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A Brief Guide to the Fantastic Four On-Line
posted May 29, 2005
 

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This is a brief guide to writing about the comic book Fantastic Four, on which a major motion picture is based to be released July 8th, 2005.

A Few Things to Keep in Mind When Writing About Marvel's Fantastic Four Comic Books

First, the comic book is of importance within comics because it was the first modern Marvel superhero comic book. This wave of comics released in the 1960s -- including Amazing Spider-Man, the Incredible Hulk and Uncanny X-Men -- added a second dimension of character conflict to tried-and-true good-vs.-evil formulas. With its bickering characters, flippant dialogue and dynamic art, Fantastic Four was the precursor to the creative approach used on the entire Marvel comic book line, which proved popular enough to revitalize the company and set an industry standard.

Second, Fantastic Four is sometimes called the flagship of Marvel's line, but in terms of sales and fan fervor the last couple of decades this title is an honorary one. Many pros and fans respect the title and pay attention to it according to its earlier status -- you might say Fantastic Four is treated with the same respect as an older golf pro like Arnold Palmer or Jack Nicklaus when they tee off at a PGA event.

Third, Fantastic Four is the comic most often used to illustrate a general dispute over creation of the Marvel core characters between writer/editor Stan Lee and the late artist Jack Kirby. Both Kirby and Lee at times claimed, or had claims made on their behalf, to have created the Fantastic Four characters out of whole cloth without much in the way of help from the other. Most articles get around this by listing the pair as co-creators, which they certainly were on title in general. Most credible sources agree that by the title's third or fourth year, Kirby was given a great amount of leeway in directing the story and created characters without direction by Lee.

Fourth, Fantastic Four may be different than most Marvel movie properties in that its value among comics readers comes more from its execution than as a combination of execution and a resonant idea such as Spider-Man's everyman superhero concept. The Fantastic Four comic books as done by Lee and Kirby together (issues #1-102 and annuals/specials) are considered one of a handful of great fantasy comic books ever done, and show up on respected all-time lists largely for the quality of Kirby's visual imagination.

Fantastic Four Sites
Netherlands F4 Site
FFPlaza.com
The Fantastic Four Fluxion (Newer Books)
Wikipedia Entry
Movie News Aggregate Site
Official Movie Site
Official Marvel Comics Site
Another F4 Fan Page
Message Board Community Dedicated to F4
Don Markstein's Page on Fantastic Four
Italian Fantastic Four Covers Site
Marvels Fantastic Four Mini-Site

Stan Lee, Co-Creator
Answers.com Profile
Salon Brilliant Careers Profile
Lambiek Profile Page
IMCA Profile of Lee
Biography on Stan Lee

Jack Kirby
Jack Kirby Blog
Mark Evanier's Site Section on Kirby
Bud Plant's Biograpy
Lambiek Profile Page
Much Kirby Art
Comic Art Biography

Stan Vs. Jack
Article on Creation of Fantastic Four
Jeet Heer's Review of a Book About Each
Long Book Review Discussing Relative Contributions
Quotes from Stan Denoting Frustration with Kirby's Claims
There's also a book called Tales to Astonish by Ronin Ro that's recent and is about Marvel in the 1960s, but I'm unable to find a dedicated web site for the book. In fact, one of the best pieces of writing on the Stan Vs. Jack issue is an essay by Earl Wells in The Comics Journal Library Special on Jack Kirby.

Miscellaneous
Review of Roger Corman's 1994 Film
Review of Magazine Article About 1994 Film
Site Dedicated to Dr. Doom Appearances
Description of Dr. Doom's Place in the Comics, His Powers

People to Contact for Quotes and Info
(best one-stop shopping; particularly good on Kirby but pretty darn good on everything)
(comics history, naturally)
(Stan Lee Vs. Jack Kirby)
(modern comics industry)
(modern comics industry)
(modern comics industry)