Friday, June 28, 2013

In Their Own Words: Who Created The Avengers? Stan & Jack Speak!



It’s a futile exercise to argue against who created The Avengers, as a concept and book – that’d be Stan Lee and Jack Kirby.  But who created the individual members?  Now that’s an entirely different, and pertinent, question.  Much like the members of the Fantastic Four, ascertaining who did what and when brings forth a series of conflicting statements and comments actually pose more questions than they answer.  One thing is apparent though, in this case Jack Kirby is the common denominator, it’s generally accepted that he was there when Captain America was created, but, certainly once he passed away, Joe Simon went out of his way reduce Kirby’s involvement to that of a mere spectator.  As Simon told it, he (Simon) did the heavy lifting; so to speak, Kirby merely drew the first issue, working from a Simon script over Simon lay-outs.  When alive, Kirby told a different story, a story that didn’t change from when it was first told, under oath, in a deposition during Joe Simon’s first lawsuit against Marvel in the mid-1960s, through to when it was last told, in an interview given in 1990 for Marvel Age.  People often judge Stan Lee harshly when it comes to giving Jack Kirby credit, but, in his own way, Joe Simon was just as bad.

Confusion still lies with the other characters who appeared in the first Avengers book (and, yes, I am aware that Captain America didn’t appear until the fourth issue).  The Hulk was either all Kirby or collaboration between Lee and Kirby.  Thor was either all Kirby, after all he did write and draw a character called Thor for DC Comics in the 1950s, but then Steve Ditko also drew a hammer wielding Thor for Charlton Comics in the 1950s as well.  Larry Lieber steadfastly maintains that he wrote the first issue, full script, and all the elements of the character, including names, were in that script.

Iron Man is much the same.  According to Kirby he wrote the first issue, drew the cover and provided breakdowns for Don Heck to pencil over.  Larry Lieber, again, maintains that he wrote the first full script, created the names and situations and Don Heck always maintained that Kirby’s involvement in that issue only extended to the cover, according to Heck he, Don Heck, drew the first appearance of Iron Man with no assistance, breakdowns or otherwise, from Jack Kirby. 

As with anything from the Silver Age of Marvel, much of what follows is a case of he said-he said.  The people involved often contradict each other and the real truth, if we were to ever find and believe it, possibly lies between the lines.

THE AVENGERS - THE FOUNDERS + 1

Captain America

JACK KIRBY:  We were both very young, I was about twenty at the time, looking for jobs, working various jobs in advertising and other things. You have to remember that Siegel and Shuster created Superman when they were just kids, and we were not all that much older ourselves - it's proof that the ordinary, average man can do great things.

It was a time of deep passion. Hitler was grabbing all of Europe, we had Nazis in America, Nazis holding mass meetings in Madison Square Garden. It may be hard to know in your generation what it was like, the fervor about the War, and what was our country going to do about it. Captain America was created in that atmosphere; he was a natural outgrowth of the passionate mood of the country.[a]

JOE SIMON:  We needed a hero who would go up against Hitler. Even though the United States wasn't in the war, we read the newspapers. We knew what was happening in Europe, and we were outraged by the Nazis - totally outraged. We thought it was a good time for a patriotic hero. I did a sketch of him with a chain mail tunic, and wings on the side of his mask like Mercury, the god from Roman mythology. I gave him a shield, like the ones the knights had carried (my love of King Arthur paid off!) He got his powers from a shot, and in that way it was a lot like Blue Bolt. (One of my writers once said to me, "If you've got a good idea you should use it at least four times.")

And that's how Captain America was created.[b]

JACK KIRBY:  Captain America was created by Joe and myself.  Goodman wanted a new super-hero and we gave him one. Joe had an apartment on Riverside Drive, and we worked on him one night. It was a time when we knew we were all going to be drafted.  Married, or drafted.[c]

JOE SIMON:  I was negotiating with Timely about Captain America before Jack joined me.  He was working for Fox at the time.  I was in place with Captain America before Jack came over to Timely.  Without Jack it might not have been so successful.  I give him all the credit in the world.   
But I can’t say he was there at the beginning when he wasn’t.[d]

JACK KIRBY:  I met Joe Simon at a place called Victor Fox just before I came here. He was here as a production man before I came here. We were artists for Fox and he might have been doing some production work too. I was hired by Joe Simon to come to work as an artist for Marvel, which was then called Timely, shortly before World War II began, probably in late 1939 or early 1940.

