DECODING THE LEE/KIRBY DYNAMIC – Comic-Con@Home
It’s one of those “chicken and egg” questions, one that ardent Marvel fans will argue about: who created the Marvel Universe as we know it? Was it Stan Lee? Was it Jack Kirby? Or, was it truly a mixture of the two with a few other ingredients mixed in (Steve Ditko, John Romita Sr., Roy Thomas, etc) and.. that is what this panel was about.
Hosted by Rob Salkowitz, the fun, interesting panel included Fred Van Lente & Crystal Skillman, Abraham Riesman, and Danny Fingeroth, but it never truly divulged anything we didn’t already know. The Marvel Comics creation.. conclusion.. falls somewhere in the middle– that both Lee and Kirby were the gods of Marvel. The panel hits a few key times in their complicated history, when Kirby came back to Marvel after leaving DC after leaving Marvel the first time (the King had a complicated history with the Big 2) and being partnered with someone his polar opposite.
Lee was always more the business man. A great point brought up for the reason comic geeks continue to argue over this “dynamic”: we have these two mythical figures and comic fans need a good guy/bad guy. There just has to be an inherent bad guy in all of this. And it isn’t like we haven’t seen this before, but the main consensus at the end of the panel is that Marvel, the Fantastic Four, the X-Men, the Avengers, Hulk, Thor.. none of these books would be the same without Stan Lee and Jack Kirby’s work on the books together. How much each contributed will always and forever be up for debate and that’s okay. It’s what comic book stories and stores — whenever we get back to them — are made for.
In short, the panel is a fun one to watch if you don’t know anything about the Stan Lee/Jack Kirby mythos. 3/5 Marvel Encyclopedias.
COMICS SATIRE & NEW POLITICAL CARTOONS
Political commentary and satire have always been a big part of comics, both as books and strips. However, over the past couple of decades political discourse –and frankly politics as a whole– has become so toxic and exaggerated that at times it’s felt impossible to distinguish between reality and satire. Jacob Rogan, an assistant editor at the Washington Post, moderated a panel that delved into that issue alongside R. Sikoryak (Constitution Illustrated), Ben Passmore (BTM FDRS [pronounced Bottom Feeders]), Ezra Claytan Daniels (BTM FDRS), Mr. Fish (Nobody Left), and Ann Telnaes (Trump’s ABC).
While the topic itself is relevant and some good points were made, the fact that they all came from a similar perspective made this panel feel just like the echo chamber that several panelists mentioned being worried about at various times.
The standout voices for me were Passmore and Fish. Mr. Fish criticized political cartoons for oversimplifying the issues at hand and he specifically mentioned that explicitly mocking Trump “satisfies the disdain for the guy, but it doesn’t even attempt to educate what is wrong with the system and how somebody like that can be elected and how they’re enabled in this process.” Passmore held the perspective that the current political climate isn’t exceptional, but rather a continuation of other problems.
That all said, the panel as a whole honestly has a very narrow audience. The only people who would find this interesting in any way are people who are interested in the works of any of these authors, are interested in the frame of mind of political cartoonists, and who, like Fish so eloquently said, “have a rage that’s deep and wide.” If you don’t at least fall into 2 of those three categories, you might find this panel exceptionally boring. 2.5/5 Bibles.