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 The Auteur Theory of Comics

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Joe Lee
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PostSubject: The Auteur Theory of Comics   Tue Sep 18, 2012 5:50 pm



In the current issue of The Jack Kirby Collector there is an interesting article by Arlen Schumer, examing "The Auteur Theory of Comics." (the Jack Kirby Collector #59 from Twomorrows publishing).

The article examines the misconceptions of the artist in the role of creator in comics as it has been recently applied in many court cases. The idea being that comics are just as collaborative a medium as film, and in fact like film, the Director(artist) plays a much larger role in the creation of the piece than the writer.

The article cites the recent court case where the Kirby estate over copyright ownership of the Marvel characters. In which Stan Lee's testimony became one of the deciding factors, which amounted to the misconception the he, NOT Kirby was the true author of the Marvel Universe, by the simple fact that he was the "author." A premise that is central to the documentary "With Great Power: The Stan Lee Story."

I highly recommend this issue, for this article alone which makes the case for the artist, in cases like Kirby as the auteur.
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PostSubject: Re: The Auteur Theory of Comics   Mon May 06, 2013 12:17 pm

I had just seen another one of those comics documentaries, it was a recent bio of Stan Lee where he tries to minimize Kirby with praise. He couldn't have done it with out the artists, the artists created the visuals. His roll was merely as artist, and he was one of many fine artists.

How can he play into the public perception of a writer telling the artist what to draw, when he prided himself on the "Marvel Method" for decades.

Comics work both ways. Some are like novels with an illustrator. Some are like film, with the artist as a director, running the show. Some are in-between. And Kirby was a Kubrick, a Ford, a David Lean, Ridley Scott, Orson Welles! He was not merely illustrating what the writer told him too. What the hell is Stan Lee doing? Is he afraid of sharing the limelight with the dead. There was even a bit in the film where he claims to be sad that Kirby got angry with him, but implied it was all Kirby's fault.

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PostSubject: Re: The Auteur Theory of Comics   Mon May 06, 2013 1:19 pm

I've had a conversation with Arlen, and he wrote a meandering 3000+ word essay in response to my only 'letter to the editor', ever--on Kirby Collector. Not a bad guy, but he has some rather impenetrable logic that tends to lean one way--pretty much, Jack did everything, and that Stan Lee never did anything, and that he's SATAN.

Kirby is Stan's equal, at least, in creation. He invented most FF characters out of the blue, likely most villains in all the comics, except Spider-Man, in fact. Jack plotted the stuff based on an outline, then Stan dialogued it. Jack deserves more than he got ten-fold, Stan, LESS--but If you can't tell Stan's narrative/dialogue writing on the first 100 issues of FF from New Gods, there's a part of yer brain that understands words missing. Smile
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PostSubject: Re: The Auteur Theory of Comics   Mon May 06, 2013 8:15 pm

The argument over who is most responsible for a comic book or a character always reminds me of a poem by the mystery writer Dorothy L. Sayers titled "The Makers". It's a bit long to quote in full, but here is a piece I wrote about it some time ago:

"We Built That": Dorothy L. Sayers on the Makers

The piece was written for a political site, and so it has a bit of a political slant to it, but if you squint your eyes a bit, I think you can see how it also applies to the process of making a comic book.
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Chris W



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PostSubject: Re: The Auteur Theory of Comics   Tue May 07, 2013 12:06 am

The 'auteur theory' falls apart when it comes to comics. Stan Lee unquestionably innovated the multi-faceted characters who have personality conflicts that we all know and love. But Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko unquestionably innovated their respective worldviews as pertaining to comic books. Marvel would not have been Marvel with Bill Everett and Dick Ayers as the lead artists. But Kirby and Ditko would not have created such interesting stories without Stan Lee.

Alan Moore is unquestionably the 'auteur' of "Watchmen", "Swamp Thing", "From Hell", ABC. But he specifically looked at what each artist/art team could do and tailored his writing to their style. He would not have done "Watchmen" with Bissette and Totleben because their style was so overgrown and messy. He would not have done "Swamp Thing" with Gibbons who would have completely missed the dirty details that were part of Swampy's life. Can you imagine Dave Gibbons drawing the 'vegetable sex' issue or any part of 'American Gothic'?

