Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko (right) created the Marvel Universe. Sure, Stan Lee played a large part in its creation too, but his main function was to hire these guys to make up the stories, point them in the right direction, and clean up the dialogue after they were done. Kirby and Ditko were the storytellers. Lee was the editor. Stan Lee has spent decades receiving the kudos and reaping rewards for work for which he did not do the heavy lifting.
It was always a bone of contention that Stan Lee was compensated much more handsomely for the work that these men did than they were themselves. It wasn’t until Kirby’s family was on the brink of arguing before the Supreme Court that Disney struck a deal to give Jack Kirby his fair amount of credit for his creations, and pay the family a more equitable share of the proceeds. Sadly, this all happened many years after Jack Kirby passed away, but it’s still good to see him get the recognition that he always deserved for being the dominant co-creator of The Fantastic Four, The Avengers, Black Panther, Silver Surfer and so many more of the pillars of the Marvel Universe.
Steve Ditko, who co-created Spider-man and Dr. Strange, and by most accounts was doing almost all of the writing before he left both strips after a prolonged falling out with Stan Lee. Ditko is still with us, but has not spoken to the press for nearly fifty years, preferring to let his work do the talking. Personality-wise, he’s the complete opposite of Stan Lee, shunning the spotlight and going out of his way to share credit where its due.
At the top of this post you see a documentary about Jack Kirby that runs a little over an hour. It’s a good, basic introduction to the mind that created so much of what is the foundation of modern comics. Below you’ll find a documentary by Jonathan Ross where he tries to track down Ditko. It’s a fascinating look into the vapor trail that is Ditko’s public presence. Both of these documentaries are more than ten years old, but they’re still very much worth watching.
This is not meant to slam Stan Lee, who has sadly been in the news a lot lately, but it’s an attempt to set the record straight and recognize the indispensible contributions of Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko to Marvel Comics.