The Kirby Family and Marvel settle things

A joint statement issued today says:

“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.”

That’s all I know. I imagine more will be revealed in coming days, but sounds like it’s time for us all to celebrate. Congratulations to both Marvel and the Kirby family on finding a way to put this dispute behind them.

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In Defense of the Kirby Museum

Greg Theakston has recently made attempts to reclaim materials he donated to the Jack Kirby Museum and Research Center several years ago, and to cast Executive Director Rand Hoppe as a thief who’s stolen his property. Now Greg’s inexplicably demanding that I send him back materials he says he somehow “loaned” me as well. As Greg continues to beat this drum on the Internet, it’s clear to me that I need to document the history behind the donation Greg is now claiming he only loaned to the Museum—and to present evidence that proves most of it wasn’t Greg’s property to begin with.

What’s at issue? Jack Kirby kept photocopies of his pencil art (before it was inked) at his home in Thousand Oaks, California. In the 1960s, Marvel Comics would make the copies and send them to Jack (this helped him keep up with continuity as he began each new issue). In 1970 or so, Jack got a copier for his home, and xeroxed the pencils himself before sending in his art, in case it got lost in the mail. These photocopies are all the Kirbys’ property to do with as they please; always have been, always will be, and they’re a remarkable record of his pencil work from the 1960s to the 1980s.

The xeroxes accumulated at the Kirbys’ home, and ended up stored in their garage. Greg Theakston, upon visits to the Kirby home in the late 1980s and early 1990s, shipped a large quantity of them back to his home in New York, with the understanding that he was using them for research. According to Jack’s wife Roz Kirby, it was clear to both parties that these were simply a loan, and would be returned when Greg was done with his research. When I spoke to Roz about those photocopies in 1996, she specifically said, “I loaned those to him for research purposes. He never returned them.” (The family later gave me access to a lot of photocopies Greg didn’t borrow, and it was always clear to me those were a loan as well.)

Several people have confirmed over the years that Roz also told them the materials were only loaned to Greg, and that he wouldn’t return them. For example, here’s an excerpt from a 1998 interview conducted with the late Dave Stevens, who was a close friend of the Kirby family:

DAVE STEVENS: I was out there for dinner a couple of times in the last year before she died, and she was lamenting the fact that she couldn’t get all this material back from him. Apparently he was sitting on a mountain of stuff, copies or whatever it was, whatever format, but it was a lot of pieces of Jack’s art, that she just has no record of, if he didn’t return it. It was stuff that she couldn’t access. I guess he’d taken the stuff, or borrowed it over a period of years, with the promise of bringing it back, and it never happened.

After Roz Kirby passed away in late 1997, a very vocal fight escalated on the Kirby-L internet mailing list about the xeroxes. This led to my Jan. 18, 1998 phone conversation with Greg, which included this exchange:

JOHN MORROW: Roz told me last Summer she wanted you to return the xeroxes. She wanted Jeremy [Kirby, Jack and Roz’s grandson] to have them.

GREG THEAKSTON: Yes, I know. We spoke about that at length on several occasions.

JOHN: So you know she wanted you to return the xeroxes?

GREG: Yeah. I told her to have Jeremy call me. He never did, so he lost his chance.

The online fight continued, and on September 8, 1998, in response to a Kirby-L poster who suggested that the xeroxes be copied and the originals returned to the Kirbys, Greg wrote: “I have no problem with this, but it must be on my schedule.”

With an apparent resolution, things died down on Kirby-L. But another four years went by, with no action on Greg’s part to return the xeroxes to the Kirbys.

So on New Year’s Eve, 2002, with the approval of the Kirby family, I attempted to mediate a solution. I sent Greg an email, offering a resolution that would involve TwoMorrows scanning what Greg had borrowed, and then both Greg and the Kirbys would receive a set of the scans, with the originals going back to the Kirby family.


