Jack Kirby's Heroes in Waiting

Chances are you've heard of Jack Kirby. His name is about as synonymous with Marvel's rise to fame as Stan Lee's (although I don't think Kirby embraced the spotlight quite as much). Kirby had a hand in some of Marvel's biggest characters, including the X-Men, Hulk and Fantastic Four. What you might not have known is that he also had a hand in creating some lesser known characters, such as Roxie's radiers, Golden Shield and The Gargoids. You'll be come more familiar with them in the coming months.

According to the NY Times, Ruby-Spears Productions has partnered with Sid and Marty Krofft to revive these characters in as many mediums as possible. See, Kirby created these characters in the 1980s for Ruby-Spears Productions, and now they're looking to capitalize on the "lost treasure" aspect of them.

“I love comic books, but this is a treasure,” said Ariel Z. Emanuel, the co-chief executive of the William Morris Endeavor Entertainment agency, who is representing these Kirby works for Ruby-Spears and the Kroffts. “It’s like a boat sank at the bottom of the ocean, and all of a sudden you’ve uncovered it.”

It's estimated that Kirby created some 600 production boards for Ruby-Spears Productions. Now, I know what you're thinking. Does Ruby-Spears Productions have legal rights to Kirby's works (since we're always worried about the legality of these deals). The answer is yes. See, the Kirby estate is currently suing Disney/Marvel for control to copyrights of works he created. At Ruby-Spears Animation, Kirby was employed under a work-for-hire arrangement, meaning that his work is the property of the studio. What does this mean for, well, everyone?

For starters, it means that Ruby-Spears can take these works and turn them into whatever they want really. Movies, TV shows, comics, video games; you name it, we'll probably see it. For the Kirby heirs I would imagine that they would get some recompense, although since they don't own the rights to the work I can't imagine them expecting to have control over negotiations. For the rest of us, we can expect to see some awesome work from one of the greatest artists of the 20th century that, until this point, has never seen the light of day.

In the words of Kirby's running buddy Stan Lee: Excelsior indeed.