Permutter $65 million, Kirby $0?
Two semi-unrelated items. First, as everyone interested in comics knows by now, Jack Kirby's heirs are asserting their rights to the characters that Jack Kirby had a major hand in creating.
The heirs to Kirby, who co-created the Fantastic Four, the X-Men, the Avengers, Iron Man, Hulk, Thor and Captain America - and had a hand in creating Spider-Man, pretty much completing the set - have sent out 45 notices of copyright termination to companies including Marvel Entertainment, Disney, Paramount (distributors for Iron Man, Hulk and the next five Marvel movies), Sony (the studio behind the Spider-Man movies, 20th Century Fox (X-Men and Fantastic Four) and others, expressing intent to own copyright on Kirby's creations. The notices did not only involve comic books and movies; apparently, Hasbro and Universal also received notices, for the toy and theme park rights as well.
The Kirby estate is taking the claim seriously, hiring Marc Toberoff, the attorney who's been representing the Siegel estate in the recent Superman/Superboy lawsuits. While Marvel itself has offered no comment on the notices yet, Disney issued a statement saying, essentially, that it's not a big deal:Likewise, all fanboys know about the Disney deal mentioned above to purchase Marvel. Yesterday Disney filed an S-4 (a form filed with the SEC by a publicly traded company disclosing any material information about a merger or acquisition).
The notices involved are an attempt to terminate rights seven to 10 years from now, and involve claims that were fully considered in the acquisition.(Graeme McMillan, Io9, September 21, 2009)
There was also some interesting details deeper into the proxy – the part that spells out what various executives get post-deal. A quick tally for Perlmutter shows that it will add up to around $65 million, including $34 million in options that were just granted this past March. Those options were granted at around $25 a share and vest immediately and the takeout price is $50, which seems like some pretty good timing. (Michelle Leder, Footnoted.org, September 23, 2009)Now I am not going to try to get into legal arguments, because I am totally incompetent to do so, and don't know the details of the Kirby situation. But just on the face of it, it is hard to see why Perlmutter deserves $65 million and Jack Kirby (and since Jack is dead, his family) deserve nothing. But the point of view that the Kirby heirs deserve nothing is expressed widely (in the comments of the Io9 article and on other comics message boards). Astonishing!