At least not to DAILY KIRBY regulars. His one guest post has been read more times than any of the hundreds I've composed. He has a frequently updated blog where he shares his pearls of comic book wisdom. He is also the originator of the most logical theory of why there was a Marvel Age of Comics.
THE THEORY OF
THE THREE-LEGGED STOOL
By Barry Pearl
In the beginning, Marvel’s “House of Ideas” was built on Jack Kirby’s creativity, Steve Ditko’s ingenuity and Stan Lee’s continuity. Throw in the consistency of Don Heck and Dick Ayers and you have the birth of the Marvel Age. As if it was a race and not a business, some fans like to give out credit for the incredible Marvel Age to just one person.
When that issue comes up, I like to ask, “What is the most important leg on a three legged stool.” The people who cared most about the quality of comics were not those who published them but those who created them. And Lee, Kirby and Ditko were on top of that list.
And Lee held it all together, keeping Kirby and the others on track and keeping in touch with the fans to see what they wanted. It was Stan’s dialogue that, uniquely for that era, gave each character their own personality. And while DC and others had each characters each in their own world, Stan was able to weave Marvel’s stories together, creating a One Universe concept never tried before in comics. It worked, but don’t think that the artists were keeping track of that. They were too busy getting their own pages drawn to look at their own finished comics, let alone the comics of others. In the beginning that burden fell on Lee alone.
But if Kirby gave wonder to the Marvel Universe then Steve Ditko gave it awe. Kirby externalized the quest for knowledge, Ditko internalized it. On a journey to the Infinite Kirby took us to the outer reaches of the universe. On a journey to find Eternity Ditko took us into the minds of the Ancient One and Dr. Strange.
A great example is the Incredible Hulk, which failed after six issues. Lee and Kirby created a creature that turned from man to “monster” by peripheral events: A bomb blast, the sun setting and finally a gamma ray machine. It was Steve Ditko who internalized the situation and gave Banner an anger management problem. Now Banner, himself, was the cause of the change. This is what made the Hulk an iconic character. While Kirby look outward to cause the change, Ditko looked inside the character.
It took the best of all three men, aided and abetted by Heck and Ayers, working together, to create the characters we have today. Ask yourself, how many of the Marvel movies, 50 years later, are based on characters that came later?
And you can learn a valuable lesson: The decency, humanity and humor of the Marvel Super-Heroes was hereditary. They got it from their creators.