Really, the New Yorker magazine? Marvel Entertainment drew that image? Not Jack Kirby and Don Heck? Really?
Sure, your art department was happy, having ironically depicted the goofy, clunky, first comic book appearance of Iron Man to illustrate the review for the new-fangled, shiny, 3D movie version of the hero-robot. Sure, the legal department cleared it because, yes, a court of law has upheld the fact that a corporation created this art. But your massive fact check department let an attribution like this slide?
When every other week your back pages feature an “illustration” or two that’s nothing more than some Photoshop fun with stock photos, the person doing the shopping gets credited as well as the people who snapped the pictures and the syndicate who bought them. Why couldn’t the same respect be extended to one of pop culture’s most tragically under respected creators?
A couple years ago a Harry Bliss cartoon appeared in your caption contest which was an homage to Kirby’s cover to Tales to Astonish #39. It features a typically lumpy and dumpy Kirby monster scaling the wall of an apartment building, and a typically upper-middle class New Yorker cartoon character talking on the phone and sipping red wine, completely unaware of his impending doom. There was a bit of a tizzy when the denizens of the internet pointed out that the cartoon was based mostly on a Kirby drawing, and Kirby wasn’t credited. Although I think an “after Kirby” note probably should have accompanied the new drawing, I’ll never begrudge a cartoonist for appropriating existing work. Especially when the very meat of his joke is taking a hokey comic book monster and putting him into the context of snooty, high-brow Manhattan everyday life. But this is different. This straight-up is a Jack Kirby drawing. Of Iron Man. Illustrating a review of Iron Man 3. With no credit.
The New Yorker has done so much for comics. You give cartoonists who think in terms of one-liners a chance to actually make a career of it. With the influence of Françoise Mouly and Art Spiegelman, you’ve helped to legitimize alternative comics among the literary elite. Please stop treating Jack Kirby, who those few of us who are more interested in comics than in superheroes call “King,” like nothing more than a finger in the hand of the corporate master he once served.
DISCLOSURE: I know some people who work at the New Yorker, and happen to be madly in love with one of them. I’ve also been madly in love with the magazine ever since I was a little boy flipping through each issue once it arrived in order to find all the cartoons, swears and boobs within.
Paddybono adds: Jack Kirby. Stan Ditko. Jim Steranko. My pantheon of Marvel comic artists. I would buy anything they drew. Respect.