Chris Claremont was unquestionably the 'auteur' of "X-Men", but his artists (arguably) had more say than he did. As long as Cockrum, Byrne, Cockrum, JRjr, Marc Silvestri and Jim Lee kept the stories going the way he wanted, he did just fine. [Your mileage may vary, obviously.] But Cockrum, Byrne, JRjr, Silvestri and Lee were the ones to tell Claremont what they wanted to draw, and the Marvel Method let them. The Death of Phoenix wouldn't have happened if John Byrne hadn't decided to throw in a planet dying because Dark Phoenix killed a sun.

It depends on who's the one primarily responsible for creating a book. Larry Hama *made* "G.I. Joe" the awesome series that it is - IDW has finally finished reprinting the Marvel books and Hama is several dozen issues into his new run, so check it out - but the end of the Marvel run suffers from the horrible art Marvel adopted in the early 90s. It suffers to the point of being unreadable except for the dialogue and the vague connection to the characters we enjoyed reading about earlier in the series. Larry Hama was the primary creator, but he wasn't dominant, if that makes any sense. He managed to get Todd McFarlane removed from drawing #61 because McFarlane wasn't keeping to Hama's storytelling desires with #60. #60 looks quite good - especially if you only know McFarlane from "Spider-Man" and "Spawn" - and considering the lousy artists that the title ended with, I'm hard-pressed to figure out what problem Hama had in the first place.

At the opposite end of the spectrum from a Marvel comic toy commercial, Dave Sim wrote about the artists' problems in the endnotes for "Latter Days." "These 'stationary camera' pages are a real chore for Gerhard [Dave's subordinate artist] since he either has to draw the same background over and over again or photocopy it and paste all the little pieces of paper in and around the word balloons. It's no day at the beach for me either since I have to draw the same shot of Cerebus with minor differences over and over again, but that's part of the price you pay for working on a *WRITER'S BOOK* [emphasis mine] like 'Cerebus.' If the writer wants a stationary camera, because a stationary camera is going to make it funnier, then the artists just have to accept being bored out of their skulls for a few pages."

Sim has often noted how his perspective changes while staring at his right hand making little squiggly lines for hours every day. It's not hard to see how other artists could have a similar effect on the titles they draw. If Neal Adams isn't the primary creator for every comic book he draws - "Superman Vs. Muhammad Ali"? - then he's certainly marketed that way.

Really, comic books don't work for the auteur theory in the same sense that musicians have to jostle between the lead singer, the lead instrumentalist and the producer. Phil Spector, George Martin, Jimmy Page, Jimmy Hendrix, Mick Jagger, Elvis, etc. The people in front have different tasks than the people behind. Your mileage may vary on who deserves greater credit. A comic book artist will get credit if he does a good job or a bad job. A comic book writer should be invisible because the audience is far more interested in Spidey's latest internal conflict about Aunt May.
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PostSubject: Re: The Auteur Theory of Comics   Tue May 07, 2013 11:01 am

I agree with you Chris, on most points--but outside of Stan and Jack, Roy Thomas, Len Wein, John Romita, Herb Trimpe and and Dave Cockrum created the All-New X-Men. Chris later defined characters (if you can call it that--I was never a fan), but Wein started everything in the Giant Size issue--all the way back to Wolverine in Hulk. Len Wein is responsible for the X-Men every theatergoer knows--Kitty Pryde [EDIT:] and Rogue would be the limit of Claremont's input.
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PostSubject: Re: The Auteur Theory of Comics   Tue May 07, 2013 11:35 am

I think John Byrne would dispute that Chris Claremont was the auteur during their run on UNCANNY X-MEN.

According to Byrne -- and other sources suggest he's correct -- he and Claremont hashed over the stories and character development together, sometimes agreeing, sometimes disagreeing and appealing to their editor to break the tie. The only thing that can be entirely credited to Claremont is the dialogue.