I believe Joe Simon was an editor at the time in charge of production of the comic magazines. I was hired as an artist to work full time on a regular salary to help create comic magazines and characters. The offices at that time were is the McGraw Hill Building. There were no set comic characters as such at Timely at the time I was hired. They were created by us to produce the comic magazines. Many of the characters were not in existence at the time and bad to be produced from the top of our heads. The characters that were becoming the strongest were the superman-type characters. These were the strongest selling types as the country was beginning to be in a patriotic stir; military names such as Major... Captain... etc. were saleable.
Discussions took place in the old McGraw Hill offices practically every day on the basis creation of characters and the framework in which to present them: what type of villain would they need to face the personalities involved and the typo of gadget to be used. The characters began to evolve from those discussions; there were sketches made of the characters and their costumes, and these were changed and modified until they assumed what we considered the correct appearance of the product we sought. We used Hitler and the Nazis as perfect villains. There was also the matter of remolding a character. We first drew the Captain America shield, for example, as a tricornered shield, and there was a discussion as to whether it should be circular. There were scales to be put in the upper about part of the figure; it was a popular form for the decoration of a super-hero. The discussions were primarily between Joe Simon and myself in the Timely office. This was the beginning of our partnership because we worked so well together. There was an exchange of ideas until we had a finished product that we believed would gain reader interest.[e]

JOE SIMON:  I stayed up all night sketching the usual athletic figure: mailed armor jersey, bulging arm and chest muscles, skin-hugging tights, gloves, and boots flapping and folded beneath the knee. I drew a star on his chest, stripes from the belt to a line below the star, and colored the costume red, white and blue. I added a shield. (As a child, I had been hung up on shields, barrel staves that were good defensive weapons against stones in a tough neighborhood.) The design seemed to work; the muscles of the torso rippled gallantly under the red and white stripes.[f]

JACK KIRBY:  In the course of the discussions we first evolved a main character and then began to build around him. I suggested the use of a side-kick whom we named Bucky.  Joe designed the type of lettering to be used on the Captain, America cover; it was the only thing I couldn't do. All my work for Timely was basically super-hero oriented.[g]

JOE SIMON:  There was one thing bothering me though: he had to have a companion. A comic book hero without a henchman would be talking to himself throughout much of the action. He would be forced to describe his thoughts through a device known as "thought balloons" - a series of bubbles containing the speech lettering coming out of his mouth. (This device could slow down the story if overused.) I sketched a boy with matching colors and a simpler costume. Too many stars and stripes were sure to confuse the colorist.

I wrote the name "Super American" at the bottom of the page. No, it didn't work. There were too many "Supers" around. "Captain America" had a good sound to it. There weren't a lot of captains in comics. It was as easy as that. The boy companion was simply named Bucky, after my friend Bucky Pierson, a star on our high school basketball team.[h]

JACK KIRBY:  The general outlines for Captain America we worked out together. There were times when I would come up with a theme that we both thought would make a good story, and I worked it out in its entirety. Joe was more preoccupied with other things as production editor, but sometimes he would suggest a story which I would work out. Joe was very busy and didn't have time to do any himself.[i]

JOE SIMON:  Kirby didn't design it. I did that with Martin Goodman. We were passing sketches back and forth before Kirby was even in on it. We just gave Kirby scripts, and layouts. Before Kirby got it, we had the costume and everything. That's all Kirby got.[j]

JACK KIRBY:  I had a unique storytelling ability, so although he was quite capable of doing so, he never had to write the stories.  I’d write the stories on Captain America or whatever we’d be working on and Joe did business with the publisher because he could meet the publisher on equal footing.[k]

STAN LEE:  We tried two or three times to resurrect Captain America in the 1950s. I don’t know who wrote the resurrection stories, but they never worked out.  We weren't publishing Captain America because Martin Goodman thought it was just a World War II character and people wouldn't be interested in it anymore.  Then, at some point I must have said, ‘Jesus, we brought back The Torch and we brought back Sub-Mariner.  They weren’t even a triumvirate; they were the three biggest ones. Let’s try to bring back Captain America.’

I always loved the character, so I decided to bring it back, besides, I was looking for another character for The Avengers and he seemed perfect. We didn’t have a character like Captain America. I tried to write a story where he had been frozen in a glacier for years, and they found him and he came back to life, and so forth. The only thing I said, ‘I’m not going to bring them back the same way, I’m going to try to give them some personality.’ So I said to myself, ‘Now what the hell kind of personality can I give them?’ There was no personality left; everybody had the whole gamut of personalities. I felt, maybe I can make him unhappy; I’ll make him a brooding kind of guy.

