(Above: Jack Kirby and Frank MIller)
In June 1994, Frank Miller paid tribute to the late Jack Kirby, delivering a keynote speech at an industry seminar in Baltimore. “An age passes with Jack Kirby,” Miller said. “I can’t call it the Marvel Age of comics, because I don’t believe in rewarding thievery. I call it the Jack Kirby age of comics.”
Members of the Marvel staff, sitting at a table front and center, shifted in their seats as Miller declared that the only way to talk about the future of comics was to talk about its “sad, sorry, history of broken lives … of talents denied the legal ownership of what they created with their own hands and minds, ignored or treated as nuisances while their creations went on to make millions and millions of dollars.” After noting that “seventeen years of loyal service and spectacular sales didn’t buy Chris Claremont one whit of loyalty from Marvel Comics,” and scoffing at Jim Shooter’s claims that he’d “spent his whole life fighting for creators’ rights,” Miller turned the screws.
"Marvel Comics is trying to sell you all on the notion that characters are the only important component of its comics. As if nobody had to create these characters, as if the audience is so brain-dead they can’t tell a good job from a bad one. You can almost forgive them this, since their characters aren’t leaving in droves like the talent is. For me it’s a bit of a relief to finally see the old ‘work-made-for-hire talent don’t matter’ mentality put to the test. We’ve all seen the results, and they don’t even seem to be rearranging the deck chairs.”