Marv Wolfman and George Perez collaborated the same way on THE NEW TEEN TITANS, though they remained friends throughout the partnership, unlike Byrne and Claremont. The credits box eventually listed them as co-plotters and co-creators, something like that.
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PostSubject: Re: The Auteur Theory of Comics   Tue May 07, 2013 11:59 am

James Ritchey III wrote:
I've had a conversation with Arlen, and he wrote a meandering 3000+ word essay in response to my only 'letter to the editor', ever--on Kirby Collector. Not a bad guy, but he has some rather impenetrable logic that tends to lean one way--pretty much, Jack did everything, and that Stan Lee never did anything, and that he's SATAN.
Yeah, guys like that don't help the argument. But, Stan minimizing Kirby's involvement to me anyway seems worse. It's pretty shitty.

James Ritchey III wrote:
Kirby is Stan's equal, at least, in creation. He invented most FF characters out of the blue, likely most villains in all the comics, except Spider-Man, in fact. Jack plotted the stuff based on an outline, then Stan dialogued it. Jack deserves more than he got ten-fold, Stan, LESS--but If you can't tell Stan's narrative/dialogue writing on the first 100 issues of FF from New Gods, there's a part of yer brain that understands words missing. Smile
Agreed. You could apply the same to Lee as well, look at Stan Lee creations without Kirby, Stripperella, Lightspeed, Ravage, compare to all of what Kirby created without Lee. Omac, The Demon the New Gods,..... It's obvious Kirby brought a lot more to the table than just drawing.

But all that beiing said, I just don't understand Lee minimizing Kirby's involvement. I saw that bio Terry mentioned, it was on Netflix a few months back. Lee won. He got the jobs, the money, enough money to secure the well being of his family for generations. He got the fame. The general public thinks he invented the comic book itself. He'll go down in history as the Walt Disney of comics.

And I'm not saying he didn't deserve everything he got, I just think Lee could afford to be a little more gracious. Kirby got nothing but his paychecks, and a lot of grief about contracts and getting his art back. Lee gets cameo's in all the movies, executive producer jobs, Lee won, why minimize Kirby's contribution?



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PostSubject: Re: The Auteur Theory of Comics   Tue May 07, 2013 12:00 pm

ChrisW wrote:
The 'auteur theory' falls apart when it comes to comics.
I disagree, like you said later...

ChrisW wrote:
It depends on who's the one primarily responsible for creating a book.
Exactly, the theory was to take the same perceptions of "creator" we apply to film and apply it to comics, and in comics just like in film there are a lot of variables. The creator/auteur may be several people it may be different people, it's like you said, "It depends on who's the one primarily responsible for creating a book."

The point of applying the 'auteur theory' to comics is to give credit where credit is due. Not every comic is created the same way. Kirby obviously did more than just take direction from Lee. There is ample evidence that he plotted or at the very least co-plotted many of the stories, and created and introduced characters himself (Silver Surfer). Their individual involvement, maybe that varied from issue to issue. At the very least, Lee and Kirby deserved to be considered more than just "writer and artist," they were creative partners.

Stan Lee was obviously very involved in many, many Marvel books, it's not inconceivable that he let guys like Jack Kirby take on more of the "writing" chores, saving himself work and but also getting the most out of the artists who needed space to work. But it's obvious Stan was still quite involved, he would smooth out the dialogue (James pointed out the obvious example of comparing FF dialogue to New Gods dialogue, Stan was obviously editing if not re-writing completely), and Stan changed obvious plot elements into better story telling, often over-ruling the artist/plotter/writer (the best example, was making Green Goblin's secret Identity be Norman Osborne, a much more melodramatic way to go, than an anonymous guy).

