The long debate/battle over creator vs publisher rights in the comic industry will probably always be a source for heated and visceral comments. Ones you can find in the strangest places. Like ESPN’s website. From Stan Lee (well an ESPN-related website called Grantland.) What I can say is what Stan ‘The Man’ has to say is actually rather surprising, but also not surprising at all. In short while he’s always been rather flippant with the claims of ownership made be the estates of his former co-creators Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko , he really just seems flippant on the whole topic.
“I’ve never been one of these people who worries about [that]. I should have been. I’d be wealthy now, if I had been. I always felt the publisher was the guy investing all his money, and I was working for the publisher, and whatever I did belonged to him. That was the way it was. And I was always treated well, I got a good salary. I was not a businessman. Now, a guy like Bob Kane, who did Batman — the minute he did Batman, he said, ‘I wanna own it,’ and signed a contract with DC. So he became reasonably wealthy. He was the only one who was smart enough to do that. Did you read that the check that Siegel and Shuster got for Superman — I think it was four hundred dollars, or two hundred dollars — just sold at auction for $140,000?”
“I murmur something what-a-world/you-never-know-ish. Then I ask him if he feels, in general, that the comic-book industry has been fair to comic-book creators.”
“I don’t know,” Stan says. “I haven’t had reason to think about it that much.” Five-second pause. “I think, if somebody creates something, and it becomes highly successful, whoever is reaping the rewards should let the person [who] created it share in it, certainly. But so much of it is — it goes beyond creating. A lot of people put something together, and nobody really knows who created it, they’re just working on it, y’know? But little by little, the artists and the writers now are a different breed than they were, and most of them, if they create anything new, they insist that they be part owners of it. Because they know what happened to Siegel and Shuster, and to me, and to people like that. I don’t think it’s a problem anymore. They make much more money than they used to make, when I was there. Proportionately.”
“Everybody thought that I was the only one that was getting paid off, but I never received any royalties from the characters. I made a good living, because I was the editor, the art director, and the head writer. So I got a nice salary. That was all I got. I was a salaried guy. But it was a good salary. And I was happy.”
Amazing, Stan really just dismisses the whole topic all the while still sounding like a damn nice guy at the exact same damn time. A nice guy that debatedly screwed over the legends like Jack Kirby, but still a nice guy. The whole article is well worth a read, so you should.
Source: Comics Beat