He’s a guy who worries about the fact that he’s an anachronism, he was born twenty years too early or too late, he feels out of sync in today’s time. He was living in our day, but yet he had the values of 20 or 30 years ago.  And I’ll make him the most natural leader that any group could have, because he has all these leadership qualities. But he’s never quite happy with what he’s doing: does he belong here? Should he?

JACK KIRBY:  The idea is to dramatize that kind of background with good stories. In Sky Masters, the daily strip I did dealing with space, I had to dramatize prosaic objects. I've always dealt with ordinary people. Captain America was an ordinary person - until they experimented on him.[l]

STAN LEE:  The one line I wrote that I liked the best – at one point, when he was soliloquizing, I had him say something about war, he used to follow orders all the time and he did whatever the government said to do and at one point I had him say, ‘I wonder if I should have battled less and questioned more?’ And the reason I remember the line, I must have had five hundred million college kids over the next few years saying how they thought that was terrific. “I always felt every character has to have a distinctive quality and when I was a kid and I read Captain America, the thing that impressed me-he was like Errol Flynn, I mean, he was such a beautiful man, he was so glamorous and handsome and I wanted to be Captain America! Sometimes I see him drawn now in some strips and he’s just a big, tough lookin’ guy. To me, he’s not Captain America. But that was my feeling about it.  I tried to make him a little bit interesting.  Jack just drew him so beautifully, and the stories worked out so well that he became part of the Marvel superhero characters, the one that I did not create.

JACK KIRBY:  He sold nearly a million copies, right off the bat, which was phenomenal for what was still a rather frowned-upon business, the business of comics.  But you know, your mother would be asking you rather suspiciously, "Just what kind of job do you have?" Comics were basically a local industry, and working in comics was considered really a radical thing to do.

The Nazis may be gone, but we do have problems in the world for Captain America to face.  There's the problem of the homeless, which is a major concern in this country, there's the drug crisis. These things warrant a lasting place in Captain America. What it comes down to is, Captain America is always a timely character, because he provides an occasion for a good storyteller. As long as you have a good story to tell, Captain America will endure.[m]
The Hulk

JACK KIRBY:  The Hulk I took from one of the monster stories I'd done.  I took the Hulk name and made a superhero out of him because I felt it was realistic," he explains. "There's a Hulk in all of us. It was a natural. They were going to discontinue it after the third issue because they had no faith in it. The Hulk was saved when a couple of guys came up from Columbia University with a list of 200 names saying that the Hulk was the Mascot of their dormitory. I said, For God's sake, don't stop the Hulk now! We've got the college crowd!' We'd never had the college crowd. They would never read a comic book before, but this time they were reading them because I was slanting them to a universal audience. My job is to do a comic book which attracts everybody. If I did a motion picture, I would have the same kind of challenge. My job was entertainment and that's what I did![n]

STAN LEE:  I was trying to think again what I can do that's different. I liked the Thing very much, and I thought what if I get somebody who is a real monster? And I remembered I had always in the old movie Frankenstein with Boris Karloff I had always thought that that monster was the good guy because he didn't want to hurt anybody, but those idiots with torches who were always chasing him up and down the hills.  I thought it would be fun to get a monster that is really good but nobody knows it, and they fight him. But then the more I thought about it, I figured it could be dull after a while just having people chasing a monster. And I remember Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. I thought; why not treat him like Jekyll and Hyde? He's really a normal man who can't help turning into a monster, and it would make a very interesting story if when he needs his monstrous strength the most, the poor guy turns back into a normal man. I could get a lot of story complications. So I thought that would be good. 

I needed a name. Years ago I remember there was a comic book called The Heap, H-E-A-P. I don't remember even what he was, but I always thought that was some real crazy name. And somehow or other I thought I will call him The Hulk. It's a little like The Heap, and it has that same feeling. But I love adjectives like the Fantastic Four, the Uncanny so-and-so, so I decided I'll call him The Incredible Hulk. 