Lee and Kirby were very creative, talented guys, but together they made magic.
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PostSubject: Re: The Auteur Theory of Comics   Tue May 07, 2013 1:21 pm

Joe Lee wrote:
James Ritchey III wrote:
I've had a conversation with Arlen, and he wrote a meandering 3000+ word essay in response to my only 'letter to the editor', ever--on Kirby Collector. Not a bad guy, but he has some rather impenetrable logic that tends to lean one way--pretty much, Jack did everything, and that Stan Lee never did anything, and that he's SATAN.
Yeah, guys like that don't help the argument. But, Stan minimizing Kirby's involvement to me anyway seems worse. It's pretty shitty.

James Ritchey III wrote:
Kirby is Stan's equal, at least, in creation. He invented most FF characters out of the blue, likely most villains in all the comics, except Spider-Man, in fact. Jack plotted the stuff based on an outline, then Stan dialogued it. Jack deserves more than he got ten-fold, Stan, LESS--but If you can't tell Stan's narrative/dialogue writing on the first 100 issues of FF from New Gods, there's a part of yer brain that understands words missing. Smile
Agreed. You could apply the same to Lee as well, look at Stan Lee creations without Kirby, Stripperella, Lightspeed, Ravage, compare to all of what Kirby created without Lee. Omac, The Demon the New Gods,..... It's obvious Kirby brought a lot more to the table than just drawing.

But all that beiing said, I just don't understand Lee minimizing Kirby's involvement. I saw that bio Terry mentioned, it was on Netflix a few months back. Lee won. He got the jobs, the money, enough money to secure the well being of his family for generations. He got the fame. The general public thinks he invented the comic book itself. He'll go down in history as the Walt Disney of comics.

And I'm not saying he didn't deserve everything he got, I just think Lee could afford to be a little more gracious. Kirby got nothing but his paychecks, and a lot of grief about contracts and getting his art back. Lee gets cameo's in all the movies, executive producer jobs, Lee won, why minimize Kirby's contribution?

I see a profound 'cognitive dissonance' within him, and remember it as early as 14.


I think it's a combination of guilt, rationalization and much easier acquiescence to the legendary status Stan built for himself. The man's not a sociopath--I've seen guilt in his eyes when asked questions about Jack at cons, how he should have stood up to 'Uncle Marty' more. I believe he ran a great deal of interference, judging from Jeff Rovin's experience with The Goodmans (Martin and Chip) at Atlas. Martin was a massive, entitled asshole, and Chip apparently still is.

I think Stan Lee is a weak man who hates conflict, wants everybody to like him, and favors the easy way out.

The easy way out is doing whatever the Marvel lawyers say.

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PostSubject: Re: The Auteur Theory of Comics   Tue May 07, 2013 2:16 pm

ChrisW wrote:
The 'auteur theory' falls apart when it comes to comics.
Maybe if the theory said the artist "can" play a larger role? Are you quibbling about absolutes?

Comics are just as collaborative a medium as film, and in fact like film, and the Director/artist plays a much larger role in the creation of the piece than the writer. In time spent if nothing else. The artist in comics, unless given a detailed panel by panel description, is creating a visual where there was only words. And in the case of the Marvel Method used by Lee and Kirby, even if you were to stipulate Lee as sole plotter, the artist, Kirby was creating whole scenes, filling in the moments of a simplified description, creating panel after panel that Stan did not write or describe, from whole establishing shots to character moments that were not in a simple plot, springboard. Not to mention character designs, and in drawing the characters, also acting the stories out. Yes, there are exceptions. With Watchmen, you have the writer as co-director.

Mr. Lee is trying to claim in his his testimony mentioned above and the awful bio-doc that he was the creator, because he had the title "author." He is merely taking advantage of the oversimplification of the credits Marvel used at the time. The role is what it is, when it is what it is. Kirby did way more than just draw what asked of him. He was at the very least co-author.

If New Gods points out what Lee's part of the Lee/Kirby collaboration, imagine the Fantastic Four, or Thor without Kirby. You'd have all the melodrama and snappy banter, but a lot less of what made the Fantastic Four so fantastic. Similar to what Daredevil was, a Spiderman without Ditko.



