1986: Jack Kirby Meets Stan Lee

Generally when you see a latter day quote from Jack Kirby about Stan Lee they're not that kind or gentle.  At the time when this interview was done Jack was fighting Marvel to get his artwork back (and despite what Jim Shooter might want to say to the contrary, Jack Kirby never brought legal action against Marvel as a bargaining tool - seriously Jim, prove it with some solid evidence and not just your word) and wasn't in any form of a contrite mood towards Marvel or Stan Lee.  With that in mind, the following excerpt from the interview is a bit more revealing than you'd expect and  it does go a long way to dispel the popular myth that Stan and Jack were fighting until the end.  As meetings go this one sounds fairly happy, all things considered.

The interview was done in 1986, the interviewer was Mark Borax.

MARK: Since so much of your work thrives on conflict, do you think that, like John Lennon and Paul McCartney, there was a conflict between you and Stan that lent a kind of dynamic to the work you created together?
JACK: There was never a conflict between me and Stan. I understand Stan very well. There are times when — uh, I feel that he's cheating himself.
MARK: In what way?
JACK: By not — not enjoying life. By not being the guy he really could be. See —I mentioned this yesterday to him. I know his brother Larry has nothin' to prove —he knows who he is. Larry Lieber's a wonderful guy, you could talk to him and you'll both have a great time. Stan is different, in many, many ways. Why, I don't know. I'm not a guy who's gonna stop long enough to define it. There are many ways I feel that Stan is cheating himself, by hiding somewhere. He's hiding. That's the feeling I get.
MARK: You were talking to him about this yesterday, at the convention?
JACK: Yes.
MARK: Was it just the two of you alone?
JACK: It was me, him, and Jim Shooter. I told him that he should be more like Larry and just relax and have a great time.
MARK: What did he say?
JACK: He agreed! We got along amicably.
MARK: That's great!
JACK: Yeah! The only thing is — I'm trying to get my pages back and I can't understand why there's such a struggle. Or why there's a struggle over who did what or who created what. There's no `reason for that, 'cause Stan and I know. Nobody else knows. And if — if Stan would only come out of that hiding place and just tell it to the world, see —everything would go great.
MARK: Jack, even though each of you, in your own hearts, know who did what —
JACK: We know!
MARK: —do you think that time has obscured some of —
JACK: NO! It hasn't obscured it. He knows it, I know it. How we're gonna prove it, I don't know.
MARK: Do you think there'll be a resolution to all this soon?
JACK: I don't think so. I think that people don't change. They can't change. Sometimes, it's too late. And you'll just go on being what you are, and I'll go on being what I am because I'm just like that. It'll be something that, maybe lawyers will resolve for us. Human beings remain human beings. I can predict anything that Stan will do, and, uh —
MARK: He can predict what you'll do?
JACK: Possibly, he can. He knows I'm a right guy, and I'm not gonna hurt him in any way, and vice versa.
MARK: Apart from the working relationship, do you miss the friendship you guys had?
JACK: No., because I make a lot of new friendships all the time. I know I can't change Stan. I say my piece, he says his piece, and I let it go at that.
MARK: You know, the whole world would probably like to see the two of you guys shake hands.
JACK: We did, yesterday! But it resolves nothing. I could shake hands with Stan 'till doomsday and it would mean nothing, see. It would mean nothing — it would mean that the dance went on, that's all. But beyond that the situation's still the same. Somebody else will have to arbitrate. I'll leave it to wiser heads. I don't say I have the wisest head in the world. I'll leave it to people with patience. I'll try to have patience myself in the hopes that something positive will come out of all this. Whatever I want out of this is half-gone already, and whatever's left I'm willing to be conciliatory about.


Alan Kupperberg said…
Daniel, I was at that cocktail party in San Diego and I witnessed that handshake. People were so willing to believe that this terrible acrimony existed between Stan and Jack. Stan was sporting a fairly large bandage on his hand at this affair. I jokingly told someone that Stan had been wounded when Kirby threw a glass at Stan. This was instantly believed. I had to hustle to squelch my false rumor. I think some dummies still believe that it really happened.

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