Next we had to figure out how The Hulk came to be The Hulk. So I decided he's a scientist named Bruce Banner. And I'm not very scientific. All I know are the names of things. I don't really know how they work or anything. I had used cosmic rays for the Fantastic Four to get them their powers and I heard the expression "gamma ray" somewhere.  So I said let's let Bruce Banner be subjected to a gamma ray, and that turns him into The Hulk. But it had to be in a heroic way. I said the military is doing a test for a new kind of gamma ray bomb somewhere and some idiot teenager is riding his bike past the no trespassing sign onto the test area. Bruce Banner in his cubicle sees the kid, he runs out to save the kid, and says, "Get out of here.  There's going to be a gamma ray explosion."  But Bruce Banner had a rival scientist who was jealous of him, and when the scientist sees Bruce Banner run out, he says, "Quick. Start the explosion." And the gamma ray explodes, Bruce throws himself on top of the kid to save the kid, and he gets subjected to the gamma ray. That's how he becomes the Hulk, and that's how we know he's really a hero at heart. 

JACK KIRBY:  The Hulk was my creation. It was simply Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. I was borrowing from the classics. They are the most powerful literature there is.[o]

STAN LEE:  When I did the Fantastic Four, we started getting a lot of fan mail. The fans said, “We love the book. It's great. Oh, it's the best new thing we've seen. But if you don't give them costumes, we'll never buy another issue.”  And I realize there's something unique about the comic book reader. They love costumes.  I couldn't figure out a way to give a monster a costume. I couldn't see a monster, The Hulk, walking into a costume store or making one for himself.  So I figured I'll do the next best thing. I'll give him a different skin color. That will always look like a costume.  You may not know this, but originally I made him gray. I thought that a gray skin would look spooky and scary and dramatic. But when the book was published, the printer apparently had a problem with the color gray.  On one page he was light gray. On one page dark gray. On one page black. On one page almost white. I said this will never do. So I decided on another color. See, you can do that when you're a comic book editor. You can do anything.  So I will change the color of his skin. So I looked around for a color that wasn't being used. I couldn't think of any green hero. I said, I will make him green. And it turned out to be a good choice, because I was able to come up with little sayings like, The Jolly Green Giant, or the Green Goliath, and so forth. And that's how it happened. I could have thought of pink or blue or any other color. 

JACK KIRBY:  The Hulk I created when I saw a woman lift a car. Her baby was caught under the running board of this car. The little child was playing in the gutter and he was crawling from the gutter onto the sidewalk under the running board of this car - he was playing in the gutter. His mother was horrified. She looked from the rear window of the car, and this woman in desperation lifted the rear end of the car. It suddenly came to me that in desperation we can all do that - we can knock down walls; we can go berserk, which we do. You know what happens when we’re in a rage - you can tear a house down. I created a character who did all that and called him the Hulk.

I inserted him in a lot of the stories I was doing. Whatever the Hulk was at the beginning I got from that incident. A character to me can’t be contrived. I don’t like to contrive characters. They have to have an element of truth. This woman proved to me that the ordinary person in desperate circumstances can transcend himself and do things that he wouldn’t ordinarily do. I’ve done it myself. I’ve bent steel.[p]

I saw him as a kind of handsome Frankenstein.  I never felt The Hulk was a monster, because I felt the Hulk was me. I feel all the characters were me.  Being a monster is just a surface thing. I won’t accept that either because I want to know why The Hulk jumps around, what the limits of his strength are. I feel that The Hulk’s strength is unlimited for some damn reason I don’t understand. It's just unlimited and when I had him fight with The Thing, I felt The Hulk broke it off at a point where he hasn't fully tested his strength.

BILL EVERETT:  There was a lot of controversy about how the Hulk should look. Stan kept trying to tell me what he wanted and tried to express himself, but to describe that character would be pretty hard for anybody. And so, finally, he just threw up his hands and said, "Well, draw him the way you want to. Give me your conception of what he should look like."

So I did and he liked it. So that's the way I wound up doing it, but you notice that the first two or three issues I did, he was a little bit different in each issue because Stan kept saying, "Well, this issue let's try to do him this way, make this change, make that change," so eventually he said, "Well, do him the way you want to." And I was doing it that way when I stopped doing him and started doing Doc Strange.[q]

STAN LEE:  I was looking for something different and bigger than anything else and I figured, what could be bigger than a god?  People were pretty much into the Roman and the Greek gods by then, and I thought the Norse gods might be good. I liked the sound of the name Thor and Asgaard and the Twilight of the Gods' Ragnarok and all of that. Jack was very much into that, more so than me, so when I told Jack about that, he was really thrilled. We got together, and we did Thor the same way.  I wanted him to be the son of Odin, who is the King of the Gods, like Jupiter. And I wanted him to have an evil brother, Loki. And just like the Fantastic Four were always fighting Dr. Doom, and Spider-Man was usually fighting the Green Goblin, I figured Loki would be the big villain. 