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PostSubject: Re: The Auteur Theory of Comics   Tue May 07, 2013 2:18 pm

James Ritchey III wrote:

I think Stan Lee is a weak man who hates conflict, wants everybody to like him, and favors the easy way out.

The easy way out is doing whatever the Marvel lawyers say.

That's probably a very fair assessment.
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PostSubject: Re: The Auteur Theory of Comics   Tue May 07, 2013 8:57 pm

Mark Evanier has mentioned that when Stan does interviews for movies or books and things like that, Stan tells them to also interview Evanier so at least someone will talk about Kirby.

Will comment on other responses later.
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PostSubject: Re: The Auteur Theory of Comics   Tue May 07, 2013 10:18 pm

It's been a while since i read the article but if i recall correctly, the judge didn't allow Evanier's testimony. Or anyone like him, secondhanded. Just firsthand witnesses.

Did Evanier get time in the Stan Lee documentary?
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PostSubject: Re: The Auteur Theory of Comics   Tue May 07, 2013 11:06 pm

I don't know anything about court cases, it was just something I read on Evanier's website.

Quote :
I agree with you Chris, on most points--but outside of Stan and Jack, Roy Thomas, Len Wein, John Romita, Herb Trimpe and and Dave Cockrum created the All-New X-Men. Chris later defined characters (if you can call it that--I was never a fan), but Wein started everything in the Giant Size issue--all the way back to Wolverine in Hulk. Len Wein is responsible for the X-Men every theatergoer knows--Kitty Pryde [EDIT:] and Rogue would be the limit of Claremont's input.

Defining characters is different from creating characters, or putting a name to someone else's drawing and calling it a character. Wein and Trimpe "created" Wolverine, but Claremont did more than anyone else to make Wolvie into the popular character that he became, long after Wein left, long after Cockrum and Byrne left, long after Claremont left.

Quote :
I think John Byrne would dispute that Chris Claremont was the auteur during their run on UNCANNY X-MEN.

But he wouldn't dispute that Claremont was the auteur of *Claremont's" run of "X-Men. Claremont was there before Byrne, he was there after Byrne. He oversaw plotlines, crossovers and - even Jim Shooter admits it - maintained total control over the dialogue, because only Claremont knew how Storm or Kitty or whoever would speak in a given situation. Thanks to the Marvel Method, Claremont didn't even know what the specific situation would be until he saw the finished art. If he's just filling in dialogue, than he's no different than Byrne's own run on the Lee/Portacio "X-Men" after Claremont was fired, just with less editorial interference.

Quote :
Exactly, the theory was to take the same perceptions of "creator" we apply to film and apply it to comics, and in comics just like in film there are a lot of variables. The creator/auteur may be several people it may be different people, it's like you said, "It depends on who's the one primarily responsible for creating a book."

That's the main reason the "auteur" theory falls apart. Someone who fills in dialogue is providing a valuable service, like a good bass-player in a rock band. It's certainly not the same as someone who obsessively plots out the next dozen issues and writes copious descriptions of every single panel from page 1 to The End. In comics, both of them could be considered "the writer" of the issue. But either way, the artist has to do almost the same amount of work.

Quote :
The point of applying the 'auteur theory' to comics is to give credit where credit is due.

Giving credit where credit is due is one thing, totally different from being an auteur. Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford and Carrie Fischer had a lot to do with the success of "Star Wars." What they brought is entirely different to what George Lucas brought. Who deserves more credit for Luke, Han and Leia? I'm not convinced that the 'auteur' theory even works with movies, and "Star Wars" is a prime example of the failing of that theory. But it has nothing to do with giving credit. The endless free uncredited revisions of the original script by Lucas' friends? Leigh Brackett, Lawrence Kasdan and the directors bringing something to "Empire" and "Jedi"? The ability of the actors, improvising Han and Leia's "I love you" - "I know" in "Empire" and returning the line in "Jedi" did more for the Han/Leia relationship other than "I'm either going to kill her, or I'm beginning to like her."

There is no 'auteur' is what I'm saying, in most cases. Especially in comics. It has nothing to do with credit, precisely because comics are created differently by everyone.

