Kirby Created Spider-Man?


JackKirbyLawsuit1-thumb-550x556-35614A 1990 article from the Comics Journal has artist Jack Kirby claiming he created Spider-Man. Here is the direct quote. 

GROTH: Can I ask what your involvement in Spider-Man was?

KIRBY: I created Spider-Man. We decided to give it to Steve Ditko. I drew the first Spider-Man cover. I created the character. I created the costume. I created all those books, but I couldn’t do them all. We decided to give the book to Steve Ditko who was the right man for the job. He did a wonderful job on that.

GROTH: Did you know Ditko?

KIRBY: I knew Ditko as well as any man could. Ditko is a withdrawn, silent type.

GROTH: Did you guys get along well?

KIRBY: I got along with him. I can only speak for myself. I liked Steve very much.

ROZ KIRBY: We bumped in to him three years ago in New York.

KIRBY: He surprised me. He was very sociable, and we socialized, and he’s very open with people now.

GROTH: What kind of guy was he?

KIRBY: He was a very withdrawn guy. I never bothered him because I felt that that’s the way he wanted it. I talked to him when it was necessary. I believe that Steve was a kind of guy that wanted it that way. He was a wonderful artist, a wonderful conceptualist. It was Steve Ditko that made Spider-Man the well-known character that he is.

GROTH: Do you like his work?

KIRBY: Yes, because it’s got a definite style that you could recognize anywhere. You can point to any picture that Steve makes and say, Ditko did that. It’s individual.

ROZ KIRBY: They all look Polish.

KIRBY: Yeah. All his characters look Polish! [Laughter.]

What do you think of this old interview? The Kirby heirs recently lost their copyright lawsuit against Marvel/ Disney.

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(13) Comments

  1. Cricket

    While I'm not a fan of Kirby's artwork, Spider-Man is the one character he could never draw right. And I've seen (somewhere online, but can't remember exactly where now) where Dikto himself showed a comparison of his Spider-Man next to Kirby's - Kirby's looked like Captain America with a web gun or some-such; NOTHING like the Spider-Man we all know and love.

  2. koinekid

    I just finished reading the article I linked to the other day (it’s a long one), and if half of what this researcher says is verifiable, then the Jack Kirby case is very strong. To summarize: 1) The origin of Spider-man is more consistent with Kirby’s work in terms of character, backstory, and the like than anything previous by Lee or Ditko. 2) Plots from the early issues of Spider-man are nearly identical to previosly plotted Kirby stories from multiple companies, and Ditko was known to assist Lee in plotting. At a certain point, the stories took on a different, less Kirby-like flavor (less pseudo-science, more internal struggles). 3) Ditko and Lee were inconsistent with each other and themselves when discussing the origin. 4) A publication released by Marvel in 1975 welcoming Kirby back to Marvel flatly states that Kirby designed the costume, and Ditko was known to have designed a number of heroes and villains costumes for other artists’ books. I have no way of knowing whether the article is factually accurate, but if it is, then Kirby (with assists by Joe Simon and editor Sid Jacobson) had a lot more to do with the creation of early Spider-man than has been publicly stated.

  3. SpiderboyN2Jesus

    Did anyone else notice that Kirby went from saying that "Ditko is a withdrawn, silent type," so saying that "[Ditko] was very sociable, and we socialized, and he’s very open with people now," not two questions later? Sure, was probably just saying that Ditko USED to be a recluse, but now he's not, but that's not how he said it and it left me scratching my head... also, Ditko IS still reclusive isn't he? He still doesn't like to meet people or talk to people--except in his wordy, long-winded articles. So obviously Kirby was completely right in the head at the time.

  4. AndrewC

    Sorry, but Kirby while unique and more prolific, was never the genius that Ditko was. And he CERTAINLY didn't come up with Spidey. He came up with a name and maybe the concept of a "web-shooter". Ditko and (to a lesser extent) Lee did everything else.

  5. koinekid

    Don't know how reliable this information is, but http://www.adelaidecomicsandbooks.com/kirbycase.html claims some Kirby involvement. I seem to remember reading about the case on other websites but not being entirely convinced. If Ditko created or co-created the main cast, which is a huge part of what made Spider-man really connect, then the lion's share of credit belongs with him. Bottom line, Kirby helped to create a Spider-man, but Spider-man as he was published is thanks to Ditko and Lee. And that's the one we all love.

  6. B-Mask

    Yeah, he did claim to have created Superman, which we know is baloney. We have to appreciate that Kirby wasn't a high functioning intellectual- he was a lot older when he gave these interviews and wasn't, from what I can tell, completely together in his memory of the facts. I wouldn't take his word incredibly seriously without any provenance- which we know doesn't exist in the way he's explained it. I think it's less bitterness and just being old.

  7. Tyson

    I'm gonna throw my own hat in the ring and claim I created Spider-Man too. With how insanely complicated it is to figure out just who exactly "created" these characters I figure I stand just as much chance of getting credit as anyone else that just decides one day that they created everything themselves.

  8. DadaHyena

    Kirby created "a" Spider-Man, but not "the" Spider-Man that we've known for fifty years. The story of Kirby's original interpretation being rejected by Lee and restarted from scratch by Ditko (most likely with none of Kirby's version carried over) is well-known amongst comic fans/historians. I wouldn't dare call Kirby a liar, but he seemed to be overstepping the boundaries by taking credit for so much here (Lee, of course, is infamous for doing that as well, saying he'd "take any credit that wasn't nailed down!").

  9. Eddie deAngelini

    There is some documentation out there that Kirby did create a 'Spider-Man' character that he claims to have been the Spidey that we all know. In truth, the character he created in the 1950s with Joe Simon was way different. He was a boy who got his powers from a magic ring. Kirby later on had a hand in the development of the actual Spider-man, but certainly not worthy of sole credit.

  10. Donovan Grant

    I talked about this on a podcast a few months back, because I own this Comics Journal interview. This is all been long since debunked as fact from Kirby. After everything I've read, my conclusion is that in the last few years of his life he was insanely bitter and angry about how his career ended up with the New Gods failing and his Marvel stuff being attributed to Stan Lee, so he went for broke and claimed creatorship of everything, no matter how close or far it was from the truth.

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