He's Thor's half-brother. He's jealous of Thor.  He has enchantment powers. So in a way he's a good foe. Thor has strength, but Loki is like a magician and can do all kind of things. So that seemed good to me.  Then Thor had a girlfriend from legend called Sif, S-I-F. And I would have her involved in the stories and have jealousy.  I wanted some comedy relief, so I decided there were three guys. I called them The Warriors that I wanted to include a very fat guy named Volstag, The Voluminous Volstag, I called him, who acts like a real hero. "Come on, let's go get them." But when the fights start, he's cowardly and always holds back.  Another guy like Errol Flynn called Fandral the Dashing and a guy like Charles Bronson in Death Wish. I think I called him Hogan the Grim. And the three of them, Fandral the Dashing, Hogan the Grim, and Volstag the Voluminous I thought they could be Thor's friends, and they would provide comedy relief.  And it was something that we both enjoyed doing very much. And Jack was wonderful with the costumes that he gave them. I mean, nobody could have drawn costumes like he gave them. 

Joe Simon and Jack Kirby's pre-Marvel Comics Thor for DC Comics (1957)
JACK KIRBY:  I did a version of Thor for D.C. in the Fifties before I did him for Marvel. He had a red beard but he was a legendary figure, which I liked. I liked the figure of Thor at D.C. and I created Thor at Marvel because I was forever enamored of legends. I knew all about these legends which is why I knew about Balder, Heimdall and Odin. I tried to update Thor and put him in a superhero costume. He looked great in it and everybody loved him, but he was still Thor.[r]

STAN LEE:I asked my brother, Larry Leiber, to write the script. He wrote it and Jack drew it and again it turned out to be great (Larry did a good job too). When I saw we were going to continue it, that's when I started writing a lot of them.Larry named the hammer the Uru hammer. I never had heard of Uru and I don't think Larry had either…most don't know he just made it up.[s]

LARRY LIEBER:  When Stan made up Thor and he gave him to me and said, “This guy has got a hammer and swings it around”.  I guess the hammer I felt it had to have a name.  Maybe Stan said it, I don’t remember.  I just know because, there’s going to be a name, I said, “What the hell kind of a name I’ll give to the hammer”, so it just came to me.  I used to look at it in the back of the dictionary, Miriam Webster’s they have geographical places and they have biographical names and a lot I would take from that according to what the character was, what a person was and that’s where I must have gotten Henry Pym or I got the name Pym from an English scientist.  It sounds like an English scientist; and so somehow I made up the name and I wanted it to be short, I’m always thinking of the lettering.  I also think of other people, I don’t want to put a burden on the inker, on the letterer, so I said, “Uru”.  I made up the name Uru, U-R-U.[t]

STAN LEE:  Thor had a hammer, an enchanted hammer. The back story was I decided to make him a guy here on Earth, he was lame and he walked with a cane. And for some reason he went to Norway, and there he met the Stone-Men from Saturn or somewhere, aliens who were stone men had landed in Norway and they wanted to kill our doctor.  He rushes into a cave somewhere to hide from them. As they're coming toward him, but he sees a hammer in the ground, and some kind of a sign that said -- I don't remember the exact wording, whoever is worthy would be able to lift this hammer, sort of like the King Arthur legend.  He grabs the hammer, and he's able to lift it up, it seems that destiny had prepared that for him over the centuries. The minute it lifts it up, he turns into The Thunder God Thor, and wielding the hammer the takes care of the Stone-Men. He can always become Dr. Don Blake, if he hits the hammer on the ground, it turns back into the cane that he always had because he was lame. He walked with a cane as Dr. Don Blake.  So he's a surgeon, who walks with a cane, but when he hits the cane on the ground, he turns into the mighty Thor, God of Thunder. And that was the idea.