Quote :
Mr. Lee is trying to claim in his his testimony mentioned above and the awful bio-doc that he was the creator, because he had the title "author." He is merely taking advantage of the oversimplification of the credits Marvel used at the time. The role is what it is, when it is what it is. Kirby did way more than just draw what asked of him. He was at the very least co-author.

I'm not sure what testimony is being discussed in what case. Lee and his lawyers are surely using whatever leverage they can get to maximum advantage. If there's an existing law which says anyone using the word "excelsior" gets whatever they want and anyone who disagrees is a mean old poopyhead, they'd be citing that law. Screen Actors Guilds, songwriting contracts and more go into enormous detail about what does or doesn't constitute "writing."

Quote :
If New Gods points out what Lee's part of the Lee/Kirby collaboration, imagine the Fantastic Four, or Thor without Kirby. You'd have all the melodrama and snappy banter, but a lot less of what made the Fantastic Four so fantastic. Similar to what Daredevil was, a Spiderman without Ditko.

Hence my point that the 'auteur' theory falls apart with comics. Lee would never have created *most* of the Marvel titles without Kirby's ability as artist. Lee would never have created *the other* Marvel titles* without Ditko's ability. Neither Kirby nor Ditko would have created their greatest works without Lee overseeing, editing and dialoguing, and contributing whatever he contributed to plots; sometimes substantial and sometimes not knowing what he was going to see until the penciled pages were turned in.

There's no 'auteur' there. Kirby and Ditko were doing what they did best, the greatest comics pages ever seen in history [/citation needed.] In addition to dialogue and editing, Stan Lee's triumph was as a logistician. Remember, he was keeping the entire office running, with very little help, and Uncle Martin often sending down bizarre orders to cancel a title or create something like the Justice League in case superheroes are popular again. And despite his horrible memory, he was able to translate this to the characters and the world they lived in, so that if Spider-Man is doing something in a given place, the Human Torch or Daredevil are in other places, and it was conceivable they could meet. The Marvel Universe was (arguably) formed when every available character made a cameo in the first Spider-Man Annual. The Hulk was used for a few guest-appearances, and led to the formation of The Avengers, and ultimately everybody showed up for Reed and Sue's wedding. Neither Kirby nor Ditko were in any position to make those decisions, except in the individual comics pages sitting on their drawing board. Stan Lee wasn't thinking of it either, except in his higher editorial position [what if the Hulk fought the Thing???]

There's no 'auteur', only individual creators doing something much greater than any of them could accomplish on their own. Kirby's place in comics history was assured before he ever started working for Timely/Marvel. Ditko would have at least been known as a solid journeyman. Lee could have left comics in 1960 and would be unknown today except maybe on old copyright forms. But the Marvel Universe was greater than them all.
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PostSubject: Re: The Auteur Theory of Comics   Tue May 07, 2013 11:58 pm

ChrisW wrote:
I'm not sure what testimony is being discussed in what case...

It's a pretty short thread to be lost already... Wink

Joe Lee wrote:
In the (then) current issue of The Jack Kirby Collector there is an interesting article by Arlen Schumer, examing "The Auteur Theory of Comics." (the Jack Kirby Collector #59 from Twomorrows publishing).

The article examines the misconceptions of the artist in the role of creator in comics as it has been recently applied in many court cases. The idea being that comics are just as collaborative a medium as film, and in fact like film, the Director(artist) plays a much larger role in the creation of the piece than the writer.

The article cites the recent court case where the Kirby estate over copyright ownership of the Marvel characters. In which Stan Lee's testimony became one of the deciding factors, which amounted to the misconception the he, NOT Kirby was the true author of the Marvel Universe, by the simple fact that he was the "author." A premise that is central to the documentary "With Great Power: The Stan Lee Story."
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PostSubject: Re: The Auteur Theory of Comics   Wed May 08, 2013 12:09 am

You want me to pay attention too??? Come on!

