the line.
Q: Is that because those pages were originally ripped in half?
LARRY LIEBER: Yeah, that's where it was ripped and I have tape on them.
Q: And the black marks on the left and right-hand margins -
LARRY LIEBER: Scotch tape.
Q: -- in this photostat copy are scotch tape?
LARRY LIEBER: Yes.
Q: Have you scotch-taped them together?
LARRY LIEBER: Yes.
Q: What was your understanding of why or your impression of why Jack Kirby was upset when he tore these up and threw them in the trash?
LARRY LIEBER: I didn't know. I didn't speak to him. I assumed, seeing a man walk out of the office and tear his artwork up, that -- or I thought probably they were rejected and he was annoyed or disgusted. I didn't, you know, and I didn't know what it was. I didn't hear anything, so I just -- that was my first assumption, but I didn't know.
(Lieber Exhibit 6, an excerpt from Jack Kirby Collector Forty-One, marked for identification, as of this date.)

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