JACK KIRBY:  I came up with Thor because I’ve always been a history buff. I know all about Thor and Balder and Mjolnir, the hammer. Nobody ever bothered with that stuff except me. I loved it in high school and I loved it in my pre-high school days. It was the thing that kept my mind off the general poverty in the area. When I went to school that’s what kept me in school - it wasn’t mathematics and it wasn’t geography; it was history.  I researched it and gave my version of it. Stan gave his version of it. Stan humanized it in a way where, for instance, I might be concerned about Thor’s relation to the other gods. I might bring up aUlik or I might bring up something out of the wild blue yonder, like the Oracle – that great big thing which nobody knew anything about. I tried to fathom it myself. And Stan would come down to Earth and find Thor’s relationship with Earth people. In other words, we go up and down the spectrum.  All through the years, certainly, I've had a kind of affection for any mythological type of character, and my conception of what they should look like. And here Stan gave me the opportunity to draw one, and wasn't going to draw back from really letting myself go, so I did, and, like, the world became a stage for me there, and t had a costume department that really went to work. I gave the Norse characters twists that they never had in anybody's imagination. And somehow it turned out to be a lot of fun, and I really enjoyed doing it.[u]

Jack Kirby wasn't the only artist to draw Thor, complete with a hammer, pre-Marvel Comics.  Here's Steve Ditko's rendention of Thor, done for Charlton Comics in 1959 (Out Of This World #11). 
Unlike the Kirby DC Thor, Ditko's Charlton Thor resembles the Marvel Thor that would come later.
STAN LEE:  I always say that Jack is the greatest mythological creator in the world. When we kicked Thor around, and we came out with him, and I thought he would just be another book. And I think that Jack has turned him into one of the greatest fictional characters there are. In fact, I should let Jack say this, but just on the chance that he won't, somebody was asking him how he gets his authenticity in the costumes and everything, and I think a priceless answer, Jack said that they're not authentic. If they were authentic, they wouldn't be authentic enough. But he draws them the way they should be, not the way they were.[v]

LARRY LIEBER:  I got the synopsis, the plot from Stan, and I wrote the first script of Thor.  That was it.  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.  I just made it up, as far as I know.  I might have read it.  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. 

STAN LEE:  After writing only the plots for the next dozen or so stories while Larry did a splendid scripting job, I then started doing the complete scripts myself because I liked the character so much. That freed Larry up to write and draw his favorite Westerns.[w]

JACK KIRBY:  I loved Thor because I loved legends. I’ve always loved legends. Stan Lee was the type of guy who would never know about Balder and who would never know about the rest of the characters. I had to build up that legend of Thor in the comics.  I built up Loki. I simply read Loki was the classic villain and, of course, all the rest of them. I even threw in the Three Musketeers. I drew them from Shakespearean figures. I combined Shakespearean figures with the Three Musketeers and came up with these three friends who supplemented Thor and his company, and this is the way I kept these strips going by creative little steps like that.[x]

STAN LEE:  I don't think that I ever would have specifically said, "Jack, I would like you to write," because I never thought of Jack as a writer, but he was certainly a great plotter. Certainly 90 percent of the "Tales of Asgard" stories were Jack's plots, and they were great! He knew more about Norse mythology that I ever did or at least he enjoyed making it up.  I was busy enough just putting in the copy after he drew it.[y]


STAN LEE:  With the Hulk and the X-Men and Iron Man, I wanted to use Jack for everything, but I couldn't because he was just one guy.  I was looking for somebody new.  I don't know why I thought it, but I thought what if it was somebody in a suit of armor and what if it was iron armor. He would be so powerful.  I have always been fascinated by Howard Hughes. I thought I would get a hero like Howard Hughes.  He's an inventor. He's a multimillionaire.  He's good looking. He likes the women. But I’ve got to make something tragic about him.  Then it occurred to me if he -- somehow when he got his iron armor -- it's a long story -- but he gets into a fight, and he gets injured in his chest. And his heart is injured, and he has to wear this little thing that runs the iron armor.  He has to wear that on his chest because it also keeps his heart beating. And that would make him a tragic figure as well as the most powerful guy. So I thought the readers would like him even more with that little bit added to it.  I wanted him to be a playboy, so he has this gorgeous assistant secretary named Pepper Pots. And he's in love with her, and she's in love with him, but he won't admit he's in love with her because he figures he could die any minute with his bad heart. And he loves her too much to make her a widow, and so he never admits to her how he feels about her, which again is a little touch of pathos for the series.  He also has a friend named Happy Hogan, and it goes on and on.  And that was it.  I asked Don Heck because Jack was busy with something else.  With Iron Man I still wanted Jack to do the cover, though. 