It's still Lee and his lawyers using whatever legal precedents there are. Kirby would have drawn whatever title Lee assigned him to. In that work-for-hire sense, Kirby is certainly not an auteur. Might as well credit Joe Sinnott and Vinnie Colletta, because they're the ones making the final decisions on what gets published.

There are reasons to criticize Lee for taking credit he didn't earn, but I don't see this as one of them.
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PostSubject: Re: The Auteur Theory of Comics   Wed May 08, 2013 12:24 am

ChrisW wrote:
IHence my point that the 'auteur' theory falls apart with comics...
I'm not convinced that the 'auteur' theory even works with movies...
There is no 'auteur' is what I'm saying, in most cases. Especially in comics...
There's no 'auteur', only individual creators doing something much greater than any of them could accomplish on their own...
The general public uses the term to describe a person who's work reflects their personal creative vision, and applies it to film regularly, the question posed here was can this be applied to comics. I think it can. But if you think it can't purely, because you dispute the "Auteur Theory" in any collaborative endeavor. I'd like you to set the term itself aside and just apply the concepts behind the question itself.

Do you dispute the idea that comics are just as collaborative a medium as film, and in fact like film, the Director/Artist CAN play a much larger role in the creation of the piece than the writer?

Do you dispute for the general public, there are misconceptions regarding the artist's role in the creative process in comics, especially as it has been recently applied in many court cases. Including the case cited above, that the author/writer is the "author," meaning CREATOR and the artist is the creator of the art alone? Like an illustrated novel reflecting the author's vision.

Do you dispute that it would be more accurate for the general public to think of comics more like film, where the level of involvement of people in the collaborative process can vary greatly, including but not limited to, equal partner, strict technician, creative visionary, etc...
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PostSubject: Re: The Auteur Theory of Comics   Wed May 08, 2013 12:37 am

ChrisW wrote:
Kirby would have drawn whatever title Lee assigned him to. In that work-for-hire sense, Kirby is certainly not an auteur. Might as well credit Joe Sinnott and Vinnie Colletta, because they're the ones making the final decisions on what gets published.

There are reasons to criticize Lee for taking credit he didn't earn, but I don't see this as one of them.
Kirby did more than draw the title he was "assigned" to draw. He created characters and concepts, plots, and subplots, not to mention dynamic and intricate compositions. He was part of the creation. The inkers, brought craftsmanship and artistry to a nearly finished product.

As far as the FF, Kirby and Lee were BOTH the architects. Then Kirby continued on and built the house. Sinnott was the artisan, the talented tile craftsman, the masonry craftsmen, the painters. Then Stan came in as the pushy realtor, making a few last minute changes.
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PostSubject: Re: The Auteur Theory of Comics   Wed May 08, 2013 12:41 am

Timeline:
Roy Thomas asked Len Wein to create a character called Wolverine--because he liked the name.
Len came up with a premise, and asked John Romita to design the costume.
He then put him in the Hulk with Trimpe drawing.
Wein Establishes that Logan was a borderline Psychopath in that Giant Size first issue.
Claremont had a lot to work with. Added that he was a borderline psychopath after Wein had invented that about the character.
Miller gave the character more narrative depth than everything Claremont did earlier combined--in one miniseries.

Just sayin'.

I'm not saying Claremont didn't do what fans wanted (he invented fanservice IMHO) but I've always considered him 'The Anti-Gerber'. Steve Gerber went the next step from Stan's legacy, improved upon it. Claremont held on to everything stylistically sappy and overblown about Stan Lee's writing style to the bitter end. His was mebbe an IQ point above Shooter's work.
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PostSubject: Re: The Auteur Theory of Comics   Wed May 08, 2013 12:51 am

Joe Lee wrote:
ChrisW wrote:
Kirby would have drawn whatever title Lee assigned him to. In that work-for-hire sense, Kirby is certainly not an auteur. Might as well credit Joe Sinnott and Vinnie Colletta, because they're the ones making the final decisions on what gets published.

