Comic Book Legends Revealed #454
COMIC LEGEND: DC came up with a clever way of paying Jack Kirby royalties for his Fourth World characters.
When Jack Kirby went to go work for DC in the early 1970s, he got a better deal than what he had at Marvel, but only because DC gave him the freedom that he wanted to write and draw his own comics. From a financial standpoint, the deal was not really all THAT different from his Marvel days, in the sense that Kirby did not actually own any of the characters that he introduced for DC. Darkseid, Orion, Mister Miracle, Demon, Kamandi – they were all created under work for hire principles.
However, years later, DC executives Jenette Kahn and Paul Levitz (and I presume Dick Giordano) came up with a clever way to essentially give Kirby royalties for those older stories.
First off, as I noted above, they reprinted the New Gods stories and paid Kirby royalties for them. Plus, they hired him to do Hunger Dogs. Plus they hired him to do a new mini-series tying in with their DC Super Powers line of action figures.
But here’s the really clever bit – they had Kirby re-design his Fourth World characters for the DC Super Powers line of action figures. This way, Kirby would be paid out of the Kenner toy fund and as a result, Kirby made a whole lot more money re-designing his own characters for toy purposes that he did for making them in the first place!
DC used this trick to help get extra money for their current artists, as well, as George Perez and Ed Hannigan also were paid for their character designs for Super Powers toys based on Cyborg, Lex Luthor and Brainiac.
Very cool move by DC Comics.
Thanks to reader Anthony for suggesting that I do this one.
Check out the latest edition of my weekly Movie/TV Legends Revealed Column at Spinoff Online: Was Mel Blanc, the voice of Bugs Bunny, allergic to carrots?