LARRY LIEBER:  I wrote the first script for Iron Man.  Stan made up a character and he asked me to write it. And he told me the plot, somehow I got synopsis, and I wrote it. And again, I made up the civilian name.  I just felt it was a name that would fit a guy who was very, very rich and a lady, I thought it sounded distinguished and wealthy or something. Anthony Stark.

DON HECK:  Pepper Potts, I guess her name was. Well, when I was doing Pepper, I was thinking of Schultzie, who was the secretary on that TV show (Bob Cummings Show).[z]

JACK KIRBY:  I felt, for a while, like I was doing them all. The stuff I wasn't penciling, I was doing lay-outs on. I got the books going - I think that was mainly my function - so that, as Marvel acquired a top-notch staff, they could keep them going. You should remember that prior to this the entire staff consisted of Stan Lee, Sol (Brodsky) and Artie (Simek). Artie was in the most secure position, because no matter what, the books had to be lettered.

I laid out the first Iron Man and plotted it and Don Heck finished it up. Same with Daredevil - Bill Everett penciled it over my break-downs. And I'd pass them on to other people.[aa]

DON HECK:  I did the first Iron Man story.  They have it listed that Jack Kirby did the breakdowns, but that's not true. I did it all. They just didn't bother to call me up and find out when they wrote up the credits. It doesn't really matter. Jack Kirby created the costume and he did the cover for the issue. In fact the second costume, the red and yellow one, was designed by Steve Ditko. I found it easier than drawing that bulky old thing. The earlier design, the robot- looking one, was more Kirbyish.  I did the character bits, the scenes with Pepper Potts and Happy Hogan, and Tony Stark, and all the other things like that. But what happens with something like that is that the cover is due, like a month before, so Jack makes up a cover for Iron Man, and the character's design is right there on it. Then Stan calls me up and says, "You're doing a character called Iron Man."  That's about it.  Jack Kirby is the one who created most of those characters.  He's the one who was always in there, and he's the one who was developing all those characters. Stan and he would get together, and they'd start discussing it together.  I try not to brush the truth into the corner. It's what it is. [bb]

STAN GOLDBERG:  Iron Man was gray in his first story because it made more sense. The color of iron is gray. But we changed it to yellow because it looked better. Now he didn't look like a robot and wasn't as scary-looking.[cc]


LARRY LIEBER:  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.  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.



[a]Marvel Age #95 (Marvel Comics, December 1990)
[b] The Comic Book Makers; Joe Simon (1998)
[c] Jack Magic Vol II; Greg Theakston (2011)
[d] The Comic Journal #219 (January 2000)
[e] Jack Kirby Deposition, Simon v Marvel (1966)
[f] The Comic Book Makers; Joe Simon (1998)
[g] Jack Kirby Deposition, Simon v Marvel (1966)
[h] The Comic Book Makers; Joe Simon (1998)
[i] Jack Kirby Deposition, Simon v Marvel (1966)
[j] Comic Book Marketplace #62 (August 1998)
[k]The Golden Age Of Comics #6 (New Media Publishing, 1983)
[l] Comics File Magazine #2 (Psi Fi Movie Press 1986)
[m]Marvel Age #95 (Marvel Comics, December 1990)
[n] Comics Feature #44 (May 1986)
[o] Comics Scene #2 (March 1982)
[p] The Comics Journal #134 (February 1990)
[q] Alter Ego Vol 1, #11 (1978)
[r]The Golden Age Of Comics #6 (New Media Publishing, 1983)
[s] Comic Book Marketplace #61 (July 1998)
[t] AI with Larry Lieber (2007)
[u] The Comics Journal #134 (February 1990)
[v] WBAI RadioNY (March 3rd, 1967)
[w] Stan Lee Excelsior (Fireside, 2002)
[x] The Comics Journal #134 (February 1990)
[y] Stan Lee Conversations, pgs 151-152
[z] Comics Feature #21 (1984)
[aa] Jack Kirby Interview, Comic Art Convention (1975)
[bb] Comics Feature #34 (1985)
[cc] Alter Ego #18 (October 2002)
(where a quote has not been marked it was taken from depositions given in the Marvel vs. Kirby case)



2 comments:

T Guy said...

Hi, Danny - that red-bearded Thor in the 'Sandman' story is from a lot earlier than 1957 - sometime in the early 'forties.

Unknown said...

The later DC Thor is covered here: http://marvelmasterworksfansite.yuku.com/topic/5088/Kirbys-1957-Thor-Prototype#.UdDsBpzNkx4