There are reasons to criticize Lee for taking credit he didn't earn, but I don't see this as one of them.
Kirby did more than draw the title he was "assigned" to draw. He created characters and concepts, plots, and subplots, not to mention dynamic and intricate compositions. He was part of the creation. The inkers, brought craftsmanship and artistry to a nearly finished product.

As far as the FF, Kirby and Lee were BOTH the architects. Then Kirby continued on and built the house. Sinnott was the artisan, the talented tile craftsman, the masonry craftsmen, the painters. Then Stan came in as the pushy realtor, making a few last minute changes.

"Who is THAT?"--Stan Lee's first words when he saw Jack Kirby's creation--A Silver Guy on a surfboard. Stan went all crazy creative, and named him The Silver Surfer.

That happened a LOT. Very Happy
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Joe Lee
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PostSubject: Re: The Auteur Theory of Comics   Wed May 08, 2013 1:04 am

James Ritchey III wrote:

"Who is THAT?"--Stan Lee's first words when he saw Jack Kirby's creation--A Silver Guy on a surfboard. Stan went all crazy creative, and named him The Silver Surfer.

That happened a LOT. Very Happy

cheers cheers cheers cheers
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Chris W



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PostSubject: Re: The Auteur Theory of Comics   Wed May 08, 2013 1:42 am

I don't see my latest post showing up - stupid technology - but anyway...

I'm not saying the 'auteur' theory can't be applied to comics, I'm saying that it's ultimately pointless to apply it because one gets so bogged down in the 'who did what' arguments. If you care about the relationship of Jesse and Tulip, Scott and Jean, Katchoo and Francine, Abby and Alec, Clark and Lois, Reed and Sue, Lucy and Schroeder, Spider-Man and Gwen, which creator is doing what should be less important to you for that comic book than what the characters are doing and why. The closer the guy at the typewriter/drawing board gets to deciding what winds up on the finished page, the closer you get to a true comic book auteur. But there are countless different ways to judge that. Legally and contractually, the possibilities are even more endless. Harvey Kurtzman was the auteur of "Mad", but so was Al Feldstein. Bill Gaines permitted both of them to happen.
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PostSubject: Re: The Auteur Theory of Comics   Wed May 08, 2013 2:17 am

ChrisW wrote:

I'm not saying the 'auteur' theory can't be applied to comics...
You seemed pretty unequivocal...

ChrisW wrote:
IHence my point that the 'auteur' theory falls apart with comics...
I'm not convinced that the 'auteur' theory even works with movies...
There is no 'auteur' is what I'm saying, in most cases. Especially in comics...
There's no 'auteur', only individual creators doing something much greater than any of them could accomplish on their own...

But seriously...
ChrisW wrote:

I'm not saying the 'auteur' theory can't be applied to comics, I'm saying that it's ultimately pointless to apply it because one gets so bogged down in the 'who did what' arguments...
Those arguments only enter into it, because of inaccurate record keeping in the past, or ambiguous terminology. Or people with an agenda, or an unwillingness to accept evidence, as in the case of artists like Kirby, who were OBVIOUSLY involved in the authorship. Most modern comics do a much better job of properly crediting artists for any authoring. And I think at the core of this discussion, is the idea to change the accepted short hand and develop a more accurate way to attribute authorship. Movies do it. I'd rather try and change perception than to give up on fairly giving artists credit for their efforts, even if it was part of a standard operating procedure in the past.

Plus, there are plenty of comics that all are clearly the vision of one author who is both artist and writer... Usagi Yojimbo, The Goon, Sin City, Savage Dragon, The Black Beetle, Madman, just off the top of my head.
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PostSubject: Re: The Auteur Theory of Comics   Wed May 08, 2013 7:41 pm

Just to add more heat and less light to the discussion, there's also the "Blank Piece of Paper Theory", which I believe was formulated by Peter David. It states that primary credit belongs to the guy who had to actually look at a blank piece of paper and come up with something to put down.

Of course, David is a writer, so he has a certain amount of bias there, but as an artguy I can confirm that the first line you put down on the paper is always the hardest. Once that first line is down, it becomes easier to build off it and expand it into a drawing.
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