There were three provisions (the same ones I follow on the Jack Kirby Collector magazine):

1) Greg wouldn’t disseminate copies of the scans to anyone
2) Greg would only use them for research purposes, and
3) If Greg wanted to use any of the images in his own publications, he’d OK it with the Kirbys first

Following that exchange, in early 2003 I received a shipment of xeroxes from Greg, with the freight billed to my FedEx account. After inventorying what he’d sent, it was clear this couldn’t possibly have been all the ones Greg had. So I sent Greg another message, politely asking him to send the rest when he could. Greg never sent the rest of the xeroxes, so no scans were sent to him, and this is where the situation sat for another five years.

From there, Rand and the Museum enter the picture. I’ll leave it to Rand to speak for what took place beyond this, except to say that the Kirby Estate is in possession of a letter from Greg, dated Sept. 2009, in which Greg unequivocally states he has “donated” the materials to the Museum. For the record, all of the photocopies that were sent to me by the Kirbys (and by Greg in 2003) are no longer in my possession, and haven’t been for several years. TwoMorrows long ago completed scanning what we had access to, and the Museum is now re-scanning them at even higher archival quality than we could a decade ago.

But my position now is, and always has been, that those xeroxes were a loan only, and belong to the Kirby family; not to me, the Museum, or Greg Theakston. Roz made that clear to me and several other people, including Greg. I hope this helps put the issue to rest, but if not, I’ll present more evidence to support this position in an upcoming Jack Kirby Collector article, and offer a more comprehensive look at this situation.

Full disclosure: I am a proud Trustee of the Jack Kirby Museum and Research Center (, along with Rand Hoppe, Tom Kraft and David Schwartz. Rand founded the Museum in 2005, and acts as its Executive Director. The Museum was recognized as a non-profit entity by the IRS in 2007. Rand has also (along with Tom) put in thousands of hours of his time since 2005, for no pay, to further Jack’s legacy by putting on exhibits around the world (one is coming in a few months in conjunction with the Angouleme comics festival in France). His efforts include a very successful pop-up museum at Jack’s birthplace on New York’s Lower East Side last year (with another in the works), and scanning a wealth of pages of Kirby original art for posterity in the Museum’s digital archive. It’s an entity I fully support, both with my efforts, and my financial contributions.

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It’s a small world after all in Back Issue #76


Michael Eury’s “Let’s Get Small” issue of Back Issue (#76) is out now, and features histories of some tiny titans of comics’ Bronze Age, including the Micronauts, Ant-Man, the Atom (both before and after he took up a Sword), plus DC Digest comics, the Super Jrs. (!), Microbots, and even Marvel Value Stamps. Get it at the link above, before our supply shrinks down to nothing! (get it? shrinks down….)
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San Diego Comic Fest is coming Oct. 17-19!


The San Diego Comic Fest is a case of something old, that’s becoming new again: a friendly comic convention with a casual atmosphere and a smaller, more intimate scale. If you love of comics, science fiction, and film, and want meet an amazing array of professional creators without crowding or long lines, this is the event for you.

Fans and professionals can hang out in a relaxed setting and enjoy good times talking about comics, science fiction, and experience a varied, eclectic program with things for a wide variety of interests. As you would expect of a comic convention, there are panel discussions, guest programs, an Artist Alley, cosplay, an exhibitors hall full of your favorite comics, books, toys, and other collectibles, and much more.

At this year’s Fest (held October 17-19 at the Town and Country Resort and Convention Center, adjacent to the Fashion Valley Mall area of San Diego), they’ll be celebrating the 100th anniversary of the birth of Superman co-creator Jerry Siegel with special guests Laura Siegel Larson (Jerry’s daughter) and Neal Adams. It’s also the 30th anniversary of Ghostbusters, and they’re celebrating with special guests including producer Michael Gross and Academy Award winning special effects masters Richard Edlund and John Bruno. Twilight Zone is also honored with special guests including Rod Serling’s daughter and biographer Anne Serling, and Twilight Zone screenwriter George Clayton Johnson.

The Fest is produced by fans, for fans. Though not affiliated with the San Diego Comic-Con, their all-volunteer production crew includes a Comic-Con co-founder and other veteran Comic-Con producers and attendees. So join the fun October 17-19, 2014  at the third annual San Diego Comic Fest! For more information, visit their web site at

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Happy birthday, Jack Kirby!

Jack Kirby would’ve been 97 years old today. But for his fans, he’ll live on forever.

