CREDIT WHERE CREDIT ISN'T DUE!
DC does a great job of listing "Created by..." credits.
The obvious and long-running Created by... credits include: Superman by Jerry Siegel & Joe Shuster, Batman by Bob Kane and Wonder Woman by William Moulton Marston. Another frequent credit goes to Jack Kirby whether it's for the Demon or even the recent OMAC series. And Warlord by Mike Grell has appeared even in his original series.
But here were a few surprises: Firestorm created by Gerry Conway & Al Milgrom; Aquaman created by Paul Norris; Omega Men created by Marv Wolfman & Joe Staton; the Weird created by Jim Starlin & Bernie Wrightson and Checkmate created by Paul Kupperberg & Steve Erwin. While these credits may have appeared in other comics of the same title years back, the fact that DC still gives credit where credit is due is pretty amazing.
Now, surely some of these are contractual obligations. Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman - you know these were forged in deals (good or bad) made with the actual creators. The same could be said of Warlord, Omega Men and the Weird. I have yet to read anywhere if "Created by Jack Kirby" is anything more than honestly acknowledging a master so this too could have contractual history. I've seen the Checkmate one before. But the Aquaman and Firestorm credits seem completely new. It makes me wonder if I'm missing some from the few DC books I don't read. Does this mean they have to pay royalties for the continued use of these characters? Or are they simply showing their readers that DC understands that their characters have a lineage?
I REALLY enjoy seeing the credits and it makes me wonder why Marvel doesn't do the same. They toyed with the idea for a moment or two several years back. I can remember some J.M. Straczynski-penned Amazing Spider-Man comics that had "Created by Stan Lee & Steve Ditko". But beyond that, I don't think any other credit has lasted. Even the "Stan Lee Presents..." title intro has disappeared.
So it makes me wonder a few things.
Are all the DC credits contractual obligations? Are some of them just courtesy? And if so, shouldn't titles like Birds of Prey & Shadowpact, as a concept, be easy to credit? If Jack Knight & Will Payton (and not "Starman") can be credited to their respective creators, can't the opposite be true for a character such as Nightwing (created by Marv Wolfman & George Perez even if Robin/Dick Grayson was created by Bob Kane and/or Jerry Robinson). What about the female Manhunter?
Has the "bad blood" over the years between Marvel and Stan Lee prompted the removal of his ever present greeting? By not even listing credits as a gesture of history, is Marvel trying to steer clear of any potential ownership claims? Why shouldn't Thunderbolts be credited to Kurt Busiek and Mark Bagley? Why isn't Dr. Strange, Thor, Hulk, the Avengers, X-Men, Iron Man, etc. listed as "Created by Stan Lee &...". Or Moon Knight. Or Nova. Or Spider-Woman.
I understand there are legal issues that keep all this at a distance and that sometimes creator credits are lost to time. But as a reader of comics and someone who enjoys comic history, the very glaring omission of creator credits on Marvel's part comes across as an "I'm just covering my rear" move.
Marvel may not have created the basic concept of continuity, but they did put faces and nicknames and personalitites to their creators through lettercolumns, bulletins and even in their own comic stories. Marvel readers knew the creators alongside the creations. Jim Shooter fought hard for certain creator rights. And it's no secret that the current Marvel regime is all about marketing their creative teams alongside if not sometimes before their projects.
But there's something very off when even the current publisher of Marvel gets listed in every Marvel comic in the credit box but a simple "Created by..." blurb is non-existent. I want to know who created these characters. I want new readers to know. It's a sign of respect and history. It should be an honor to give credit to those legendary creators who formed the Marvel Universe.
And, considering the amazing success Marvel has had over the last year with characters that have survived for decades, this is a case of credit where credit is very much due.