Designed to honor the legacy of her late grandfather, his granddaughter Jillian (daughter of Jack’s son Neal) is seeing today as the culmination of her 2014 Kirby4Heroes campaign, which raises money for the Hero Initiative (an organization which helps needy comics creators). A selection of comics retailers across the country will donate a portion of today’s sales to the Hero Initiative as part of that Kirby4Heroes drive.

You can find out more about it at this link:


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The days of elves, aardvarks, and rock men


In the new issue of Back Issue magazine (#75, shipping today), editor Michael Eury turns back the clock to the 1980s, to cover the top independent comics of that decade. Shown above are Richard and Wendy Pini, creators of Elfquest (which is spotlighted in this issue). The creative couple stopped by our booth at Comic-Con last month, and autographed a pre-release copy if issue #75, and it now has a happy home at Euryman’s secret comics cave.

There’s also coverage of Cerebus, and a personal fave of mine, Concrete. Don’t miss it!

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TwoMorrows Columnist Makes Good… or Is It Evil?


Adam McGovern, longtime columnist for The Jack Kirby Collector,  is living the recurring dream of Kirby-styled reincarnation with artist Paolo Leandri, as the team debut their four-issue meta-monster miniseries Nightworld for Image Comics, which just launched August 6. It’s pop-art visuals and upbeat pulp-lit writing the way the future of comics has been waiting to look since the ’60s! Visit their hellish home online at and no longer abandon hope for fun, clever comics!

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TwoMorrows’ Harvey Award nomination for ACBC: The 1950s!


We were pleased as punch to discover that our book American Comic Book Chronicles: The 1950s (written by Bill Schelly, and edited by Keith Dallas), was nominated in the 2014 Harvey Awards for “Best Biographical, Historical or Journalistic Presentation.” Kudos to Bill for the stellar job he did researching and authoring this landmark look at a notoriously under-explored era of comics history (and to Keith for the wonderful work as editor of the series, and author of the 1980s volume).

To date, we’ve got volumes covering from the 1950s to the 1980s, including our new 1970s volume, which is on the way back from the printer, and should be shipping in just a couple more weeks.

If you are a creative professional in the comics field, you’re eligible to vote in the Harveys, but the voting closes in just a couple of days. So scurry on over to the Harvey Awards online ballot and take a minute to vote:

(You are required to provide your credentials as a “creative professional” in the business, but they can be brief.)

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Iron Man’s original artist gets his due!

Remember a few years ago, when we announced we were publishing a book on Vince Colletta, the controversial inker who was so prolific in the Silver and Bronze Ages? A lot of people initially scoffed at the idea of giving Colletta his own book, due largely to his reputation within fandom of… shall we say, not being a fan-favorite? Then, when The Thin Black Line: Vince Colletta was released, it garnered rave reviews for finally documenting the compelling life and career of a pivotal comics artist, about whom little was known publicly.

Well, we’re at it again with our new book Don Heck: A Work of Art, which is officially shipping this week from TwoMorrows (and should be in stores next week). In it, the original artist of Iron Man, Black Widow, Hawkeye, and key Avengers issues finally gets his due, thanks to author John Coates, who tirelessly researched Heck’s background and career. The crux of the book is two lengthy interviews with Heck (a rarely-seen published one by Richard Howell, and an unpublished one by Will Murray), which have been melded together to make, what we think you’ll find, to be a pretty seamless conversaton with Don, about all aspects of his career dating back to his horror work in the 1940s and ’50s. There’s a wealth of examples of his work (all in full-color), and even a special chapter where we debunk the myth that putting Don as artist on a comic meant the sales would drop (wait’ll you see what the actual sales figures tell us). And Stan Lee even provides the intro.

This full-color hardcover is 192 pages long, for $39.95. Give it a shot; you won’t be sorry. And check out our free preview and order HERE.


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Wertham lives in Alter Ego #128!!!

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Dr. Freddy Wertham, that loveable old scamp who nearly destroyed the comics industry in the 1950s, is featured in the new issue of Alter Ego (#128, shipping today from TwoMorrows). And as a companion piece, we present more of our history of the Comics Code (which came about as a result of the good doctor’s crusade). You can find it HERE!

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